Kampala. About nine years ago, Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, alias, Bobi Wine now probably the State’s most watched person, was government’s top ambassador working with police and security agencies to fight crime.
But his privileged status changed drastically when he was elected Member of Parliament in 2017.
In 2010, Bobi Wine was the police ambassador in fighting drug abuse. He crisscrossed the country to promote community policing.
“I love you,” Bobi Wine told senior police officers at a dinner at the closing of the 20th Police Council and Retreat at Police Training School Kabalye in Masindi District on September 29, 2010.
But today, that quote can be reversed to “I hate you” and Bobi Wine would own it and claim patent rights.
To prove that, his love for the police was deep, he singled out a veteran police officer, Assistant Commissioner of Police Alfred Bitwire.
“He is my wife’s uncle. The police officer gave me a wife,” Bobi Wine said amid chants from senior officers, with majority now in the police top command that is beating up their former ambassador-turned adversary.
Nine years later, Bobi Wine and the police, are now living a noisy and messy divorce, with the singer pushing for public demonstrations against what he described as “police brutality, injustice and misuse of authority.”
“I attempted to move out of my home. Police told me that I am under house arrest. I was headed to Police headquarters in Naguru [Kampala] to deliver a notification about our planned peaceful demonstrations against police brutality, injustice and misuse of authority,” Bobi Wine said in a tweet, referring to the Tuesday incident when police forced him back into his house.
Police have put Bobi Wine under preventive arrest on allegations that his actions are a security threat. He is now confined to his home in Magere, Kasangati in Wakiso District.
Police ambassador turned enemy
Since he joined the Opposition and later declared presidential ambitions, Bobi Wine’s involvement with the police has changed. The marriage ran into a violent divorce and the State appears to be exploring all means to isolate him and deny his freedom.
Yesterday, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), targeted online media, the Ghetto TV, which often runs live footage of Bobi Wine’s events or activities.
Mr Ashburg Katto, an aide to Bobi Wine and suspected to be running the Ghetto TV, was summoned by UCC on allegations that his station was operating without a licence.
Mr Katto’s colleague, who identified himself only as David, said Mr Katto appeared at UCC yesterday and had a ‘chat’ with officials and was later allowed to leave.
Efforts to talk to Mr Katto were futile. His mobile phones were switched off by press time.
Mr Museveni has recently reached out to musicians and music promoters allied to the Opposition, promising them money and tax-free events.
“In the first and second meetings, the President agreed to deal with all the issues we raised except allowing Bobi Wine events, saying his music was poisonous, disrespectful to elders, was abusive, full of sectarianism and tribalism,” Mr Ssempijja said yesterday. Mr Tony Ssempijja, the national coordinator for Uganda Music Promoters and Venue Owners Network, said they met President Museveni twice in December 26, 2018, and on April 16 about Bobi Wine issues.
He said President Museveni told them that until Bobi Wine separates politics from music, his eventswill not be allowed anywhere in the country.
When contacted later for a comment on the government’s perceived moves to isolate him, Bobi Wine said: “This is the exact isolation that I am talking about. President Museveni wants to see me broke and not talking to anyone and that is why he is blocking all my shows and campaigns.”
Artistes meet President Museveni
The recent meeting with President Museveni was attended by Salim Saleh, Gen Charles Angina, Minister Nakiwala Kiyingi, Mr Andrew Benon Kibuuka, the head of performing artistes, Mr Mariam Ndagire, the head of female artistes, and Mr Godfrey Lutaaya, the head of Dream Artistes Sacco and an ally of Bobi Wine.
Mr Ssempijja said promoters allied to Bobi Wine, who lost money in the cancelled music events, were promised Shs1.85b, Mr Lutaaya’s Sacco will also get Shs200m, while Ms Ndagire will get Shs600m to rehabilitate drug consumers. “The promised money has not yet been delivered,” he said.
Mr Lutaaya’s Sacco comprised of artistes that are allied to Bobi Wine such as Dr Hilderman (real name Hillary Innocent Kiyaga).
Run-in with the state
During the Arua Municipality by-elections in August last year, Bobi Wine and dozens were arrested and tortured by Special Forces Command (SFC) soldiers after a windscreen of a vehicle in the presidential convoy was allegedly stoned. The security agencies denied beating up suspects including Bobi Wine. But President Museveni later said at State House Entebbe that he called his SFC soldiers, who arrested Bobi Wine, and confirmed to him that they beat him because he had confronted them.
Since 2017, Bobi Wine said more than 140 concerts have been stopped.
In March, President Museveni gave Shs2.5b to youth in Kampala City ghettos and told them not to support Bobi Wine and other Opposition politicians.
He has also set up a unit led by State House Comptroller Lucy Nakyobe to empower city unskilled youth, who he said he had forgotten because of other government commitments.
President Museveni has also been promoting rival artistes like Bebe Cool and Catherine Kusaasira by organising for them concerts and giving them funds to lure other artistes into the National Resistance Movement camp.