Dr. Kasaato: "My strong need and desire was to speak for the speechless and voiceless millions of Ugandansâ€”that is, children, women, youth, traders, students and any common man…"
(Dr. Kasaato says his encounter with the President’s bodyguards sent him to this hospital bed).
On November 19, at a public forum in London, a Ugandan, Dr. Rashid Kasaato confronted President Yoweri Museveni, who has come prepared to list his achievements in office to potential investors. Kasaato denounced the President as a â€œliarâ€? and â€œwar criminal.â€? Kasaato says he paid an immediate price for his challenging Museveniâ€”the presidentâ€™s bodyguards, he says, squeezed his testicles, to the extent that he spent two days in a hospital. Here, Kasaato speaks with Norman Miwambo on the support and fallout, including what he says are death threats heâ€™s encountered since his David vs. Goliath moment. Kasaato tells Miwambo why he employed a style hitherto atypical to most Africans, who normally are deferentialâ€”he says the time is ripe for change in Uganda.
BSN: What prompted you to act in such a fashion when talking to the President of the Republic of Uganda?
Kasaato: My strong need and desire was to speak for the speechless and voiceless millions of Ugandansâ€”that is, children, women, youth, traders, students and any common man.
BSN: Have you met some of these people you claim to have represented?
Kasaato: The answer is yes, I have met some and I have been in all communities. Scores of Ugandans have been in abject poverty and are still crying, but our leader seems not to take any heed. They have cried for so long without any attention from anybody. I was indeed amplifying their voices which the world seemed not to be hearing. In fact, I thought that history and the suffering Ugandans would never forgive me if I hadnâ€™t taken such stance. I had to use such a rare chance of meeting Museveni face to face. For that matter, I indeed appreciate the millions of salutations I have so far received from Ugandans who love democracy.
BSN: Would you like to see more Ugandans taking such avenue to deliver their message to president Museveni?
Kasaato: Your question seems to doubt, my belief. But of course, I would like to see more Ugandans doing the same, so, my answer is definitely a big yes.
BSN: Why do you think using such an avenue is better?
Kasaato: Oh, where would you have got such a chance? You know his network of spies. They know every movement and those opposed to his policies. In most cases wherever I have been, people are selected and those opposed to President Museveniâ€™s policies are not given chance to ask questions. Questions are given to people who are there to impress the so-called â€˜big man.â€™ I wanted to be counted and anybody thinking that I was mad must modify his or her opinion.
BSN: You mean the President was telling lies?
Kasaato: That is what exactly I told him. If he was not telling lies, did he really link Kampala and Mukono to Entebbe? Two, is UPE [Universal Primary Education] material and qualitative? If the answer is yes, does he have any child benefiting from the UPE or did we pass in the bush to get to Entebbe? The fact is not so, he was telling lies because there was a road to Entebbe from Kampala.
BSN: Did you mind asking such questions alone?
Kasaato: Not at allâ€”I was trying to retrieve and stir the boat to safety. Remember, we are on the same boat; we either work together to avoid sinking or remain idle or we perish.
BSN: Donâ€™t you think you were alone in that boat youâ€™re talking about?
Kasaato: Again, you have to rememberâ€”it was unity and collectiveness which assisted Black Americans under Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X to reach where they are now.Â
BSN: Would you like to see members of parliament doing the same?
Kasaato: Definitely yes. We give them our votes and delegate them to protect us from any kind of exploitation from anyone. Keeping silence in face of evil is an evil itself. United States, United Kingdom—democratically developed partly because of strong, selfless and devoted MPs have the stamina regardless of the risk to question any kind of injustice whether it was within their own party on notâ€¦
BSN: What reactions have you received from Ugandans?
Kasaato: The reaction of Ugandans has indeed been beyond description.
They are very, very happy. Because what I did is a step in the
solution course of Uganda’s problems, without armed rebellion.
BSN: Do you think you made any impact as far as Museveniâ€™s
thinking is concerned?
Kasaato: Yes, of course, to walk 100 miles, you begin with one-step not 50.Â I think Uganda is ripe for change. We only wait for a man with messianic power, stamina, to lead us to Canaan.
Actually, one said to me ‘you have fulfilled our purpose of taking
you to school’ because education is supposed to give an individual
independent mind which is ready to rescue the nation from
problems in whichever circumstances.
BSN: Have you got any support from prominent people?
Kasaato: Yes, I have received support from prominent people such as the President General of Justice Forum Mr. Muhammad Kibirige Mayanja, Kampala Mayor Ntege Sebaggala, the MP from my constituency in Uganda, Kawempe North Member of Parliament, Latif Sebaggala, MP Michael Mabikke, MP Hussein Kyanjo the list is endless.
BSN: What about threats?
Kasaato: Even prophets received threats. Indeed, I have received threats via anonymous calls and sometimes from individuals, face- to-face whose true identities are not known to me.
BSN: What kind of threats?
Kasaato: Their message is ‘you will receive your due punishment’ they also say ‘unless you donâ€™t step on Ugandan soil.â€™ Mzee is very angry, but despite all the threat, my heart is actually strong, the strength comes from the truth Iâ€™m standing for.
BSN: Are you not worried?
