MP Kyagulanyi narrates his ordeal before Arua by-election

Monday September 03 2018
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Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine with his wife Barbra Itungo in the U.S where he travelled for specialised treatment

Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine who was tortured and held in custody by security agencies for several days before he was produced in court and charged with treason has narrated his ordeal.
In a 3,611 word statement posted on his social media platforms, Mr Kyagulanyi who’s currently undergoing specialized treatment in the U.S says he “felt more compelled to speak out after reading the many posts written by President Museveni and other government officials about what happened.”

Mr Kyagulanyi, Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake and a number of MPs and other politicians, including the new MP for Arua Municipality Kassiano Wadri, were embroiled in a spat with security agents on the last day of campaigns for the Arua Municipality seat last month. Thirty three people, including Kyagulanyi and Mr Wadri, have since been charged with treason over allegations of stoning the President’s motorcade in the Arua fracas, where President Museveni had gone to canvass support for his NRM party’s candidate, Ms Nusura Tiperu.

“They wrapped me in a thick piece of cloth and bundled me into a vehicle. Those guys did to me unspeakable things in that vehicle! They pulled my manhood and squeezed my testicles while punching me with objects I didn’t see,” reads part of Mr Kyagulanyi’s statement.

Following the violent episodes that left Kyagulanyi’s former driver Yasin Kawuma shot dead and many nursing gunshot wounds, with Bobi Wine and Mr Zaake beaten into near coma, President Museveni said Mr Zaake had escaped from police custody. That was days after the authorities at Lubaga Hospital in Kampala said Mr Zaake had been dropped at the facility by unidentified people.

Below is Bobi Wine’s full statement

Fellow Ugandans, friends and well-wishers from around the world,
I am sorry, I have taken a bit long to write to you about the trials and tribulations, for which you all stood with me. It's been tough days, as I recover from the physical and mental trauma I endured. I am overwhelmed by your support and words of encouragement. I cannot repay you in any other way, except sticking to those values which bind all of us together- justice, equality and human dignity.


I will be communicating more in the coming days and where possible send my appreciation to the different individuals and organizations. In this post however, I want to recount what exactly happened to me. I am very grateful to my wife Barbie, and my lawyers who narrated to the world these events, but I also wanted to tell this sad story PERSONALLY. I felt more compelled to speak out after reading the many posts written by President Museveni and other government officials about what happened.
I read the things they were saying while I was in detention, and found them absurd to say the least. I was shocked on how they tried to downplay the atrocities committed by security agencies on innocent citizens.
So let me set the record straight.

It was 13th August and it was the last day of campaigns in the Arua municipality by-election. As always we had a great campaign day. As I left the rally, I was convinced that our candidate Hon. Kassiano Wadri would win the election. So we moved from the rally at about 5:30pm and the people followed us, singing songs of freedom and chanting “People Power - Our Power.” Together with Hon. Kassiano and a few other leaders, we parted with the multitude, bade them farewell and went into Royal hotel where Hon. Wadri was staying.

We watched the 7:00pm news from the hotel lobby as we took tea and took stock of the day’s events. It was of course very exciting to watch that day’s news. The anchor said we were clearly ahead of the other candidates and the television relayed images of the massive rally and procession we had had on that day. Shortly after, I decided to move to Pacific hotel where I was staying so as to rest after the very busy day. It was at that point that I sat in my tundra vehicle, in the co-driver’s seat. The gentleman who was driving the tundra that day is one of our drivers (not Yasin). He moved out of the vehicle to call other team members who were supposed to drive with us. He took a bit long and I moved into my other vehicle (a land cruiser) which was right next to the tundra and whose driver was already seated on the driver's seat. We immediately set off for Pacific hotel. I did not even see what happened after or how late Yasin ended up on my seat in the tundra. For clarity, he had been driving another vehicle that day.

I had started taking the stairs to my room when this driver came running to say that Yasin Kawuma had been shot. I could not believe it. I asked him where he was and he told me they were parked outside the hotel. We paced down and I saw with my own eyes, my friend and comrade Yasin, giving way as he bled profusely. I quickly asked a team member to take him to hospital and another to call the police. We had not stepped away from that place when angry looking SFC soldiers came, beating up everyone they could see.

As soon as they saw me, they charged saying “there he is” in Swahili. So many bullets were being fired and everyone scampered to safety. I also ran up into the hotel with a throng of people who had gathered around. Inside the hotel, I entered a random room and locked myself in. It is at that point that my media assistant shared with me Yasin’s picture which I tweeted because the world needed to know what was going on.
I could hear the people outside and in the hotel corridors crying for help. I could also hear the soldiers pulling these helpless people past the room in which I was, saying all sorts of profanities to them while beating them mercilessly.

I stayed in the room for a long time. At some point, I heard soldiers pull some woman out of her room and ask her which room Bobi Wine had entered. The woman wailed saying she didn’t know and what followed were terrible beatings. I could hear her cry and plead for help as she was being dragged down the stairs. Up to now, that is one experience that haunts me; that I could hear a woman cry for help, yet I was so vulnerable and helpless. I could not help her.

Related stories

  • Bobi Wine not injured, says Museveni

    Monday August 20 2018


    Kampala. President Museveni has dismissed reports that Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine is gravely ill and that some of his internal organs were damaged following his torture while in custody.

    The President, in a statement issued last evening, said the narrative was “fake news” because military doctors informed him that the condition of the popular musician-turned-politician was not as being portrayed in the media.

    “I decided to check with army doctors because, being a disciplined army, UPDF doctors always take precautions in such situations. Bobi Wine had already been seen by doctors in Arua, Gulu and Kampala. He has no head or chest injuries or bone fractures, they informed me,” Mr Museveni noted.

    The President said the media and security agencies were concentrating on the alleged stoning of one of his cars during the last campaigns for Arua Municipality by-election.
    He pointed out that he can defend himself, whether alone or with backing of his personal security, against a stone thrower or any attacker.

    He, however, said hurling a stone at another conveys is an intent to kill, citing the death during the Walk-to-Work riots of police officer John Michael Ariong.
    Pelting stones, in the case of the Arua Municipality violence, the President said, was not the “most serious problem”.

    “The biggest problem is political leaders like (Arua Municipality MP-elect) Kassiano Wadri and Bobi Wine forming, or allowing indisciplined groups to be formed under the cover of elections, groups that form illegal processions in built-up and heavily populated areas, carrying stones, up-rooting side walk pavers to use as missiles; to attack defenseless women, children and other civilians,” he wrote.
    He said such groups scared 70 per cent of registered voters in Arua Municipality to keep away from voting.

    The President in yesterday’s statement also said tortured Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake, had escaped from police custody.
    It remained unclear why police have not re-arrested him from Rubaga Hospital in Kampala where has been admitted for days.

    ptaj[email protected]

  • Torture of Bobi Wine, Zaake nullifies prosecution’s case against them

    Saturday September 01 2018

    Anyone who knows President Museveni can tell that the events surrounding the violence in Arua have made him hot under the collar. A man known for keeping cool under pressure has lashed out like never before.
    Not only has the turbulence following the Arua fracas revealed Museveni’s Achilles Heel, it has also showed that the government officials are not singing from the same hymn book.

    My sources told me that a top government official advised the President that the charges of illegal possession of firearms against Bobi Wine would not stand. Eventually, the bogus charges were dropped and new charges were preferred against him.
    This brings us to what Chief Justice (CJ) Bart Katureebe said.

    The CJ must be saluted for saying court will not entertain tortured suspects. And he stands on very solid and binding legal authority.
    In the case of Uganda vs Robert Ssekabira and 10 others, Justice Ralph Ochan made a landmark ruling when he said: “We cannot stand by and watch prosecutions mounted and conducted in the midst of such flagrant, egregious and mala fide violations of the Constitution and must act to protect the constitutional rights of the petitioners in particular and the citizens of Uganda in general as well as the rule of law in Uganda by ordering all the tainted proceedings against the petitioners to stop forthwith and directing the respective courts to discharge the petitioners.”
    In Republic vs Amos Karuga Karatu (Kenya) High Court Cr. Case No. 12 of 2006 the court per Makhandia, J categorically stated: “The time is near for the Judiciary to rise to the occasion and reclaim its mantle by scrupulously applying the law that seeks to secure, enhance and protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of an accused person.
    “A prosecution mounted in breach of the law is a violation of the rights of the accused and is, therefore, a nullity. It matters not the nature of the violation… it matters not that the evidence available against him is overwhelming. As long as (there is violation of the rights of the accused person) the prosecution remains a nullity.”
    In the British case of R vs Horseferry Road Magistrates Ex parte Bennet (1994) 1 A. C. 42 the Lords stated: “...the judiciary accepts responsibility for the maintenance of the rule of law that embraces a willingness to oversee executive action and to refuse to countenance behaviour that threatens either basic human rights or the rule of law… (Authorities in the field of administrative law contend) that is the function of the High Court to ensure that the executive action is exercised responsibly and as parliament intended.
    “So also it should be in the field of criminal law and if it comes to the attention of the court that there has been a serious abuse of power it should, in my view, express its disapproval by refusing to act upon it…. The courts, of course, have no power to apply direct discipline to the police or the prosecuting authorities, but they can refuse to allow them to take advantage of abuse of power regarding their behaviour as an abuse of process and thus preventing a prosecution.”
    Therefore, I don’t see how the case against Bobi Wine and his colleagues can be entertained any further by any court of law. In fact, a petition should be made to the Constitutional Court challenging the whole process.
    In Dr Kizza Besigye vs Attorney General, the Constitutional Court stated the law in these words: “This court cannot sanction any continued prosecution of the petitioners where during the proceedings the human rights of the petitioners have been violated to the extent described above. No matter how strong the evidence against them may be, no fair trial can be achieved and subsequent trial would be a waste of time and an abuse of court process.”

