MP Zaake: My response to President Museveni’s comments on tribalism and military brutality

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By Francis Zaake

I have read Mr. Museveni’s 13-page missive on tribalism and corruption that he published 2 days ago. The audacity with which he routinely peddles falsehoods; misrepresents his opponents; and regurgitates distorted history, all in a bid to cover up his failure as President to ensure national cohesion and equal justice is hard to ignore.

Mr. Museveni is quick to exaggerate positive criticism of his regime as “hostility, insults, hooliganism, etc,” but slow to admit institutionalised tribalism, and brutality of his armed men which he downplays as “mistakes” and simple cases of “indiscipline”. If these are indeed mistakes, what explains the sentencing of Pte. Abraham Lokwap who recently shot dead a civilian in Kasese to 35yrs in prison during a trial that lasted less than 5hrs?

He claims that “every military person that has killed a civilian or has ‘misbehaved’ is in jail and/or on trial”. In which Court is the LDU officer who shot dead opposition supporter Dan Kyeyune, a video of which murder we shared widely on social media? If the killing of Ritah Nabukenya was a mistake as he suggests, what of that of Yasin Kawuma by SFC soldiers whose intention was to assassinate Bobi Wine? Which Court is trying officers whom His Worship Mr. Swaleh Asiku of the Chief Magistrates Court in Arua ruled to have tortured me in August 2018? Which Court is trying the police officers who intentionally murdered comrade Hakim Ssekamwa in Bombo Town as he escorted us from a Court session? What Court is trying the UPDF officers who raided, molested and beat up Makerere University students last year?

Museveni accuses his critics of “trying to cast the NRM as a system monopolized by people from western Uganda,” and then lists a few names of low-ranking non-westerner civil servants – who have little say on his stay in power – to justify the false claim that he runs an inclusive Government. But he can barely explain the overwhelming deployment of a small circle of his tribesmen in critical positions of the armed forces keeping him in power. Even the Police Force which is uncharacteristically led by an ‘Ochola’ is in reality commanded by a “Sabiiti”. The position of Vice President which Museveni seems to have ring fenced for Baganda only performs low-profile ceremonial roles. When Gilbert Bukenya became prominent in that position, Museveni quickly replaced him with someone whose presence in government we have to be constantly reminded about. The Anites, Namuganzas, Lumumbas and others whom Museveni touts as being from from other regions were demonstrably appointed as a reward for being his sycophants, but not as part of an honest effort at regional-balancing.

Mr. Museveni implores us to “leave” his armed forces “out of tribal debates”, but how can we when high-ranking officers like Kagarura, Twesigye, and Mwiine, who tortured me with impunity in April are all from Museveni’s region? When I reported them for torturing me on account of my tribe as a Muganda and on account of my political affiliation with that “muganda dog called Bobi Wine” was any effort made to hold these officers accountable? No. Instead, Museveni’s regime sent investigators led by a one Mr. Tinka Zarugaba whose motive, as it eventually turned out, was to cast me as a theatrical lier and altogether downplay the torture his tribesmen subjected me to. How then can I leave these armed men out of ‘tribal debates’?

Museveni has mastered the art of divide and rule through which he ensures that oppressed citizens from the different regions keep fighting each other instead of uniting to oppose him. And so I couldn’t miss reading between the lines of his subtle character-assassination of Baganda when he alleged that LDU officers who’ve committed various atrocities against citizens are all recruited from Buganda region – as if to incite other regions into hating Baganda for “oppressing” them, or to show that its not only his tribesmen who oppress us.

Anyone who cares to analyse the deployment of soldiers in Uganda will realise that those recruited from one region, say Northern Uganda, are largely deployed in other regions whose local language they barely speak and whose leaders they barely recognise. In the end, any mistake done by a soldier is quickly blamed on their region of origin as a whole. This cross-region deployment strategy makes it difficult for deployed soldiers to get along with the residents or leaders of their area of deployment. That’s why the same LDUs Museveni claims to have recruited from Buganda could not identify ‘one of their own,’ the LCV Chairperson of Mityana District whom they recently brutalised with impunity in broad day light. The officers were eventually held accountable, but this was because this particular victim is a leader in Museveni’s party.

When Museveni says there is no corrupt person that he cannot deal with, does he mean to say that himself; Kuteesa; Muhwezi; Otafiire; Mukula and other officials in his Gov’t who have been mentioned in several corruption scandals are pieces of wood that can’t be held accountable? When he undermined and de-funded the IGG’s office by creating the State House ‘Anti-Corruption’ Unit, was he fighting corruption or fighting those supposed to fight it?

As you can see my comrades, it’s high time we united against the common enemy we all face regardless of our tribes: the dictatorship of Mr. Yoweri Museveni. I have nothing against people from other tribes, but my concern is Mr. Museveni and the few people from his region whom he has shielded from the law and given overwhelming dominion over other citizens so as to entrench himself in power. Exposing tribalism is a legal obligation. Practicing tribalism is a crime.

Zaake Francis, MP
Mityana Municipality

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