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Whose children are these dark-hearted LDUs?

The pictures of vicious local defence units (LDUs) battering elderly women in downtown Kampala broke our hearts.

Seeing their faces contort in excruciating pain gave me goose pimples. I was enraged. I was angry at the pain and humiliation these “poor and vulnerable” mothers went through. No amount of face-saving by the Chief of defence forces would soothe their pain – and mine.

This was at the beginning of the 14-day lockdown, where directives were outrageously vague – requiring two separate “clarification addresses” to make sense of them. As counsel Nicholas Opiyo would remark, the president was a “rumbling grandfather” not “keen on details,” and neither reflective of the impact of his decisions on people’s lives.

These underprivileged vendors of foodstuffs had come to the streets on the understanding that the president had allowed food to continue being sold. These are women you would never expect to deliberately break Museveni’s directives. They were on the streets because Museveni had allowed them – or so they thought.

Unable to run faster than their otherwise youthful pursuers while at the same time holding onto their only merchandise, the green-suited gum- booted enforcers hammered them with the ferocity of a wounded cobra. Huffing and puffing as they hit their hapless victims, it was painful to watch our grandmothers cry.

Their pain became our pain. We cried. But coerced into the belief that these “wretched of the earth” mothers risked the lives of the entire country by keeping on the streets (not the wealthy travellers who came in unquarantined), our anguish would die inside us. We turned away from our TV screens shaking our heads in disbelief.

But there was more coming. Hundreds of other grannies – some actually homeless, others simply stranded without transport home – would be arrested for “disrespecting” Museveni’s 7.00 o’clock curfew.

Later, we would see pictures of another elderly grandmother on her knees begging not to impound the motorbike of a boda boda rider who had risked taking her to hospital. With her medical records in hand, our God- blessed robotic officer insisted on a letter from Museveni’s very-corrupt district emissary, the RDC.

Without it, the bike was actually impounded, and returned only later. If her condition was fatal, she would have joined the countless expectant mothers– that have lost their lives in this blighted lockdown.

Summarizing this plight, one social media commenter would say after the president returned to clear his infinite obfuscations, that “it didn’t matter what the president said, but what the LDUs understood.”

This tweep vividly captured the LDU perception in the country: regime- blessed bloodsucking monster. If they were not seen breaking into people’s homes and brutalising them for not switching off their lights, they would be seen ordering people seated on their verandas to enter inside. Again, the president had to return and offer guidance on this one.

Then a typical Machiavellian circus started: “these are bad apples in service”; “there are rogue elements among LDUs.” “There are People Power supporters sabotaging from inside.” “They will be tried and sentenced.” Indeed, in front of the cameras, they were tried and remanded. But this circus is complete utter nonsense.

We have been here before: there are no bad apples or rogue elements in our security agencies. See, the military (including police, UPDF, LDUs and any other gun-wielding forces) remain the most stringently disciplined institution in the country. As the well-known slogan goes, “order ya jeshi ni moja.” It is unthinkable that soldiers in uniform under current Uganda –junior recruits for that – would be stupid enough to implement non-issued orders or simply overstep their orders.

Like we saw with “Nigerian” military police battering protestors and journalists on the streets of Kampala, the LDU brutality is simply part of the script. But as the Machiavellian game goes, the government has to turn saintly after its dark orders have been executed.

To save face, it sacrifices its foot-soldiers executing them in public in a tactical spectacle of atonement and justice. We have been here before – and my friend, Reuters photographer James Akena, is still in a wheelchair.

But whose children are these dark-hearted angels? From whose wombs did they come? No, they come from the bowels of the beast. These are children of our system: impoverished by the same system, and now called upon into dirty work, and for a small stipend, they are turned into heartless fighting machines.

When they first emerged (or re-emerged recently) LDUs, together with other machines – street cameras – were promoted as protectors of the wananchi. But in truth, like our ordinary-still-colonial police, whose sole job is to protect the powerful/exploiters, LDUs are the more mechanised version.