  • Will Bobi write his name among Museveni’s challengers?

    Saturday August 25 2018

    Andrew Kayiira, 1986
    At the time of the fall of the Tito Okello government, Uganda was led by two main guerrilla groups, the National Resistance Army (NRA) led by Museveni, and the Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM) led by the former deputy minister of Internal Affairs in 1979, Andrew Kayiira.
    The NRA gained the upper hand starting in late 1985 when it became the main opposite number of the Military Junta of Okello during the Nairobi peace talks.
    It was the NRA that finally fought the battles that swept Okello’s government from power in January 1986.
    The UFM was incorporated into the new national army, the NRA, with most UFM troops deployed in northern Uganda and Kayiira was named a Minister of Energy in the NRM’s broad-based government.
    By virtue of his heading the UFM’s armed wing, the UFA, he was regarded as the most credible rival to Museveni in a post-1986 Uganda.
    Kayiira was gunned down in March 1987, just two weeks after he had been freed from jail on a treason conviction.
    Kayiira was the last person to be in a position to challenge Museveni both in terms of broad political appeal and, most importantly, in terms of having a large military force loyal to him and potentially one that could be mobilised at a short notice.

    Herbert Itongwa, 1995
    After Kayiira’s death, Museveni continued to tighten his grip on power and much of the southern half of the country turned to economic recovery and an acceptance of a Museveni Uganda.
    A number of armed groups, most of them made up of former Uganda Army or Uganda National Liberation Army officers and men, tried to challenge the Museveni regime but were defeated militarily.
    Maj Herbert Itongwa, veteran of the NRA guerrilla war in Luweero, launched an armed rebellion in Buseruka in 1995 but that was quickly put down by government troops.
    Itongwa’s was the first armed uprising involving a leader from the NRA.

    Paul Ssemogerere, 1996
    Paul Ssemogerere in 1996 was the first to challenge Museveni in a presidential election.
    Ssemogerere had been a personal assistant to the DP president Benedicto Kiwanuka in the 1960s and was the president-general of the DP and presidential candidate for the 1980 general election.
    He finished second to the UPC’s Milton Obote, the former president, in that election whose outcome is still debated and disputed to this day.
    When the NRM came to power in 1986 it was militarily victorious but lacked a national appeal.
    Museveni addressed this by announcing a government that allotted ministerial positions to leaders from the DP, UPC and the Conservative Party or CP.
    Ssemogerere was named minister of Internal Affairs in 1986 and later minister of Foreign Affairs but resigned in 1995 after he grew dissatisfied with the direction Museveni was taking the country.
    At that time although the NRM was becoming more and more established as a political force, the traditional parties DP and UPC still held sway across the country.
    Buganda was still resentful over the failure of the Constituent Assembly to include federalism in the 1995 Constitution.
    Much of northern Uganda was still in the grip of a 10-year armed rebellion against the NRM government.
    However, because of the belief that Museveni was in a strong position, the DP and UPC agreed to put aside their decades-old rivalry and front a single presidential candidate, Ssemogerere, at the head of a coalition called the Inter-Political Forces Cooperation (IPFC).
    Ssemogerere attracted large and passionate crowds everywhere he went.
    Little is known about what actually happened with the results of the 1996 election. The assumption is that Museveni was still very popular and did win with the 75 per cent margin that was officially announced.
    Future historians will uncover a different story. Suffice it to say, Ssemogerere tapped into a mass, mainstream tide.

    David Tinyefuza, 1996
    In the latter part of 1996, the former minister of State for Defence, Maj Gen David Tinyefuza (now Gen Sejusa), became disillusioned with the status quo.
    He announced his wish to retire from the army, citing instances in which it was poorly managed as his reason.
    A much-publicised court case soon gripped the country. The army refused to let Tinyefuza resign and Tinyefuza took the matter to court.
    It seems to have occurred to President Museveni that Tinyefuza did not simply wish to retire from the army.
    He wanted to be free of military law and obligations to embark on a political career, with a possible eye on the presidency at the next general election, and that Museveni was not going to allow.
    After Tinyefuza lost the case, his fortunes, political and financial, quickly eroded and he faded from the public spotlight.
    The fascination with Tinyefuza’s court hearings suggested that the public either saw in him a possible presidential candidate or was simply looking for a force that could serve as a counterweight to Museveni.

    Kizza Besigye, 2001
    By the late 1990s, the belief was established that Museveni was in such a strong position that he could not be defeated by an ordinary politician.
    He had to be taken on by someone from inside the NRM and, if possible, with Museveni’s own military background, a kind of David Tinyefuza.
    The former National Political Commissar and former personal doctor of Museveni, Dr Kiiza Besigye announced in a long statement published in the Sunday Monitor a list of grievances with the way the NRM was running the country.
    He also announced he was resigning from the army and intended to seek the presidency in the 2001 general election.
    For some reason, Besigye captured the public imagination in the way Tinyefuza had done, but much more so.
    Many were suspicious of him at first, thinking he was as much a part of the NRM as Museveni and there was even a view that he might be a decoy deployed by Museveni.
    His big moment came when the former mayor of Kampala, Nasser Sebaggala, who had recently been convicted over money laundering in the United States and a long-time DP member, threw his weight and supporters behind Besigye.
    Sebaggala gave Besigye the legitimacy he needed in central Uganda (that was when Besigye took to writing his first name Kiiza as “Kizza” to appeal to Baganda and Basoga.)
    Backed by his charismatic wife and political star in her own right, Winnie Byanyima, the 2000-2001 presidential campaign took on an excitement not seen in years.
    The election ended with victory for Museveni, Besigye in exile in South Africa after he was tipped off that he was about to be arrested.
    Besigye’s campaign and wide appeal put Museveni under severe pressure, driving him to resort to negative tactics and personal attacks on Besigye and Byanyima.
    From his exile home in South Africa, Besigye became a voice of protest, from opinion articles in national newspapers to occasional guest appearances by phone on Kampala political talk shows.
    Besigye, unlike Ssemogerere and Tinyefuza, had the fortune of appearing on the campaign scene at just the right time and in the right circumstances.
    He found the country disillusioned enough with Museveni to want change and became the de facto national Opposition leader.
    In October 2005, Besigye returned from exile and announced his intention to seek the presidency in 2006. Immediately, hundreds of thousands of Ugandans flocked in record numbers to various national Electoral Commission offices to register as voters.
    As it had been in 2001, campaign posters of Besigye in his army uniform were widely circulated in 2005. The cult of the military was by now firmly established in Uganda.
    The public was convinced that the only person who could realistically challenge Museveni was a military man, not a civilian.
    On his return, Besigye launched a nationwide meet-the-people tour and huge crowds welcomed him at every stop.
    Alarmed, the government decided a stop had to be put to this and Besigye was arrested in November 2005 as he returned to Kampala.
    Three days of serious rioting erupted across the country.
    In the drama that followed, Besigye was brought to court for trial on treason, granted bail, re-arrested, all of which added to his image as a persecuted hero.
    He finished second once again to Museveni in the 2006 election, which this time even to the justices of the Supreme Court, was notable for its irregularities.
    From now on, Besigye would become the most important and most dominant Opposition figure in Uganda’s post-independence history.
    He run a third time for the presidency in 2011, although the third attempt lacked a little of the magic of the first two times.
    In 2016, however, just when it seemed his best days were behind him, a new national wave of popularity came his way and this time, it was expressed by crowds all over the country spontaneously raising money and offering food and chicken to him on the campaign trail.

    Amama Mbabazi, 2016
    In the meantime, restlessness within the ruling NRM over Museveni’s seemingly unending tenure in office led a long-time Museveni loyalist Amama Mbabazi to start a grassroots move to challenge Museveni for the party presidency.
    He was sacked as prime minister in 2014 and dropped as NRM secretary-general in 2015, and announced a presidential bid that same year, running as an independent.
    Mbabazi’s bid created tensions both within the NRM where he was still nominally a member, and in the Opposition where a number of leading Opposition figures rallied behind him as Uganda’s last best hope of removing Museveni from power.
    Mbabazi, it was reasoned, had known Museveni since the early 1970s, was at the heart of the Fronasa-NRA establishment, had been part of previous NRM election rigging so knew “all the tricks”.
    To take on Museveni, some Opposition factions formed a coalition similar to the IPFC of 1996, which was called The Democratic Alliance or TDA.
    Tensions now surfaced over who should be the TDA presidential candidate for 2016, Dr Besigye who had tried thrice before and failed to dislodge Museveni. Or Mbabazi who, in some opinions, had the money, ground organisation and clout to defeat Museveni.
    Eventually the Opposition failed to agree on either man and decided that all should seek the presidency in their individual right.
    TDA collapsed and Museveni went on, once again, to be declared the winner of the election.

