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Politics

Ugandans poke holes in BBC’s attempt to sanitize Museveni’s misrule

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BBC's Alan Kasujja, left and President Museveni.

By Moses Ssejjoba

A documentary that was aired this week on the British public broadcaster BBC has elicited a lot of debate, with many analysts wondering what could have been the motive of the 50-minute long program.

The documentary that was aired on prime time BBC World Service was presented by renowned Ugandan media personality Alan Kasujja.

Kasujja, who is known to be close to Uganda’s ruling family is a presenter with BBC’s Focus on Africa.

The documentary was entitled, “The Legacy of War”, and was produced under the guise of shedding light on the Bush war launched by Museveni in 1981 and largely fought in the infamous “Luweero Triangle” in central Uganda.

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However, different analysts have punched gaping holes in the documentary, with many saying that it was just part of a campaign to sanitize the tattered reputation of Museveni and his regime, at least internationally. “It is mere propaganda!” people have commented.

“Anyway who could have done a better propaganda job than Kasujja, a known Museveni regime sympathizer and a close friend of First Son Muhoozi?!”

The different analysts we spoke to who have listened to the documentary fault it for the people that were chosen for the interview, and for the cherry-picked sound bites from archival material to complete the whitewash job. “It was purely an attempt to project Museveni as a bona fide freedom fighter; as someone nobly waging war,” said a political analyst who requested anonymity so as to speak freely.

“Yet everyone knows how dismally Museveni performed in the elections of 1981. He only started a war because he didn’t win!”

The analyst said that the choice of the interviewees could have been made from State House and many of the sources were seemingly reading from the same script.

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For those that had no script to read from, the presenter Kasujja did a good job of driving the narrative in a pro-Museveni direction, everyone that heard it agreed.

For a seasoned journalist who is not oblivious to the struggles that young Ugandans continue to endure, anyone would have expected Kasujja to speak for the vast majority of Ugandans, most especially the youth. They are fed up with the decades old mantra that “We went to the bush to liberate you”!

Kasujja spoke to none of those youths for his documentary.

Instead the voices of a carefully selected coterie of NRM cadres – those that have heavily benefited from Museveni’s patronage – were dominant in the 50-minute program.

“Even a rookie journalist would have seen it fit to speak to some of the people whom Museveni went to the Bush with, and fell out with him after they realized this was a Museveni cause rather than a national one. There are a multitude of those out there,” said our source, a lecturer on political economy.

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Throughout the programme Kasujja did not mention the Supreme Court, which on two occasions ruled that Museveni had rigged elections (2010 and 2016).

The man that Kasujja labors hard to sanitize did not even have the common decency to petition courts of law, like his challengers have done after he himself rigged elections and stole their votes!, observers commented. “Museveni instead chose to wage a war after badly losing a contest, yet this is the very conflict that Kasujja is sanitizing. What a fallacy!”

Inadvertently an old clip is played in which Museveni states that he planned to wage the war even before they went to the polls, “on suspicion that it would be rigged by Obote’s UPC”. Suffice to say that the very person who was besides Museveni during the entire bush war as his personal doctor is the same person who has repeatedly been cheated, and his votes repeatedly rigged in Museveni’s favor.

According to different observers interviewed for this article, Col. (rtd) Kizza Besigye should have been afforded some airtime.

“Not Besigye; not Mugisha Muntu who was army commander for the longest period of the Museveni regime; not any other bush war veterans that either have fallen out with, or exposed Museveni were interviewed for a balanced perspective. Kasujja’s propaganda is beyond shameful!” said a veteran Kampala journalist.

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Instead, Kasujja sought out some of the biggest beneficiaries of the 33 years of misrule, looting and plundering of the country, such as Jim Muhwezi, to give voice to, added the scribe.

Much of it could as well have been a Uganda Broadcasting Corporation production, with Museveni as usual boasting “how he has brought peace”; how he has “leveled the political playing field,” and so on ad nauseum.

All the while Kasujja gives Museveni a free pass, to say everything unchallenged.

No effort is made to question the ruler on the string of political assassinations that have occurred on his watch, ever since Andrew Kayiira was gunned down in front of his family 32 years ago, to the blatant extra-legal killings his security agencies invariably are implicated in. There wasn’t a question on the deployment of security agencies for violent repression of the opposition, the near murder of people like MPs Bobi Wine, Francis Zaake and others. Not one question about the beating to near death of journalist Jimmy Akena, and other media people.

“Kasujja has done such a disservice to Ugandans one wonders how he can look himself in the mirror again,” said a listener.