A relative of the late Jack Mukwana Maumbe, who was with President Museveni when Idi Amin’s soldiers surrounded Maumbe’s house on Plot 49 Maluku Estate, Mbale Town, has spoken out, contradicting Mr Museveni’s account of the events on the fateful day.
Mr Patrick Bukeni, who, according to his narrative – also corroborated by Muhoozi Kainerugaba’s book, Battles of Ugandan Resistance: A tradition of Maneuver, was in the house when Amin’s men closed in on Mr Museveni, says he is also angry that President Museveni has never mentioned him in his books or when talking about the events of the day of January 22, 1973.
Mr Bukeni also says it bothers him that Mr Museveni says he is the only man who slipped away from the house alive, yet he - Mr Bukeni – also sneaked out and witnessed soldiers give Museveni a murderous chase.
“I am surprised that when he [President Museveni] was referring to the events, he asserts that he was the only one who got out of the house alive, forgetting me; yet we spent 30 minutes together in cordial conversation in the house before the attack,” Mr Bukeni said in an interview with Sunday Monitor this week.
When this newspaper reached out to Maumbe’s widow, Elizabeth, to corroborate the assertions by Mr Bukeni, she said: “I know him [Bukeni], but I am not at ease to speak about the events of that day. Please don’t make me cry now.”
The President, while recounting the events at Bungokho Sub-county in Mbale District during the burial of the late Maumbe last week, among other things, said he was the only fighter who left the house alive after his two comrades –Martin Mwesiga and Kazimoto - were shot dead at the house.
“When we were attacked at Maumbe’s home, I was the only man who managed to jump out of the house, ran through the trench to the forest in the thick grass, leaving behind my colleagues, whom I later discovered were shot by Amin’s soldiers and died,” he said.
As the President made the remarks, Mr Bukeni remained tight-lipped in the tent with his colleagues of the NRM Historical League.
Muhoozi’s book, published in 2010; 37 years later, admits that Mr Bukeni, a relative of Maumbe, arrived at the house and noticed the guest’s white Volkswagen Beetle 1600 parked outside before he entered the house. Muhoozi, now a Major General in the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), is the son of President Museveni.
“Inside the house, he [Mr Bukeni] sat down in a seat that was immediately adjacent to the front door. He was immediately engaged in a conversation by a light-skinned man (Mr Museveni) of slight build, who wore outdoor type boots,” reads part of the book, on page 23.
Mr Bukeni, now in his early 60s, explained to Sunday Monitor that on the fateful day, he arrived at the late Maumbe’s house at 4:30pm. He found Mr Museveni, Martin Mwesiga and Waku Mpima Kizimoto, seated in the house.
“The late [Prof] Dani Wadada Nabudere and other Ugandans in Arusha, Tanzania, had sent me to bring money [Muhoozi’s book says it was $800 in traveller’s cheques and identification papers] and other items. I was supposed to handover to the late Maumbe, but unfortunately, he was not at home at that time,” he said.
Mr Bukeni says it’s at this time that Elizabeth Mukwana (Maumbe’s widow) introduced him to Mr Museveni and his two colleagues.
“Before we could start talking, Museveni sent her out of the house to go and buy sugar and bread to prepare breakfast. In her absence, we engaged in a cordial conversation,” Mr Bukeni says.
But Muhoozi, in his book, notes that Mr Bukeni arrived when President Museveni had already sent Maumbe’s wife to the market.
Mr Bukeni recounts that at about 5:15pm; deep into their conversation, Maumbe’s wife comes running, yelling and shouting that soldiers had surrounded the house.
“She grabbed my hand and pulled me into the kitchen. She said since I had a Tanzanian identity card, there was no escape for me unlike my colleagues,” Mr Bukeni said. Maumbe’s widow remained in the house and witnessed the shooting to death of Kazimoto and Mwesiga, according to Muhoozi narrative in his book.
While in the kitchen, Mr Bukeni says he fidgeted about going back into the sitting room and retrieve his briefcase but one of the soldiers was already harassing Mr Museveni’s colleagues.
“Through the back door, I crossed to Maluku Road into the adjacent cemetery and hid in a cremation hut nearby,” he says.
Moments later, looking back in the direction of Maumbe’s house, Mr Bukeni says he saw a soldier pursuing Museveni and firing randomly.
“The entire estate was thrown into panic. It’s at this time that I stormed out and sprinted to mix with the crowd at the bus terminal, where I boarded a bus to Bududa,” he said.
Mr Bukeni says Mr Museveni could not have surely forgotten him and the events of that day so quickly given that as recent as August 10, 2008, the President sent for him to provide details of the episodes recorded in his son’s book, Battles of the Ugandan Resistance: A Tradition of Maneuver, at State Lodge in Mbale.
“Although many of the things were inaccurately recorded or left out, I provided all the information regarding what happened on that fateful day,” he said.
“I think that is how the President forgets people because even the late Maumbe suffered without much help,” Mr Bukeni said, adding that the members of the NRM Historical League were thrown into confusion when the President made the remarks.
The NRM Historical League currently plays an advisory role to the NRM establishment and sits in the NRM party’s Central Executive Committee.
Mr Bukeni, a resident of Butta parish in Nalongo Sub-county, says as members of the NRM Historical League, they needed to be recognised because they put their lives on the line as freedom fighters.
“Our deeds need to be appreciated. It was a collective responsibility, which we took on wholeheartedly so when our leader forgets us, it makes us regret,” Mr Bukeni concludes.
Six men have been sentenced to three years in jail for vandalising President Yoweri Museveni's farm in Lutunku village, Lugusuulu sub-county at the border of Sembabule and Gomba districts.
The convicts were arrested on December 11, 2016 while in possession of 26 rolls of chain links part of which had been used in fencing President Museveni's farm.
The six, all residents of Kampala, were identified as Caleb Ahimbisibwe, Jeremy Ssemugenyi, Isaac Mutabike, Johan Muwanguzi, Umar Mugerwa and Charles Serwadda. The six pleaded guilty to the offence and told court that they were selling the chain links to scrap dealers around Kampala.