    Bobi Wine, 2021?
    With this as our background, we examine a possible Bobi Wine presidential bid. He is, after all, already a self-styled “Ghetto President” and, given his newfound national appeal, could possibly be a candidate in 2021.
    If he does seek that office, the track record of arrests, detention, exile and physical abuse by the security forces endured by Besigye should give Bobi Wine a taste of what is to come, since he has chosen street activism.
    Mbabazi’s decades-long experience in the Fronasa and NRA guerrilla groups and equally long service at the helm of Uganda’s State security and defence establishment were not enough to give him a significant electoral showing.

  • UK issues travel advice on Uganda in wake of Bobi Wine arrest

    Monday August 20 2018


    The United Kingdom government has issued travel advice on Uganda warning its nationals of heightened political tensions in the country.

    In the travel advice issued on Sunday, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned that there are possibilities of violent protests across the country following the arrest of several opposition Members of Parliament (MPs).
    Opposition leaders and their supporters in Uganda are protesting against the government’s decision to detain MPs after violent confrontations with security forces during last week’s elections in Arua Municipality with claims spreading that they are being tortured.

    READ:Why Bobi Wine is causing discomfort to Museveni, Besigye

    “There is an increased likelihood of protests, which may turn violent, across Uganda,” the UK said in a statement.

    President Yoweri Museveni dismissed reports of torture and warned the media against spreading news that “our grandson, the indisciplined MP Bobi Wine” was gravely injured by security forces who arrested him.
    Reports that the MP whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi was severely tortured and injured have been trending on social media for the last few days.

    He also downplayed reports that the musician-turned-politician was detained because a vehicle in the presidential motorcade was stoned during confrontations between opposition supporters and police last week.
    “The president has the capacity, either alone or in company with his personal security, to defend himself, not only against stone throwers but against any attacker. I have done that for the last 48 years,” he said.

    According to Mr Museveni, the MPs were detained for forming and leading violent groups that used stones as missiles “to attack defenceless women, children and other civilians” so as to disrupt elections.

    ALSO READ: Arua gunshot victims speak out on shooting

    “Throwing of stones, in close proximity in built up areas, is intention to kill,” said the president in a statement.

    He added: “Anybody who is a friend of the young politicians like Bobi Wine should advise them that short cuts like cheating, importing voters, intimidating the voters of the other side, ballot stuffing etc. will lead them and Uganda to doom. That is what the young politicians of independence thought and did and it led to disaster.”
    The violence has ignited global criticism as the European Union warned on Friday that it has damaged Uganda’s reputation.

I stayed put for some hours, and I could hear the soldiers come every few minutes, bang some doors on my floor or other floors and go away. At different times I would sleep off, but was always rudely awakened by the banging of doors and the impatient boots that paced throughout the hotel for the whole night. In the wee hours of the morning, the soldiers started breaking doors of the different hotel rooms. With rage, they broke doors, and I knew they would soon come to my room. I therefore put my wallet and phone into my socks. I also had with me some money which I had earned from a previous music show. I also put it into the socks.
A few minutes later, a soldier hit my door with an iron bar and after two or three attempts the door fell in. We looked each other in the eye as he summoned his colleagues in Swahili. Another soldier pointed a pistol on my head and ordered me to kneel down. I put my hands up and just before my knees could reach the floor, the soldier who broke into the room used the same iron bar to hit me. He aimed it at my head and I put up my hand in defence so he hit my arm. The second blow came straight to my head on the side of my right eye. He hit me with this iron bar and I fell down. In no minute, all these guys were on me- each one looking for the best place to hurt. I can't tell how many they were but they were quite a number.

They beat me, punched me, and kicked me with their boots. No part of my body was spared. They hit my eyes, mouth and nose. They hit my elbows and my knees. Those guys are heartless!
As they dragged me out of the room, they continued to hit me from all sides. After some time, I could almost no longer feel the pain. I could only hear what they were doing from a far. My cries and pleas went unheeded. The things they were speaking to me all this while, I cannot reproduce here. Up to now, I cannot understand how these soldiers who I probably had never met before in person could hate me so much.

They wrapped me in a thick piece of cloth and bundled me into a vehicle. Those guys did to me unspeakable things in that vehicle! They pulled my manhood and squeezed my testicles while punching me with objects I didn’t see. They pulled off my shoes and took my wallet, phone and the money I had. As soon as the shoes were off, they started hitting my ankles with pistol butts. I groaned in pain and they ordered me to stop making noise for them. They used something like pliers to pull my ears. Some guy unwrapped me and instead tied the thick cloth around my head. They forced my head below the car seat so as to stop me from shouting. Then they hit my back and continued to hit my genitals with objects. The marks on my back, ankles, elbows, legs and head are still visible. I continued to groan in pain and the last I heard was someone hit me at the back of the head with an object - I think a gun butt or something. That was the last time I knew what was going on.

By the time I became conscious again, I was somewhere in a small room with a small window. My legs were tied together with my hands with very tight cuffs. I was bleeding from the nose and ears. I was in great pain. My whole body was swollen. I was shaking uncontrollably.
Two soldiers came in. I can now recall that they were visibly pleased to see that I was still alive. They came close to me. One of them apologized in tears about what had happened. "Bobi, I am sorry but not all of us are like that. Some of us actually like you," he said. He said that doctors were on their way to treat me. I stayed in the same position and after a few hours, about four soldiers came in and lifted me on a piece of cloth. One of them took a picture of me, (I hope to see that picture some day in my life). As we went out, I read “Arua airfield’ somewhere. I was taken into a waiting military helicopter and taken to a place which I later found out was Gulu 4th Division military barracks. It was at that facility that some military doctors came in and started giving me injections.

At that point I could not even complain as I was not yet fully alert. I was very dizzy and had not eaten or drank anything for many hours. My sight was very weak as well. I spent the night there. Late in the night, I was picked again from this detention facility. With my head covered with a dark cloth that felt like a t-shirt, I was taken to Gulu Police Station where I was forced to sign a written statement by an officer called Francis Olugo in the presence of some other officer who I later learnt is the CID head of Gulu. I can hardly recall what was contained in that statement! I was then returned to Gulu military barracks, put on a metallic bed and handcuffed on it. Very early morning, I was picked from this room and taken to another very secluded and dirty room where I was put on another bed, hand-cuffed again and injected with a drug that immediately sent me into a deep sleep.

The following day I can recall that at some point, Hon. Medard Ssegona and Hon. Asuman Basalirwa came to me. My efforts to rise and speak to them didn’t yield much. The moment they saw me, they could hardly hold tears. I have a faint recollection of what they told me, but their visit was very short.

I was later carried into a hall where I saw soldiers dressed smartly. I would lie if I said I fully appreciated what was going on at that point. I was later told that I was appearing before the General Court Martial!!!
After a short while, I was again carried into a military helicopter.
When it landed, I was put into a vehicle and driven to another place which I later found out was Makindye military barracks.

At Makindye, I was now fully alert and had a drink for the first time after two or three days. I saw doctors come in several times and they gave me all kinds of injections. At some point, I tried to object and these guys would hold my arms from behind and inject me anywhere. If I asked what drug it was, the guy would say something like, “This is diclofenac, can’t you see?” At some point, some guy came in and wanted to stitch my ear which had an open wound. I pleaded with him not to, and he relented. All the while I was spending the day and night with my hands and legs cuffed until a few days later. Thankfully although the scars are still visible, the wound on my ear healed.

It was after some time at Makindye that I was able to see my wife and my brother Eddy Yawe, who came in with some lawyers, some friends and dignitaries from the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC). I will never forget the atmosphere in that room- people started crying upon setting eyes on me. At that point, I could not sit, walk or even stand by myself. I was still swollen and spoke with great difficulty due to chest pains. My teeth were shaking and the headache was unbearable. I am thankful that the UHRC made a report which I later read. At least it captured in part, the state in which they found me. As the government agency mandated to fight human rights violations, I am eagerly waiting to see what actions they will take to ensure that no Ugandan is taken through this ever again. Not even President Museveni. I cannot wish what happened to me upon anyone. Not even those soldiers who violated me as if they were beasts. I remember two other things about that visit. Despite the pain I had that day, I remember forcing a smile when they told me that I had been charged with unlawful possession of firearms.

I was told that three guns had been assembled and said to have been found in my room! I could not believe that the state would torture a Ugandan so bad and then frame him with possession of guns! I did not stop thinking about that for all the days I spent at Makindye. How ruthless, how callous, how inhumane could these guys be? It was also on that day that I was told about the alleged stoning of the President’s vehicle.


  • Will Bobi Wine live to overshadow Besigye?

