Ugandans Can Vote Out A State Of Terror
The NRM has established what it calls â€˜safe housesâ€™ for those that oppose it. It is almost similar to what used to happen during the Idi Amin days when Ugandans were held incommunicado at State Research Center in Nakasero.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE UGANDAN VOTER
As you prepare to go to the polls and exercise your birth right to elect the leaders of our country, we are asking you to take a step back and read carefully what we have to say here before you cast your vote on Friday.
We want you to know that many of your rights may have been taken away by different Ugandan leaders but this is most certainly one of the very few that you still possess--the right to vote.
Whatever you do once you have entered the polling booth it is entirely up to you. This is your right. You must not be intimidated as to whom you should vote for, no matter what threats you have received. This is a secret ballot; so whatever you do once you are behind the curtains, it is entirely up to you to make the right decision.
But before you cast your vote, we would like you to take a look at one of the candidates for President of Uganda. We are talking about the incumbent, Gen. Yoweri Museveni. In case you have any doubt, we can assure you he has been in control of the country since 1986. That is 25 years ago.
He came into power by overthrowing a regime that many of us had written about with regards to the violation of human rights and abuse of power. We were with you when we welcomed the National Resistance Army (NRM) in January 1986. As you, we were hopeful that the NRM under Museveni would bring about peace and tranquility in the country and that no one would ever again walk the streets of our cities and towns looking behind their backs for fear of saying something that would be picked up by men wearing dark glasses.
When the National Resistance Army (NRA) took over Kampala that January 1986, we were with you when we called out to the men and women of the NRA as our own; our soldiers. We enjoyed the short period when we all went back to our houses at night and regardless of what was going on all around us, we were able to say with you that: “Kasita twebaka ku tulo--at least we can now get some sleep.” While at first we understood President Museveni’s desire to ban political party activity for the first five years, we began to doubt his intentions when he used the time to organize the NRM into a political party at the expense of all other political parties.
Some of us as you might be aware, never waited that long. One of us, Gombya, left after the leader of the Uganda Freedom Movement Dr. Andrew Lutakome Kayiira was murdered. The other, Miwambo, left after being beaten up by the NRA and left in the morgue at Mulago Hospital thinking that they had killed him. We have both lived to tell the tale. But many others like us and in different professions have not managed to survive.
Before you enter the polling station Friday we want you to take a step back and remember these people who have died mysteriously during the reign of the NRM. Let Mr. Miwambo take you through some of his observations of what has taken place since Gen. Museveni came to power 25 years ago:
Museveni seized power after a five-year bloody guerrilla war in central Uganda when in the UK, Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Four years later when Mrs. Thatcher stepped aside, John Major came in. In 1997, Tony Blair became Prime Minister with a convincing victory and after winning three general elections and being in power for just about 10 years, he stepped aside handing over to Gordon Brown. Brown was defeated in last year’s general election and replaced by David Cameron.
On the other side across the Atlantic; Museveni came to power when Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. After completing two terms of office, the maximum allowed in the US, he was replaced by George H. W. Bush--the senior Bush. This one failed to win a second term and was replaced by Bill Clinton who went on to rule for the maximum two terms. Clinton was replaced by the son of George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, who went on to complete two terms before being replaced by President Barack Obama. That means that the Ugandan leader who is backed by the army generals has seen five British Prime Ministers and five American Presidents come and go.
Many wonder why?
Possibly a clue can be picked from a list of acts of unusual nature. The Uganda leadership under President Museveni doesn’t seem to believe in democracy and the separation of powers. All matters regarding to the nation including family issues, land issue, debt settlements, are settled in State House Entebbe, rendering other institution dormant. Not knowing that, ‘A Jerk of All Trade is Master of None’, fearing humiliation or accepting the defeat, a new phenomenal is now used to settles scores.
In the post-independence history of our country, only two presidents, Idi Amin and Yoweri Museveni have conducted and executed a firing squad. Apart from open executions that had become characteristic of Idi Amin’s regime, several suspicious political murders ranging from: treason charges, a car accident, poisoning, bludgeoning to death or "robbery attacks," arson and the shooting down of planes, have taken place under the Museveni leadership of the last 25 years.