Prosecution led by Allan Mucunguzi, the Sembabule state attorney, told court that the accused persons were found with stolen chain-links valued at Shs 53 million. The chain links had been used to cover a distance of about 1 mile on the farm.
President Museveni and wife at his farm
Court heard evidence from 11 witness including two police officers who all pinned the accused persons to the offence. Prosecution also presented three lorry trucks upon which the exhibits had been loaded destined for Kampala.
Sembabule Grade I magistrate George Miftundida observed in a ruling delivered Thursday, that the accused persons were notorious thieves who braved a long distance from Kampala to Sembabule, an implication that they had a lot of time conspiring to commit the offence.
Court also observed that all the accused persons are young men who deliberately chose theft as a way of life other than employing their energies to work. The magistrate downplayed pleas for pardon by the convicted persons and accordingly sentenced them to three years in jail.
However, court acquitted the Godwin Arinaitwe, the seventh suspect who prosecution alleged that aided the theft with finance, after evidence against him was found to be inconsistent.
The judgment was received with mixed reactions among residents of Sembabule district, where some people considered it too harsh to people that had prayed for leniency, while others say it would contain theft in the area. Godfrey Tumwesigye, a farmer told URN that the area had suffered enough attacks of this nature.
He described theft as the biggest threat to pastoralism in the district.
The House was on Thursday covered in grief as the body of Joash Mayanja Nkangi, the fallen former Buganda premier was delivered to the chambers for last respects.
Parliament was paying tribute to the late Mayanja, 85, who also served in different government positions before relinquishing to private ventures.
In a motion presented by Gen Moses Ali, the First Deputy Prime Minister, government hailed Nkangi for his boldness to face tough situations during the time he served in government.
“The history of our country can never be complement unless the name of Hon Mayanja Nkangi as a hero has been included,” said Gen Ali.
Moses Ali also said that Nkangi will be remembered for fostering dialogue during the trying moments of post-independence turbulence between the Mengo Establishment and the Central government.
Meanwhile, Ms Winnie Kiiza, the Leader of Opposition in a message delivered by Roland Kaginda (FDC-Rukungiri Municipality MP) says that Nkangi’s much-sung legacy must be emulated by government ministers and other public officials, in honour of Nkangi’s democratic principles.
“Uganda has lost a true servant who loved his country and he was instrumental in Uganda’s independence…as a believer of democracy, it was challenges that political parties including his Conservative Party were limited by this regime to operate(only) at their headquarters,” reads the Statement.
Ms Kiiza’s statement further challenged government on the Uganda Investment Authority which was pioneered by Nkangi during the time he served as Minister of Finance to foster equity and increased production.
“Unfortunately foreign investors have been given priority over Uganda investors even when they are dealing in the same products…..and the Authority has also failed to Identify priority production areas,” said Kiiza.
The mood remained somber throughout the session.
Grave silence swept across the chambers of parliament as speaker after speaker sung resonance for the amiable works by Nkangi during the time he served government in different key positions.
Several emissaries from the Mengo establishment, family and political divide kept watching from the gallery as their hero was being honored.
Silence filled the House as every member firmly remained in his/her sit to witness the August House’s tribute.
Nkangi, a lawyer by training, served as Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs from 1998 to 2002; Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development from 1992 to 1998; Minister of Economic Planning from 1989 to 1992; Minister of Education from 1986 to 1989 and Minister of Commerce from 1962 to 1964.
Maj Gen (rtd) Kahiinda Otafirre the Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister scoffed at people who use their public positions to plunge wealth on earth saying that they are chasing hot air.
“Nkangi was a great man, at the end of the day we all work for the moment like this…it is not the troubles we create while we are on earth, it is not what we acquire when we are on earth…” said Otafiire adding that, “it is what people say on a day like this one, this is your legacy, Nkangi was a great man and he has written in history, no one can wash it away.’
His eminence the Cardinal Emanue Wamala saud that the country should celebrate Nkangi’s life instead of mourning.
He also served as chairperson Uganda Land Commission between 2002 and 2013.
Nkangi died on Monday at Nakasero Hospital in Kampala, where he had been admitted after suffering from Pneumonia.
His burial is slated for tomorrow at his ancestral home in Kanyogoga, located in Kalungu west Constituency.
President Museveni’s son-in-law, Edwin Karugire, has been accused by villagers in the central district of Nakaseke of trying to evict them from land in 25 villages.
About 250 people from Nabiika village, Kyamutakasa, Nakaseke parish, trooped to Parliament yesterday, seeking to meet Speaker Rebecca Kadaga. They planned to ask Kadaga to intervene and stop Karugire from evicting some 500 families from over 900 acres of land.
Kadaga didn’t meet the villagers. But during the Thursday afternoon session, she directed government to table a report on the matter next Tuesday. Some of the affected villages include Kyamutasaka, Ssanze, Ssenda, Luvunvu, Kazinga, Kasambya and Kasagga.
Nakaseke South MP Paulson Kasana Luttamaguzi raised the matter before Parliament yesterday, revealing that a group of individuals, with the help of security officers, descended on some of the villages and demolished houses. Luttamaguzi implored Kadaga to intervene and stop a group of “mafia” from grabbing land.
Residents of Nakaseke at parliament over land grabbing
Mohammed Serwagi, one of the affected persons, said for the last two years, a number of people, accompanied by security officers, have been hassling them to leave the area to reportedly pave way for construction of an army barracks.
Serwagi said armed individuals, led by deputy resident district commissioner Afrikano Aharikundira, have on several occasions ordered them off the disputed land, saying it belongs to Karugire.
“We have reported them to the police land protection unit on several occasions but nothing has been done. They come to our villages with armed army and police officers and have fenced off our gardens. They even have the audacity to brag that they are “big” people,” Serwagi told The Observer at Parliament.
The residents said some of their tormentors claim they work for SPA Company, reportedly owned by Karugire, and have been assisted by Aharikundira and army officers.
Contacted for a comment yesterday, Karugire denied knowing SPA Company and the individuals using his name to evict people from the contested land.
