A remark made by Col Shaban Bantariza, the deputy executive director of Uganda Media Centre, during NRM leaders’ retreat has drawn criticism from a section of Ugandans, accusing him of inciting violence and threatening Ugandans with use of force to cling to power.
Col Bantariza in his comment said NRM government will not hand over power, adding that those who think they can take power away from the current regime are dreamers.
“I pity people who think NRM government will hand over power, we would rather go back to the bush to sort these people. I have my three guns on standby in my car, let Bobi Wine and his group continue with their kasukali (sugar), for us we don’t use kasukali, we use fire and indeed we shall use fire to put off that kasukali to maintain peace,” he was quoted as saying.
President Museveni and others took arms in 1981, protesting what they called rigged 1980 elections. They took over power after a five-year guerilla war. Uganda had its first general election in 1996 under the current regime.
Different sections of Ugandans have accused Col Bantariza of arrogance and using force to suppress the ordinary citizens.
In response, Col Bantariza said he was warning those who intend to cause mayhem to the population.
“It is no more than a warning and caution against those that would be willing to take us back to mayhem, which we must do all we can...Unfortunately, deterrence of war, often requires, among other preparations, preparedness for war. Part of Strategic Defence,” he tweeted.
“Every job, and every service, has its appropriate tools! Guns are not bought, serviced, and used to serve foods and beverages in hotels and restaurants! DP gov’t would need them for same or similar purpose as the NRM government, if they have to be, and remain pro-people!” he added.
Mr Mike Kiyemba on Twitter said Uganda needs divine intervention if people who hold guns think like Col Bantariza.
Social media reactions
“If this is the mindset of Shaban Bantariza, then Uganda needs prayers, because we thought old people have some senses unfortunately, it’s vice versa. Even the first leaders thought because they had guns nobody would check them,” he tweeted.
A one Musisi said: “Rather than the Shaban Bantariza, Kahinda Otafiire and other generals threatening us with their guns, somebody should advise them to make good use of the forgotten National Dialogue. Otherwise, history is not on their side!”
Kalema Shaban said Ugandans’ desire for peaceful change has always been met with brutality from the security forces.
“Brother Bantariza, then the regime must fall. We as citizens we believe in civil dialogue and competitions but every day we are being harassed by the same guns and officers that are paid by our taxes,” he said.
Col Bantariza yesterday told Daily Monitor that his message had been distorted by the media, and denied any ill-motive in his statements. “I had gone to address the issue of [artistes Catherine] Kusasira and Full Figure. For us in the army, when you are given instructions, you operate from your area. President Museveni gave work to Kusasira and others and those of Uhuru should not be complaining because they also have work to do.
Then a young man had sung a song of peace… He said we are the ones who brought peace and I said we shall do anything to protect that peace. I said for me I am retired but I have three guns in my car and I can even lend my support to defend that peace if need be. I heard Bobi Wine had said we shall add more sugar and I said for you even to add sugar you must first boil it with fire and for us we shall use fire for boiling the water.
The NGOs wanted an explanation on my statement but the statement on Twitter did not capture correctly what I had told the NRM supporters. People are trying to create problems between us and Bobi Wine when we don’t have any,” Col Bantariza said.