Last week, in this paper, Yusuf Sserunkuma, a PhD research fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research - the former workplace for Dr Stella Nyanzi, wrote; “Male Mabirizi, Patrick Wakida and other opposition’s intelligent idiots.”
The article carried defamatory innuendos against me to which I am compelled to respond in these same pages. Opinions like those of Sserunkuma, that “It is also absolute idiocy to go to the judiciary in a case against President Museveni -like you just arrived from the Arctic’’ are intended to mislead Ugandans into a docile and dormant state as Museveni and those earning from his government thrive while the majority suffer.
If one is not interested in Museveni’s rule, I would have expected him to encourage people to be proactive. Going to courts, however weak Museveni has made them, is akin to a man in a home whose house has been invaded by robbers with heavy machine guns but only has a stick in his house.
If Sserunkuma would advise that man to give away his family belongings, I would advise him to fight using that stick as well as making a loud alarm because if he does not do so, the robbers may even end up raping his wife and daughters.
Oftentimes, the alarm will be responded to by the entire village which may force the robbers to flee or they may be rounded up. This is what happened in Mbale. Although the Owiny-Dollo-led majority justices fell short of their duty in refusing to set aside the entire Act, they nullified the seven years’ extension by Parliament which Museveni was also warming up for by preparing a referendum to extend presidential years. How would this have happened if we did not petition the Museveni-weakened courts?
It is also not good to lump up the judiciary especially in decisions which are made by more than one justice. Lumping up justices Eldad Mwangusya, Prof Lillian Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza, Paul Mugamba and Kenneth Kakuru (who were categorical that the process of amending our constitution was illegal and set it aside) with Bart Katureebe, Arach-Amoko, Opio-Aweri, Jotham Tumwesigye, Owiny-Dollo, Remmy Kasule, Elizabeth Musoke Cheborion and Barishaki (who pretended as if they were expatriates with no citizenry duties to protect our constitution) is the most unfair thing for serious Ugandans to do.
These gentlemen and the lady-professor are going through a lot because of their standing out to be counted with majority Ugandans who refused the age-limit removal and that needs to be recognized by every person talking about the age limit judgments at both courts, lest we discourage other judges from standing by our side in future.
The judiciary is a hospital of sorts where litigants go to seek attention of their legal condition, where managers are supposed to be competent and independent. What happens when they slide into dependency and incompetence?
Do you blame patients for going there yet one village member like Sserunkuma thought that they are the opposite of what they are supposed to be? I think not. The right people to blame are the majority justices at the Supreme court and the Constitutional court led by two former Museveni ministers in Katureebe and Owiny-Dollo, respectively, and not us who expected them to be responsible citizens.
Sserunkuma’s article is emasculative of our efforts, now at the East African Court of Justice whose expenses are unbearable to a public private interest litigant and for which I launched a fundraising drive.
In fear of its relative independence - because Museveni appoints one judge at each level - the age-limit removal supporters, who once stated that after the Supreme court we would only resort to God have started spreading falsehoods that the East African Court of Justice has no power to annul the Ugandan law removing age limits.
If that court had powers to nullify several sections of Tanzania’s Media Services Act, 2016 on 28th March 2019, how does it lack powers to annul the Ugandan one which has been held to be illegal by four Museveni-appointed judges?
I call upon people who believe that we inherited this country from our ancestors and are hence duty-bound to protect it from excesses of selfish rulers not to be diverted by regime.
The writer is a petitioner against the age-limit removal.