Murders that occurred during Museveni’s tenure include: former Energy Minister Dr. Andrew Lutakome Kayiira: After a trumped-up treason case that failed to stand due to inconsistence evidence produced in court by the prosecution. Armed men dressed in military uniforms assassinated Dr. Kayiira while he was taking refuge from Museveni at the home of Dr. Gombya, a former BBC Correspondent.
Now 24 years after the cruel murder, the information is still flimsy about this murder. Although Kampala had released what was called the Kayiira Murder Report after a public outcry; in July 2009, Scotland-Yard Criminal Division (SCD) Information Manager, James Young’s response suggests that there has never been a true report out. On July 9, 2009, Mr. Young, in his response to a request from Miwambo under the Freedom of Information Act reference No. 2009050002401, said:
“The MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) may prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and international courts, as the disclosure of any information that was provided in confidence, would impact negatively on the international relations with the Ugandan Authorities. After weighing up the competing interests I have determined that the disclosure of the above information would not be in the public interest,” said Mr. Young, adding: “I consider that the benefit that would result from the information being disclosed does not outweigh disclosing this information.” This response suggests that there has never been any known information to the public with regards to the Kayiira investigations and the outcome may never be known to the public.
Lt. Col. Robert Kagata Namiti: a brilliant Uganda army officer from Busoga and a former UNLA soldier died in mysterious circumstances. It is alleged that he was poisoned as he knew how Lt. Sam Katabarwa was murdered.
Anthony Sekweyama: Former Secretary General of Democratic Party, Sekweyama died in mysterious circumstances.
Francis Ayume: The then Attorney General Ayume, also a former Speaker of Uganda Parliament died in a "mysterious car accident. At the time of his death, the police had reported that his car collided with another car in an accident in Nakasongola. Surprisingly, its wreckage was found in Ndeeba on Masaka Road. Ayume’s "death shocked the nation and some MPs refused to accept the government’s version of the events, because in normal circumstance, the car would have been taken to any police station. Alex Onzima (then representing Maracha), openly told Uganda Parliament that Ayume’s death was the work of Museveni government. Political commentators who were following events at the time believe that Ayume might have been killed because of his views on the constitution. He had advised the president that lifting the term limit would require the entire overhauling of the national constitution. Another accepted view is that the president was unhappy about cases in which the government had lost billion of shillings, especially to foreign countries and companies. He [Ayume] was among the legal advisors who were handling the DR Congo versus Uganda at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in which Uganda was later found liable for plundering Congo resources, massacre of civilians, the shooting down of Congo’s plane Boeing 727 that killed 40 civilians, on October 1998, at Kindu.
The Minister of Works, John Nasaasira --he has held the same position for the last 25 years-- said the fateful vehicle did not knock a trailer as earlier said. He said the stretch where the accident took place was smooth contrary to press at the time which had reported that it was full of potholes.
Kanungu inferno: Over 1000, people were set on fire and no commission of enquiry has ever given what happened. Not even the local population knew where the victims came from.
Recently, Rev. Richard Mutazindwa told a local newspaper that he wanted justice because he had been arrested and detained for the crime he denies. Kanungu was reported and given huge coverage for nearly a month in all international media outlets, but to this day, they have never bothered to get to the root cause of the mater. Some believe it was Museveni’s plan to attract international attention and sympathy.
Peter Bigirimana: The Mysterious murder of Peter Bigirimana, a Kampala businessman. He was aged around 27 and he used to live in Makindye. One night in 1987, he was attacked at his home and shot dead by thugs who were speaking "Kinyarwanda". At the moment we don't have data on him but we shall try our level best to find out what happened to him and who killed him.
Edward Mugalu: Mugalu a prominent Muganda businessman who had helped finance the NRM war was shot at and killed at Lugogo/Nakawa area by unknown assailants. Fingers are being pointed to Museveni’s Internal Security Organisation (ISO). The death of Mugalu marches a pattern of several prominent politicians who have been killed under unclear circumstances. He was among the few Ugandans who delivered remittances to Uganda from the UK.
