Opinion | Arthur Katabalwa | What Really Happened In Jinja as Mbabazi Set Out to Consult the Electorate.

Posted September 11, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Inside Politics ~ 5,147 views


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There times when a society reaches a nadir, when suddenly events as they are are no longer sustainable; when we need to check and question our conscience. Europe is currently going through a refugee crisis. For a while, most of the population was in the “not in my back yard” mood. As long as the refugees stayed on far off flung shores, that was somebody else’s problem. That was until a crisp clear photo of a young boy, face down in the sand dead showed up in the media. That was when people stopped and noticed.

Yesterday in Jinja, the Uganda police shot canisters of tear gas near a school. That is a fact. And that is very shameful. The Uganda Police should hang its head in shame that at a certain point yesterday, children as young as 8 were in the streets crying asking why they had been targeted. No one was giving them a plausible answer only that Amama Mbabazi was in town as a presidential aspirant. But after that many questions are now being asked of which the answers may never come.


Questions have been asked…what is wrong with being a presidential aspirant? The government is quoting the law verbatim. But you see, there is perception and this is what I have been writing about. In the law, an aspirant is just that (in brief) and as such that person needs to ask their supporters if they think that person should stand. That is easy isn’t it? But then how would an aspirant then try and convince their supporters that they have what is takes to be a presidential candidate? I suppose they have to lay out what they will do. That is where the government comes in and says that that is campaigning. Which all becomes confusing.

Last night a lawyer said on one of the local televisions that when the law was being drafted and implemented, they never saw a problem like Mbabazi. And that the law never said what “consulting” actually entailed. The Electoral Commission was arguing that an aspirant needed to consult with their supporters in town halls or small groups not have rallies. In their contention, the EC then said what they didn’t want to say. That the powers that be had not actually thought that Mbabazi was going to be pulling the crowds we are seeing today. Where in certain instances we are seeing NRM supporters ditching NRM shirts in the road. That is in itself selective because Muntu and Besigye had rallies. But the EC say that they were doing that within the FDC party structures. Well, Mbabazi doesn’t have a party he is representing. He is independent.

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But as we saw the truly shameful pictures from Jinja and Soroti over the last few days, Uganda has sank to a new low. Weather one supports Mbabazi or not, the actions of the police should be condemned in the strongest terms. Yet we will, in no doubt roll over and let what happened as an unfortunate event in the history of this great nation.Where laws are interpreted selectively and people can be beaten up and tear gas let of in crowds with wanton abandonment, without any regard to what our image is like in the international community. Whatever the government says, our image is being battered left right and center.

The law as the government is crying itself horse has been violated by Mbabazi. They may have a point there. I am not here to interpret the law. But in the implementation of justice, it has to be seen that justice is being done. And right now the public, even those who may not have sympathy as yet for Mbabazi are not seeing that. And in so doing, they are driving away support in droves. When Mbabazi announced his intentions to stand, the government went into panic mode.

They started off by ill advising the President to hold a press conference when he was off a four hour flight from South Africa. He was irritable. And soon after, they went from one crisis after another, changing laws where the public is growing increasingly suspicious that they were designed to frustrate Mbabazi. Yesterday, yet again, as the President was strutting around on the international stage, meeting the Emperor of Japan, the Uganda police threw another spanner in the works. I wonder who advises the police on their public relations? This is truly a bad time for them. And the army? I bet they must be laughing because as they had a bad press since independence, now no one can say a single squeak about them.

Arthur Katabalwa —

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


    Harriet Zaffoni

    This is just sad! What’s wrong with Museveni? Has he lost his mind?


    All Ugandans should condemn police brutality lest the words of Martin Niemoller will come to haunt us all!

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