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Stephen, I challenge your opinion on the so-called ‘walk to work’ campaign in Kampala

22 Apr

By Stephen Twinoburyo

This is an email I received from a friend, Robert Muyanga, in Pretoria regarding the views I’ve been expressing on the current situation in Uganda. My response follows:

Stephen, I trust that you are well. In response to your mail below (see the email discussion in the first comment box below), I am not attempting and will never attempt to change your opinion to which you are entitled, I would like to challenge your opinion in relation to the so-called ‘’walk to work’’ campaign that is raging on in Kampala and some few towns.

You will agree with me that in any country that has a democratically elected Government just like ours (Uganda), there are bound to be laws that govern that territory. In this case the leaders of this campaign should have fulfilled the requirements of the law in the land e.g. inform the Police of their intention to walk, ask the Police for permission to walk if they knew very well that they were not going to walk alone but with their supporters (big crowds). By so doing they would have prepared the Police to make arrangements to guide and protect the walkers while ensuring that the rest of the population is not affected by the actions of the minority.

If there is any claim that the permission was not granted or would never have been granted, then I believe there are other means such as approaching the court of law, Parliament, and other institutions inside and outside the country. I believe that the leaders of the opposition or the organizers do not have the capacity to control their followers and yet Ugandans have witnessed, since the beginning of this so-called ‘’walk to work’’ thugs as part of the walkers, break into shops, barricading roads, throwing stones etc. one of my few questions is,

1. what plans did the organizers have to protect those who did not share their views of walking?

2. What was the real intention of the organizers/opposition for organizing the ‘’ walk to work’’?

3. Did the organizers/opposition believe that they can address the issue of inflation through by walking to work?

4. was there any attempt by the organizers/opposition to seek and use alternative platforms that would have made the public understand issues of inflation better and to find a solution to the rising inflation challenges?

5. Is the inflation the work of NRM as a party?

6. Have the organizers/opposition come up with any roadmap that seeks to address the challenges of inflation in Uganda so far?

7. When is it suitable for the organizers/opposition to work with a democratically elected government in addressing challenges that are affecting Ugandans such as Economic, health, illiteracy etc.?

One thing I know for sure is that, Ugandans are not fools much as we may be having a large number of people who are illiterate. They will soon or later turn against the very so-called organizers/opposition who are trying to mislead them and shame them again just as they have doing in all previous election. I am a product of democracy and I would like to see things done democratically. We all know that the constitution accords us all various rights and one of them is the ‘’freedom of movement’’. In other words, you and I to move freely without hindrance. But as you may be aware, Every right can be limited if it infringes on another person’s right. The organizers/opposition are not just ordinary citizens, if within their constitutional right, their actions are bound to cause or lead to public nuisance and encroachment on other people’s rights, then the government has every right/duty to limit such rights of the organizers/oppositions be it in their individual or as a collective as on organization/s.

I regard it as a tired argument with reference to your statement I quote ‘’ There has not been any fairness towards the walkers in the way the authorities have engaged with them. Even if they wanted to demonstrate, it was their right. Only if they broke the law, then they would have been held liable. Here we are not talking about the law made on a stool in Rwakitura as the cows are setting’’. I would like to believe that you were not destructed while crafting out this statement. If you don’t see any law broken here then it is not worth for me to engage in such debate. Why should the Police of our government have to wait until an individual or a group break the law so they can hold culprit/s liable when they can prevent them from breaking the law?

I have listened to you talk and I have read most of your articles, I gather a sense of inaccuracy in your facts on very many occasions. One of the occasions is when you called in a South African talk show radio. Fortunately, I was tuned in that radio station and I had you talk total wrong facts that I may not repeat here. I picked up a phone and called you and I know you remember very well what we discussed although, I have not found time yet to engage with you one on one so we can exchange ideas and I very sure I will learn a thing or two from you. I don’t ask you to be patriotic for your country when you feel things are not going well, but let us be patriotic for our country and stick to the facts. Let us present facts rather than sensational and defamatory words/statements especially when we are beyond borders because we become ambassadors of Uganda in our own rights.

