Uganda: Dictator Museveni Is Determined to Ruin My Life—Writer Kakwenza

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Dictator Museveni seized power nearly three years before I was born. Now he's trying to destroy me.

[My Free Thoughts] 

For more than two months now, I’ve carried on with a herculean task and extortionate spending on driving a long distance from my residence in Iganga to Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Kireka to report my presence in the country—to prove that I haven’t fled. If I failed to show up, the police bond that allowed me to be freed from incarceration on September 21, 2020 will be revoked—all of this springing from a bogus case against me by Ugandan dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni’s bogus case against me.

This unfortunate avalanche of disaster rolled onto me after security operatives from Uganda’s notorious Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) besieged my home wielding machine guns and snipers on September 18, 2020, and brutally pulled me out of bed at 6:30 AM in the morning. As those of you who have followed my ordeal know, I was driven to Mbuya Military Barracks in the heart of Kampala the capital where I was subjected to six hours of torture. All this for writing Banana Republic Where Writing Is Treasonous. This second book documents the torture I endured when I was first kidnapped by the same CMI in April after I had written The Greedy Barbarian, a political fiction novel that mirrors gerontocratic, kleptocratic, nepotistic and murderous African regimes.

Had it not been for a campaign by family, friends, the global community—including Pen International—I would not have been released from the torture chambers on bond. Now the Museveni regime is subjecting me to financial torture. I have to regularly report to police Special Investigations Unit (SIU). The distance from my home town to Kireka in Kampala is about 75 miles each way—driving 150 miles costs me about 150,000 shillings, or $50. I often wake up at 5 AM and by 6 AM, I’m driving out to make it by 9 AM because of traffic jams on the Kampala—Malaba highway. 

I’ve reported to the SIU in Kireka five times since September. It’s a financial burden to a budding writer. Conceivably, this is a tool by the security operatives to waste my time, drain my pockets, and keep me under surveillance. I appealed to the authorities to allow me report to my local Police or Criminal Investigations Department which is less than a mile away from my home. The response? My bond will be canceled. This means I would end up back in the coolers.

It has been very difficult for me to attend to my farm errands and to attend my online lectures at the law school. Financial harassment is a tool used by authoritarian regimes in Africa to suppress critics and artists. I wonder why a regime that has been in power going on 35 years feels threatened by a 32-year old budding writer. If I were a rich man, I would understand. I belong to the class that includes millions of Ugandans who struggle to live or survive in these dire conditions of poverty, the legacy of Gen. Museveni’s misrule.

Writing has never been a crime. The regime hoodlums have no right to torture or harass me or subject me to unreasonable surveillance. It’s the duty of the courts of law to punish offenders convicted of breaking the law. 

The dictator is scared of the pen. Every writer should use his or her skill to expose the crimes of this dictatorship.

The writer, a Black Star News columnist, can be reached via Kakwenzarukirabashaija@gmail.com 

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