It has been reported in Uganda Press that the Police needs a whole shs600bn the coming financial year. This money is needed because Uganda has turned to a Police State. A lot of Tear gas is needed actually on daily basis as people are dis contented and the frustration calls for the riots. The case of the Muslim community who were moving from Kibuli is also one where the President has shown interest in a faction which faction has dined at State House more than once. The top leadership in Uganda ought to know that a Police state does not help.
There’s been a lot of talk on the key laws that Parliament passed or considered to pass prior to the 2011 general elections. Taking stock of the laws passed or brought before Parliament during the aforesaid period, you will discover that most of them reflect a deep distrust in the inherent fundamental freedoms and liberties of the people. Laws including: The NGO Registration (Amendment) Act 2006; The Access to Information Regulations 2007; The Proposed Public Order Management Bill 2009; The Press and Journalist Amendment Bill 2010; Regulation of Interception of Communications Act 2010; and The Institution of the Traditional and Cultural Leaders’ Bill 2010, are seemingly an attempt to purge critical voices. Not all the new laws are bad but their lack of efficacy seems to be very apparent.
Demonstrated by the clamp-down on Ugandans who were walking to their places of work in Kampala, one would be right to conclude that those with dissenting views or those who lie on the opposing side of the political divide are subject to extraordinarily high rates of surveillance and arrests than never before. This means our country is living under a level of surveillance that can only be characterised as a police state.
Unfortunately, in this burgeoning police state, who does and doesn’t receive justice, is determined by the ‘big man’ and his underlings. Whereas what is happening is a good learning experience to inform how we gradually define our democracy, the government ought to steer clear of elements of actions or inactions that prepone extreme domestic surveillance of its own citizens. We don’t want to be trapped in a situation similar to that of the Nazi Germany or worse still, regress to the subjugation that came along with some of the post-independence regimes in Uganda.
In Nazi Germany, the police were allowed to arrest people on suspicion that they were about to do wrong. All local police units had to draw up a list of people in their locality who might be suspected of being “Enemies of the State”. This Police had the power to do as it liked. Clearly put, anybody who was deemed to be a political threat was a candidate for the list of those to be arrested. There are specks of evidence to conclude that Uganda seems to be treading on the path where the police is the master card to subdue any sort of citizen discontent. Citizens’ common sense has been stolen. In its place there are the new laws that have overthrown the long tradition of pragmatism and replaced it with a “legalistic” approach to everything. The citizens detest a situation where cruelty substitutes for justice. Recent and ongoing rhetoric of indifference advanced by some government officials on the current unpleasant cost of living situation and the retching of the citizens’ debate on the same simply demonstrates that government doesn’t want to help its people but rather suppress them against speaking out.
Time immemorial through now, young people are generally taught a celebratory history of the civil rights movement and the politics of nonviolent resistance centred on the icons of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. This is a call to government: When the good citizens start to practice the good things they have been taught by their good teachers in the good schools, they should not be ruthlessly gagged but rather listened to. firstname.lastname@example.org
KIBULI VS MUSEVENI’S MUBAJJE
Police employed teargas to stop marching Muslims Police arrest some of the youth who were participating in the march on Namirembe Road in Kampala yesterday. The Muslims, loyal to the Kibuli-based faction led by Sheikh Zubair Kayongo, were protesting elections to the supreme council. The over 1,000 Muslims, led by the head of Imams, Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata, said they wanted to dislodge Mufti Shaban Mubajje, whose leadership they have opposed since court faulted him over the sale of Muslim Muslim property in 2009.
The protestors, who first gathered at Kibuli Mosque, were addressed by Sheikh Muzaata before they resolved to descend on UMSC headquarters. In his address, Sheikh Muzaata asked the faithful to boycott government programmes, accusing it of being responsible for the problems the Muslim community is facing. “Stop engaging in all government activities because it is intended to rob you of all the remaining household materials,” Sheikh Muzaata said, without elaborating.
When the floor was handed to the spokesperson of the Kibuli faction, Sheikh Hassan Kirya, he asked the congregation if they were not tired of the developments, in which he received a resounding “Yes!” response. His proposal that the assembly sets a date to express their anger fell on deaf ears as the group insisted that they march to the UMSC headquarters immediately. The crowd then embarked on the four-kilometre journey to Old Kampala, waving flags and shouting Allah Akbar (God is great). The number kept swelling as the procession progressed.
In down town Kampala, some wary traders rushed to close their shops as they anticipated chaos. And it did not take long because as the group approached former Pride Theatre on Namirembe Road, they were confronted by police, commanded by the Old Kampala Police Station boss Kituuma Rusoke, who asked them to halt their march. The group, which was 200 metres away from their destination (UMSC offices), however, ignored the directive, prompting the DPC to order his men to disperse them. It was at this point that hell broke loose as police lobbed tear gas canisters into the crowd and fired bullets in the air.
Sheikh Muzaata was seen jumping off a boda boda as he scampered towards Kisenyi, a city suburb. As the marchers turned athletic, the police gave chase, arresting about 36. Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander Andrew Kaweesi said those arrested will be charged with holding unlawful procession. “This has showed that the leaders who are behind this do not like peaceful means of resolving misunderstandings and we will use all legal means to end this. And all those that are behind the violence will be charged,” Mr Kaweesi said.
The protests came a day before the grassroots elections of UMSC, which the Kibuli based faction has vowed not to participate in unless the UMSC constitution is amended. “We think that this constitution has to be reviewed if we are to move forward as a community. It has ambiguous clauses and it doesn’t separate roles of officials. Holding elections now will keep us in that vicious circle of wrangles,” said Sheikh Kirya.
This is the second time Muslims are storming UMSC offices over leadership wrangles. In 1991, they stormed UMSC to dislodge the then chief Khadi (Mufti) Hussein Rajab Kakooza, an attempt that left nine police officers and two canine dogs dead.
Why the fight? Mubajje woes. A section of Muslims has since 2006 been pushing for Mubajje’s exit, accusing him of illegally disposing of community property but his strong ties with big shots in government has kept him at the helm to date. The conflict ended up in court, with Mubajje, Hassan Basajjabalaba and Dr Edrisa Kasenene facing criminal charges.
Muslims opposed to Mubajje in January 2009 named Kayongo as mufti following a disagreement with Mubajje over the sale of Muslim property in Kampala. The conflict ended up in the court, with Mubajje, city businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba and former secretary general Edris Kasenene facing criminal charges. The trio were acquitted by court. But the anti-Mubajje faction rejected the court verdict and named their own mufti. Mid this year, the Old Kampala faction split with Mubajje and the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council chairman, Hassan Basajjabalaba, with each of them purporting to sack the other. Their differences have not been resolved.
UAH FORUMIST IN KAMPALA