    Saturday August 18 2018

    On Thursday, Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu was frogmarched before the General Court Martial in Gulu and charged with two counts of possession of firearms and one count of possession of ammunition.
    The charges seem to be following a script akin to the one that played out in November 2005 when Dr Besigye, who was a candidate in the general election due early the following year, and 22 other people were dragged before the same court and charged with treason and terrorism.
    This has propelled Mr Kyagulanyi, a man whose only claim to fame had until June 2017 been music and his spats with fellow musician, Moses Ssali, best known as Bebe Cool.
    That changed on June 29 when the man who is best known by his stage name, Bobi Wine, was declared winner of the Kyadondo East seat having defeated the NRM’s William Sitenda Ssebalu, FDC’s Apollo Kantinti and fellow independent candidates Nkunyingi Muwada and Dr Sowedi Kayongo Male. He bagged 25,659 votes, while his closest challenger, Mr Sitenda Ssebalu, took 4,566 votes.
    The “Ghetto President” as he calls himself, first took to penning articles critical of Mr Museveni before joining the group of MPs that caused chaos in Parliament in September in a futile attempt to block moves to table a Bill to facilitate the amendment of Article 102 (b) of the Constitution which barred citizens below the age of 35 and above the age of 75 from contesting for the presidency.
    On September 28, 2017, he appeared on Al Jazeera television to condemn what had happened in Parliament before issuing a statement a day later in which he vowed to go down fighting.
    “We shall not be spectators while our country is being killed, plundered and destroyed. We owe it to the present people of Uganda and the generations to come,” he vowed.
    His actions provoked Mr Museveni into making a response to the many previous missives that he had sent out.
    On October 6, 2017, Mr Museveni wrote an article in which he accused Bobi Wine of having attempted to hijack the Mandela Memorial Day and turn it into what he described as an “anti-NRM, anti-Museveni” affair. Mr Museveni said although he had ignored them, he had taken note of the “indisciplined, uninformed, but arrogant way” in which they had gone about their intentions.
    Bobi Wine, however, seems to have engaged a stronger political gear ever since he attended a course in leadership in the 21st Century at the prestigious Harvard University. The course is aimed at preparing young politicians for leadership positions. Well, since his return he has been at the centre of every activity that is anti NRM, right from campaigning against it in the countryside right up to participating in demonstrations to protest pieces of legislation.
    In March this year, he was part of the team that campaigned and delivered victories for the Opposition in Jinja Municipality in March and in Rukungiri in June where FDC’s Paul Mwiru and Betty Bamukwatsa Muzanira won the hotly contested races.
    Following a disagreement between FDC and Justice Forum (JEEMA) on the possibility of fielding a single candidate for the Bugiri Municipality parliamentary seat, he supported JEEMA president, Mr Asuman Basalirwa, who subsequently won the July 28 poll while Dr Kizza Besigye campaigned for the FDC candidate, Ms Eunice Namatende.
    In Arua he campaigned for the eventual winner, Kassiano Wadri, while Dr Besigye campaigned for the FDC flag bearer, Mr Bruce Musema.
    Ever since the Bugiri polls in which Dr Besigye’s and the FDC’s candidate came third, there has been talk of Bobi having emerged as the new leader of the Opposition, which seems to have gotten so much onto his head that he dared lead a procession past Bruce Musema’s last rally in Arua as Dr Besigye was addressing it.

    Military streak
    Ugandans seem to believe that only those with a military background or those who adopt a militaristic approach to the politics are best suited to break Mr Museveni’s stranglehold on power. This seems to have been instrumental in shaping the approach he adopted since his return from the United States.
    His new approach began at a time when Dr Besigye seems to have had a tactical rethink. While he had been at the centre of every major protest between 2006 and 2016 and declared a defiance campaign, he has not led any protests in the last many months, leaving both supporters and critics wondering what he is up to.
    On the other hand, Bobi Wine was at the centre of the altercation that occurred in Parliament during the constitutional amendment debate and led last month’s protests against the introduction of taxes on social media and mobile money. He has gone around campaigning with the slogan “People Power, Our Power” reverberating wherever he has been.

    Third force
    While the country had 15,277,198 registered voters when it went to the polls in February 2016, only 10,39,131 voters or 67.61 per cent of the registered voters turned out to vote.
    Last February, the Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy (CCEDU) wrote to President Museveni attributing the low voter turnout to the citizenry’s lack of faith in the electoral process.
    “Your government’s reluctance to consider popular progressive electoral reforms, in order to address electoral deficits that have afflicted previous elections, has dented the credibility of electoral processes,” the letter signed by CCEDU’s coordinator, Mr Crispy Kaheru adds.
    Earlier in September 2017, Afrobarometer had released findings of a survey that revealed that only 22 per cent of the population believes that Uganda is either a full democracy or a democracy with minor problems. CCEDU suggested that only reforms could cure the perception that elections were a ritual that would never amount to anything.
    However, another school of thought believed that voters were staying away because they were tired of both Mr Museveni and Dr Besigye and that it would require another force to bring them out. Could Bobi be that third force?
    “The people want a new leader who can mobilise. We need a transition leader who will help the country return to constitutionalism,” says Mr Francis Gonahasa, the FDC MP for Kabweri County in Budaka.
    Mr Gonahasa belongs to the FDC faction loyal to Gen Mugisha Muntu and actively campaigned for Mr Asuman Basalirwa in Bugiri and Mr Kassiano Wadri in Arua.
    Has Bobi Wine been identified as the leader who will lead that force that Mr Gonahasa talks about?
    “We haven’t yet identified a leader. For now we simply work together, but I know that the people want a leader who can mobilise. He (Bobi Wine) is humble and he is a good mobiliser. If he stays alive, he can lead the country,” Mr Gonahasa says.
    Prof Sabiiti Makara, a lecturer of Political Science at Makerere University, does not rule out the possibility of Bobi Wine ever rising to the highest leadership positions in the Opposition, saying that “leadership is something that we learn”, but hastens to add that he needs structures in order to engage in sustainable politics.
    Prof Makara says his strength lies among the youth, most of whom have a bone to pick with the NRM on account of poverty and unemployment, especially among graduates. Besides, he comes with no unwanted baggage.
    “FDC like the NRM has many contradictions. On the other hand Bobi Wine has no contradictions, but he still has a long way to go because the State is targeting him, he has no organisational structure and he is still an amateur politician,” Prof Makara says.

    Is he a threat?
    “The way they (government) are treating him, suggests that they think that he is a threat,” says Prof Makara, but NRM’s deputy secretary general Richard Todwong differs.
    “He is not a threat at all. The politics of Uganda is very structured. You need to have grassroots structures in order to have an impact. He needed to study and understand the politics of Uganda, but he seems to be in a hurry. He came with popularity from the world of music and took it to be popularity in the world of politics. It is like rain in the dry season. It never penetrates the ground,” Mr Todwong says.
    Since the events in Bugiri, Bobi Wine has been touted as the emerging new leader of the Opposition, but can he knock Dr Besigye off his perch as the most powerful man in the Opposition?
    Prof Paul Wangoola, a former Makerere University don who was a member of the National Consultative Council (NCC), does not think so.
    “Those who think that Dr Besigye is expired have to tell us whether what he stands for has expired too. Dr Besigye is a phenomenon. He is a vessel that embodies the belief in civilian authority just as Museveni is a vessel of guns and teargas. What phenomenon does Bobi Wine come with or stand for?” he asks.
    Well, Dr Besigye has had to work very hard since October 2000 when he first declared his intention to take on his former boss.
    Dr Besigye has had to operate at 100 degrees centigrade. He has suffered arrests and has been prosecuted on tramped up charges. He has been brutalised and dragged to courts in every corner of Uganda. Can Bobi Wine match that?
    His appearance before the General Court Martial on Thursday set him off on a path similar to the one that Dr Besigye did tread. The question is whether he will stay the course.

  • Museveni to Bobi Wine: You’re either uninformed or a liar

    Saturday October 07 2017

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    In his latest missive, President Museveni has reacted to the recent statements made by Kyaddondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi popularly known as Bobi Wine.

    We shall not be spectators as our country is killed- Bobi Wine

    Friday September 29 2017

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    KAMPALA. After being hosted on Al Jazeera television last evening, Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Mr Robert Kyagulanyi Sssntamu popularly known as Bobi Wine has spoken out on what he feels about what happened in Parliament on Wednesday.

    In a statement shared on social media, Mr Kyagulanyi said he will not sit back and watch as Uganda is plundered and destroyed.
    “We shall not be spectators while our country is being killed, plundered and destroyed. We owe it to the present people of Uganda and the generations to come.
    As Nelson Mandela said, 'When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw',” he said.

    Below is the full statement

    My muscles ache, my joints feel dislocated, the pain in my neck from the strangling is unbearable, my head hurts so bad ,my whole body is in terrible pain but my heart is as SOLID AS A ROCK.
    Yesterday, I watched TV in amusement. In our absence from parliament, a few ministers and MPs were trying to lecture us about parliamentary decorum, civility, good manners, and about morality.

    They wanted us to be look on and cheer them as they RAPED the Constitution! They wanted us to be gentle while some SOLDIERS dragged elected representatives of the people out of the parliamentary chamber like grasshoppers! They wanted us to sing melodies for Kibuule and thank him for defiling the sanctity of parliament when he entered with a GUN!

    Let me ask those people a few questions. What is civil about raping the Constitution? What is moral about selling your conscience? What decorum is there in betraying the people who stood in the sun the whole day trying to elect you to represent them? HOW SHAMELESS CAN YOU BE??

