There was already enough about his public profile to attract less-than-approving whispers. He is after all, a 29-year-old Christian man, proud to be polygamous. But not even that was preparation enough for what the country’s State Minister for Youth uttered on Saturday last week.
No arrests should be made after an indecently dressed woman is raped, he said. And what makes a woman indecently-dressed-enough for rape, you may ask? That’s miniskirts, bikinis and tight jeans. Mr Ronald Kibuule trended on Twitter yesterday for all the wrong reasons. “I am a Ugandan youth. Kibuule might be the minister for Youth. But I state here that he does not represent me. Not with such an attitude,” tweeted Patience Atuhaire.
This was not the first time he was speaking on women dressing. Reports show that he made similar comments at a youth camp in Kayunga last December. His remarks now portray the minister as a young man, blessed with wealth and power, but insensitive to women, almost to a level that echoes the word misogyny. He did not answer our calls for a comment. But people who know him describe him as an energetic, smartly dressed, sociable and proud.
The Shadow Minister for Youth, Mr Benard Atiku, who demanded Mr Kibuule to “apologise for the outrageous statement,” wrote him off as a proud man and a show-off who “speaks anyhow.”
Former classmates at Uganda Christian University Mukono, where he studied Social Sciences, describe a man who strived to keep a sharp spotless image. “But sometimes he was a show-off,” a classmate says, “especially in the company of girls. He had money and acted as if all girls were his. He had money and acted as if all the girls could be his, as if all the flowers in the garden were his.”
By the time he left UCU, he had started a relationship with two women, Fortunate and Esther, who he would later come to call his wives. He told the New Vision that he married them to avoid cheating. For his age, Kibuule is rich, even by his pay as minister and MP alone. He owns posh residences in Mukono Town and is associated with some developments in Mbalala. He is also said to own another complex, fit to be a presidential lodge, according to our sources, in Nakabago, Mukono District.
The minister is also said to be close to many a Chinese investor, but this could not be confirmed as he did not answer our calls. Mr Tamale Mirundi, the Presidential spokesperson, distanced the President from the minister’s remarks, saying the views on women’s dressing were personal views, not official government policy, adding that the 29-year-old should be careful about what he says in public. Mr Kibuule’s comments have led to many reactions questioning whether he indeed respects women.
MP Vincent Bagiire, a friend to the minister, however described him as a caring and loving man, even a proud father of daughters. Accusations of misogyny were “misplaced,” he said, adding, “There are many polygamous and promiscuous men who keep it a secret, but that he should be given credit for having his relationships in the open.”
Discussion on decency in dressing, create heated debate in Uganda, and Mr Kibuule’s comments only fuel them further.
But for a country just recovering from the rape and murder of a nine-year-old child, you start to understand the anger generated by the minister’s statements.
What they say
Patricia Munabi, the executive director of Forum for Women in Democracy. “It is shameful for a youth minister who represents the biggest population in this country to make such a statement. Doesn’t he know that it is a criminal offence for man to rape a woman? It is a total disgrace for him to have uttered such a statement.”
Monicah Amoding, Female Youth Representative, “Hon. Ronald Kibule is completely out of order. How can he say such a thing? His remarks only show that he is not informed about women’s rights. He has to apologise to all the women in this country.”
Betty Nambooze, Mukono Municipality MP. “If he does not retract that statement by issuing an apology within 48 hours, I will spearhead a censor petition against him in Parliament. Since he also claimed to have spoken to the Inspector General of Police over the matter, I now want to hear his side of the story.”
Prince Hakim Stinson @princetarzan. Women should learn to think with logic and not emotion, it is for your own good to dress decently. Take it or leave it. #NuffSed
Rosebell Kagumire ?@RosebellK
Rape begins in the mind! Once you tell our children that raping anyone for whatever reasons is okay, you are a dangerous person #kibuule