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Millions in slums and brutality on Kampala streets

There is a close connection between President Museveni’s millions in the slums and the brutality of his “errant” soldiers on the streets of Kampala. One only needs to have their ears on the ground and their eyes on the prize.

Let me tell you of a memorable incident I witnessed during the 2011 presidential election, which puts this connection in proper perspective.

We were in Kyengera during the evening traffic jam when an errant motorist in a Toyota Ipsum with newer plates, advancing to the city, took the right-hand side of the road – the one meant for vehicles exiting Kampala.

There seemed something urgent and authoritative about this driver as he forcefully wanted road users on that side – their right side – to actually give way. Even ambulances do not have the ferocity this God-blessed Ugandan exhibited.

Traffic officers often let these mad men get away with their indiscipline, especially if they are driving cool wheels. You know, a dark-tinted Land Cruiser, a Jeep Cherokee, or Range Rover allows you all the road indiscipline in Kampala.

Experience has shown us that to afford such flashy wheels, you must be rich by our standards, and most of Kampala’s showy rich men and women are thieves.  Experience has also shown us that there is no successful large-scale thief operating without the support of the state – directly or indirectly.

Thus, our underpaid, famished and terribly abused traffic officers – as Afande Muhammad Kirumira would confirm – are tired of intercepting these Kampala’s elite burgles who are released by a simple phone call – to their painful embarrassment. But this specific motorist was riding in a God-forsaken Toyota Ipsum, which is by good measure, a cheap automobile.

For being an Ipsum, the officer was encouraged to wave the car down, by almost standing in its way. He demanded that the driver parks on the side. The fellow behind the wheels simply stopped the engine in the middle of the road.

A beautiful well-built woman opens the co-driver’s door and majestically approaches the officer. “Why are you stopping us?” she angrily asked. Before the officer would squeeze his lips to say a word, the woman slapped him hard, forcing his head to swish behind.

“I could have you arrested right now. You don’t know who is running this country!” she warned.

An armed fellow in civilian clothes had emerged from the back door of the Ipsum.  He did nothing but simply stood by the car brandishing his rifle for the world to see. The woman walked back to the car and they sped off like they had come.  The authority with which the powerful lady spoke was consistent with her build. She seemed well-fed and “deep in things.”

The armed fellow demonstrated their connection with power. As the crowd shouted in bewilderment, one of the onlookers loudly remarked, “eyo motoka eva tuletera sente, oyo ofisa abade ki?” loosely, “that vehicle has just brought us money, what is wrong with that officer.”

In pain and embarrassment, which he calmly tried to subdue, the officer sauntered to the other side of the road, joined his colleague, shaking his head in disbelief. We also drove off. Like many of us, his mistake had been to assume all Ipsums were the same. This one had the price of a Range Rover. How I wish he knew, poor soul!

We left thanking the onlooker who gave us the only clue about the vehicle and its occupants. It was about three weeks to the election, and surely we did not know who was running the country.

The lady’s accent and build was telling of the part of the country in which she came from – western or southwestern Uganda. That she had an armed bodyguard tells that she belonged to the party in power, which is the only organ entrusted with arms. There was no money on the scene, but if our onlooker is to be believed, we can conclude this was the incumbent’s money, Mr Museveni.

There is never foolproof evidence for these things, except ethnographic moments like the one we witnessed in Kyengera. Political scientists will tell you that money and violence move together. If power cannot get its way through open purchase, the wretched of the earth have to be whacked into line.

The author is a PhD fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research.

Comments

+1 #1 Jama 2018-10-25 03:03
In most terrible dictatorial regimes around Africa, many of those close to the regime behave like this lady as if their reign is eternal.

They are the untouchables and do you know who l am? Or I can make you disappear.
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0 #2 Akot 2018-10-25 18:37
Yusuf Serunkuma,

Immediately Museveni took over & as there was no war as Acholi just lowered guns & surrended seeing all the other tribes had UNITED for Museveni, his soldiers started collecting money from at check points saying, politely, they needed the money & thanked people who gave them!

I was big headed, didn't give them a cent saying I didn't have & each time soldeirs looked at me up & down saying 'not possible for one so well dressed'!

I told them I was going to work & had to dress up well!

Yet all I could think of was the time they looted banks, so I said to myself, 'good God, now we are the banks & they have earned the right to loot us openly!

I don't understand how Ugandans just go along, even knowing without tribal leaders standing down to shatter the tribalistic system & their UNITY, Museveni is going no where & will only get evil day by day!
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0 #3 Akot 2018-10-25 18:47
Jama, agreed, yet

Kadaffi's children in prison, Mobuto's are moneyless as their accounts were blocked by France/Belgium, Amin's children only returned to Uganda when Museveni came on stage knowing they are safe as Museveni only got at Acholi, then at the rest of Ugandans now!

See, Uganda muslims are preparing to come back from DRCongo; when Museveni drops dead, it will be them in his place while we fight/block one another & are tribally divided!
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0 #4 Akot 2018-10-28 19:13
Change of leader is brought about by UNITY of people who want better life & they MUST have alternative candidate with better attractive socioeconomic programme!

From outside Uganda, one gets the impression there are no poor living in slums, no illiterates who want better future for their children, tax payers have good working conditions/better pay...!

The calm-peace-non existence opposition to Museveni, prove Ugandans want him to just go on!

When Museveni dies of old age in +30 years, what will Ugandans do?

How many of those who were 30 years in 1986 still live, how do their children live?

How do today +70% under 35 see themselves & their children in the next 30 years?
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0 #5 Akot 2018-10-28 19:40
As things are with Ugandans just going along in peace, the tribalistic system held firm by tribal leaders, there is no alternative to Museveni as there is no opposition, even Akot will finally understand that Ugandans want to be left in peace with Museveni!

Betty Long Camp, UN, EU, USA & so many have already understood & left Ugandans in peace with Museveni!

Funny, UN is going to help Hondurians & S/Central Americans running away from their shitholes because USA president said he will not let them enter his country - but UN is going to help Mexico with these migrants!

Poor opressed are rising up against bad rule & are helped by UN/EU!

Is any one helping Ugandans at peace with Museveni?
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0 #6 Akot 2018-10-28 19:52
United Nations/European Union give millions of euros & food to refugees in Uganda!

Do they give the millions of Ugandans in slums a cent, soap, oil, tins of food...?

Were some refugees in Uganda not arrested because they are served by UN-EU & were selling what they get to Ugandans?

Developed countries, world charities... are all out helping migrants, refugees, good life seekers, but is any helping Ugandans or telling the world our people need help?
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0 #7 Fuller 2018-10-29 17:04
Quoting Akot:
Yusuf Serunkuma,

Immediately Museveni took over & as there was no war as Acholi just lowered guns & surrended seeing all the other tribes had UNITED for Museveni, his soldiers started collecting money from at check points saying, politely, they needed the money & thanked people who gave them!...….
………….
Yet all I could think of was the time they looted banks, so I said to myself, 'good God, now we are the banks & they have earned the right to loot us openly!

I don't understand how Ugandans just go along, even knowing without tribal leaders standing down to shatter the tribalistic system & their UNITY, Museveni is going no where & will only get evil day by day!


Your note: "...now we are the banks & they have earned the right to loot us openly!" is spot on.

But, can you summarize how 39.9999 million people sit on their hands in the face of a Despot?
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