Robotic, ruthless and ready-to-impress their master, their orders include monitoring potential protests against power, and decisively responding. COVID-19 has potential for anti-government protest, and thus, the message has to be sent early enough.

yusufkajura@gmail.com

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

Comments

+5 #1 Jama 2020-04-22 18:49
Nyoka ana zaa nyoka or omusota guzala musota.
We saw during the passing out ceremony,the creator of this heartless paramilitary unit decorating some of them as sharpshooters.

With no lesson about human Rights these naive youth are programmed like robots to terrorise the population.A terrorised population is easy to gorvn than a liberal one.
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+5 #2 Kalibbala 2020-04-22 22:11
NRA in Luweero used to Butcher poor impoverished Ugandans and Steal Food plus raping Young Girls at the Age of Seven...The same tactic is Used when Training LDU.Police,or UPDF..They have to Follow the Modus Operandi of NRA...It is to show Ugandans that The Country belongs to One Almighty God from Butare with his Brother Rufu(Death) Salim Saleh..

Before You Guys Stand Up and Claim your Country Back You will have to Cry Blood...They Own the Treasury and All the Land..Ugandans are Collateral Damage to them NO case To Answer...So far They have Killed 10.000.000..Africans in the Great Lakes Region..
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+2 #3 sula 2020-04-23 09:18
Spot on Kalibbala
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+4 #4 sula 2020-04-23 09:28
1- Well captured Yusuf. I can assure you the brutality of this regime has left a big scar in our hearts .

But the most painful part is that before the scar heals they scratch it again, when you are trying to overcome the pain of Zaake/Bobi etc,comes in Akena/ Pepsi ,then comes another,then another , then now our grandmothers !!!!!.

2- At one time our anger was on Mayombo, at one time Tunyefunza, Kazini, Aronda,Kawesi, Tumukunde, Kayihura etc,etc, But it continues , One is forced to ask Where is God ! and for how long !
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+1 #5 Akot 2020-04-23 19:38
Quoting Jama:


With no lesson about human Rights these naive youth are programmed like robots to terrorise the population. A terrorised population is easy to gorvn than a liberal one.


Absoloutely, so!

This is why populations have risen all over to UNITE to bring change & Ugandans MUST do the same, if they want to be part of today world & not be ignored because they go along tribally divided & ruled!

Ugandans MUST become ONE people or they are alone & will fight one another to let Musevnei rule for live, then (what?), when the demon will be no more?
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+2 #6 Akot 2020-04-23 19:44
Quoting Kalibbala:
NRA in Luweero used to Butcher poor impoverished Ugandans and Steal Food plus raping Young Girls at the Age of Seven.The same tactic is Used when Training LDU.Police, or UPDF. They have to Follow the Modus Operandi of NRA. It is to show Ugandans that The Country belongs to One Almighty God from Butare with his Brother Rufu(Death) Salim Saleh.

Before You Guys Stand Up and Claim your Country Back You will have to Cry Blood. They Own the Treasury and All the Land. Ugandans are Collateral Damage to them NO case To Answer. So far They have Killed 10.000.000..Africans in the Great Lakes Region.


Thanks!

Will tribal leaders giving chance to UNITY around mp Bobi Wine for second Independence, kill Ugandans?

Museveni/NRA killed more Ugandans than covid-19 has done in the entire world!
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+2 #7 Akot 2020-04-23 19:54
sula, agreed, so,

Why is the tribalistic system put in place by Museveni, still standing?

Without the so needed UNITY, formation of Independent Tribal States NOW, will save Ugandans from Museveni!

Why are Ugandans ensuring Museveni rules for yet +30 years?

Why is taking chance, through UNITY, around mp Bobi Wine, not coming?

Why does migrant Museveni control every institution, owns tax money & Ugandans fight themselves to ensure he rules & destroys them for good?

As long as the tribalistic system stands, no outsider will say a word against Museveni, simply because it's Ugandans, to whom tribal lands belong, keeping him in power through the system that goes against International Principle!
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+2 #8 Willy 2020-04-24 12:49
There is a tendency or desire by the NRM regime to assign their security organs tasks for which they are not suitable.

With the Ugandan police perceived as weak or lenient, Museveni and his commanders resort to the use of UPDF, military police, "crime preventers", Kiboko squads, LDUs, etc to handle issues of law and order !

As the saying goes, if your only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.
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