“I do not know a company called SPA and I cannot and do not order evictions because I am a judicial officer. I am engaged in private legal practice. I have not grabbed, seized, taken, sold, bought or in any manner dealt with any land in Nakaseke district or its environs,” Karugire said in a text message to The Observer.
He said that anyone misusing his name to evict people should be arrested. Aharikundira, on the other hand, accused MP Luttamaguzi of seeking cheap popularity. He insisted that the land in contention belongs to government.
“Luttamaguzi has created a team of spin doctors to speak ill about government. As an opposition leader, what else can he talk about to sell his political party except about government? The district is calm and there are no evictions as claimed by the MP,” Aharikundira said.
Another resident of Nabiika, 55-year-old Henry Matovu, said he was born and bred in that village and owns several acres of land there. Matovu claims he was arrested last year by a man, only identified as Lugali, after he resisted attempts to evict him from his land.
“I have 24 children and the land on which I live will belong to them because our forefathers settled on this land since 1940 when they settled there. We are being harassed and threatened as though we are not on our own land,” Matovu said.
Hawa Naluwu, also a resident of Nabiika, said it was unfair for them to be evicted from their land without being given options for compensation or relocation to different land.
“We have been told for the last two years that government wants to evict us and that we should first go and register at the district yet we have stayed on this land for decades. I thought we, the people, are government,” she pondered.
Kadaga told MPs during yesterday’s plenary session that residents living next to the land she owns in Nakaseke recently intimated to her that they faced eviction following threats by people they termed as “big people” in government.
“I own land that side and one day, my neighbours told me the next time I return there, I will not find them. When I asked them who wants to evict them; they told me that there are “banene’ [big people],” Kadaga said.
Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana explained that protection of landowners is guaranteed in the land laws and whoever evicts residents outside the law commits a crime.
INGRID TURINAWE was recently booed and heckled by MPs when she sought their votes to send her to the East African Legislative Assembly.
But the FDC national mobiliser tells Baker Batte Lule she felt triumphant rather than humiliated. Turinawe also denied ever calling MPs pigs although she likens their behaviour to pigs'. Excerpts:
How do you sum up your experience as a candidate for Eala?
We started with a primary election within FDC. We were nine candidates who were nominated. Out of the nine candidates, we selected the best two. Some communication ran around that I had lost because you journalists were not aware that we were electing two people.
I remember when we were giving our speeches after the election, I tried to make it clear but I don’t know how you rushed and communicated that I had lost; simply because you wanted me to be on the top.
For us as FDC we have always taken our two members of parliament to Eala; the first term we had our own president, Gen Mugisha Muntu and Counsel Wandera Ogalo as members of Eala. In 2012, we were betrayed by DP; at that time Mukasa Mbidde had gone to court and won because we as FDC and NRM had taken MPs without DP and UPC. So when he won, we sat and agreed to go to court as a way to push to have more seats for the opposition.
We wanted the NRM to release more two seats so that DP and UPC each get one. We signed an agreement with the two parties and then wrote to the speaker about postponing the election.
We as FDC committed ourselves to the boycott, but we didn’t know that there were moves to betray us and edge us out from representation at Eala. On the same day we signed that agreement, DP and UPC went behind us and made a deal with the NRM and they were nominated and they took our two positions.
We were fighting for them to get at least two positions but for them they were fighting to take away the two representatives we had in Eala. Our two elected members then, Anita Among and Augustine Ruzindana, didn’t go.
So this time we said let us appoint our people in time; but I think it was a trick for the speaker not to release the guidelines on which voting was going to be based. World over, I have never seen an election where people go for nominations without guidelines. As a party we were not comfortable with another election taking place in parliament because we clearly knew the way the NRM was dealing with DP and UPC.
The moment they cheer you, then you are no longer opposition. Don’t be deceived that there is a good DP; you are either DP or NRM. So according to me, NRM took nine [representatives] to Eala which we are going to challenge.
Why was it very important for FDC to go to Eala?
It is very important for our country; when we send members to Eala, we are not sending them to represent MPs in Uganda but to represent citizens of Uganda.
That is why the treaty is very clear that every political party represented in parliament should be represented in the [regional assembly] because they know these political parties have citizens that support them.
Look at the Kiggundu [Badru, former EC chairperson] results; even if you ignore the rigging, how many people are behind FDC? Millions of Ugandans. All these have no representation at Eala; so, it is very important because matters of trade, security [and] investment, they affect all our people.
What caused the confusion that surrounded your candidature that even your party president had to write to parliament withdrawing you?
You will ask him, I wouldn’t want to discuss any internal matters of the FDC in the media. In any case, the letter that came from parliament made it very clear that he was not acting according to the law.
Let’s talk about the treatment you received in parliament!
I expected it very much. I started my speech by telling the MPs about the greatest players in the world. Many people follow and watch football so, I told them about Ibrahimovic; he is one of the greatest players of Manchester United but the fans of Arsenal cannot like him because they see him as a dangerous man because he competes with them.
I also told them about Alexis Sanchez, the greatest player of Arsenal, who will never be liked by Manchester United team members because he competes with them; he gives them trouble. I also told them that as a country we have one team; Uganda Cranes, but Micho will not take one team – KCCA, Vipers or Onduparaka – because that will not be a national team.
I was telling them that I’m the greatest player in FDC so they needed to pick from all the teams to make a team that will represent us at the regional level.
I knew they didn’t like me and they were not going to vote for me because I’m the greatest player in the team that competes with them but I needed to participate. I wanted all these things to come out, including evidence of how we can challenge this thing.
I think we should find a solution once and for all. They threatened me; they had weeks of practising songs. They were saying that they were going to humiliate me, not knowing that they were taking me to the field which I understand most; nobody can defeat me in that field of defiance.
So, you went into an election well knowing that you had zero chances?
Most people don’t understand what defiance is all about. Whenever I get an opportunity to weaken any arm of government that supports a dictator, I will use it. So, I used that opportunity to really weaken and expose them internationally.
This was an international activity; up to now those clips from parliament are playing worldwide. All integrations are going to learn from what happened to me. Museveni told us he is going to weaken the opposition by 2021. Should we subject ourselves to that?
Should I go there to kneel after them or cross from my party because I want to go to Eala? Did I join FDC to be a member of parliament in Eala? I joined the FDC to bring about change. So all those who were heckling, to me they were really entertaining me. I still maintain that I respect everybody but I fear no one.
When I walked into parliament, I found all of them standing; I said this is respect from members of parliament. Hon Muhammad Nsereko was the choir master; now who has ever got a chance anywhere to be sung for by over 400 members of parliament apart from me Ingrid Turinawe?
Interestingly, while Nsereko’s people were being evicted, their property being destroyed here in Park Yard [market], he was in parliament training choirs to sing for me. Even people who didn’t know Luganda, the Bakiga, the Bagisu, the Langis; everybody had been trained on how to receive Ingrid on the floor of parliament.
So I also didn’t disappoint; I joined the dance and they became more annoyed because, I was not bothered at all. I had told myself that I had to address them whether they liked it or not. I also told myself that if I can’t address them, no other candidate would address them. I was even ready to be arrested because I had resolved that I won’t leave parliament before I address them. Finally they accepted to listen.
I found them with placard that read: ‘Pigs cannot vote for you’. I didn’t take those placards to parliament; even when I said ‘big is big’ for them they heard ‘a pig is pig’. So in the end they thought they were reducing me but they ended up reducing themselves.
But is there any credence to the allegations that you were one of those behind the pig demonstrations?
Have you seen any quotation of mine anywhere calling them pigs? Let them bring evidence. When I’m going for my activism, I have never hidden myself. I come openly and do my things in the public view.
Those who have been taking pigs to parliament have been arrested several times but I have never been part of them. I have learnt that this is no longer politics but defamation and I’m going to take action; whoever says that I called MPs pigs let him/her be fair and bring evidence. What kind of leaders are those?
Even if you don’t like me, I’m supposed to campaign because I’m a candidate. But these are people who know that in their constituencies they have no support. So let’s wait for these MPs; they will also not address people who don’t like them.
That is the precedent they have set. Nsereko has been getting votes from our people because he lied to us that he was independent yet he is not. So people are waiting for them, this is what they started countrywide; our people will be waiting for them.
Members of parliament had vowed that you will get a zero votes; did it surprise you that actually you got 25?
For me and the people who believe in me, we are very happy because we managed to sort out who is who. The 25 votes are the only members of parliament who are there to fight for the people. People are badly off but instead of changing people’s lives, they are busy changing their own lives.
That is why pigs are sent there to send a message but it seems they don’t understand the message. If you behave a like a pig, and you eat like a pig, you walk like a pig, then what are you? So, I’m very grateful for the honorable members who rose above the heckling and voted for me even those who came up to be my polling agents.
There is a bill that is coming that will attempt to change the Constitution to remove age limits; who will be there for Ugandans to say “no”? That was the beauty with my participation: for Ugandans to know that the people who can fight for them are very few probably the 25.
What do you say to some people including those in DP who say that you scuttled Florence Ekwau Ibi’s chance of being elected to Eala?
What Norbert Mao in essence is saying is that he was determined to let Mukasa Mbidde stay so that my colleague Ibi goes through. My colleague almost fell in the same trap because she was told that NRM will vote for her if she makes sure she doesn’t mention anything FDC; but it was a lie.
So, the likes of Mao should be frank and say they were working tooth and nail to make sure that Mbidde goes at the expense of the FDC. He was not so cooperative so that we can reduce the number of NRM from six to four.
So, whoever is saying that I reduced the chances of my colleague, I want him/her to understand that these were two different constituencies. I think the refusal to give us the guidelines until the voting day did us a disservice. Even the MPs didn’t know what to do; that’s why we saw about 30 invalid votes because these MPs also needed civic education that was never done.
What next for you now?
I can’t be diverted from the side of people; I stand for what is right even if it means standing alone. The treaty is going to be challenged; we want it to be clear on how political parties are going to be represented without being compromised.
I think the EAC should also be promoting democracy on top of its other objectives. There is no country that is going to trade when there is no good governance, and stability. For now, the Eala is a caucus of ruling governments because what is happening in Uganda is what is happening in other countries where leaders of dominant parties handpick those who represent them in Eala.
Why are politicians from across the political divide so allergic to defiance?
Because they don’t understand it or because they pretend. For us, we decided to fight a dictatorship without using violence; that’s why we came up with defiance. I will stand up to oppose whatever law is unjust; I will use my brains and, through innovations, come up with activities that challenge the dictatorship.
I was talking to some journalist who said I got a miserable 25 vote, I said to him, if I had lost, why was he coming to my office to interview me? Why didn’t he look for the winners? If he was interested in the losers, why didn’t he look for the other 36 members who didn’t make it?
Why was he singling me out? For me that is defiance; we are really advancing and we are reaching [the] very time soon.
In December 2015, as campaigns for the February 2016 presidential elections gathered momentum, three nurses at Abim district hospital were thrust into the spotlight with threats of a suspension from duty.
Their alleged crime was allowing leading opposition candidate Kizza Besigye to visit the dilapidated medical facility. Some 15 months later, BENON HERBERT OLUKA visits the nurse who received Besigye.
Santina Adong does not own a radio or television in her one-bedroom house at Abim hospital’s staff quarters. So, when events surrounding the nursing officer were creating a storm on social and broadcast media, she did not have a clue.
“The first time that I knew it, a nurse [that] I [had] trained with in Matany [hospital] called me from Ntungamo,” Adong says. “She said, ‘Santina, congratulations. Thank you for helping Abim’.”
“Over what?” Adong asked.
“I saw you moving with [leading opposition presidential candidate Kizza] Besigye, showing him [around] the hospital, and you were firm when you were talking,” her friend responded.
Nursing officer Santina Adong got into trouble with the state for taking opposition presidential candidate Kizza Besigye around the hospital during campaigns
Adong says she was surprised because, she claims, she had not been aware that her guest that December 5, 2015 afternoon was the founding president of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), a political nemesis to the ruling party who just about anyone in the NRM government fears and dreads being seen with publicly.
“I didn’t even know who they were because I had never seen the persons before, even Besigye. They did not introduce themselves,” she said. “I just knew that as usual visitors come and they want to know the situation in the hospital. I moved with them because, all along, there were no restrictions about showing visitors around the place.”
Yet, according to Adong, the circumstances that resulted in her hosting Besigye were purely coincidental. Two days earlier, the principal nursing officer, Mary Immaculate Akio, had gone for burial, leaving Adong in charge of her duties.
“Being the supervisor, when visitors come, you cannot really run away and leave them to the juniors,” she told The Observer in an interview on February 27.
But as a result of her dutifulness, the Abim district chief administrative officer (CAO), Moses Kaziba, wrote to Adong, Akio and Paska Akello (a third nurse, who shadowed Adong as she guided Besigye around the hospital), asking them to explain their actions within two weeks or risk suspension from the hospital.
IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
Word quickly went around Abim that Adongo had been “suspended” from duty, and some friends went to her house to console her.
One of them took a picture of the letter and shared it on Facebook, generating a storm whose ripple effects destabilised an already shaken Adong. With tensions rising, the then resident district commissioner (RDC) of Abim, Samuel Mpimbaza Hashaka, called Adong to his office. He ordered her to stop communicating with outsiders about the matter.
Adong retreated to her house, mentally tortured, isolated, stressed, and on the verge of a psychological breakdown.
“After his advice, I stayed indoors. I could not move anywhere,” she says, her voice breaking at the memory. “If the [Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union] had not called me, I would have died in my house.”
UNMU officials invited the three nurses to Kampala for four days, counseled them and promised to engage the district administration. On December 22, four UNMU officials travelled to Abim and held a meeting with the CAO.
Coupled with pressure from other quarters, the district and health ministry officials eventually relented and the three nurses retained their jobs. However, the three nurses still face resentment from the district authorities.
When the International Council of Nursing and UNMU organised a trip for them to Ethiopia in September 2016, some district officials were not impressed. They called UNMU, asking how the trio was selected for the trip “yet there are people more senior than them.”
That attitude has bred fear among the three nurses. One of them, Akio, declined to speak to The Observer, saying she fears any further reprisals.
“This problem was solved some time back. Why do you want to go back to it and yet you very well know the trouble it caused us?” she asked.
In fact, Adong had initially turned down The Observer, until this reporter called UNMU general secretary Lucy Atim, who offered her re-assurances.
“What happened to us created fear in me,” Adong says at some point. “When I am at work, I fear talking to any stranger. I have great fear in me; so much. I have to conceal each and everything that I know.”
ROUGH PERSONAL LIFE
A tall, gangly figure, Adong turns 44 on April 7. However, she looks several years older, the result of regular wear-and-tear from a life of unrelenting hardship.
Born to subsistence farmers in Nyakoi sub-county, Abim district, Adong lost her father while in primary six. As a result, she had to resort to selling locally brewed alcohol (kwete) to finance part of her studies.
“My education was not easy,” she says, simply. “Even my mother gave up. She would tell me, ‘just get married rather than suffer [looking for tuition fees].’ But I was a die-hard. I continued with my studies [because] I wanted to achieve my goals through education.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Adong did not perform well enough in senior six to continue to university. Instead, she trained as a nurse at St. Kizito’s hospital, Matany, in Moroto district (1994-1997).
And for nearly 20 years, Adong has worked only within Karamoja sub-region – in Kotido, Kaabong, Moroto and Abim districts. In 2004, the married mother of four [her husband is a secondary school teacher] returned to Matany to pursue a diploma. It’s the highest academic qualification she ever hopes to achieve, due to competing family obligations.
“I cannot go for further studies anymore because [of] my kids,” she says. “It is better for the children to continue [with their education at the expense of her dreams].”
To pay her children’s fees, Adong regularly borrows from the hospital’s savings and credit cooperative. She also supplements her meagre income by running a retail shop in Abim town.
The day I interviewed Adong, she had spent the previous night on duty at the hospital. But by morning, she had pitched camp at her shop to sell her wares.
“Sometimes things are not moving,” she says. “The shops are very many, and yet from time to time I have to keep my shop closed because I can’t employ anyone.”
While Adong’s own personal fortunes have not improved since her ordeal, Abim hospital has reaped big. Shortly after Besigye’s visit, the government released Shs 700 million for the first phase of its renovation. It was concluded in August 2016.
“There is some improvement now,” Adong says. “But water is still a problem. It came for about a month and then it disappeared. And the wards are totally dark at night. Electricity has been cut off from the hospital because the bill is high. We have some kerosene lamps that we use but they are very dim; so, it’s difficult to work.”
The government promised to start the second phase of the hospital’s rehabilitation in April 2017. In addition, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) called SUSTAIN fully equipped the laboratory, which uses solar electricity to run its operations 24 hours a day.
But there is more – thanks to the government and SUSTAIN.
“We now have four doctors; from zero to four,” Adong says, excitedly. “And some of them have told me: ‘It is because of you that we are here. If you had not voiced out those issues, we wouldn’t have come’.”
The hospital also receives a regular supply of drugs from the National Medical Stores (NMS), who she credits for doing their job efficiently.
“With medicine, we don’t have any problems,” she says. “We always have drugs.”
For Adong, her commitment to the cause remains unshaken by what happened.
“I love my job so much,” she says. “That was a call made for me by God. So, whatever has happened, I have forgiven. All the torture that I suffered, I have forgiven. All the people who were against me, I have forgiven. I will continue serving the people of Uganda diligently, without segregation.”
Odonga Otto, the Aruu MP, has in a strongly critical Facebook post, accused senior leaders of his party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), of losing direction.
In the post written on March 3, Otto suggested that Dr Kizza Besigye, the former FDC president, and Maj Gen MugishaMuntu, his successor, have messed up the party.
He said the two leaders and President Museveni are close to their “death beds” and therefore need to step away from the political scene and allow a new generation of youthful leaders to steer the country forward.
“Ugandan youth should not be duped. The struggle is now generational. Ugandans below 50 years should reclaim back our country and put it right from these people close to their death beds. MESEVENI, BESIGYE, MUNTU ET AL must give the poor deprived Ugandans a break. Enough is enough,” Otto wrote.
Interviewed for more clarification, Otto told The Observer on Saturday that he had written the post in good faith. He said the post is his contribution to the advancement of democracy and good leadership.
“I wrote it because I mean well for this country,” Otto said briefly, promising to get back to us after the conclusion of a clan meeting he was attending.
Kizza Besigye (L) with FDC president Gen Mugisha Muntu
Otto claimed that the tension between Besigye and Muntu supporters is the biggest undoing for the party and cost the party seats in the recent East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) elections.
FDC candidates; Florence Ibi Ekwau and Ingrid Turinawe were rejected by the NRM-dominated parliament on February 28. Some people have blamed disorganization and splits amongst the party’s top leaders for the duo’s poor showing in the Eala elections.
Otto wrote that he cannot rule out the possibility of NRM government working with either leader to divide or weaken FDC.
He queried: “Is it a coincidence that Muntu withdrew Ingrid [Turinawe] from [the] Eala polls?”
Otto said the defiance campaign, initiatedand led by Besigye after the 2016 elections, lost purpose and cannot work.
“Defiance in politics has a time frame and a lifespan. It cannot go on forever. It has to be with short-term and medium-term objectives, in any case not more than six months. The objective can include, but not limited to, coalition government, civil unrest leading to negotiations, complete overthrow of government…” he noted.
Otto said there is no way FDC could have won the 2016 elections because the party failed to raise enough agents to monitor all polling stations.
Otto is the second senior FDC leader in three months to cast doubt on the party’s claims of victory in the 2016 elections. In an interview with The New Vision in January, Abdu Katuntu, the Bugweri MP, said even if there were incidences of malpractices, NRM had won the election.
Responding to Otto’s claims, a senior party leader who requested anonymity, said the Aruu county MP’s comments about FDC are not surprising.
“Otto lost credibility long time ago. I do not know why even you people of the media are giving him publicity,” the official said.
When he lost re-election, PHILLIP WAFULA OGUTTU, the former Bukooli Central MP and Leader of Opposition in Parliament, retreated from the national limelight to low-key role of 'minister' for the presidency in former FDC presidential candidate Kizza Besigye's Defiance cabinet.
From his private office in Ntinda, Kampala, Oguttu spoke to Sadab Kitatta Kaaya last week about his time in and outside Parliament and the future of the flagging Defiance campaign. Excerpts:
How are you finding life outside Parliament?
It is normal. I went to Parliament to serve; basically I wanted to see if I could improve the welfare and the living conditions of the people in Bugiri and my constituency, Bukooli Central, but also I thought I could contribute to good legislation in the country.
I certainly did my best and I am here and totally okay, spending my little time contributing to the struggle to see that we realise change in this country.
Did you achieve your goals in Parliament?
In Bugiri? Yes I did though not as much as I would have wanted. One of the things that drove me to stand [for Parliament] was, for instance water; when I was elected, the clean and safe water coverage in the district and [particularly] in my constituency was about 40 percent.
By the time I left, after five years, it [had improved] to about 67 percent. I attracted more new boreholes, about 130, and I spent close to Shs 700m to repair boreholes for the community because I didn’t want people to [share water sources] with animals. I am glad that by the time I left Parliament, nobody was drinking water from the swamps with cows.
It was either from a borehole or a protected spring or solar water. In Parliament, it is very difficult to achieve much as opposition. Good ideas, even if they are good for the country, and you’re in opposition, the government will always fight them [ideas] or they will hijack them.
But we did quite influence some ministerial policy statements through the committees because we have a shadow cabinet which would prepare responses to the ministerial policy statements.
Unfortunately, government doesn’t implement what is contained in the ministerial policy statements – and even the budget itself is totally useless. They decide to selectively implement what they like and I think government hides money in the budget for NRM activities and President Museveni; up to about 30 percent in every ministry.
I was checking with Bugiri [District Administration] and all the time, money announced as allocated to them would never be disbursed. It was always 60 percent disbursement. I remember one time when Dr [Ben] Mbonye was still permanent secretary in the ministry of Defense, he told a committee of Parliament that because IMF was so strict, government had to hide money for defense in various ministries and then use it [for defense activities].
That has continued, if they are going for campaigns or the NRM caucus, they will hide money. It is just a mockery. Budgeting and planning under the NRM government is useless. So, whether you influence legislation at the level of the committee or in Parliament, a beautiful thing will just lie on the shelf there.
Are there any regrettable moments during your time as LOP?
There are several of them. The most recent was the approval of Justice Steven Kavuma as deputy chief justice. I know very well that Steven Kavuma never applied for the job of deputy chief justice.
I know that he never appeared before the Judicial Service Commission [to be interviewed], and I know very well that the commission never forwarded his name [to President Museveni] for appointment to that position.
I also know that Steven Kavuma had petitions against him by two different people for fraud. There is a woman and a man who accused him [Kavuma] of defrauding them of a car and land.
I objected to the Appointments Committee [of Parliament] receiving him before we got clarification from the Judicial Service Commission that actually, Kavuma applied for the job, he was interviewed, and passed and that his name was forwarded to the president, and therefore to us [Parliament].
I was overruled by the speaker [Rebecca Kadaga] and I told her that one day she will regret. I told her that I cared much about my name, lending credence to a fraud, and I walked out [of the Appointments committee meeting].
I am happy that my position has been vindicated but I regret badly that they forced us to do that. The second one was also in the Appointments committee. There is a man called Kiwanuka Kiryowa who was appointed on the board of [Uganda Petroleum] Authority.
The law says if you have any connection to any oil business, you can’t qualify to be on the board. When Kiwanuka Kiryowa’s name was forwarded, we discovered that he was a lawyer for Cnooc and Hardman, two oil companies [under] his law firm with Museveni’s in-law [Edwin Karugire] and earning billions of shillings.
