One year after Yasin Kawuma’s death on the evening of August 13, 2018, government remains silent on why an innocent Ugandan was suddenly shot dead.
The deceased was killed in a vehicle at a hotel car park in Arua Town and laid to rest on August 15, 2018, at his ancestral home in Buwama, Mpigi District. Kawuma (RIP) was unarmed and brutally killed in cold blood.
At the time of his death, Kawuma was believed to be in his early 40s, survived by three wives and 11 children. It is unclear if police investigations into the matter were carried out to a logical conclusion. But as time goes by, security forces involved in the Arua Municipality parliamentary by-election violence, scuffle and subsequent killing of Kawuma remind at large.
The murder of Kawuma seems to have been politically motivated since he was employed by Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, as a personal driver. Kyagulanyi is an Opposition leader with significant youth following his People Power movement, and the assumption is that Kawuma might have been at the wrong place at the wrong time since the bullet might have been intended for someone else.
According to a statement by Amnesty International East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Uganda police claimed Kawuma was killed by a “stray bullet” following a political rally.
“The Ugandan authorities must immediately launch a thorough, independent and impartial investigation, including appropriate forensic investigations, into how Yasin Kawuma was killed with a shot to his head while he was driving an Opposition Member of Parliament. There must be accountability for the tragic death,” Amnesty International demanded.
While Amnesty International expresses grave concern and called for appropriate action from government and the Judiciary, 12 months later there is no accountability, no justice and no action taken against anyone for the murder of Kawuma.
Many people believe that Uganda’s security agencies failed to observe their mandate and functions in respecting human rights as articulated in Article 221 of the Constitution.
In the elections of December 10, 1980, Yoweri Museveni stood and lost as the Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM) candidate for Mbarara North Constituency.
According to his book Sowing the Mustard Seed, second edition, in the aftermath of the elections, the remains of 2nd Lt Karenzi and 48 other innocent Ugandans were discovered in Busaabala.
“I took evidence, photos to Paulo Muwanga, our chairman of the Military Commission, but no action was taken. This was characteristic of Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) using and tolerating extra-judicial killings, issues that rule out peaceful politics. How can we have peaceful politics if leaders or our supporters are killed at any time?” he wrote.
Although 39 years have passed, the cycle of innocent Ugandans being killed at the time of elections has not changed.
President Museveni’s question then remains pertinent today and conjures both anxiety and fear as another election season approaches in 2021.
Many Ugandans are worried about their lives and safety of their properties ahead of 2021 elections. The bare minimum expectations are that mistakes of past regimes should not be repeated or tolerated.
Although significant changes have been made over the years, the concern is that extra judicial killings still seem to be with us and peaceful elections are perpetually absent.
Ms Victoria Nyeko is a media commentator.