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Day June 28, 2010

Political criminals in Uganda must be punished


Political criminals in Uganda must be punished

In order to cleanup the mess Uganda has been engulfed in over the last 25 years, we must make clear that those who commit crimes against Ugandans must be punished because anything other than total accountability will only lead to more crimes.

I was sitting and listening to a member of an opposition party in London when she answered a question about what should be done about people who actively engage in vote rigging.  This is how she answered:  “we cannot come hard on those people because if we do, it will encourage them to steel even more votes and stay in power”.  I replied then that such an approach won’t work and that what we need is a hard-line, uncompromising and resolute stand against these criminals even if it means that we wont win this and the next general elections.  Well, that was in 2004 and we all know what happened during the 2006 general elections.

Fast forward 2010 and here is what Wafula Ogutu the FDC Spokesperson said “those who committed political crimes will be forgiven but those who loot our resources will be pursued”, according to a posting on popular Uganda chartroom Ugandans at heart.

In other words, Mr. Oguttu is telling Kale Kaihura, Kakooza Mutale, Yoweri Museveni and their henchmen that kill, torture, murder and kidnap but as long as you don’t touch our wallet, carry on!  Wafula is only interested in getting his hands on the national piggy bank regardless of how many torture and murder victims he will stomps over on his way.

History tells us that such Wafula thinking is wrong and an advanced sign of political cowardice.  The life of a single Ugandan is far much more important than contents of the national treasury because if there are no Ugandans there would be no money in the national treasury.  Uganda is a state of torture, murders, kidnappings and all sorts of human rights abuses.  These violations against us are done by people of authority and we know them.  We have to resolve to ensure that they don’t get away with their crimes.

We have crimes committed in Luwero, N. Uganda, Mukora massacres, Kampala September mascares, Kyengera genocide – the list is endless.  UNHRC has listed Uganda as a country where freedom of human rights is under threat.  The same opinion is expressed by Amnesty International and New York based Human Rights Watch.

Most recently, stick kibooko squad gangs thronged the streets of Kampala and started beating up people in full view of the Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kaihura.  Earlier, police had emptied a canister of tear gas in the mouth of a peaceful, innocent and defenseless female protester.  The police personnel who committed this crime must know that he will be held accountable.  He must know that in the not so distant future, part of his salary and pension will go to pay for the long term injuries suffered by his victim.

Somebody has to stand up and say ‘Enough’ to the suffering of ordinary Ugandans.  Uganda needs a strong man who will challenge the establishment on this issue.  We must impress it upon the perpetrators of these crimes so they understand that they will face jail terms or even capital punishment.  Now that parliament has finalized juicy retirement plans for these people, we have to make clear that their pensions and proceeds from their properties will go the victims of their crimes.  That Uganda won’t pay a penny to Congo but that Museveni, Kale Kayihura and Kahinda Otafiire and other army generals who waged an illegal and brutal war in the Congo will pay.

We must ensure that the rank and file of the armed forces are responsible for their actions.  They must understand that following unreasonable “orders from above” are orders from them.  That it may take 1,5, 10, 15 or 20/30 years to catch them but they should have no doubt in their minds that                               they will be caught and face justice.

Officers in intelligence services who operate safe houses must know that they can be caught.  Advances in forensic science mean that someone’s presence in a certain “safe house” can be detected even after 30 years.    It is also possible to use sniffer dogs to identify properties where torture is taking place.  Owners of such houses must know that their properties will confiscate, auctioned or rented with proceeds going to benefit victims of torture.

IGP Kale Kaihura must know that he will be punished for failure to take action having seen the Kibooko brigade beating up people and taking no action.  He must know that continuing to fool Ugandans with his ‘I don’t know’ approach whenever asked about these thugs will not exonerate him from their crimes.  His lack of action against the Kibooko squad is called negligence of duty and he must know that he will pay, eventually.  General Kaihura is paid handsomely to protect ordinary citizens and not to supervise actions of gangsters against citizens.  His crime is failure to stop the Kibooko brigade that was terrorizing Ugandans expressing their rights.  The self styled Commander of the Kibooko Brigade, a one ‘Backfire’ Ssemakula must know that whatever he does, a thirty year jail term is waiting for him even when he has turned 70 years old.

Busia RDC Nabanja and others in her rank must know that know that terrorizing voters and rigging their votes in favor of a certain party is a crime that will be punished down the line.

Ugandans we must remember that Hitler’s men are still being hunted, Milosovic’s  butchers of Serbia are still being hunted, Saddam Hussain’s henchmen are still being hunted.  Therefore, Museveni and his henchmen must know that there will be no time limit to bring them to justice and no mercy when it comes to accountability.  Only this hard-line stand will work because most recently, Kony stopped killings, tortures and kidnappings of Ugandans only when it became clear and apparent to him that the noose of justice on behalf of his victims is tightening around his head.

Therefore, Wafula’s statement about forgiving political crimes is irresponsible, reckless unpatriotic and only encourages more crimes to be committed.  It makes him and his organizations part and parcel of the culture of criminality in Uganda.  It is a license to the Ssemakula’s to continue harassing civilians.  And after making such statements, Mr. Wafula Oguttu then posts an appeal to Ugandans asking them to donate money to the IPC!  Obviously he cannot be serious because Ugandans are not going to donate money to any organization that looks like the one they already have.

Uganda needs someone who will ring changes and discontinue the status quo.  We supported Museveni in 1986 because he was tough talking on punishing criminals and bringing election rigging individuals to justice in addition to promising a fundamental change.  We’re disappointed because he has not only failed to deliver but has gone on and committed the same crimes as his predecessors.  Therefore, we’re looking for another messiah.  However, given the way Wafula is talking, we’re in for a long wait, but wait we will.

I shall donate Sh 500 thousand to the IPC if they come up with a policies and manifesto that looks, reads and sounds serious on this and other issues concerning Ugandans.

Michael Senyonjo

The writer is the DP Publicity Secretary for DP-UK Chapter.

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