Friday May 4 2012

Beyond the unprofessional handling of Ingrid Turinawe: The plain truth

By David K. Mafabi

I was appalled by the unprofessional manner in which a police officer last week handled Ms Ingrid Turinawe, leader of the FDC Women League- more specifically violently pulling and, or, pinching her right breast. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable. I am glad the Uganda Police are dealing with the matter with the seriousness it deserves. We must continue striving to build a police force which is beyond reproach.

But, I am greatly shocked by the absence of one vital element in the otherwise understandable sense of outrage over the incident- including during the performance of the ladies clad in bras, at the CPS. Nobody is raising critical and searching questions about how we got into this particular situation! All we hear is venomous condemnation of the errant police officer involved, of the entire police force, and of Gen. Kale Kayihura! As we identify with Ms Turinawe, we must, however, not lose sight of the overall context and her own contribution to it.

To understand the overall context, we need to examine a number of defining factors. First, the fact that the backdrop to the Turinawe breast incident is the raging of extremely serious political contestations- built around the taking of political power.

Second, the fact that the various actors involved are determined to do anything and everything to change the status quo- and they are not waiting for 2016.

Third, the fact that the leading actors like Turinawe, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, etc, are reading from prepared scripts- which lead straight to incidents like that involving Turinawe. Paradoxically, the more such incidents occur, the more the group celebrates “achievement”! If the group goaded the police into losing their nerve and shooting one or two people dead, the group would be over the moon with satisfaction at a “job well-done”!

We shall start with the third factor to give the reader an idea of the sort of script Turinawe and company are reading from. The reader must acquaint him or herself with Prof. Gene Sharp, well known for his numerous writings on so-called nonviolent struggle, which have reportedly influenced the manner of anti-government activity around the globe.

A professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts from 1972, Mr Sharp also held research appointments at Harvard’s Center for International Affairs. In 1983, he founded the Albert Einstein Institution, an organisation devoted to studies and promotion of the use of nonviolent action in conflict.

Sharp’s central thesis which runs through all his writings, is that power structures rely on the obedience of “subjects” to the orders of the ruler. Should the “subjects” refuse to obey then, presto, the leaders have no power!
Apart from his “Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential”, his better known work is “From Dictatorship to Democracy”.

“It is claimed that the protest movement that toppled President Mubarak of Egypt drew extensively on his ideas … the youth movement in Tunisia … earlier ones in the Eastern European colour revolutions that had previously been inspired by Sharp’s work …”. (Wikipedia).

“Sharp’s handbook served as a basis for the campaigns of Serbia’s Otpor (who were also directly trained by the Albert Einstein Institute), Georgia’s Kmara, Ukraine’s Pora, Kyrgyzstan’s KelKel and Belarus’ Zubr”. (Wikipedia).
Our own local equivalent of the groups which operated in Eastern Europe, is the A4C which has now mutated into 4GC- led by the Mpuuga, Turinawe and company.

On the second factor, i.e. the determination of their group to do anything and everything to take power before 2016, let Turinawe speak for herself. In a lengthy and exclusive interview with the Saturday Pepper of April 28, Turinawe had this to say: “There is a great achievement. First of all we started with Walk-to-Work, we were protesting against the high cost of living …”

“Another achievement is that Ugandans have learnt how to fight … in the different communities … people are coming up to say no. Remember the demonstrations against power load shedding … the teachers, health workers all those were sparked by our activism. Then you have … religious leaders also come up to say no President Museveni must go … our achievement. The population, including legislators, NRM members are saying no…”
We conclude next week.

Mr Mafabi is the private secretary/political affairs- State House.