Thursday, 15 December 2016

Inside Museveni's first meeting with Rwenzururu delegation after palace attack


Was Omusinga misled by some of his officials? His brother, Christopher Kibanzanga, thinks so.

Rwenzururu kingdom minister, Thembo Kitsumbire, has been arrested. This comes after a week Kitsumbire told the press that Obusinga (kingdom) officials had met with President Museveni. 

Days after the deadly November 27 attack on Omusing [king] a Charles W. Mumbere Iremangoma's Kasese palace, President Yoweri Museveni met a group of 23 elders from Rwenzururu kingdom. After the palace raid, Mumbere was arrested and he has since been charged with treason, terrorism, murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery together with 150 kingdom subjects.

So, this Rwenzururu delegation was meeting the president as a dejected people. The delegation included 10 Rwenzururu veterans (elderly; the guys who fought for Bakonzo freedom from Toro kingdom), 10 "insiders" of Rwenzururu kingdom, Christopher Taban Kibanzanga, Christine Mukirania (Nyamukama, mother of Iremangoma) and J. Thembo Kitsumbire, until then the acting premier of the cultural institution.

Note that Kibanzanga is a minister of state for agriculture in Museveni's government. He is also a chief prince (whatever that means) in Rwenzururu kingdom.

One of the men paraded to the media by Uganda security as they combed Rwenzori mountains for suspected criminals after the raid on Obusinga palace in Kasese


The 23 people of Rwenzururu met President Museveni at State House, Entebbe. They arrived at a time when Museveni was having a series of meetings with other groups, so they had to wait for their turn. Anyone who has ever been at Uganda's state house to meet President Museveni knows what it means to wait to meet him. Museveni is always a busy man, so waiting for your turn to see him face to face can take several hours of waiting. 

As the Rwenzururu group waited, a meal was served. According to sources majority of these people refused the presidential meal save for Kibanzanga and his mother, Christine. This was around lunch time. 

The presidential meeting came on the heels of a horrible raid on Rwenzururu palace in which over 100 people died and 16 police officers. So the mood was charged. The Rwenzururu delegation could be said to have been in the mood of fear and anger after the killings at the palace by Uganda security forces. 

Official reasons the Museveni government has given for the attack on the palace is failure for Mumbere Iremangoma to disband traditional royal guards and surrender the guards suspected of having committed crimes. The Uganda government had advised the king that it was illegal to rise hundreds of guards as these were being viewed at as a militia by some government officials. 

However, Rwenzururu officials say the time for palace raid coincided with the time when the king had just agreed to surrender the guards. And the king was reportedly waiting for safe passage of guards to government representatives.

Back at State House, Entebbe president Museveni was still holed up in meetings. The Rwenzururu delegation kept waiting. Dinner was served. The Rwenzururu group was again skeptical eating the state house meal except Kibanzanga and his mother. 

As a way of trying to diffuse the embarrassment, Kibanzanga advised the Rwenzururu delegation to go eat from the table that had been organized for the a group from Gulu that had also come to meet the President.

Later, the Rwenzururu delegation was led into the meeting room. After exchanging pleasantries, Museveni asked Kibanzanga to be the language interpreter. The meeting started with Museveni ordering Kitsumbire to explain what he had agreed upon with him and the Rwenzururu delegation in the February 2016 meeting. 

Apparently in that February meeting, it had been agreed that Iremangoma gets land and develops it for self sustenance of his family. Shs250 million was provided for the purchase of this land. In the same meeting it had also been agreed that Omusinga keeps only 45 royal guards where 9 would be stationed in the palace to assist in cooking and doing the traditional rituals that the UPDF royal guards would not perform.The other guards would be at cultural sites and subcounties performing cultural duties.To execute this plan, Museveni had offered to have the 45 guards trained by the UPDF and they would be paid a salary by government, sources say.

This was not enough, the remaining royal guards would be disbanded and given a package of Shs2.5 million each by government to begin their reintegration back into the community. The Rwenzururu veterans would be incorporated into the existing national veteran schemes.

So, Museveni asked whether any of this was done? Kitsumbire replied in the negative and claimed part of the Shs250 million was used to buy boots for the traditional royal guards.
Some members of the (23-elders) Rwenzururu delegation were shocked because they were hearing this February meeting resolutions for the first time. 

