Good governance has had an intoxicating past few days in Uganda. Police arrested and arraigned in court a regime-flavoured socialite of a thug, the infamous Sipapa aka Charles Olim.
In the March 22 Observer article, Arrestable thugs and the fountain of honor, I marveled at the irony of unashamed thugs like Sipapa openly frolicking with the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM). Sipapa’s thuggish reputation, like pungent body odour, is loudly unapologetic.
Nonetheless, Sipapa managed to wrangle a meeting with the Fountain of Honour, complete with a photo opportunity. In November 2019, the government Uganda Media Centre reported that the president had met with ‘music promoter and entrepreneur Sipapa.’
In the meeting, the president implored youth like Sipapa to vote for leaders who would genuinely listen to their concerns and create lasting solutions. He also invited youth like Sipapa to monitor the usage of government funds in districts and sub-counties. Sharks might as well get into fish farming.
Sipapa told the media the president invited him to convey the needs of the ghetto youth. In March, NBS TV journalist Canary Mugume tweeted about an incident in which Sipapa threatened to shoot the driver of a vehicle, which vehicle Sipapa’s car had knocked.
Mugume sympathized with Sipapa’s victim, stating, “Sipapa is untouchable, unfortunately. Even top-ranking cops fear him. They don’t know how he acquired armed state security...”
Braggadocios Sipapa responded by belittling Canary Mugume as not being man enough to talk about matters of men, according to online media reports. Yes, we no longer bother to hide the inanity of our arguments.
Nothing semed to stick on Sipapa even though his name stank like an open sewer - from loud whispers about his thug life; shooting up the opposition's National Unity Platform (NUP) office; making it rain money at NRM campaign rallies; telling NUP leader Bobi Wine that the NRM would never accept a NUP victory; battering his women; to bullying other road users with his armed state security.
Thus, when news broke that the police were on the hunt for Sipapa, we were puzzled. What could Sipapa have finally done and to whom that the police was hunting for him? Initial media reports indicated that Sipapa had robbed a residence of monstrous amounts of money- $429,000 (Shs 1.6 billion) among other expensive items.
Significantly, the reports were demure on the identity of Sipapa’s latest victim. Our curiosity peaked, for what manner of residence has such eye-watering amounts of hard cash laying about? Could that have been kameeza money that Sipapa pinched?
Turned out that this home did not fit the profile of Sipapa’s usual victims, simpleton Ugandans unworthy of police interest, only fit for social media rants and gossipy headlines. The Observer on September 21 revealed that the home belongs to a wealthy and highly-placed South Sudanese national, an individual whose money is of the finest quality and his position a premium heavyweight.
Sipapa’s latest victim has the X factor. This X factor saw the police crack the case with record-breaking efficiency. The robbery happened on August 28.
On September 6, the police arrested Sipapa on charges of aggravated robbery. Sipapa is now in state custody - on remand. We celebrate the police for this energetic burst of efficiency. May such bursts live long and prosper!
Bush war veteran and special presidential advisor on Defense and Security, Lt. Gen Proscovia Nalweyiso intimated to the press she has been on a mission to disabuse regime-flavoured thugs like Sipapa of their immunity.
Nalweyiso asserted some individuals used photo opportunities with top personalities to create an impression of closeness to power.
From his 2019 meeting with Museveni, Sipapa came away with a photo. Now seared into the long memory of the internet, is the photo of Sipapa simpering in phony humility next to the president. Nalweyiso, onto Sipapa’s trail, even ordered the withdrawal of his state security detail.
She stressed: “He is one of the people leading groups of thugs who invade apartments and rob people of their laptops, phones, money, cars, and other belongings. I have been fighting with police over him.”
Nalweyiso told us nothing new apart from her statement about fighting with the police over Sipapa. This is where the sudden onset of record-breaking police efficiency ought to focus. Why has a whole bush war historical, a trailblazer like Nalweyiso who retired as the highest-ranking female army officer in the history of Uganda, had to fight with the police over Sipapa?
Questions like these bare their teeth at us; they dare us to uncover the truth we cannot handle. Yet we must. You see, we lack that X factor that Sipapa’s latest victim embodies.
Unless, of course, you plan to start identifying as a well-connected foreigner who also happens to have wads of thousands of dollars in their residence. If that is your plan, may the crusading tenacity of Nalweyiso’s mission be with you. Otherwise, put away your good governance celebration; it is far from Uhuru.
The writer is a tayaad muzzukulu.