It is my view that that if you are a devoted writer, who want to change Uganda and who is not committed to go to the bush to see the change you desire, I would like to suggest to you that be fair in your writings, have facts, do not appear to be biased and don’t write to appease some of your readers. I quote from your statement ‘’ I see Museveni as a power-hungry autocrat and nothing more’’. I know that this is your opinion, but what informs you that a Democratically elected leader of Uganda is power hungry and autocrat? I would like to share with you, your source of information. I also believe that many of your readers would like you to share with them your source of information to such a conclusion.

Let us respect democratic processes and their outcomes for a better Uganda and ultimately a better world. If the majority say yes M7 we want you let the minority accept and avoid using other platform to undermine the will of the majority.

M7 Oye, Uganda Oye and all Ugandans who believe in democracy.

MY RESPONSE:

Thank you Robert for your response and I appreciate the fact that you took time to respond.

First of all, my take is that this walk did not require any permission as it was a normal walk to work. It’s only when the police intervened that it became violent. The authorities, I don’t know whether out of paranoia or ego, over-reacted. Why didn’t the police observe those walking and intervene if they saw violence? What makes them read people’s minds to assume that they will do something undesirable? How come Museveni managed to move with a group of boda-boda hooligans covered in banana leaves through the city last year? I personally think if the walk had been left to go on without any attention, it would have probably not amounted to much. Now courtesy of the knee-jack reaction, it has hit all major news netwoks internationally. It was covered in all S African major newspapers over the days and in fact Independent Newspapers (Star, Pretoria News, Cape Times, Cape Argus e.t.c) has a link for “Uganda police brutality in pictures”: http://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/uganda-police-brutality-in-pictures-1.1056881?image=2). All this was unnecessary. Museveni’s response itself was not helpful and reminds me of Mubbarak’s addresses during the demonstrations.

Today Olara Otunnu walked to town with his supporters and nothing happened, and indeed police accompanied him. That’s what they should have done with Besigye.

People forget that this walk is not just about rising food and commodity prices. It’s about the president spending Ug Sh. 3.3 billion on his coming inauguration, spending US $1.2 on fighter jets, pouring the country’s resources down his re-election campaign & allege rampant corruption within his circles as Ugandans suffer. This walk is in part an expression of frustrations the majority of Ugandans have been facing after elections.

Time and again Museveni is not listening because he either feels comfortable (mistakenly) or he is misled by people surrounding him that things are fine and that Ugandans are indeed happy. Is it little wonder that after the “68 % victory” the country has not been stable? Look, the man has had 25 years to do something and has been given numerous chances. If he could not do anything in that time, even in 100 years he won’t. The government has failed people in many ways and people have a right to express themselves on this – even if they choose to walk. After the government claim they were voted into power to manage – if they can’t manage, as is happening, then they should quit. The walk is in part an expression of disapproval of government.

Time and again, through different fora, the government has been given suggestions to solving some of the country’s ills but they don’t pay any heed or even care. I have been in a number of discussions where various suggestions have been raised over time.

I agree with you that Ugandans are not fools. They are turning against the government of Museveni. I side with those who contend that this government has passed it’s time – and usefulness to Uganda. The following was my latest status update on facebook:

“It’s unfortunate it has reached this level. I see Museveni as a power-hungry autocrat and nothing more. It is a stand that I am not going to change and yes, I cannot hold a gun but my bush will be the tools of modern technology – a keyboard and a phone.”

Robert, when you talk about freedom of movement or expression, I think you are not talking about Uganda. Otherwise scores wouldn’t have been in prison or Museveni would not be making those unhelpful statements he does from Rwakitura. I am for a Uganda which is democratic and free. The current Uganda is not. The Museveni of 1980 went to the bush to fight the Museveni of today.