Museveni was not done yet. He reportedly asked how many delegations he had sent to Obusinga to remind the leaders of the cultural institution of the urgent need to disband the royal guards that had become a security concern and the response they got. One particular response that Kitsumbire gave to one of the State House emissaries to Obusinga was: "tell the president that cultural matters are handled slowly" so no need to pressure us. Kitsumbire attempted to deny this allegation but was subdued when a soldier whom he reportedly told this was brought in the meeting room to quote Kitsumbire's retort verbatim.

The president read out Article 208(4) from the constitution which gives power to rise an army to the government of Uganda alone not any other person.
 [ No person shall raise an armed force except in accordance with this Constitution.]

Those who wish to rise private security, have to get a license from government authorities. Obusinga had not registered the royal guards as a private security (company) as required by Uganda's laws. 

According sources, during the meeting, Museveni said he was aware the delegation would wish to ask him to release the king but he said the matter of the king was being handled by the judiciary which is an independent organ of state. He reportedly said it is the court to determine whether Mumbere should be released or not. Remember, there has been a section of the public that has been calling for unconditional release of the king.

In all, the president asked the elders to go back to the community and preach peace. The Rwenzururu delegation left state house Entebbe, with an allowance of Shs750,000 each. Sources say some members of the delegation rejected the allowance.

From this meeting some Rwenzururu officials said to have been kept in the dark of the February offer the president had promised if the guards were disbanded. They were angry. 

After that presidential meeting, there was an announcement that Kitsumbire was not the prime minister of Rwenzururu instead the deputy prime minister Yeremia Mutoro was announced as the acting prime minister and would steer the kingdom affairs until the king returns to the palace.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Rwenzori Attacks: Mumbere remanded, Bwesumbu killings

Rwenzururu king (Omusinga) Charles Mumbere Iremangoma has been remanded to Luzira Prison until December 28, 2016. Mumbere was arrested on November 27, 2016 following a raid on his palace in Kasese by Uganda security forces. This was after Mumbere allegedly defied a presidential order to disband traditional royal guards.

The story most people are hearing and talking about is that of November 27 when the palace of Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu was raided and tens of suspected traditional guards killed by gun bullets and others by grenades. Yet a mountainous area of Bwesumbu too felt the pain of these senseless killings on November 26.

Was/is it a crime to be a royal guard? Were all royal guards criminals as it is being alleged? By the way, who are royal guards? Is there an element of indiscriminate killing? Should royal guards be killed without trial? How about the innocent civilians caught up in this? Why would locals armed with sticks, knives, machetes attack police posts? Is everyone arrested a royal guard? When will they be in court?

The build up to Omusinga Mumbere’s arrest had been epitomized in the killing of eight royal guards at the kingdom’s administrative offices in Kasese town on November 26. The news of the shooting dead of eight guards spread across the Rwenzori region and the rest of Uganda. Soon there were attacks on police posts in Maliba, Bwesumbu and other parts of Kasese district.

Administrative building of Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu where eight guards were killed.
Kyatoka trading centre in Kasese district is home to Bwesumbu subcounty head office and a police post. At 2pm on November 26, 2016 the police post was attacked by machete wielding men. The gun fire from police officers who defended themselves against the attackers caused panic in the area. A motorcycle taxi operator (boda-boda rider) and a shop keeper in this trading centre were hit by bullets. The boda rider died later in hospital and the shopkeeper is nursing gunshot wounds.

Kyatoka has a primary school and an SDA church in the vicinity. That Saturday the fight between Uganda police officers and a group of machete armed attackers found some church members praying and conducting a fundraising drive. These church goers, according to the Bwesumbu subcounty LC3 chairman, Bagenda Samson, ran away from the shootout to the next trading centre named Kamwani, which acted a refuge. 

By the time the guns and mechetes went silent at least 26 people (what the LC3 chairman calls attackers) had been killed and four police officers killed in mountainous Bwesumbu subcounty alone. The officer in charge of this police post was cut in the head and is hospitalized, says Bagenda. 

There have been reports that some church goers were killed during this shootout but Bagenda denies this. “Most of the people killed were attacking the police post. We identified them. They were residents of this subcounty. The bodies of these attackers were not taken to Kasese town morgue. Their relatives picked the bodies and buried them.”

