If everything else has failed to unite us as a country, Coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19 must. Why? This disease that causes difficulty in breathing does not discriminate and knows no colour, status or political affiliation. Most important, it is taking with it thousands of lives.
We, therefore, must not only adhere to measures stopping its spread but encouraging others to do so. The above has been the message from all quarters and we have religiously abided by it. But even as we continue surrendering ourselves to Corona orders, it is legitimate to carry on the conversation it found us having.
We must not allow Coronavirus to become a cover for incompetence and continued mismanagement of our country. We were already paying a heavy price for mismanagement and incompetence. If we add to the price of COVID-19, we will certainly collapse.
Let me start with the debate, coronavirus found us having as a country – the arrest of one of the presidential aspirants Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde. Tumukunde is in Luzira prison. Why? He announced his intention to stand for president and informed the Electoral Commission of his desire to carry out nationwide consultation as the Presidential Elections Act stipulate.
Tumukunde attracted less sympathy when he got arrested, unfortunately. In fact, he kept in the media because of his profile.
His proximity to Mr. Museveni is partly the reason the public was less bothered.
In 2009, Andrew M. Mwenda’s The Independent magazine in an article titled Museveni Government Family Tree listed Tumukunde as a beneficiary. He is married to Stella Tumukunde, a cousin of Janet Kataha, The Independent of Mwenda reported.
And of course, Tumukunde was/has been everything any soldier would want to be in a career. He was chief of military intelligence, the most coveted chieftaincy in UPDF. He was chief of personnel and administration, commanding officer of the 4th division, director Internal Security Organization (ISO) and Minister of Security.
By no means, he was a very influential person in the Museveni government. He got arrested in 2003 and charged with spreading harmful propaganda. He would remain in detention for nearly nine years.
Unfortunately, when he got released, he rejoined the eating table and misbehaved during the 2016 general elections. You remember when he flew a Museveni helicopter at Amama Mbabazi’s rally in Fort Portal.
His history makes it very difficult to believe he is genuine. I am personally cautious. But the matter to discuss is not the person of Tumukunde but the conduct of Museveni towards his opponents. Robert Kyagulanyi cannot consult. Dr. Besigye cannot hold a rally and MPs need special permits to speak to their constituents.
Yet if Coronavirus had not interfered, nominations for people interested in serving on special interests groups village committees would have been conducted this week (APRIL 7th -9th).
The Electoral Commission is organizing nominations but participants are not allowed to do anything. Even a simple thing like singing is not allowed.
Coronavirus most likely with Allah’s mercy will soon disappear and I am not being a Trump. It will In-shaa-Allah disappear. But when it does, where will it leave us. Will it be at the point it found us or worse.
Already we have lost time on pushing for our rights. Coronavirus has allowed the Museveni security machine to practice all sorts of violence. Did you see what happened in Amuru? Here in the name of enforcing curfew, they canned and rolled wanainchi in the mud. It is as if they had a vendetta against them.
In Eastern Uganda, they carried out night raids, removed people from their houses and battered them. This is the reason LDU’s were recruited for. Their job is to administer violence.
Finally, while on Capital Gang, the weekly Capital Radio talk show on Saturday, Hajji Hussein Kyanjo rang me. His concern was that the utility (electricity, water and Mulago Hospital) MDs that we had spoken to, were all from one region. “Which sort of country is this?” Kyanjo asked me.
The country must be very careful with all the appointments Mr. Museveni is making around this time. In 2014, when I chaired COSASE, we discovered that 49% of all the MDs in parastatals, were from West and Ankore in particular. The man is quietly announcing nominations and promoting uniformed people. These appointments are attracting no debate because we are all consumed by Coronavirus.
That is how he re-appointed Byabashaija Commissioner General of Prison even when he has clocked 60 years. You can’t, under the Prisons Act serve as a Commissioner-General when you are 60.
Also important to note is how the Prisons have been added on the list of security agencies. Prisons have always steered clear of political controversies. Today because they carry guns have been added on the list of militia to terrorize the country.
Prisons never used to address press conferences but today they are standing hand in hand with LDU, Police and UPDF. Prison warders used to fight with Police over the treatment of inmates. If you were released and other agencies wanted to kidnap, you, Prisons would advise and seek to protect you. We all felt secure in their hands. We are watching as the man is also militarizing them.
Prisons must not participate in general security issues. Their job is to keep and secure prisoners.
Please as we stay home to reduce on the risk of being caught by Coronavirus, let our eyes remain open on the many things going on in our country. You may wake up when your village has been turned into a torture chamber.
The author is the Member of Parliament for Kira Municipality, and also the Chief Opposition Whip in Parliament.