I made that statement you highlighted very consciously. Even Mubbarak could have contended that the demonstrators were breaking the law. Gbagbo could have easily charged Ouattara with treason. And yes, they had hordes of youths that did the bidding for them – mostly violently and irrationally.

I spoke on 702 Talk Radio about MTN in Uganda. Swaziland opposition has accused MTN of blocking their communication when they were organising demonstrations that took place there. What I said on radio is that MTN is facing similar accusations from Ugandan opposition in relation to the past elections in Uganda and I explained the accusations. That’s a fact. Those accusations exist and that’s what I said. I was in fact planning a follow article in the newspaper. 702 later asked me to connect them to some people in Uganda they could speak to and I did. They were also going to speak to MTN Uganda to get their side. I also got in touch with Business Day newspaper about the same issue.

On this statement “I see Museveni as a power-hungry autocrat and nothing more”, oh yes, that’s my opnion. That’s my personal summation of him and nobody else has to agree with me. The only mistake I made was, I was supposed to write “..and nothing less” instead of “nothing more”. That’s just a grammer bit but it does not affect the fact as I see it. My blog https://ugandaspeaks.wordpress.com/ carries many of my opinions and analyses. Look, Mubbarak was an autocrat, but he was elected with over 80% of the vote at his last election. Ben Ali was elected with close to 90% only a year before he was thrown out by popular people’s revolts. Yes, 68% of 40% is still something but if more registered voters, including those on the NRM register, stayed away than those who voted Museveni, then I would be very cautious before jumping around with champagne. Is there any wonder that the country hasn’t settled and people haven’t been free since that “popular” vote?

Yes, I am for a democratic Uganda, a Uganda where leaders work for the country, a Uganda where people’s liberties are respected and a Uganda where I will be proud of my leadership.

Today, I asked that “Is Museveni becoming the new Amin?” and somebody asked that “Is Kayihura the new Maliyamungu?”, and I am really pondering over these questions.

I hope to see a Uganda that will make our children proud of the work we did.

Kind regards,

Stephen.

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5 Comments

Posted by on April 22, 2011 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs

 

5 responses to “Stephen, I challenge your opinion on the so-called ‘walk to work’ campaign in Kampala

  1. Twino Speaks

    April 22, 2011 at 17:52

    An email discussion I had with somebody:

    Stephen, you are in SA. You dont want to delve into the mind and character of KB, to see him for what he really is.So why risk your reputation defending him,or demonising M7?

    Is there injustice in the country? Sure. Is there grand corruption? Definitely. Have services such as health, roads, agriculture, trade gone to the dogs? Could govt intervene and lower taxes on fuel? Absolutely.

    You see stevo, you write articles. But write with more facts, less personal sentiments. Protests happen. Senators in the US were arrested for their walk,because they were disturbing the peace.
    For crying out loud, dig up some real issues and write. How different are you to Ugandan scribes and columnists who do not dig deep and just write anything,just for the sake of a pay check at the end of the month?Look for Daily Nation Newspaper of Kenya, Newsweek magazine, The Wall Street Journal and you see what I mean in comparison with whats written here.

    In negotiations, parties deal with people they can work with. Unfortunately, those rallying behind KB to agitate for their rights, have not understood the nature of negotiating with a power. You do not send your father in Laws enemy to ask for his daughters hand in marriage. You send his friend as a trojan horse,get the daughter,then tell dad to deal with it!

    MY REPLY:

    Look, I really have nothing to gain by defending or tolerating Museveni. I see Museveni as a power-hungry autocrat and nothing more. It is a stand that I am not going to change and yes, I cannot hold a gun but my bush will be the keyboard. I will support all causes that aim to see Museveni out because he is not helping Uganda at all but rather supporting his small corrupt elite.