    Well, my message to them is this;
    We shall not be spectators while our country is being killed, plundered and destroyed. We owe it to the present people of Uganda and the generations to come.
    As Nelson Mandela said, “When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”

    Gentleness has its place. Humility has its time. Decorum has its season. None of them is applicable in situations of INJUSTICE. No one would look on as their mother is being raped. Uganda is our mother and that's why we call her ‘Nyaffe.’ I shall never fail ‘to do all in my power’, to defend and protect the Constitution because that is what Article 3(4) of the Constitution demands of me.

    I also want to remind those people that many years ago, President Museveni did not just use punches and kicks to fight what he thought was oppression. He used guns and led a war in which more than 800,000 Ugandans died.

    In fact, in his book Mission to Freedom, Museveni writes on Page 2 that ‘The right of rebellion against tyranny has been recognized from the most ancient times to the present day by men of all creeds, ideas and doctrines. It is part and parcel of the notion of political liberty. It transcends any NARROW LAWS enacted by petty DICTATORS and DESPOTS …..rebellion against tyranny is not only a RIGHT, it is a DUTY for all oppressed people to carry out.”

    Are we wrong therefore to throw a few kicks and punches in self-defence and in defence of our country’s Constitution? I don’t think so. Oppressed people shall not always be oppressed. Sooner than later, the people of Uganda shall defend their country.

    , Mr Kyagulanyi criticised Mr Museveni and NRM MPs for planning to lift age limit to pave way for Mr Museveni who has been in power for the last 31 years run again.

    But in a statement issued Friday evening, Mr Museveni says Mr Kyagulanyi, like many of his critics, is either uninformed about the NRM achievements or has chosen to lie to the nation.
    “It is, actually, only in the last 31 years, especially after 2007 when we finally defeated the ADF in the Semliki valley, that Uganda has had peace for the first time in the last 500 years,” writes Mr Museveni.

    Below is Museveni’s Full statement

    H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

    On Hon. Kyagulanyi‘s (Bobie Wine) statement

    1st October, 2017

    Again, I congratulate our young friend, the Hon. Kyagulanyi, Bobie Wine, for his recent elections in Kyaddondo North. I also notice that he is quite active in sending out messages about what he thinks should be done in our country, Uganda. He had issued a statement some time ago in response to my article of 16th July, 2017 in the New Vision Newspaper. When we were at Makerere, he, again, was part of the group that tried to hijack the Mzee Mandela Memorial Day into an anti-NRM, anti-Museveni forum. I ignored them and focussed on Mzee Mandela and on Africa. I, nevertheless, noticed the indisciplined, uninformed but arrogant way in which that group was conducting themselves.

    The Security Services have now shown me a statement ascribed to the Hon. Bobie Wine when the Age Limit Debate started recently. It is very good when the opponents of the NRM put in writing their views. We are, then, able to demolish them because the NRM, right from the 1960s as a Student Movement, is a solid force as far as both ideology and action are concerned. There is nothing we cannot answer because there is nothing we cannot address. Even when we under-perform, it is not for lack of knowledge but for lack of means or lack of devotion by our cadres.

    In his latest statement, the Hon. Bobie Wine, referring to the NRM Caucus position on the issue of Age Limit, he shamelessly wrote: “They did this at a time when our Nation has been bleeding for the past 31 years. Our country’s former glory is all gone.”
    The Hon. Bobi Wine, you are either uninformed or you are a liar, a characteristic you so liberally apply to me. Where was the “former glory” of our country when people had no salt, no sugar, no paraffin, no security of life or property?

    It is, actually, only in the last 31 years, especially after 2007 when we finally defeated the ADF in the Semliki valley, that Uganda has had peace for the first time in the last 500 years. I have made this statement before and I, hereby, repeat if for the benefit of the Bobie Wines. Before colonialism, we had endless tribal wars; during colonialism, after alot of bleeding, there was, eventually, peace in much of Uganda, but not in Karamoja; after colonialism, there was chaos and collapse until the NRM restored stability to the whole country about 10 years ago, after we defeated ADF, Kony etc and disarmed the Karimojong.


    We shall not be spectators as our country is killed- Bobi Wine

    Friday September 29 2017

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    KAMPALA. After being hosted on Al Jazeera television last evening, Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Mr Robert Kyagulanyi Sssntamu popularly known as Bobi Wine has spoken out on what he feels about what happened in Parliament on Wednesday.

    In a statement shared on social media, Mr Kyagulanyi said he will not sit back and watch as Uganda is plundered and destroyed.
    “We shall not be spectators while our country is being killed, plundered and destroyed. We owe it to the present people of Uganda and the generations to come.
    As Nelson Mandela said, 'When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw',” he said.

    Below is the full statement

    My muscles ache, my joints feel dislocated, the pain in my neck from the strangling is unbearable, my head hurts so bad ,my whole body is in terrible pain but my heart is as SOLID AS A ROCK.
    Yesterday, I watched TV in amusement. In our absence from parliament, a few ministers and MPs were trying to lecture us about parliamentary decorum, civility, good manners, and about morality.

    They wanted us to be look on and cheer them as they RAPED the Constitution! They wanted us to be gentle while some SOLDIERS dragged elected representatives of the people out of the parliamentary chamber like grasshoppers! They wanted us to sing melodies for Kibuule and thank him for defiling the sanctity of parliament when he entered with a GUN!

    Let me ask those people a few questions. What is civil about raping the Constitution? What is moral about selling your conscience? What decorum is there in betraying the people who stood in the sun the whole day trying to elect you to represent them? HOW SHAMELESS CAN YOU BE??

    Well, my message to them is this;
    We shall not be spectators while our country is being killed, plundered and destroyed. We owe it to the present people of Uganda and the generations to come.
    As Nelson Mandela said, “When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”

    Gentleness has its place. Humility has its time. Decorum has its season. None of them is applicable in situations of INJUSTICE. No one would look on as their mother is being raped. Uganda is our mother and that's why we call her ‘Nyaffe.’ I shall never fail ‘to do all in my power’, to defend and protect the Constitution because that is what Article 3(4) of the Constitution demands of me.

    I also want to remind those people that many years ago, President Museveni did not just use punches and kicks to fight what he thought was oppression. He used guns and led a war in which more than 800,000 Ugandans died.

    In fact, in his book Mission to Freedom, Museveni writes on Page 2 that ‘The right of rebellion against tyranny has been recognized from the most ancient times to the present day by men of all creeds, ideas and doctrines. It is part and parcel of the notion of political liberty. It transcends any NARROW LAWS enacted by petty DICTATORS and DESPOTS …..rebellion against tyranny is not only a RIGHT, it is a DUTY for all oppressed people to carry out.”

    Are we wrong therefore to throw a few kicks and punches in self-defence and in defence of our country’s Constitution? I don’t think so. Oppressed people shall not always be oppressed. Sooner than later, the people of Uganda shall defend their country.


    Rage and resignation as Uganda sees 'president for life'

    Friday September 29 2017

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    "He will rule for life," shrugged student and waiter Fahd Sabiti, a day after Uganda's parliament began scrapping presidential age limits, paving the way for Mr Museveni to win a sixth term in office.

    Sabiti's ambivalence reflected the feelings of many Ugandans used to seeing President Museveni get his way after more than three decades in power.
    "The opposition politicians who fought on Wednesday in Parliament are just noise-makers. They will fade away," said the 23-year-old business administration student as he took a break from waiting tables in an upmarket Kampala restaurant.

    On Wednesday, brawls had broken out in parliament before opposition MPs were evicted by security officers as anger over the plan to scrap age limits boiled over.
    Sabiti was equally dismissive of his fellow Makerere University students who sparred with police and soldiers in days of unrest leading up to the parliamentary vote that kickstarted the process of removing presidential age limits.

    - 'You cannot fight Museveni' -
    "You cannot fight someone like Museveni," said the young man who has known no ruler but the former rebel who seized power in 1986 and has held it tightly ever since.
    "All the fighting, the tear gas and soldiers and Museveni just stays quiet. He stays above it all and their stones can't touch him."

    In 2005, when the constitution was changed to remove term limits allowing Mr Museveni to run for a third, a fourth and -- last year -- a fifth term, Museveni insisted Parliament was making its own choices and he would abide by the will of the people.
    He has taken the same line as the age limit debate has raged in recent days.

    Nearly three-quarters of Ugandans are under the age of 30, so the overwhelming majority have only ever lived under Museveni's rule.
    Soon after taking over he declared, "the problem of Africa in general, and Uganda in particular, is not the people but leaders who want to overstay in power."
    Now aged 73, he reportedly wants the way paved for him to run again, by scrapping the constitutional clause barring over-75s from the presidency.

    When opposition lawmakers disrupted parliament two days in a row this week, plain clothed security officers stormed in and dragged away protesting legislators. Some MPs and local press identified the officers as being drawn from the elite presidential guards and special forces.
    Once the chamber was cleared, ruling party lawmakers overwhelmingly assented to the motion which will allow the tabling of a bill to amend the constitution.

    Rage and resignation
    Standing amid the hot fumes of Kampala's congested downtown, 48-year-old Solomon Owchi said he's seen it all before.
    "Around the time I was born, Prime Minister Milton Obote abolished the constitution and sent a new one to parliament," said Mr Owchi, a driver.

