With active drone attacks, Uganda won’t move on

Tuesday March 02 2021
By Nicholas Sengoba

Before and following the January 14 General Election, there have been a spate of abductions, torture, disappearances and killings resulting from the election. 

In a televised address to the nation, the President Yoweri Museveni finally gave an official hint or should we say acknowledgment of what in the public domain was accepted or better still well known. 

That perpetrators of what is now known as ‘drone attacks’ are security agents who most times operate without uniforms and ride the dreaded omnibuses without registration plates.

 From these, he ordered the release of a list of the abductees. 
Mark you he did not demand for their unconditional release. This would have been a more rational thing to do considering the fact that they have not been charged before any court of law, have been in custody beyond the constitutionally mandated 48 hours, etc. 

I hear many calls urging Uganda to wit that the election is over so we move on. Probably because our elections are so heavily strewn with violence, uncertainty and fear, many want to sweep that away and get on with their lives.

 After all, we are still in a precarious situation because of the complexities thrown our way by the Covid-19 pandemic. 


Understandably, an outbreak of violence and insecurity may cause even more job loses, salary cuts and drops in volume of the already struggling businesses in a limping economy.

It is obvious that when we go into an election, we shall have a winner and a loser. And like day follows night, the election period will come to an end at some point, it does not matter how long it takes. 

The winner will love the euphoria of basking in the joy that come with victory and acclamation. The loser, especially a bad one,  will dwell on why they lost as they fight to come to terms with the reality of being rejected by the electorate. 
 In a sense, the winner is a loser and the loser is also a winner. A winner may lose ground in territory that was hitherto a  succulent low hanging fruit for them to harvest despite winning elsewhere. It may be a message singling that they need to do more or that it is time up. 

 The loser though coming short, may open new ground in what were insurmountable no-go areas. They may also learn that politics is not their niche so that they do not waste time and resources in future. 

Or that the system as it, does not work for certain people and learn what it takes to make it work for success in future. A look at what happened to NRM and NUP in the central region is a comment on the above.

All these things come to life after the electoral process has taken place. They work better for those who have an  interest in humbling themselves and making an honest assessment regarding their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. 

It takes a lot of courage to come to terms with these realities, especially hearing and facing ones’ weaknesses and failures. It is part of the process of healing and moving on. These are the things that serious political groupings should be engaging in to correct their mistakes and consolidate their success.

Most important is that those who have taken the most from the election and are in a strong position, a lot is expected in the form of magnanimity. That is what the NRM government with all the warts from the election should be doing right now. They need to be above the rest and show the way. 

We cannot talk of moving on when the NRM government is staying put and getting even, by abusing state machinery to crash those who rejected them.

If we move on where do we leave those locked up in unknown places? What about the loved ones who are spending sleepless nights because they have failed to locate their loved ones? Who will take care of those tortured and maimed?

Isn’t it foolhardy to move on without understanding how people without uniforms, in vehicles without registration plates can roam this town arresting, torturing and killing people then dumping them without accountability?

How do we move on when we do not know the motive of the ones who are abducting people? Wouldn’t it be better for us to first establish this and correct it if need be so that we do not have a repeat of these ugly incidents in future?

Isn’t it important to hold the perpetrators culpable for these crimes so that it acts as a deterrent to those who would want to solve political matters by acting high-handedly with the help of the coercive arm of the State?

Before we talk of moving on, it is important to seriously look into the issue of the vulnerability and security of the citizen paying special attention to the institutions supposed to protect them from abuse.

How do dodgy characters carry out arrests both in broad day light and in the dead of the night without the knowledge of the area police commander and the local council chairperson? Who is benefiting to the extent of providing cover to these untouchables?

If we do not seriously address these issues and answer these questions honestly, Uganda is likely to move on and stay in the same place. 

The NRM should come to terms with the results of the elections and go out and fight to win back lost ground. 

The battle for hearts and minds is won by soft power. Creating imaginary enemies then letting violence reign to shock and awe only causes further resentment.
Drone attacks must stop. 

Twitter: @nsengoba