On Age Brouhaha, Challenger Bobi Wine Says Uganda Dictator Museveni Using Bag of Old Tricks

Mabirizi Male
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Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a Bobi Wine. Photo: Mbowasports Wikimedia Commons.

[Free Thoughts]

For the past few weeks, there has been a lot of rumpus and brouhaha on social media cultivated by lawyer Mabirizi Male and others concerning Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a Bobi Wine, about discrepancies in age as it is reflected on the latter’s academic documents.

Male filed a case against Kyagulanyi in Wakiso court, here in Uganda, accusing him of being dishonest about his age and prayed for a conviction or removal from the presidential race. The legislator, 38-years, so far is the main opposition figure who has already expressed interest in giving Mr. Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986, a running nose ahead of the 2021 “scientific” elections, which is how the Electoral Commission called the vote, as campaigning is supposedly to be conducted digitally as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

This comes after the leading opposition figure against Mr. Museveni since 2001, Dr. Kizza Besigye, threw in a towel and announced last week that he would not contest again in “Museveni organized elections.” He’s decided to go for what he branded “plan B” which he clarified as “defiance” in a presser. “Elections against a military dictator are useless, we need to push him out of power,” Dr. Besigye was quoted saying. 

In a press conference Hon. Kyagulanyi Sentamu called on Monday, August 31, at the National Unity Party head offices in Kamwokya, the popstar and legislator said that such talks by the lawyer Mabirizi and innumerable others are not new and are notoriously sponsored by the rogue regime of Mr. Museveni, using agents provocateurs to divert the struggle. 

“Ever since we started the People Power Movement, the regime has deployed the law in its full force to fight us. In Arua, apart from charging me with possession of machine guns before a military court (guns which later disappeared in thin air), I was charged with treason, annoying the president, and many other ridiculous charges,” Kyagulanyi said. “They even claimed that we had broken a bullet proof car screen with a stone. Later on, I was charged with protesting against the social media tax.”

Hon. Kyagulanyi went further and said, “Recently, when we officially launched the National Unity Platform political party, some imposters came up claiming that we took over the leadership of the party illegally. What gives me hope is that these desperate attempts have failed in the past and they will fail now. Dictators use these tricks to divert opponents, embarrass them and detract them. Every day you spend in court, the regime uses that time to steal more money and entrench itself further.”

On the issue of his academic papers and discrepancies in the dates of birth, the legislator elucidated succinctly that, “I was born on February 12th 1982 in Nkozi. My brother Julius Walakila, who I follow- same father, same mother, was born on 23rd October 1979 according to all his official records. There is no way I would be born on 12th February, 1980, only four months after the birth of my elder brother. I started school in 1986 at St. Mary Gorreti Nursery School in Kamwokya. For my P.1, I went to City Primary School (now Arya Primary School) in Kamwokya in 1987. For my P.6 I went to St. Aloysius Bukalagi Primary School in 1992. While I was at Bukalagi in P.6, my father went and requested Mr Kato, the headmaster of my former school, Kanoni Catholic School, to allow me to register and sit P.7. exams there. I therefore spent my third term of P6 in P.7. I registered there and sat for PLE in 1992. My father was advised that in order for my age to match with that of other candidates who included my elder brother Julius Walakila who was sitting PLE at Bukalagi the same year, he needed to increase my age by two years. That is when my year of birth was altered from 1982 to 1980. Despite sitting PLE without studying P.7, I passed my exams well.” 

The honorable legislator in the same presser said that such tricks to divert the struggle have been employed desperately several times against Dr. Besigye in the past. “In 1999 when Dr. Kizza Besigye published a letter criticizing the Museveni regime, his life changed immediately and forever,” Kyagulanyi said. “He was arraigned before the military court martial for apparently airing his views in the wrong forum. In October the year 2000 he announced that he would run for president in the 2001 general elections. Now, if the letter had brought him problems, the declaration that he would challenge Museveni in an election turned him into the number one enemy of Museveni and all state institutions in Uganda. This has been the case for the past 20 years. In June 2001, a few months after the election, Dr. Besigye was arrested and questioned over treason. The Museveni regime claimed that he was training rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Soon after his release, threats against his life increased and he was forced to run into exile where he spent four years.