    In 1966 Obote abrogated the constitution Uganda had adopted at independence and loyal lawmakers rubber-stamped a new document which Obote had sent to their parliamentary mail boxes unseen. It became known as the "pigeon hole" constitution.

    "Museveni was popular once and I think he has done a lot of good for the country, but the people now are frustrated. They are tired of seeing this again," said Owchi.
    Owchi pulled a smartphone from his pocket and waved it in the air.
    "In 2005 when Museveni got rid of term limits we didn't have this," he said.

    An attempt by authorities to block coverage of Wednesday's parliamentary session and the ensuing brawl and vote failed because video clips were eagerly shared on social media, keeping people such as Owchi informed.

    Eric Sakwa, a risk manager, had also followed events and, between lunchtime spoonfuls of mashed banana and boiled chicken, he worried about his country's future.
    "In business we have this idea of succession planning, but there is no planning for Uganda's future. We are more-or-less stuck," said the 52-year-old.

    "People who are democratically minded, they stay away from politics and instead work."
    Sakwa sighed heavily and pushed away his half-empty plate. "After Museveni goes, there will be chaos."

    It is true that there has been a spate of murders and other crimes some of whose perpetrators have not been brought to book. However, crime is not the same as war and terrorism – both being the big problems the UPDF has defeated. Secondly, some of the murderers of the young women have been arrested and charged in Court.
    Examples are:
    1. Nansana: 10 women were killed. 16 Suspects were arrested and charged in Court;

    2. Kawempe: 1 woman was killed. 2 Suspects were arrested and charged in Court;

    3. Entebbe: 11 women were killed. 13 Suspects were arrested and charged in Court;

    4. Wakiso Bulago: 1 woman was killed. 2 Suspects were arrested and charged in Court.

    Then, he lunges into social and economic issues. He writes: “Our children face an uncertain future where unemployment is the order of the day. The National Debt has turned us into slaves and the gun has become master.” There are three issues here: unemployment; the National Debt; and the gun. Yes, there is unemployment but the NRM, long ago, laid out the way to resolve it. It is through the four sectors: commercialized agriculture; industries, services; and ICT. As of today, commercial agriculture employs 9.6 million people; industries employ 1.2 million people; services employ 4.6 million people; and ICT employs 30,000 people from our country’s work force.

    However, for these sectors to employ more people, produce more goods and services, pay more taxes, they need better infrastructure (electricity, roads, the railway, the ICT backbone etc.) Why? It is because better and cheaper electricity will mean lower costs for the producers in the four sectors. Lower costs will mean better profits for companies. Better profits for companies will attract more companies, thereby creating more jobs and producing more goods and services.

    Does the Hon. Kyagulanyi agree with this diagnosis and prescription or does he not? If he does not agree, how else will he create jobs? Apart from attracting investors with their own money to invest in the four sectors, we also empower our own youth, with Government money, to enter into the four sectors. Kyagulanyi was in one of the sectors – music. Entertainment is part of the services sector. The funds that have been set up, if enhanced, can enable our people to enter into any of these sectors. The other sector is Public Service. This employs 415,000 persons. It is abit bloated, it could do with less.

    What is amazing is the opposition, to which Bobi Wine apparently belongs, is always opposing new industries (e.g. sugar in Amuru, they delayed Bujagali dam in the 6th Parliament (1999) etc.) Recently, they have been opposing the Land Amendment Bill which aims at, on the one hand, quickening the process of getting land on which to build the very infrastructure (especially the roads, the railway and the electricity) that is crucial for attracting industries, services companies etc that are necessary for solving the unemployment problem and, on the other hand, stops the squandering of Government money in fictitious compensations.

    How can you undermine the base of the industries and service companies that helps you to create jobs and then you claim to talk about jobs? Opposing the Land Amendment Bill also means that the opposition, to which Bobie Wine belongs, is in cahoots with the corrupt Government officials or the greedy private citizens who use land compensation to Kwaaya (loot) the Government.

    In my radio talk shows recently, I quoted two examples. An example in Ntungamo, where the market price of land is between Shs.13m to Shs. 20m per hectare, but where one of the people demanded Shs.1.5bn per acre!! The East African electricity line project was delayed for 5 years!! In Kamwengye, the very important Nyakahita-Kazo-Ibanda-Kamwengye-Fort Portal Road (209.2 kms long), at a total cost of Shs.425bn, had to be diverted because one greedy claimant demanded Shs.1.2bn for a quarter of an acre when the fair compensation was only Shs.89m. This means that the Government will stop tarmacking roads, building power lines because of this kwaaya (looting) by the collusion of Government officials.

    The opposition do not only oppose the infrastructure projects. They also oppose factories like the one of Amuru etc. How will they create jobs?

    Then Bobie Wine talks of the Public Debt that has made “us slaves”. False, Mr. Bobie Wine. True, some of the debts are contracted carelessly by Civil Servants. However, two things. First, much of the debt has helped us to build roads – that is why Bobie Wine is able to zoom around the country in his vehicle with ease. Secondly, we are careful with the level of borrowing. When you include the borrowing for the Standard Gauge Railway and all the other projects, the debt level will not exceed 41.7% nominal debt to GDP. The danger level is 50% of GDP and we are far away from that.

    Then Bobie Wine goes on to talk about the “Sale of Public Assets” – probably referring to privatization. Hon. Bobie Wine, this was good for the economy. It injected alot of efficiency in the economy. Look at transport, for instance. There were two Government Transport Companies: UTC and People’s Bus. They were dissolved. What has happened in the Transport Sector? Alot of private Bus companies have come up, alot of taxis, boda boda etc. Privatization created economic space for the private sector in the transport sector. The same for the hotels, education (allowing private schools), health (allowing private hospitals).

    What is amazing is that Bobie Wine does not refer to East Africa, does not refer to the Great Lakes, does not refer to Africa. He seems not to be aware of the vital crucialness of regional integration. We cannot sustainably create jobs if we do not create more market space for our entrepreneurs. To see young people who are oblivious of this issue but in positions of leadership is not good for the country. We had a Pan-Africanist stand when we were in our early twenties. That is how we were able to push Uganda so far and for so long.

    The Age Limit Debate is starting. I will give my views at the right time. What is not acceptable, however, is intimidation and violence. Those are fascist methods. Let everybody speak his mind freely and without threats. We shall confront and defeat anybody who intimidates or threatens our peace.

    Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
    Omugurusi/Jajja/Kwaro/A’bi/Papa Kus

  • Bobi Wine’s moment of truth

    Friday August 17 2018


    Kampala- During his countrywide tour that followed his election as Kyadondo East MP, Bobi Wine had no problem being recognised by a big number of Ugandans. The key thing he had to introduce, perhaps, is his real name – Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu. Most Ugandans knew him by his stage name.

    There are a few other things Mr Kyagulanyi had to work on to get Ugandans accustomed to. One of them was being well kempt, wearing short hair and sharp suits. Ugandans were used to the dreadlocked “Rasta man” he had cut himself out as. The other thing people needed to get used to was his ability to speak fluent political language, targeting President Museveni’s rule, now into its fourth decade.

    Bobi the kingmaker
    By the time Mr Kyagulanyi got to Arua towards the end of the recently concluded campaigns for the by-election to replace Ibrahim Abiriga, who was mercilessly torn up by assassins’ bullets on June 8, he had nearly perfected his new-found role of kingmaker.

    Since his election to Parliament in June last year, an election in which he floored candidates of the ruling party and the Forum for Democratic Change, Mr Kyagulanyi has never been on the losing side – he campaigned on the sides of winning candidates in by-elections in Jinja Municipality East, Rukungiri Woman MP race, Bugiri Municipality and now Arua Municipality.

    Before he joined politics, Mr Kyagulanyi cut out a role for himself as “Ghetto President”, leading a group of less educated youth to build a sort of music empire he called Fire Base.

    From his headquarters in the Kampala City suburb of Kamwokya, Bobi Wine worked to dominate the music scene, getting into a scathing rivalry with fellow artistes, especially Moses Ssali aka Bebe Cool.

    He won many battles as an artiste, transforming from virtually a no-body into a relatively prosperous and famous Ugandan.

    Foray into politics
    Much of the music that endeared him to crowds was in reality protest music targeted at what he sees as discrimination and exploitation by those in power, often targeting President Museveni.

    He remained predisposed against Mr Museveni’s politics and towards the 2016 general election when most of the leading artistes united under the “Tubonga naawe” banner to campaign for Mr Museveni, Bobi Wine was among the few that remained aloof. He would a year later seize the opportunity presented by a by-election to enter Parliament as an Opposition-leaning “Independent”.

    In his new-found role as kingmaker, Bobi Wine has adopted a more definitive message targeting President Museveni’s rule, something he communicates to his audiences with increasing efficiency.
    At one of the rallies he addressed in Arua as he campaigned for eventual winner Kassiano Wadri, for instance, Mr Kyagulanyi’s ability to connect with the audience was in evidence.

    “When I say ‘People Power’; you say ‘Our Power’,” he coached the audience. The drill was very well performed for about a minute, with the audience reacting with gusto.

    Mr Kyagulanyi told the audience that he had only made his trip to the northwest late during the campaigns not because he had not been thinking about them, but that because the race was crowded with five change-seeking candidates (out of a total of 12) and he needed to first study each of the five to reach a decision on the most suitable candidate.