    I am not an apologist of Besigye and would not have voted him in the last elections because I was not fully convinced about some of the issues he presented but I sympathise with him in this case and would probably vote for him if he stood today. I cannot start demonising Besigye when I clearly see that the danger is Museveni. I wish to see that man answer for his deeds on Ugandans. The links I provide on my wall is information that others have gathered and the opinions others have made of him. Those who benefit from him understandably don’t see this.

    I will only make sense to supporters of Museveni if I write praises of him. There was a time there were such promises but they are no more. It’s like being asked to praise Amin. Amin was clearly a danger to Ugandans and it had to be said. I have to say the same about Museveni, he is taking us back, if not already, to the days of Amin.

    There has not been any fairness towards the walkers in the way the authorities have engaged with them. Even if they wanted to demonstrate, it was their right. Only if they broke the law, then they would have been held liable. here we are not talking about the law made on a stool in Rwakitura as the cows are setting.

     
  2. My 2 Cents!!

    April 22, 2011 at 21:49

    ST

    Reference to your first email message. I am surprised (shd i be?) by his/her statement about ”If you don’t see any law broken here then it is not worth for me to engage in such debate.” I will be happy to engage in a discussion with him about the respect for rule OF law and not rule BY law. If Besigye committed a crime by walking to work, then he is liable and shd be charged with such offence. However he has been arraigned to court for breaking a ‘lawful order’. Question is – what makes an order lawful? Are there unlawful orders? Is an order lawful simply because it has been made by a policeman? what if the policeman has misdirected him or herself as to the law of the land? Is an order stopping someone from walking to work lawful? sure? Can someone tell me here that when i refuse to kill a person as ordered by a policeman then that is an offence? why should i then be found liable for refusing to obey what i consider to be an unlawful order?

    In justifying refusal to obey unjust laws, Martin Luther King Jr stated ”One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law. Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire.”

    This is true in the instant case. There are people who are willing to go to jail and are languishing there now for their right to walk. When for example will we say that it is now OK for them to walk? More crucually, why is the law applied harphazardly? How come the police does not arrest those who break the law that requires people to wear helmets on bodabodas? Why arrest Besigye anyway and allow other people to walk to work? why let Otunnu walk to work and refuse Besigye the same right? Why allow the hundreds of Ugandans who are walking and arrest those who have refused to be subjected to discrimination of being persecuted for walking? He says that ”Why should the Police of our government have to wait until an individual or a group break the law so they can hold culprit/s liable when they can prevent them from breaking the law?”’ i will ask him this – the highest road accidents today are caused by bodabodas. there is a ward in mulago dedicated to them now – why hasnt the police arrested all bodaboda operators? Instead they have formed a SACCO and been given 200Million shillings. If no one sees this unfairness, then i guess i am preaching to the wrong congregation and i should walk back home….

    Whether you whitewash a grave, it remains the place of the dead
    similarly whatever reasons are given to refuse the opposition members who languish in jail on flimsy midemeanours, their right to walk remains unhampered and none of them has been charged with an offence related to walking

    Lastly, when someone says in very clear language that they intend to walk to work as INDIVIDUALS and that they WILL NOT ORGANISE any gathering or assembly, then they legally have no reason or justification to inform the police or be guided by the police on how to walk to either church or work. Insisting that they will do so does not justify using bullets, tear gas and water hoses to stop them . Insisting that they are inciting violence by walking when none has been planned or envisioned -save for the britality of police force – does not act as a defence in any court in this world.

    As a way of analogy, when i walk up to a lady and say hello, even if i find her beautiful and even if i would like to start a relationship with her, i cannot be charged with ”attempted rape” simply because someone SUSPECTS it. Mere ”intelligence reports” have never been LEGAL JUSTIFICATION for police action – unless we are nolonger living in a FREE AND DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY as envisaged by our Constitution

    Do you realise that people are dying merely because police was not informed in a manner prescribed by the law that people are trying to save on megre resources by walking? That the said information – though not legal – is leading to the death of citizens of this country? Even if it was a law to do so, take note that ”Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.” per Martin Luther King Jr

     
  3. Twino Speaks

    April 23, 2011 at 07:51

    Thank you My 2 cents for that opinion and response.