In 2005, when he returned to Uganda to participate in the 2006 election as soon as campaigns started, he was quickly arrested and charged with treason and rape. In charging him with treason, the regime claimed that he had links with the PRA rebels. They also claimed that he was connected to Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. It should be remembered that the rape case was prosecuted by the current chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Justice Simon Byabakama Mugyenyi. Gen. Kale Kayihura and the present URA Commissioner General, Mr. Musinguzi Rujoki played a critical role in the case. On 16th November 2005, Dr. Besigye and his co-accused persons were taken to the High Court for a bail application. As the hearing was proceeding, armed security men dressed in black raided the court, and surrounded the holding cells in which the successful bail applicants were waiting to be released. As a result of this action, the bail papers could not be processed. The armed men infamously known as the Black Mamba entered into offices at the court and interrupted the processing of bail. The accused were returned to jail. When Justice John Bosco Katutsi issued orders against the continued detention and trial of Dr. Besigye and others in the General Court Martial, Gen. Elly Tumwine defied the court order and continued the trial. When the Constitutional Court made further orders against Dr. Besigye’s persecution disguised as prosecution, Museveni vowed to fight the court ruling both legally and politically by appointing what he called cadre judges to the bench. Dr. Besigye would be nominated for the 2006 presidential elections while in jail! Since then, the trials and tribulations of Dr. Kizza Besigye and indeed all those who fought alongside him have been long and unending. He has since lost count of the number of times he has been arrested and detained illegally. Of all the charges he has faced, he has never been convicted of even one. 

In 2007, his brother, Joseph Musasizi Kifefe died under unclear circumstances, after spending several years in prison, having been charged with treason. Many other Ugandans lost lives in hundreds if not thousands as a result of the struggles for freedom and democracy, championed by Dr. Kizza Besigye and his fellow strugglists. Indeed, the husband to our Deputy President in charge of Northern Uganda, Rauxen Zedriga has been missing for over 20 years. In February 2006, the state lined up one Moses Kizige, Member of Parliament for Bugabula County and former presidential advisor, to petition against Dr. Besigye’s academic credentials. The petitioner claimed that Dr. Besigye, who was Museveni’s qualified personal doctor, had used another person’s marks to join Kitante Senior School in 1969. When Museveni is fighting his opponents, he stoops to any level and deploys every tool available. 

Unbelievably, the regime mobilized people from Dr. Besigye’s village to come and claim that indeed, he had used another person’s academic documents 37 years earlier. As usual, the intention of the regime is not that such ridiculous moves will succeed. The intention of Museveni is usually to detract his challengers and keep them busy answering very nonsensical questions, keep them busy in courts of law, to embarrass them, etc etc. Another case in point which is related to what is happening to us now, is that in December 2004, when the Forum for Democratic Change first attempted to register as a political party, the state sponsored some individuals and other parties to ferociously fight against the registration of FDC. Various petitioners claimed that FDC was a rebel group, and went ahead to challenge its slogan, name and symbols as being linked to rebel groups. Years later, a case would be filed in court seeking orders to block FDC from nominating candidates.”

The presidential aspirant concluded the presser with an attribute to the long time opposition rock, Dr. Besigye, saying, “I am speaking about this history to pay tribute to Dr. Kizza Besigye and other Ugandans who led the way and those who paid the ultimate price fighting against General Museveni and his corrupt regime. As I have consistently said, we must never forget the incredible sacrifices made by those who came before us.”

Despite the fact that Hon. Kyagulanyi is aware of all the regime tricks at suppressing opposition—from arresting polling agents, bribing, exchanging of votes by the electoral commission, voter suppression, ballot stuffing, among others—he is hopeful that the long time despot will hand over power to him after he wins the 2021 “scientific” elections. 

The writer can be reached on kakwenzarukirabashaija@gmail.com

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