    He proceeded: “The election in Arua is a very unique election. We find ourselves in a situation where we have been postponing a problem hoping it will solve itself, until a time has come for us to do what we must do…
    “It is not a secret anymore that we are trying to unite and remove Museveni from power. I said what we are doing is not a joke; we are not here to enjoy ourselves. We are here to remove Museveni from power. And if we are to complete that mission, then the people of Arua have an important part to play..

    “This is not a clash of political parties; I said this is not a clash between parties. And this is not a clash of generations. This is a unification of the oppressed against the oppressors,” Mr Kyagulanyi said, to roars from the crowd.

    Mr Kyagulanyi did not refer to Ms Nusura Tiperu, the ruling NRM party candidate, but in a further elaboration of his mission, he told his audience that electing Mr Wadri would just be the beginning.

    He said: “After Kassiano Wadri wins, it is not going to be the end. It is going to be the beginning. We are making a strategy for 2021. We know that the country is behind us; and we also know that President Museveni and his NRM are planning to rig. But we also have another plan. Do you know what we are planning? (No, roared the crowd). Do you know what we are planning? (No, the crowd roared again). That is our own business.”
    Mr Kyagulanyi then handed over the microphone, leaving the crowd in anticipation of what he and his colleagues are planning.

    At political rallies, there is perhaps very little time for thinking about the message and substance behind the slogans, and it is likely very few of those present gave any thought to whether indeed Mr Kyagulanyi is up to anything potent.

    Unease in Opposition

    Consistent. What is important is that Mr Kyagulanyi has had a similar message for the whole year he has been an active politician, and he has continually drawn crowds and the candidates he has backed have won.

    After the election in Bugiri Municipality that returned Jeema president Asuman Basalirwa as winner, with FDC’s Eunice Namatende coming a distant third, reports indicate that there was unease during a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of FDC the following week, with a number of members fearing that the appeal of their party, especially epitomized by the popularity Dr Kizza Besigye has enjoyed for close to two decades, was threatened by Bobi Wine.

    In Bugiri, attempts to front a joint Opposition candidate had failed, turning the campaigns into an affair between FDC and those allied with Mr Basalirwa, who was anchored by Bobi Wine. NRM’s John Francis Oketcho, who eventually beat Ms Namatende to second spot, was hardly talked about during the campaigns.

    On social media, there are occasions when some fans of the Opposition, especially those who back Dr Besigye, have appeared to attack Bobi Wine, although those who back Bobi Wine as the “new kid on the block” seem to attack Dr Besigye more often.

    When Dr Besigye addressed a press conference on Thursday, however, he was keen to dampen talk of a rift or rivalry between players on the Opposition front, saying that it is a campaign that is orchestrated by people he did not name.

    “There has been a choreographed presentation of a state of confrontation between Opposition groups; which I believe is deliberate; which I believe has ominous intentions,” Dr Besigye said.

    He moved to defend Bobi Wine and the other politicians and individuals who were arrested in Arua, saying the State is looking to manufacture charges against them, like he said charges have been manufactured against him and other Opposition players in the past.

    Dr Besigye said: “The idea that we now see being choreographed again in the media that people had guns (in Arua) must be dismissed. I think at this stage with contempt, because if there had been a situation of people having guns, there should have been a more transparent way of exposing such a matter in a politically charged environment like we had in Arua.

    There is absolutely no way the regime can convince Ugandans that having killed people, it is not covering its tracks by trying to plant evidence against our people.”

    [email protected]

The other thing I remember is this- I asked my visitors if we had won the Arua election. They told me we had won with a big margin and I thanked God. That strengthened my spirit because I knew that the people were with us, even in the kind of sufferings and indignities we were being subjected to.

I was very sad as I am today, that they murdered my brother Yasin in cold blood and did not allow me to bury him. They told me about my other comrades who were also incarcerated and I kept praying for them. (Of course every visitor had to speak to me in the presence of military personnel.) Although I was very pleased to see all visitors, when I was released, I read the comments which some of the visitors made to the press (particularly government officials). I felt sad that we have a lot of dishonest, cold people who don’t care riding on someone’s tragedy for political capital. I want to believe that we are better than that, dear Ugandans.

Anyway, while at Makindye I was briefed that I was expected in court on 23rd August, about nine days after I was taken there. Some military doctors continued to come in to inject me, wash my wounds and give me pain killers. At night on two occasions, I was put into military vehicles and driven to Kampala Imaging Centre for scans. I could not object or even ask questions. I am worried because one of the machines seemed very dangerous. As soon as I was placed into it and it was switched on, the doctors ran to a safe distance and started seeing me from a small window. It was there that the radiologist told me how one of my kidneys and back had been damaged during the assault. I was however not given any written medical report by the military.

It was clear they wanted me to appear in better shape at the next time of my court appearance and they did everything possible to achieve that. A day or two at Makindye, this guy was candid. He told me it was in my interest to eat well, take in all the medicine and look better by 23rd or else they would not allow the press to see me and I would be remanded again until I was presentable enough! They even forcefully shaved my hair and beards. When I hesitated, this soldier told me, ‘gwe osaaga’ (You are kidding). Two of them held my hands from behind and shaved me by force.

At some point, they insisted I must wear a suit for my next appearance before the court martial and asked me to tell my wife to bring me one. I also insisted that I did not have it. At another point I hesitated to allow some eye drops for my right eye which was very red and swollen. I always wanted to know what drugs I was being given. These guys held my arms from behind and one of them literally poured the entire bottle into my eye! Later, the military doctor also provided me with a crutch to aid me in walking. At that point, I was able to stand up, although with difficulty. When you hear all this you may think that all our soldiers are brutal. Far from that, most of them are wonderful people. There are many I interacted with during this ordeal who were extremely professional and sympathetic. It was hard to comprehend how people serving the same force, putting on the same uniform could be very different in appreciation and approach to a citizen of Uganda.

When I was taken back to Gulu on 23rd, I was very happy to see the people who came to court including family members, comrades in the struggle and lawyers. I cannot explain how I felt when the lawyer for the army said that charges of unlawful possession of firearms had been dropped. I did not feel vindicated. I was not excited. I was not moved. I just cannot explain how I felt. I just remembered what these people had done to me and tears came to my eyes. Shortly after, I was rearrested right in front of the courtroom and taken to Gulu prison. At the military prison, I was wearing a red uniform - this time, I was given a yellow one.

More related stories

  • President blames Arua death on Wadri, Bobi Wine

    Friday August 17 2018


    President Museveni yesterday blamed the newly- elected Arua Municipality Member of Parliament Kassiano Wadri and Kyadondo East legislator Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, for the violence that resulted in the death of one person on Monday.

    In a statement issued yesterday, Mr Museveni said the “actions” of the Opposition politicians led to the death of Bobi Wine’s driver Yasiin Kawuma who was shot on the eve of the Tuesday election.

    “The cases of terrorism, damaging property, manslaughter etc against the Honourables Wadri, Bobi Wine, etc will continue. Their actions led to the death of a Ugandan, injury of a number of others and damage to property; so the allegations go,” he said.

    The President also blamed the low voter turnout on the Monday night violence. “Nevertheless, the violence of the previous days had had the most negative effect. Of the 46,000 registered voters, only 16,000 turned out to vote; only 34 per cent of the electorate. The others either feared to come to vote or the register is full of ghosts,” he wrote.

    Rigging claims
    Mr Museveni, who said they are investigating the allegations of rigging in the election, accused NRM agents of not auditing the voters’ register in time to ensure it is free of ghosts. “In the case of Arua Municipality, there is an allegation that the illegal voters were brought to the attention of the Electoral Commission but that it did not pay heed. This will be confirmed or disproved,” he said.

    Mr Wadri and Mr Kyagulanyi were both charged in different Gulu courts and remain in detention on different charges.
    Meanwhile, security has remained tight in Arua Town, with soldiers and police doing patrols.

    Some shops remained closed for fear of resumption of violence. There was a wild overnight celebration by the supporters of Mr Wadri who was declared winner by the Electoral commission.

    The supporters marched in procession from River Oli Division to Arua Hill and Awindiri Ward late in the night. However, they clashed with police when they started marching on the streets.

    One of the residents, Mr Brian Acikule, said: “The police should allow people celebrate peacefully and only stop them when there is violence. And continued heavy deployment is scaring many businessmen from opening up shops. We need peace in Arua Town and not war.”

  • President Museveni vs ‘president’ Bobi Wine: Why both got it wrong

    Tuesday July 18 2017

    Museveni vs Bobi pic

    After all the excitement of [Ghetto Republic president] Bobi Wine’s sensational victory in the Kyadondo East parliamentary race, and all the comments about how it represented an anti-establishment youthful revolution, President Yoweri Museveni finally weighed in. The gist of Museveni’s argument was that youth (biology) is not the big thing in politics, but ideology. Young people (he listed several in Uganda’s history) had come to power and made a mess of it, despite their youth.

    Bobi Wine replied, and he made, by far, the more persuasive argument. While conceding some of Museveni’s points, he said ideology itself wasn’t enough. More important was “what kind” of ideology. But he was at his best, when subtly calling out Museveni’s hypocrisy. When Museveni and his very young comrades came to power 31 years ago, he extolled their youthfulness as revolutionary and fresh, as opposed to the regime of oldies they had overthrown.