Anthony Sekweyama: A Human rights activist, Sekweyama, was formally an editor of a Luganda newspaper Munnansi. At the time of his death, he was the Democratic Party (DP) Publicity Secretary. His death shocked the nation when he was killed in a mysterious car "accident", of which many believe that it was stage-managed.
Jet Mwebaze: Jet Mwebaze’s death left a lot of questions among the public. Ugandans were told that he died in a plane crash. Then they were told that he was not dead, and then the government changed its mind again, that he was now dead. His coffin was sealed and ordered not to be opened.
Maj. Gen. James Kazini: A brother to Jet Mwebaze. Kazini was also murdered in November 2009. In this mysterious death, the alleged killer of a former army commander was a woman named Lydia Draru. Although she was briefly arraigned in court, she has never been charged. Before the murder of Maj. Gen. Kazini, it is alleged that Draru who was his girlfriend, had made a phone call to CMI boss, Brig. James Mugira a couple of days earlier.
It is also alleged that before phoning anybody after Kazini was killed in her house, Ms. Draru made a phone call to a sister -in-law to Gen. Salim Saleh asking to come for their body.
Robinah Kiyingi: A high profile human rights lawyer, Robinah Kiyingi was gunned down in 2005 and her husband was accused of the murder. But the prime suspect died of mysterious illness in Luzira.
Brigadier Noble Mayombo: The then Permanent Secretary in the ministry of defense and a former Aide to President Museveni and Intelligence Chief--Brig. Mayombo, according to the coroner, succumbed to an acute pancreatitis unindicted by poison on May 1, 2007. In a surprising move, a person among those appointed by the President to lead the investigations, Ananias Tumukunde was arrested in a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) case in the UK, alongside with a Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB) officer.
Joseph Musasizi Kifefe, brother to Dr Kizza Besigye Kifefe--although the initial rumours were that he had cancer, the medical result were negative and he was presumed to have succumbed to slow poison after he was released from Luzira prison, in November 2007. He was among the suspects of the People Redemption Army (PRA), an outfit that the Sate had alleged was formed by Dr. Besigye. He was charged alongside Dr Besigye whose treason case was later thrown out of High Court.
Tom Julunga: An FDC member and a strong critic of Museveni who had stood against many issues was also mysteriously murdered.
Dr. Olara Otunnu: A former United Nations’ Under Secretary, Dr. Otunnu survived a motor accident a few months after his return to the country where he intended to contest for the highest office. Dr. Otunnu, a former diplomat was instrumental in getting the US Congress to issue a directive
instructing the Secretary of State Mrs Hillary Clinton to work with European partners in monitoring the Uganda elections. According the New York-based Black Star News, Dr. Otunnu, has survived another suspicious car incident this week.
Buddo School Fire: More than twenty girl students aged between 11 and 13 year-old of Buddo Primary School, 12km from the capital, Kampala, were killed by a fire that gutted their dormitory. Buddo Junior School is one of the best private schools located in central Uganda. First investigators were from State House, to interrogate the head teacher Dr. Livingstone Ddungu and his deputy Moses Ssewalu.
Museveni’s government offered each parent UgShs500000 (approximately $ 214) as compensation for the loss of their children. What a country with cheap babies? The parents filed a suit in court to compel the government for UgShs200 million (approximately $ 85,000), but nothing has ever yielded any fruit. The government now plays a cat and mouse game with the bereaved parents. “We refused the money,” said a parent whose daughter died in the fires, adding: “It was an insult. How can one value the lives of future leaders to be worth just UgShs500000?”
“It was not accident. They knew this before because someone from the State House, had a child, and picked her a day before the fire,” one of the parents who preferred not to be named said so that can she could talk freely. The parent was referring to the President’s Press Secretary, Tamale Mirundi, whose daughter was sent home before the fire, on pretext that she had a malaria illness. It was later discovered that the daughter was okay.
Political commentators believe that there was foul play and a line of inquiry would have started with Mirundi whose daughter was taken out of school before the fires gutted the dormitory. “My daughter who is in primary six, was sent back on Monday, during the day before the fire struck at night, and they informed me that she was sick. But my daughter was okay,” Tamale is reported saying.
“We cannot sustain a regime that only considers its family members as they only human beings,” another parent told this newspaper. The court has since told the parents to settle the matter out of court.
Although, the school administration record indicated the dormitory used to accommodate 61 pupils, the police released a list of 20 dead, and 20 survivors making a total of 40, meaning 21 were not accounted for.
This is the least of the victims as given by the police:
1. Barbara Natugonza
2. Betty Kawula
3. Evelyn Zawedde
4. Evina Nalwoga
5. Faith Asiimwe
6. Joan Nabbosa
7. Judith Nakavuma
8. Juliet Lunkuse
9. Juliet Nambalirwa
10. Latiffa Namuleme
11. Mariam Nakato
12. Merciful Wesonga
13. Mercy Akite
14. Patience Namakoye
15. Patience Namuyanja
16. Patricia Nakazi
17. Samantha Ntunda
18. Sonia Tendo
19. Sylvia Nakandi
20. Yvonne Namaganda
These kids are remembered by people around the world as little angels.
These examples above by Mr. Miwambo are only a few of the myriads we have on our database here that we hope one day we shall release to the public for all to see.
FEAR: The NRM has established what it calls ‘safe houses’ for those that oppose it. It is almost similar to what used to happen during the Idi Amin days when Ugandans were held incommunicado at State Research Center in Nakasero. During then, if one was incarcerated there, there was no chance of knowing what was happening to them. As you enter the polling booth to cast your vote, remember the many women and many now languishing in the so-called safe houses, the army barracks and in different police stations, whose only crime is to voice their concern about the direction their country is taking. There will be many too who will be joining them as you cast your vote.
What every voter should be asking themselves is whether you want to vote that those people remain under lock and key or you want to vote that somebody goes and opens the door for them to regain their freedom. We have no doubt that if the regime that has been there for the last 25 years, the NRM, is returned to power, these people will remain there. You may have a relative, a friend, an uncle, sister, brother, cousin etc. What every voter should ask themselves is whether they want to vote for these people to remain there forever.
The ordinary person has no guns to stop what is going on but you have the most lethal weapon. Your vote. Use it to free others. Use it to regain the freedom that has been lost during the last 20 years. Use it to have a say in having power returned to the people and not to one family that has brought in many foreigners to help them loot the country.
After 25 years in power, Gen. Museveni has no clue as to what to do with the country he has messed up. In going back on his word about term limits, he has done exactly what he said he had gone to the bush to fight against: corruption, leaders who overstay in power, murderous regimes and dictatorship. When a leader starts arresting people because they have booed him, these are signs he has lost the plot. When his officials harass and arrest cartoonists who draw him admiring his party’s 25th birthday, you know these are signs that they have run out of ideas and are scared that people have found them out. When a leader starts grooming his children to take over from him then you know such a leader no longer thinks he is a servant of the people. Instead, he looks at the common man as his servant who has to serve his entire family. When one sees this, then it is time for the voter to exercise the only means available, the vote and bring about change.
It is time voters helped in stopping the mysterious murder Mr. Miwambo mentions above. It is time that voters helped in restoring power to the people. It is time to say: Enough is enough. On your bikes all of you who have killed, imprisoned us and messed up the country. It is time to take into your hands the reigns of power. It is time to take back your country.
Dear Voter! It is time for change. Vote for change. Vote that all who have been killed by the present regime during the last 25 years may not have died in vain. Do this for God and your country! Yes You Can!
Dr. Henry Gombya has covered events in Africa for the last 30 years. He reported widely for the BBC Focus on Africa program (1983-1986) on the war that brought President Museveni to power and was named Africa Journalist of the Year 1985/86 by listeners to the BBC program Network Africa. He read Journalism and African History at the universities of Bournemouth, London and Westminster in England. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Str8talk Chronicle.
Mr. Miwambo is an investigative journalist who has written for a variety of newspapers and magazines in East Africa, Europe and North America. He is currently specialising in journalism techniques at a university in England.
"Speaking Truth To Empower."
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