State Minister for Education Rosemary Sseninde’s daughter plays women football with Queens Parker Rangers in the UK.
She recently organized an event in Uganda that attracted some of her supporters and I think officials from the UK. The visitors arrived in Uganda at the time of the Arua municipality by-election.
The killing of MP Robert Kyagulanyi’s driver Yasin Kawuma and the brutal arrest and torture of MPs and civilians due to the alleged stoning of President Museveni’s convoy is information they consumed daily from the media until they left the country.
I met one of these visitors recently in Goa, India during the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIFE) meetings and all he asked me about Uganda is whether the brutalized and tortured MPs have now been released. In fact he is the one who informed me that Rosemary Sseninde’s daughter is a good footballer.
You can imagine this gentleman came to Uganda courtesy of Sseninde’s daughter that plays football but all he remembers about Uganda is the torture and brutal arrest of leaders. That is the striking story he carried from Uganda.
Those torturing people ought to remember the bad publicity the late President Idi Amin Dada generated because of his government’s atrocities. I have visited a number of countries and Idi Amin remains the most known Ugandan, even in death.
It is at the Goa meetings that I learnt why Amin’s story has refused to die. I also met Indians born in Masaka and Mbarara, some of whom Idi Amin summarily deported from Uganda in 1972. The most interesting thing is that those talking about Amin are not only the old Indians that suffered his wrath but their children as well.
One of these children living in the UK still remembers that his dad was born in Uganda but got expelled by Amin. I think the expulsion of Indians is a story that will outlive many generations. The expelled Indians, as you know, sought asylum in many countries. Today either them or their children live in Canada, USA and Europe.
They are the ones who marketed Amin. Their story is the story of being expelled from Uganda by a dictator. People who travel know how many times they have been asked about Amin.
It is not guerillas or the peace ushered in by the Museveni government that is remembered, but the excesses of Amin. I was born two years into Amin’s regime but here I am being asked about his excesses.
That is what these soldiers being deployed to brutalize people must be aware. The regime they are seeking to protect will go but Uganda will remain. These human beings they are torturing will die but the damage they are causing to their country will remain.
While in India, I read about Kanye West’s visit and the kind of hullabaloo it attracted. Obviously the president who wants to associate with crowd pullers, including those who had sex during a live television broadcast, had to host him. I later read comments my friend Tourism minister Prof Ephraim Kamuntu made about Kanye West’s visit and how it would boost our tourism.
And what do they do to crown Kanye West visit’s? Unleash armed men on the street to display their skills of torture. We are now not discussing Kanye West anymore but the brutal arrest of Yusuf Kawooya, the Democratic Party supporter who was arrested recently.
He was abducted on the streets in the city centre by armed men who repeatedly hit him even after his surrender. Then a statement was issued by the UPDF that said they had arrested the tormentors. What about those who killed Yasin? MP Francis Zaake can hardly walk. Where are the fellows who have disabled him?
I think the country faces a serious crisis. Mr Museveni has not only maintained military presence in towns but it appears he asked his guards to take over police roles. And for me that is what we must now address. Why should people in civilian clothes, some shabbily dressed, be the ones to carry out arrests?
In my constituency, I saw military men on trucks patrolling and I was excited, thinking they were out of the barracks to boost security. On Monday evening I was shocked when I saw on NTV news of a soldier carrying a gun and running after taxi drivers that were demonstrating.
Of course, police is not any better but we must force these military men back into their barracks or at least stop them from brutalizing and torturing our people. If we don’t stop them, we should expect more deaths and torture.
The author is Kira Municipality MP and opposition chief whip in parliament.