    Somebody else sent me the following in response to the above:

    Thanks Stephen, you have answered him well…..he has a right to drum. Am happy he is very happy with our economy and that’s why he decided to work in Uganda and pay tax in his home country! Those are the people holding drums busy drumming……opposing Museveni’s policies does not mean hating him. Yes, i will personally add that Ugandans cannot afford to live worse than slaves in their own land…..preganant mothers hunting termites for food, breast feeding mothers hunting rats for food, men and women dying of jiggers, men and women sleeping without food and no hope of getting it tomorrow. I don’t have that much love, i don’t have that much patience, i don’t have that much trust and i don’t have that much ignorance to drum and think tomorrow will be fine.

    Ugandans demand to see change not to be told change…..we want the corrupt to pay and go to jail, we want the president to spend less of our money, we want the opposition to be treated as Ugandans, we want armed forces who are protecting citizens not killing them, we want drugs in Mulago and all regional referral hospitals, we don’t want to see a mother die while giving a new life, we want proper planning and implementation.

    This is 2011, days of making humorous speeches and laugh all day are gone, we are no longer laughing at stories…..we want to laugh while having food, while our children going to school, while getting drugs in hospitals, while getting our pensions and while having trust in our govt.

    Stephen, copy this to him!

     
  4. gafabusa

    April 25, 2011 at 19:53

    HOW DOES M7 SQUANDER HIS POLITICAL CAPITAL BEFORE HE IS EVEN SWORN IN,BY BLUNDERING AGAIN,THROUGH EXCESSIVE FORCE OF UNLEASHING HIS DOGS TO ATTACK THE WALK TO WORKERS, THE MORE HE BLOCKS THEM, THE MORE HE AMPLIFIES THE SITUATION. BUT HE HAS BEEN THERE B4, HE BLOCKED THE KABAKA TO KAYUNGA AND SHED 30 LIVES, NOW 5.

     
  5. Arafat Bion Matovu

    April 28, 2011 at 12:31

    Shame upon Stephen’s friend, I mean the one working at Uganda’s Pretoria Embassy for calling Mr. Museveni’s government a “democratically” elected government even in presence of evidence of “unconstitutional means” used by NRM henchmen to guarantee his win. In the case of the ongoing Walt to Work Campaign/Demonstration, it is any Ugandan’s obligation/right “not to ask permission in order for him/her to walk” as a regime’s propaganda but to inform the police of his/her intention to protest against any burning issues. And after notifying the police, it is the police’s “constitutional” duty to only guide and protect a protester. In case of any dispute, it is also the duty of the Inspector General of Police or any concerned organ of the government to seek for a court interdict/order stopping any disputed protest rather than committing crimes against humanity against innocent Ugandans especially the infants! On the issue of Walk to Work organisers’ inability to control their followers, I am sure that the truth is inside your heart! Ugandan protesters are always well mannered, the only their problems are thugs like the extremist Kiboko Squad and other related terrorism groups attached to the state house or Mr. Museveni’s PGB! These are the very people causing chaos during well planned demonstrations. The writer even went far in asking stupid questions like question number 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 7! Letting the public understand issues of inflation better, is the work of the government, which is the very NRM/Museveni’s government. I wonder his “so-called product of democracy” spirit which only gives him the determination to sell Ugandan passports to already proud citizens of other countries when thousands and thousands of stranded and desperate Ugandans are in urgent need of their national passports, the very national heritage. The passport process was illegally tendered to NRM area chairpersons across South Africa and I am sure that with these few out of millions and millions of evidences of power abuses/corruption activities under Museveni’s regime, Stephen’s friend (possibly the Ugandan Ambassador in South Africa) will never understand what ordinary Ugandans “especially the vulnerable ones” are going through. Therefore, he/she must leave Walk to Work demonstrators alone because it is in their pockets.

     

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