Buhikira royal palace attacked Nov. 27
In Katebwa 1 Village a young woman who was working in the palace was killed and was quietly buried. She was not a royal guard. In the neighbouring village of Butyoka another girl who was a maid in the palace also lost her life during this attack. In the village of Kinyampanika another young man was buried and he too just like tens of others was killed during the Rwenzururu palace attack. He was a royal guard. All these three villages are in the mountainous areas of Kabarole district. 

Note that; the Bakonzo live on the slopes of Mt Rwenzori which runs through Kasese, Kabarole, Ntoroko and Bundibugyo districts. This partly explains why a security operation that began in Karangura Subcounty in Kabarole district on November 24, 2016 to flash out the suspected “Kilhumira Mutima” gang (which Uganda security forces link to Obusinga royal guards) ended up in Kasese district. 

Therefore, this violence should not be looked at as a Kasese conflict; it's a Rwenzori region issue. Secondly, there seems to be a deliberate effort to portray the picture that all people killed in recent Kasese attacks were royal guards and that the public should believe that each royal guard was a criminal. This is absurd.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, so they say.

Writing in the New Vision newspaper of December 13, 2016 (under the title: Why no one should dare attack security forces), Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesman Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda said “…attacking the state is treasonable because then you are attacking the sanctity of the people and legitimate leaders of that state…There can never be a state within a state –meaning that you cannot have two armies or two police forces…what we were beginning to see in Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu was emergence of such and it had to be stopped.”

The signs of this confrontation were already visible in Rwenzori region since 2012. A community development officer in Kasese district summed up this tension as: Rivalry between Obusinga royal guards and Uganda security forces could explain the crisis in Rwenzori. The guards were recruited and somehow there was a break down in their chain of command. “At one point the guards felt they had more powers than the Uganda Police officers and they would sometimes interfere in the work of police. The elements in police could not take that. Soon clashes began.”

Moving forward, there is need to spell out what cultural institutions need to do and what they cannot do. Keep politics out the violence in Rwenzori. Guns, spears, machetes, knives, clubs, will not yield a lasting solution to violence recently witnessed in Rwenzori. Dialogue, preaching peace, mindset change among people of Rwenzori are the best options to deal with the crisis unfolding the region. Why mind set change? People are being told lots of lies about Obusinga and the central government. For instance, educate the masses about the role of cultural institutions and government, encourage people should be law abiding. Preaching peace and reconciliation begins in our families, clan meetings then community. Those in leadership positions should approach this crisis with an open mind. Respect human rights. Respect life.






Friday, 25 November 2016

Rwenzori attacks: Moderates and fanatics at the palace

 Karangura subcounty in Kabarole district, Rwenzori subregion, is mourning again. This time eight people have been killed in Kamabale village. Reason? Uganda's security forces say that these people were planning attacks and had started looting food, animals and intimidating the wanainchi. The UPDF spokesman claimed these people had set up some sort of "camp" up in the mountains making improvised explosive devices preparing to attack. 

Earlier this month, a UPDF soldier who was on leave was killed in Nyabuswa in the same subcounty as he allegedly tried to counsel the residents he met in a bar against undermining state authority. As the police and soldiers investigated his death, they ended up shooting four civilians. Of course, the region police spokeswoman said the four were not civilians but "trained attackers". We all know that dead men tell no tales.

What is behind the clashes and killings in Rwenzori? I can’t specifically know.  But, perhaps the history of the region can help us understand and contextualize what’s happening.

Police officers at Nyabuswa, Karangura Subcounty in Kabarole district on guard. (Photo by New Vision) 



Rwenzori region has been shrouded in sporadic clashes since 1919. In 1919, the Bakonzo protested the tax collection from Toro government chiefs. The reasons for this protest bordered on taxation without services delivered in mountainous areas where the Bakonzo tax payers lived. The Toro government collaborating with the British colonialists crushed the protest by publicly hanging the suspected ringleaders Nyamutswa, Tibamwenda and Kapolyo in 1921. The three were buried in one grave.

This was firefighting. The hanging of the three leaders enraged the Bakonzo. Why? The Bakonzo expected the British colonialists to see reason in their grievances against Toro administration but instead sided with their oppressors. This sowed seeds of future rebellion and unrest in the region.

In 1940s young Bakonzo who had been educated beyond primary school level began to trace the history of the Bakonzo. By 1950s the Bakonzo had started organizing themselves to demand independence from Toro government. Among the key demands was use of Lukonzo as a language of instruction in Toro schools where few Bakonzo children studied. This demand for cultural identity was denied. Isaya Mukirania a grade II teacher and others started mobilizing the Bakonzo under the Bakonzo Life History Research Society (BLHRS) -which became the harbinger of Rwenzururu movement. Soon BLHRS rapidly spread across Rwenzori mountain. 
Other demands included establishment of schools in areas where the Bakonzo and Bamba lived, appointment in Toro government administration, health facilities, roads, political representation, etc. 

At the same time, the Bamba students formed the Balyebulya association to push for the interests of the Bamba who too had been lumped into Toro kingdom as subjects.
By then the main grievance was the need to recognize the Bakonzo and Bamba as separate ethnic communities within Toro kingdom government. This was a demand that Toro administration would not readily accept. Rwenzururu movement began just like that.

The moderates and fanatics

I have been reading a lot about the Rwenzururu struggle 1962 to 2009. My interest was sparked by the conflicts that have rocked the Rwenzori mountains over the years including the recent clashes. 


One thing that stood out for me during, my literature review, was a fight within Rwenzururu struggle itself. During the Rwenzururu rebellion there were moderate and those I will call fanatic supporters. The moderates were mainly educated Bakonzo who supported Rwenzururu for demands like respect for human rights and social services delivery. These were happy with having a negotiated settlement for the Rwenzururu question. They were few but influential and were mainly from lowlands and hills of Kasese. They were the ones that had manuvred around the Toro education discrimination policy against Bakonzo by adapting some Rutoro names. 
So, when Idi Amin decreed that there be Rwenzori and Semliki districts out of Toro, the moderate Rwenzururu supporters were happy with this as it would give them the services and a voice they badly needed in Uganda.

The fanatic supporters on the other hand, believed in a military confrontation as way of getting their demands. The biggest number of these people were semi educated or not schooled at all. This group was led by Isaya Mukirania who unfortunately died before the two districts were curved out of Toro. With time, this group demanded more and more. For example, when two districts were created, they never abandoned rebellion. They also wanted a kingdom. At one point they established a kingdom government like ones that existed during colonial time. They had cabinet ministers, they collected Rwenzururu taxes, collected market dues in kind and cash, fought with colonial and later post colonial police and army during Obote I and Amin regimes. Some of them looted food, animals and chickens from the locals with or without knowledge of their leaders.

Soon even the Bakonzo were to face the wrath of some elements in this group. Anyone who was found in Rwenzururu "controlled" territory without a Rwenzururu receipted tax would face their wrath. At the same time, if they found you with Uganda central government tax, you would be in for it. This become a dilemma for those who lived in Rwenzori areas controlled by Uganda Army. If the army or central government found you without tax ticket or with a Rwenzururu tax receipt you would be in trouble. To this fanatic group, the moderate Bakonzo were viewed as abakolikoli (sort of traitors) and would be arrested or even killed. A big number of them fled Rwenzori to areas like Mubende and parts of Bunyoro. They abducted Kasese West MP, Ezironi Bwambale for not presenting Rwenzururu views in parliament.


The fanatic Rwenzururu supporters felt the colonial and central governments of Obote I and Amin persecuted them. So, they attempted to declared Rwenzururu an independent state.


When Charles Kisembo Mumbere took over the Rwenzururu leadership following the demise of his father in 1966, the Obote government hoped it had a chance to neutralize the rebellion. But, they were wrong. The elders who had been working with Mukirania had mastered the art of dodging the Uganda Army soldiers by hiding deep in the mountains and carrying raids.
The central government of Obote II opted for negotiations as they kept the military option open. 

In 1982 a negotiated settlement was reached. Charles Kisembo Mumbere descended the hills with some of his soldiers to settle down in Kasese as a Chief Elder.
However, Richard Kinyamusitu, the Rwenzururu army chief of staff, did not agree with his commander Mumbere to surrender. He remained in the mountains fighting for a state.

Maybe the moderates had won. But, new struggles emerged. The National Resistance Movement had begun a rebellion against Obote II regime. The NRA elements could not ignore Kinyamusitu and his men. Since 1982 Kinyamusitu and his men has been roaming the mountains looting from the locals as they would go as far as some places eastern Zaire (now DR Congo). Kinyamusitu found a way of working with NRA but later dropped out.


The second form of struggle emanated from Rwenzururu supporters of Mumbere and those against him. The Rwenzururu supporters wanted their king and kingdom recognized after the 1993 restoration of kingdoms.

As expected, the NRM government dragged its feet to recognize Rwenzururu kingdom. The demand for Rwenzururu kingdom recognition became a hot political and social issue in Rwenzori mountains. In Kasese C.W. B Kiyonga led the anti Obusinga group. Kiyonga was and is an influential figure in the NRM government; so his opposition to Obusinga had a substantial impact on delaying recognition of the kingdom. But his group was outnumbered by the masses made up of ordinary Banyarwenzururu who wanted a kingdom and king recognized.

In between this struggle for Rwenzururu struggle for recognition, the ADF rebels attacked Kasese and later Bundibugyo and parts of Kabarole district. Soon allegations and counter-allegations of who was supporting ADF were being made.  Some of these allegations: that Mumbere was sympathizing with ADF which had merged with NALU and remnants of Rwenzururu under Kinyamusitu and Fenihasi Kisokeranio. These two had been soldiers under Mumbere's command during Rwenzururu rebellion. 

The politicians opposed to Obusinga recognition seized the opportunity to mud-sling the supporters of Obusinga and its crown king as having links to ADF rebellion. 
Mumbere boarded a plane to Kampala to clear his name. But the damage had been done. The central government recognition of Obusinga was delayed even further.

One particular incident of great concern was after the 2001 parliamentary and presidential elections. Kasese again had voted overwhelmingly for the candidates that did not support the Movement system. In March that year Kasese town woke up to the sad news of over 11 people killed and 54 cars burnt to ashes by allegedly ADF rebels. After this incident several pro-Obusinga politicians were arrested by central government. Here again some people in Rwenzori began feeling persecuted.

In the 2006 presidential election President Museveni was defeated in Kasese by FDC's Kizza Besigye. It was the only district in Western Uganda where Museveni lost to an opponent. The reason for the presidential defeat in Kasese was failure to recognize Obusinga.

Museveni got some homework to do.He soon set up the Kajura Commision into the Rwenzururu Obusinga question. The results of the commission showed that over 85% of the population supported the Obusinga with Mumbere as the preferred king. 

In 2009 central government led by Museveni recognized obusinga and installed Mumbere as king. There massive celebrations among the Banyarwenzururu in Rwenzori and beyond.

So, in the 2011 elections Museveni won back Kasese district although with minimal margin. However, in 2016 election Museveni's political party NRM lost Kasese at presidential and parliamentary level. Why? Reasons are many. Poor service delivery, perceived marginalization and desire to always oppose.

In March 2016, a dispute over Hima town council LC III election resulted in deaths of civilians. Rwenzururu royal guards were pinpointed in these attacks in Kasese. Situation got worse in Bundibugyo over dispute of the LC V elections and lives were lost.

Earlier on, in 2014 there were attacks on military and police installations in Kasese, Ntoroko and Bundibugyo districts leaving at least 100 people mainly civilians ('attackers') dead. A minister in Rwenzururu kingdom one Vincent Kipilongo is alleged to have confessed to have mobilized the youth in these attacks. Some Rwenzururu officials were arrested. Some of the suspects who participated in these attacks were tried in the court martial and some acquitted. Others are still in prison. Some suspects who surrendered were given amnesty.


But where is Kipiliongo? Why did he the young people to carry out these attacks? What is being done to those he indoctrinated? What does this say about Rwenzururu leadership? And more important what should be done to end this violence in Rwenzori? Is it not time for the palace to control its supporters?

Could it be that those who opposed Obusinga recognition are working behinds the scenes to say we told you?

Dialogue should be desired method in solving any concerns. The lives of young people lost because they have been confused or lied to "that bullets won't touch them" are regrettable. These young people in Rwenzori could be fighting some selfish persons' wars. Parents, leaders at all levels should guide the youths and identify those behind this confusion and spread this myth. Rwenzori region has had enough share of conflict and definitely does not need one now. Ordinary people want to develop and feed their families. Leave them in peace.


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Why Uganda's Rwenzururu anniversary never got serious national media coverage


The cultural institution of Rwenzururu marked the coronation and official government recognition on October 19 in Kasese Town.

This event marked 50 years since Charles Wesley Mumbere was enthroned to take over from his father Isaya Mukirania. Isaya, the key leader of the Rwenzururu movement died in 1966.

Uganda government officially recognized the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu on 19th October 2009.

Thus, yesterday’s event was historic for Rwenzururu. Indeed, thousands of people living around Rwenzori Mountains attended the fest. The central government was well represented by four ministers at the function.

President Yoweri Museveni who was the expected chief guest, delegated the Minister of Tourism, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu to represent him. District chairpersons from Mubende, Ntoroko, Kabarole and Kasese attended in person.

Omusinga Charles Wesely Mumebere holding a spear (wearing bark cloth)


The media at national level especially the television stations were missing in action except reporters from local radio stations, New Vision, CBS fm,  Red Pepper and Daily Monitor. In the newspapers today (October 20) only New Vision ran a front page story picture and a news story on page 3 with a contradicting headline about the same event on the two pages. CBS fm aired a story about the event and of course radio stations in Kasese town and Rwenzori sub-region.

There was no live coverage of the event by any national television. Even the “public” broadcaster UBC  TV did not do better. Was it because these stations were not aware of the event? Or it was because there was no news (conflict) in the area? Perhaps Kasese is too far away from where news stations are headquartered.

Minister Kamuntu (shaking hands) being welcomed at the Rwenzururu anniversary

Rwenzururu kingdom, particularly Kasese has been rocked by clashes between Uganda national security agents and the elements in Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu royal guards.

The leading television stations in Uganda have always rushed to Kasese to cover the sad news of floods of River Nyamwamba, the clashes between security agents and royal guards, the deaths of people resulting from simmering ethnic tensions. In such times TV and radio stations even broadcast live feeds to the rest of the country.

But, lo and behold, they are slow to cover and broadcast the good news that portrays the happy moments in the Rwenzoris. I am told, some national TV stations had reporters at the event but they are still filing the stories because this kind of news from Rwenzururu is not urgent. What message are such media houses sending to the community? What kind of impressions do such absent media want the rest of Uganda to have about the people of Rwenzururu?

Maybe isn’t it time that we redefined news to include happy times as well not just conflict?


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Uganda: Media and stereotypes; give me a break!


Things I have confirmed about the mass media are many. But media creating images and entrenching stereotypes is alive in Uganda.

Take an example of reporting conflict in Uganda’s media. In the last two years, Rwenzori region, particularly Kasese and Bundibugyo, has been affected by conflict. This conflict sometimes borders on ethnicity and at other times it’s crime just like crime would be committed anywhere and be regarded as crime; nothing more.

But in the case of Rwenzori, the media reporters have developed a tendency of failing to distinguish between ethnic conflict and criminality. In most cases they are reporting wholesale the official accounts of the government agents.

Yet, one of the prized tenets of journalism is verification of news before publishing it. Among the many ways of news verification is interviewing as many people as possible about the same story/news and then report both accounts.

Unfortunately, this practice is fast disappearing in most of our media outlets. It is common to read or view single or two sourced stories.

A few years ago, when I was still an active member of the newsroom, my editor would not publish my story if it did not have at least four sources quoted or attributed. This editor would never get tired of reminding me to always triple check each claim made by a source. Reason? Each source has his or her interests to push in the story. So, as a reporter you better keep this at the back of your mind. The sixth sense in journalism I would say is being a little bit skeptical about all you hear until you have verified it.

In this era of social media many reporters are rushing to break the news. Never mind if the news is backed by facts or not. It’s now words like BREAKING, BREAKING screaming on their social media timelines and websites.

The recent incident at Bukara, Kabarole district has many of my friends question the credibility of what is usually reported in the media.

Well, all I am saying here is simple logic. If the case reported were rape, no professional police officer can take such a case lightly; and let alone release the suspect on police bond. Rape is a capital offence. In a civil case of adultery the conflicting parties can be advised to settle it amicably, which is what happened.
However, someone later advised the suspect to press assault and torture charges against the man who had been offended at first. As the authorities moved to arrest the assault suspect,  some irate residents of Bukara attacked the crime preventers and later on police officers. Suddenly, the local police spokeswoman and some local leaders in Police in their wanton search to absolve the police of any wrong doing, they sought to divert attention. Target? Rwenzori region has of recent been “a hot bed of ethnic tensions”. Conclusion? Bukara incident is “tribal”! The reporter falls in this trap of stereotypes that have been created about Rwenzori.

Such stereotypes like: “Africa is one country, Africa is poverty, Africa is disease, famine, conflict, etc” just show how little the media is helping demystifying these attitudes. My point? Rwenzori not always about ethnic conflict.


Give me a break! What happening to the news values of accuracy and objectivity?

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Kabarole police-civilians clash exposes Uganda's media

After reading several media versions about some officers of Uganda Police clashing with locals in Bukara, Kabarole district I'm wondering if editors are doing enough; putting their reporters to task.

First Bukara village is about 40km from Fort Portal town, where the headquarters of Kabarole district are located. Fort Portal town is 320km from Kampala, Uganda's capital.

That a newspaper or media house for that matter fails to send a reporter to the ground to gather facts, but instead relies on telephone interviews with officials in police and other government agents, is appalling. This is because Fort Portal being a major town it has representatives of most major media houses in Uganda.

The clash between police and some residents of Bukara occurred at 1pm on September 14. Why would a media house worth its name fail to send its reporters to a conflict area that is just 40km from Fort Portal town?

Why is the media rushing to brand the clash between police and some Bukara residents an ethnic conflict? It is because they are not on the ground. If the reporters were on ground they did little to source the story and only relied on the official account.

Social media reporters who always copy and paste mainstream media reports are not doing any better.

Basing on what I have gathered from the ground, this is what happened:
A man (whom I will call X) caught his wife in bed with another man (let's call him Y). The two men happen to be of different ethnic backgrounds.
The matter was reported to the area police post in Nyakigumba which is 10km from Bukara village. The suspect (Y) was later released and went to a bigger police station at Kibiito, the headquarter of Bunyangabu county, to report that he was assaulted and tortured by Mr X.

On September 13, Kibiito sent police officers to arrest Mr X to answer charges of assault. The villagers were enraged and resisted this arrest. They even assaulted the police officers, which is another offence.

In the afternoon of September 14, a group of seven police officers arrived in Bukara village to arrest Mr X and those who assaulted the police officers the previous day.

Unfortunately the villagers ended up attacking the police officers. This is wrong. I think it's plain ignorance and stupidity to attack people in authority or even resist arrest.

There might be mistakes on either side, which should be corrected. But I don't understand why the media is calling this clash between police and civilians, ethnic? How many people have been killed on the different ethnicity?
The dead are police officers and people who speak the same language of Mr X.

****
The deployment of police and army in the area was good thing. Today the  security officials and local politicians are meeting the residents of Bukara to calm down and resolve the situation.
May peace and the spirit of tolerance prevail.



Thursday, 26 May 2016

Corruption in Uganda's road sector takes us several steps backwards

A report by a Commission of Inquiry into mismanagement of Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) reveals that, before the new management, UNRA had received Shs9 trillion and with this they delivered 1500km of tarmac roads. The report argues that with Shs9 trillion UNRA should have constructed 5,147km. 

UNRA was formed in 2006 to construct, maintain national roads. These mainly include highways in Uganda and they constitute over 20,000km of roads. Of these roads Uganda has only 4,500km paved/tarmac. Road construction in Uganda mainly done by big foreign companies; therefore there is big money involved. In the recent past, the share of the road subsector in the national budget has tremendously increased. This has attracted the attention of the corrupt officials who want to feast on tax payers money.


President Museveni receives a report of a probe into UNRA (New Vision photo)

In the same report it is stated that it is comparatively more expensive to construct 1km of road in Uganda than it is in Rwanda or Ethiopia. The report goes on to say Shs4 trillion was "misused" read stolen by 90 officials in collusion with some staff at UNRA.

So, in 10 years of UNRA's existence, corruption has forced the taxpayers to miss thousands of kilometres of road because some individuals were dishonest! 
According to the report, Shs4 trillion would have made UNRA construct additional 3,647km of paved roads in the country. 

Hello! This is just corruption at "old" UNRA. There are allegations of corruption in other government agencies and departments. All this implies that the cancer of corruption is taking Uganda several steps backwards in terms of development. This must stop.