So I raised that objection and he said, “yes; but I am going to leave the company [Kiwanuka & Karugire Advocates] to [serve] on the petroleum authority.”
The name was not approved; they took it back to the president and somehow they waited for when I had gone on a safari abroad and they brought back the name and it was approved. That really annoyed me.
The other regret was in the House when [a motion for] creation of new constituencies and districts came. My party does not want more districts, we want a lean government; less costs for administration.
I mobilised [opposition MPs] to go and oppose it. While I was in the House preparing for the debate, I [realised] that there was already a problem in my team. This woman who is now a minister for... she is now a minister in Museveni’s government, she was a member of the opposition...
She was in our [opposition] lobby with a bag full of money. She was seated there and basically buying people, and changing them; I felt so bad that MPs could be bought in the opposition lobby. I went and asked her, “Why are you doing this?” She said that was her money and [that] she was doing business. Of course it was a lie, and of course they approved those districts and I felt so bad about that.
There are moments when I felt very sad about the usefulness of Parliament. Unless Ugandans balance the House to make it 40 to 45 percent opposition, that is when the opposition will be seen as a threat to government. Otherwise, our democracy is a farce, it is just a mockery.
After losing the elections, we are seeing you more at Kasangati than at Najjanankumbi. Why?
I actually didn’t lose my election because I know I won but my victory was taken away. By the way, I am one of the few incumbents who grew numbers [of supporters]. In  I went to Parliament with 17,000 votes and I was so-called defeated with almost 23,000 votes. I grew my votes by about 6,000 votes.
I know that I beat my opponent by about 12,000 votes. I know that from the figures...but that is a different story. I didn’t go to fight in court because I did not want, because if FDC people didn’t guard those votes, and were given Shs 50,000 [each] to allow NRM to [stuff the ballot boxes], I could not have done much because they had signed the [Declaration of Results] forms in the morning with pre-ticked votes.
I know that they brought in 15,000 [pre-ticked] votes which they introduced. By midday, they were celebrating, saying, “kiweire, kiweire, we have finished it” much as voting was still going on.
So, I decided that I was going to participate still, in civil disobedience, a thing which we began since the party was formed, through walk-to-work. We have been on civil disobedience, organising people, raising their consciousness. Besides that, I am no longer an official of the party; our constitution says that you serve in your position for only two terms.
I served my two terms as information secretary and handed over to Ssemujju [Ibrahim Nganda]. I don’t have any position in the party, I am just a simple ordinary member like Besigye is, or Amanya [Mushega], [Augustine] Ruzindana, etc. We are not officials of the party, but elders of the party.
I was convinced that we had a lot to do, given what happened in the elections either to me, to Besigye or anybody else in FDC. It is important that we have some other way of working – [pile] some more pressure on the regime so that they come to recognise that we exist and we need our space.
We must inconvenience them so that they don’t have comfort. You don’t steal and then sit in comfort to eat someone’s chicken.
But the defiance campaign seems to have run out of steam. At the beginning, you had a number of activities like the blue Friday, the sit-home Thursday and prayers. None of these is still on.
You see, people don’t know how to analyse this. They’ll always say, “What have you done?” But when FDC started in 2005, they didn’t allow us to get out of even Kampala. If we did get out of Kampala, they didn’t allow us to go to the villages.
Museveni kept on saying, “my villages, my people in the village”. They said that we were just a Kampala affair. [But] now, I know that Dr Besigye could have had as many as five or six million votes in the last election.
Where did they come from? They are not from the towns. Actually people in towns where they thought we had a lot of support were refused to vote. But still, he got votes. Even the 3.7 million [votes] allocated to him are from peasants.
People feared Museveni, people thought God had put Museveni there; nothing would happen to him, people thought Museveni could not be removed. They now know [that] it is possible.
We have removed fear from people; we have seen people organising themselves in markets fighting for schools, bridges, roads...you remember what they did to [the former LC-V chairman for Wakiso] Engineer Ian Kyeyune on Busaabala road. That is a result of people being given awareness, and being encouraged.
That was then, because the defiance campaign was announced after last year’s elections.
No. It has always been there. Ever since FDC began, defiance has always been there. We have always done things against what we think is wrong. Was walk-to-work not defiance? We didn’t say so, but this time round we said we shall defy, and even form a government of defiance.
We did form a government of defiance, and I am a minister for the presidency. It is a government for expression of disgust and not agreeing with the government [that] robbed us.
There is nothing illegal in expressing myself and I will continue to call myself a minister, Dr [Besigye] swore in as president. That is it. People are saying, “What have you achieved?” we have achieved a lot. People being afraid no more; being aware of their rights - that is good for us. We are now in the process of training people in leadership.
We are forming government and we are recruiting civil servants of our own. In every department and at every level we are going to recruit civil servants.
They will work in government [and] give us information. They will prepare and when we take power, we don’t want to be like the Egyptians. When the Muslim Brotherhood took power, they didn’t have people in civil service and the civil service just reorganised and joined the previous regime and [Mohamed Morsi] was toppled. We are not going to allow that... of course everything is clandestine.
Are you planning to topple the government?
No, we are not planning that. We are preparing with our people for 2021 so that when we get power, we will not go to every department and use an NRM cadre as our civil servants.
We are going to have our own cadres, and we are recruiting them. We have been recruiting them so [that] they prepare, when there is change of government, they know what to do.
You say the civil servants you are recruiting are purposely giving you information. What are you using it for?
They must give us information because that is their foremost struggle. Some of these figures you are seeing in the papers, where do they come from? [Information] on some robberies and thefts comes from them.
They process it and give it to us, and we use it [because] information is power. We use it to sensitize people that the government is corrupt; we don’t just say there is corruption without bwiino [evidence].
But it is almost a year since the defiance government was announced and the silence is so deafening.
Yeah, because you want us to be on the streets...when it [defiance] comes back, and it will come back soon, you will see it everywhere across the country. That I can tell you! The networks are being built [and] are waiting.
What we are not going to do is to take up a gun. What we don’t believe in is violence, but to go and sit down with a Bible and pray, we shall do it, and we shall pray the same day across the country to express our unhappiness with this government.
When we are quiet, we are like water sipping under...yes!
We shall pray across the whole country. Why should we pray at Najjanankumbi only? We shall pray in the whole country, and one day when we shall want to pray big, we shall pray in Kampala.
You are talking about the networks you are building yet at the same time you lament that FDC agents on election day were compromised by NRM. How will the networks survive?
The agents were known because they were seen; they were seated there [in the open]. The networks are not known. You could be one of the networks, a journalist could be, a doctor, an engineer, a bus driver and a boda boda cyclist could be part of the network.
NRM is doing that, they are also recruiting networks outside the normal [structures]. We must counter that. Unfortunately, for them [NRM], they are arming, but we know the people they are recruiting.
Isn’t the defiance government then setting up parallel structures to the FDC party structures?
No, they are joint; [in] some of them, you can find FDC and DP [supporters] or non-partisan civil servants who are in our networks because they support change.
But I am telling you that even NRM is doing that. They don’t have a right to recruit clandestinely and build cadreship right from the village and we can’t. We must also build them so that time comes when they are facing each other and the one who will outwit the other will win.
If government doesn’t address issues and we go into this civil disobedience [on] the streets and villages, foreign direct investments [FDIs] will disappear. They can’t go to a place where they are rioting; first, [the government] is very corrupt, we shall raise that [and amplify it]; they [FDIs] will also be told that their businesses are not safe, and they will stay away.
When they stay away, the economy, which is already collapsing...this economy is already collapsed. An economy which grows by four percent and the population grows by 3.5percent means that it has grown by just 0.5 percent.
Then agriculture in Uganda is growing by about two percent and the population is growing by 3.5 percent. It means that we are producing more children than the food we are producing. So, that economy is done.
And you further want to sabotage economic development.
We don’t want to sabotage it but if it can help the [government] to fall and the country is put in better hands, yes. It is our country and we don’t do it because we hate Museveni and NRM; we do it because we love Uganda. That is what is important.
The Court of Appeal has overturned last year’s High court ruling, which nullified the election of Cissy Namujju Dionizia as Lwengo Woman MP.
Justices Steven Kavuma, Cheborion Barishaki and Catherine Bamugemereire said judge Margret Tibulya arrived at the wrong conclusion that Namujju didn’t have the requisite academic qualifications to be a member of parliament.
Namujju’s election was challenged by Martin Sserwanga, a voter. She shocked court goers last year during a High court hearing when she failed to answer basic primary questions. She failed questions by Asuman Basalirwa, Sserwanga’s lawyer, such as the difference between a noun and a verb, define what pollination, crop rotation and what a map is.
Sserwanga convinced Justice Tibulya that Namujju Dionizia’s O-level and A-level certificates bear the names “Dionizia Namujju.”
Sserwanga further insisted that Namujju, who did not attend yesterday’s ruling, did not pass her Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE), which she sat from Kyazanga primary school in Lwengo district and she illegally joined secondary school.
But the three justices led by Deputy Chief Justice Kavuma said the passport photos on both Namujju’s O-level and A-level certificates bore a striking resemblance of the MP and that, that was enough to prove that she was qualified to be an MP.
“The trial judge [Justice Tibulya] failed to properly evaluate evidence on record, thereby coming to a wrong conclusion,” the judges said in their judgment read by the Court of Appeal registrar, Deo Nizeyimana.
At the Court of Appeal, Namujju insisted through her lawyer Geoffrey Kandeebe that she sat her PLE in 1996, Senior Four in 2005 and Senior Six in 2007 before she obtained a certificate and diploma in computer information systems from Aptech computer education centre in Kampala.
The three justices also faulted Justice Tibulya for entertaining Sserwanga’s petition in the first place since it wasn’t backed by 500 voters’ signatures that are statutorily required before any parliamentary petition is heard.
At the High court, Kandeebe had asked Justice Tibulya to dismiss Sserwanga’s petition because it had only 460 signatures instead of the 500 but the judge refused.
She said that was just a mere technicality, which shouldn’t be used to obstruct justice. But the Court of Appeal said of Justice Tibulya’s argument: “Courts must apply the law and should always apply the law.”
“It’s not a mere technicality because parliament enacted section 60(b) of the Parliamentary Elections Act with the intention of eliminating vexatious litigants or those who are not serious.”
After her defeat in the February 28 East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) elections, Ingrid Turinawe has continued to tread a war path with the largely NRM-dominated Parliament, which denied her the vote.
In an interview due to be published in The Observer, Turinawe, the opposition FDC secretary for mobilization, said she is the only person who got a ‘choir’ of over 400 MPs singing for her.
The singing, Turinawe referred to, was the hostile MPs’ chants that drowned out her campaign speech in the parliamentary chambers. Turinawe said MPs thought that by making noise to drown out her speech they would humiliate her. She said they ended up playing into her hands.
“When I walked into parliament I found all of them standing; I said this is respect from members of parliament. Hon Muhammad Nsereko was the choir master…who has ever got a chance anywhere to be sung for by over 400 members of parliament apart from me?” Turinawe said.
MPs heckling Ingrid Turinawe (in blue) in parliament
She added that she had expected the hostility, something that strengthened her resolve.
“Whenever I get an opportunity to weaken any arm of government that supports a dictator, I will use it,” said Turinawe, who polled 25 out of a possible 398 votes. “So, I used that opportunity to really weaken and expose them internationally.”
She, however, denied ever calling MPs pigs.
“Whoever says that I called MPs pigs let him/her bring evidence...When I’m going for my activism I have never hidden myself. I come openly and do my things in public view,” Turinawe said, adding, “People are badly off but instead of changing people’s lives, they are busy changing their own lives. That is why pigs are sent there to send a message but it seems they don’t understand the message. If you behave like a pig, you eat like a pig, you walk like a pig, then what are you?”
Turinawe also shrugged off criticism from DP’s Norbert Mao who said Turinawe reduced her colleague, FDC Florence Ekwau Ibi’s, chance of being elected. She charged that Mao was ready to do anything to get his candidate, Fred Mukasa Mbidde, elected.