Kasaato: If at all it requires my neck to go so that Ugandans can have a total redemption or liberty, then it is worthy of being chopped off.Â
Meanwhile, a cross section of Ugandans has reacted following Dr. Kasaatoâ€™s confrontation with President Museveni:
â€?First of all the world needs to know that we are dealing with an educated dictator who simply uses old fascist manuals to operate the country,â€? said Makindye West Member of Parliament, Haj. Hussein Kyanjo. â€œMr. M7 is totally against any form of organized opposition and strangely he reacts positively to violent opposition.Â So any one who employs any method close to that of Dr. Kasaato, gets his message taken seriously. That is why Dr. Kasaato has wonderfully been able to make a mark. We have confronted M7 in a manner less than that and always the results have been negligible. There are two other Ugandans who braved him, one is called Luba Kyoya and another one died three months ago, called Nankunda Muwanga you may be able to get the details of their encounter with the dictator fro CBS radio at Mengo you may askÂ Medie Nsereko. Although, the resultant reaction was less severe than in the Kasaato case. The rest of the challenges have resulted into death as the case was at
Bulange Mengo and Uganda House Kampala. Other unknown cases are carried out by secret service
mechanisms in several safe Houses in and around Kampala…â€?
â€œIâ€™m sorry, I didnâ€™t attend the function,â€? says Kampala Women MP Nabilah Sempala. â€œIt was disgusting. Thanks God that I wasnâ€™t there. That was a sign of how brutal our people are.â€?
â€œHis message had substance and it was good,â€? Makindye East MP Mike Mabike said, â€œbut the way how it was presentedâ€¦.â€?
â€œThat was very good and we need people who can deliver such message to the president,â€? Says Kawempe North MP Latif Sebaggala. â€œWe have been using a polite language but the president doesnâ€™t listen. I have no problem with Dr. Kasaatoâ€™s statement, it is good.â€?
â€œWhy should we waste our time on that man? There are many developments the president talked about; you heard when the President answered the ICC question,â€? says lawyer Patrick Asiimwe who is also the NRM-UK Chapter Vice Chairman. â€œAbout linking Kampala and Mukono to Entebbe is like the linking of Bushenyi to Ishaka. The president to say that he linked Kampala and Mukono to Entebbe meant in terms of business and developments. There are many buildings.â€?
â€œHe should have been right. But people forget the very many, many things the president has done and jump at the bad ones only,â€? says Iyatollah John Muganzi, a Ugandan businessman in London. â€œIf you have a question, ask it for an answer. Mr. Museveni is our leader and the President of the Republic of Uganda. He handles many issues of millions of Ugandans. If you ask such question and think that it is of benefit for others, it should be in a polite way. Then you give the chance to the President to give his version.â€?
â€œDr. Kasaato was right,â€? adds Capt. Muhammad Sseruwaji. â€œThe president heard everything himself, but dialog is needed. It was good because many people canâ€™t ask such important issues that affect the common person. There are many people like Dr. Kasaato. But you give a chance to someone to answer your question. Everybody should enjoy the freedom of expression.â€?
â€œI believe Dr. Kasaato had a right to express his opinion. As a leader Museveni has failed to deliver on his promises,â€? says Lt. Deo Mwana Muto, a veteran freedom fighter in the struggle that brought Museveni into power 20 years ago.Â â€œSo Dr. Kasaato expressed his opinion with rage and extreme anxiety well knowing that that is the only way the President will take a note and make some kind of mirror image into his actions. Let those critizing Dr. Kasaatoâ€™s actions to ask themselvesâ€”Why spend so much on security rather than health? To me, my answer is one, because one expects so many well-known enemies. Dr. Kasaato was reacting to a string of unfulfilled promises Museveni has made for the last 20 years. If really Museveni has done something, he has managed less than 50% out of the hundred promises he made when we were still in the bush.â€?
â€œAny person who wants democracy would support him. He was right; these are issues that affect our people,â€? says FDC UK spokesperson Sam Akaki. â€œIt is a mirror for Museveni to look into. One year ago, Museveni was here and he had to cut his tour short because Besigye had jetted in [to Uganda]. Now he has been here not because of anything, but was not impressed with his spiesâ€™ work.â€?
â€œOh, if Museveni stood up to Idi Amin Rashid Kasaato stood up against him,â€? says Michael Senyonjo. â€œHistory will define this as a turning point in Museveniâ€™s Kisanja. That is the kind of bravery, Kasaato told Museveni exactly what every democratic loving Ugandan would haveâ€¦â€?
â€œWhat Dr. Kasaato told President Museveni is what many people in Uganda including Ministers and MPs canâ€™t dare to mention directly,â€? says Princesses Sanyu Nakalema. â€œIn my opinion Dr. Kasaato sent a very touching message to the president unlike those who pretend when in-front of him, yet they continue to complain after they meet.â€?
Â â€œYes, as a person Dr. Kasaato spoke his mind,â€? says the Uganda Muslim Community Chief Khadhi in London, Sheik Muhammad Kalantani. â€œBut the approach was not good, though what he said are believed to be true. Discipline is the key in any leadership position. He is among the youths we respect; he should be with leadership qualities to present his points in an organized manner.â€?
Miwambo writes for The Black Star News from London.
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