    Now that he himself had grown long in the tooth in office, he was suggesting that we should privilege the supposed wisdom of age over youthfulness. However, both he and Museveni make a mistake in not sufficiently acknowledging biology. Both of them think that jobs and corruption are the biggest issues for the youth. But are they? Some of the best surveys of Ugandan and East African youth attitudes were previously presented in the ‘Holla’ report. I haven’t seen recent ones, but its findings were close to that of another organisation that studies young people in our region, the Centre for Adolescent Studies in Kenya.

    A while back, the Centre for Adolescent Studies found that in Kenya, while the politicians and policy people said jobs was the make or break issue for the youth, turned out their biggest fear was crime (and the fear of being murdered by criminals). The next big ones were pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Remarkably, the girls feared pregnancy more than even HIV/Aids. A child needs resources and time to look after, and can bog you down if you can’t get help. Gonorrhoea can be cured.

    The Holla study also found that jobs were not the top concern of East African youth. But it also gleaned something else. In all of East Africa, including Uganda, the majority of young people wanted to migrate. Leave all this madness behind. Fundamentally, I think that young people don’t think politicians (in government and the Opposition) are the answer to their problems. They actually do have a strong sense of agency and think they can help themselves.If Museveni wants to be an enabler, he should just light the streets in the low-income areas where they live, and reduce the number of police and security resources dedicated to keeping a check on the Opposition’s Kizza Besigye, and shift them to ensure security in these areas. That would be the best youth policy. Strange? Not exactly.

    Crime is a problem because young people feel a greater setback when the little money they have made is stolen from them by muggers. Then, they face a disincentive in making long-term plans, if they think they will be murdered in their youth.
    From a health point of view, for youth, the government would have to do the things it is doctrinally opposed to today – have aggressive contraceptive support, legalise abortion, and spend more money on STD treatment!

    When it comes to work, the Museveni government has got some of this right, but the policies are unpopular – for ideological reasons.
    That plan to send Ugandan doctors to the Caribbean was smart. On the doctors, it’s wrong to argue that because there is a shortage at home, we can’t send doctors abroad.
    We need to have a global view of the labour market. If a Ugandan doctor is worth $7,500 a month and we can’t afford to hire her at that price, send her to the Caribbeans where she can get that pay. Then import Pakistani and Bangladesh doctors, and pay them $3,500 if they are happy to take it. When I was last in Qatar, I spoke to a Ugandan who works with Al Jazeera there. She told me the single largest group of Qatari police were Kenyans! A Qatari policeman’s wage is probably higher than what an honest Ugandan MP earns.

    Since our young people want to leave, help them do so by setting up agencies that allow them to achieve that safely. Also, reform education to give them the skills to succeed abroad. Museveni’s government would have to support investment in the arts, that he despises for ideological reasons – in centres that teach Spanish, Mandarin, German, Arabic etc. If young Ugandans are going to be cops in Qatar, the odds would be better for them if they spoke Arabic.
    If you think biology isn’t as important as ideology in Uganda today, you’ve lost the plot.

    Mr Onyango-Obbo is the publisher of Africa data visualiser and explainer site [email protected]

  • Don’t look back in anger: Inside the Museveni, Bobi Wine public ‘fight’

    Wednesday October 11 2017


    The public exchanges between President Museveni and Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi are revealing in many ways, but especially by who is involved, where they are taking place, and what is being argued.
    Who: One endearing attribute about Mr Museveni over the years has been his ability to hold his own in a public contest of ideas.

    Yet his missives these days increasingly serve to highlight the paucity of ideas and the lack of depth and eloquence among many of his servants whose efforts at rebuttals often fall with the dull thud of unexploded ordnance.
    Where: In shifting from mainstream media with its gatekeeping editors controlling public opinion to the free-for-all social media platforms, the conversation, and the myriad rebuttals, level out the power dynamics in a way that is wonderful for the democratisation of power and information (even in this limited setting) but in which the President can only lose.

    But it is the ‘what’ that is most revealing.

    In his latest missive, President Museveni speaks of the NRM’s ideological roots in the 1960s student movements and the pan-Africanist stand he and his collaborators held in their twenties. He dismisses young upstarts like Mr Kyagulanyi as “indisciplined, uninformed and arrogant”.
    A quick read of the counter-arguments – and many have been chomping at the bit to tear into the President’s argument – shows that this is a cross-generational conversation in which two sides are speaking at cross-purposes.

    Born in the 1940s, Mr Museveni’s generation was on hand to see or try to answer some pretty big-ticket questions: The clamour for African independence; the emergence of the pan-African movement; the rise of predatory neo-colonialism and its continental quislings; apartheid; the Cold War; and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
    To the President, therefore, the big wars of history have already been won; what is left are mopping up battles.

    As Francis Fukuyama argued, they lived through the end of history and were the last men standing. Thus to Mr Museveni, history ended and the present began in 1986.
    Ugandans born in 1986 see things differently. If they lived in the south of the country and aren’t history buffs, it means nothing to them that Uganda was at war in one form or another for 500 years until 2007.
    In fact, while Mr Museveni is right to say “crime is not the same as war or terrorism”, he misses the point: The Young Turks, unscarred by war, are more concerned about thugs with iron bars than by rebels with mortars.

    They might never have learnt how to fire an AK-47 or toss a hand grenade, but they fight daily battles of survival, navigating a bleak landscape of few jobs, widespread socio-economic inequality and a dysfunctional system that works for only a few.

    They might not know what it feels like to walk through the ruins of war, but many have walked down the Boulevard of Broken dreams, carrying with them their sweat-stained and worthless qualifications, kicking the cans of their unfulfilled hopes and aspirations down unendingly winding roads.

    They are not just pan-Africanist; they are global and cosmopolitan in ways their parents will never understand: Few of them can locate Rhodesia on a map, but they know that they are competing against Chinese kids for university places or trying to write better code than some privileged kid in a dorm in Stanford.
    And this is the cross-generational puzzle.

    The older generation looks back with pride and satisfaction and marvels at how much it has achieved; the younger fellows, comparing Uganda with countries that were worse off than us three decades ago, or themselves with age-mates half the world away who live in countries that work, look back in anger and ask what could or should have been achieved with the same time and money.
    The older generation does not trust the younger generation not to mess things up; the younger generation thinks the older generation has already messed things up.
    Neither side is entirely guilty or entirely innocent, but this contestation of the political space will have to be resolved in one way or another. History does not have many examples in which the older generation was able to sustainably stave off the ambitions of the young for a long time, and a country in which seven out of every 10 people is aged below 35, is unlikely to be the first.
    What is yet to be determined is whether the generational transfer of power will be peaceful or not. That Mr Museveni and Mr Kyagulanyi are fighting with their fingers rather than their hands is a good start.

    Mr Kalinaki is a journalist and a poor man’s
    freedom fighter. [email protected]
    Twitter: @Kalinaki.

Friends, you cannot believe that you can be happy to be in prison but that day I was. I was very happy to leave solitary military confinement and meet up with colleagues who were being held at the Gulu prison. That night I was taken to Lachor hospital in Gulu- other tests and scans were conducted. At that point I was feeling better, especially psychologically since I had reunited with my comrades in the struggle.

Later that night the prison authorities decided to take me into the sickbay as opposed to staying with the other comrades. The other comrades led by Hon. Wadri protested. I could hear them bang the doors of their cell. The following day I was allowed to stay with them. The following day I was allowed to stay with them. This is when I interacted with the other 32 colleagues who had been arrested in the Arua fracas. Being in the same prison ward with Hon. Gerald Karuhanga, Hon. Paul Mwiru, Hon. Kassiano Wadri, Hon. Mike Mabike, John Mary Sebuufu and many other comrades made it feel like a boarding school. It was not a very happy reunion though. Because of the torture some of our comrades had been permanently injured. I cannot forget the pain which Shaban Atiku was going through. He spent every day and night groaning. The doctors had told him he would never walk again because his back had been permanently broken. Sadly, the world may never know him, but he will never go out of my mind. He would later collapse during a court session at Gulu. When I later met the women who were brutalised, it was very painful to see them and listen to their stories.

Many times we joked about the possibility of being hanged if the regime decided to give us the maximum penalty of the offence we had been charged with! This got many of our comrades silent.
Away from these sad moments, the overall prison leader had a box guitar in the ward and together we sang songs of freedom all night. This was the routine every night until we appeared before the Gulu High Court a few days later, for our bail hearing.

My next communication will be a vote of thanks to the world for the overwhelming support and comradeship. I will also talk about what I think we must do together to continue this struggle for liberty and freedom.
I am glad that authorities finally have bowed to your pressure and #HonZaake has been given bond to travel for urgent specialised treatment and I join the world to demand authorities to #FreeEddyMutwe and other political prisoners. WE SHALL OVERCOME.

1. Please ignore calls from my phone number (0752013306). It was taken from me by soldiers and am told they're using it to call my friends pretending it is me.
2. Please ignore any communication from other social media accounts and pages under my name apart from this one (with a blue tick) and my verified twitter account (also with a blue tick).
Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine