Member of Parliament and People Power presidential candidate Bobi Wine. Photo: Facebook.
General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni,
You either do not live in Uganda, or you are a pathetic liar! The disease you are suffering from was precisely diagnosed by late Hon. Eriya Kategaya referring to you in his little book, “Impassioned for Freedom.” In that book, Kategaya writes as follows: “I have observed that the longer one stays in power, the more one is insulated from reality. The trappings of state apparatus tend to make one live an unrealistic existence.”
Anyone who reads what you write these days can clearly see that you live in a bubble, completely isolated from where our country is, and what ordinary Ugandans go through on a daily basis. Well, this is expected. After 35 years in power, living lavishly at the expense of the tax payer and amassing lots and lots of ill-gotten wealth, you are drawn far away from the reality of the common person in Uganda. That is why you have the audacity to mock and insult them in your words and actions, year in year out.
On August 27th, you released a missive largely in response to Hon. Francis Zaake’s earlier letter. I had intended to respond to that statement which was both annoying and unfortunate. However, because of our busy schedule struggling to put an end to your corrupt regime, I did not find time or the need to respond then. Then on September 3rd you released another statement which was filled with more lies, self-praise, contradictions and provocations than the first one. These cannot go unchallenged!
Your lies and contradictions have been so many, however, I will respond to only seven of them today.
1.ON HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND PRAYERS
In your first statement, you begin by quoting some scriptures and speaking of how a few days ago you invited some religious leaders to state-house to pray against COVID19. First and foremost, the very fact that you can torture, mutilate and murder innocent citizens; your own countrymen, and then turn around to quote scriptures and purport to hold prayers reveals a hypocrisy of the highest level. Dictators have no shame! How do you reconcile these public stunts of prayer with the hundreds of victims murdered in Kasese on your orders; young political activists killed by your brutal regime; trillions of tax payers’ money stolen under your watch, voter bribery, etc etc?
The solution does not lie in holding many prayer sessions. What the Lord desires is justice, truth and righteousness. Forsake evil and do good! Then the Lord will hear from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land. As Prophet Amos wrote in Amos 5:21-24, God says, “I hate and despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs. I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river and righteousness like a never failing stream.” Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. This is the rule!
Related to this is your obvious disregard for God as exhibited in the way you have used COVID19 to keep houses of prayer locked, while you and your people violate the same rules you have put in place, ostensibly to prevent the spread of the virus.
Every Ugandan would know that the prayers you organize at State House, and give your guests envelopes at the end of the service are simply a publicity stunt. Your friend, President Mugabe did this with distinction. While he was murdering citizens and his country’s economy was on its knees, he regularly invited religious leaders to his palace and at the end of the service he stuffed them with gifts. Likewise, Zaire’s Mobutu was very fond of religious festivities. But God, is always on the side of the oppressed, and He eventually shows up and shows off on their behalf!
Without digressing, my point is that if you had regard for God, places of worship would not be closed for prayers yet open for NRM political rallies and assemblies. Those are houses of God. Just a day ago, NRM held its primaries (which I will come back to later) and hundreds of people were gathered in large numbers under the watch of the police and the military. And somehow, you have conveniently refused to open places of worship under the pretext that they would spread COVID19! These double standards are for World Cup, as we the young people say!
Of course many of us know that aside from your disregard for God, the reason why you are refusing to open the places of worship is because it will put you on the spot if they are opened, and opposition political activities are still blocked. You are conveniently refusing to open these places of worship in order to keep opposition leaders under lockdown. True to your character, we may even now see a stringent enforcement of “COVID19 regulations”, now that NRM has finished its primaries!
2. BOBI WINE WAS BEATEN PROPERLY IN ARUA
In your letter of 27th August, you once again stated with satisfaction how I was properly brutalized in Arua, Hon. Zaake tortured to near death, Yasin Kawuma murdered and many other Ugandans assaulted, raped and mutilated by some of your guards. Now it’s clear, those actions were all on your orders!
Yes, you may be a heartless, cold and brutal man at a personal level like all tyrants. But, at the very least, have some respect for the office which you currently occupy. Under our Constitution (which you have severally crushed and undermined), a President is the fountain of honor of our nation. What that means is that a President must conduct himself or herself in an honorable manner. I watched with shock as you commended your guards for torturing me properly. The expression on your face, and the satisfied laugh which followed clearly brought out what tragedy befell our country the day you captured power. The stories, told many times, of your cold brutality all of a sudden became alive. The people of Uganda who watched you, found reason to believe that you find satisfaction in the suffering of people. The symbolism was clear – the way you relish the physical pain and suffering of your opponents is the same way you enjoy seeing Ugandans groan in pain, as poverty, hunger and disease take the better of them.
Well, I will not dwell on this so much. Your guards were armed. They hit me with an iron bar and tortured me throughout the night until I became unconscious. Before then, they spoke to me with so much hate. They insulted and assaulted me for being me. They called me a dog, spat their mucus on my face, they tortured me some more, but by the grace of God, am still alive. When they came to you, all you could say to them was, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.” Your own admission that you stood in the way of justice and prevented them from being punished, clearly shows who sent them and what mission they had come to accomplish. Are you court to dismiss charges against accused persons? Those individuals, who you have shielded for two years now, should have had their day in court and their fate determined. Not by you dismissing torture accusations as rubbish! I still believe that your guards were sent to kill me that night. Yasin Kawuma took the bullets that were meant for me. You had your plan, but God had another plan! May the Lord who saved me from you that night continue protecting me and all Ugandans who are involved in this struggle for freedom and democracy! (Read 1 Samuel 24:15)
Away from that, your government went ahead to charge me with unlawful possession of firearms. Machine guns and bullets were displayed to the media and reported as having been found in my hotel room. I WANT TO CHALLENGE YOU TODAY TO TELL US WHERE THOSE GUNS HAD COME FROM AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM EVENTUALLY!
How can a head of state behave in this manner? Moreover, not a mere head of state, but an old man fit to be my father! The people of Uganda have tolerated you for over three decades. Do not insult their intelligence.
3. WE KILL OUR SUPPORTERS IN ORDER TO BLAME GOVERNMENT
There are always low moments in every politician’s career, but it is regrettable that the man who presides over our country has no limits on how low he can descend. I wonder how you sleep soundly at night! I wonder how you can extra-judicially kill our people, and then turn up with a straight face blaming their death on the glorious forces of change.
Yes, you have no respect for us who are living, but at the very least, have some respect for our brothers and sisters, young men and women, who have been murdered by your regime. Asuman Walyendo, Yasin Kawuma, Vincent Sserungaya, Kalende Yusuf, Ssalongo Lukoma Stephen, Hannington Ssewankambo, Hakim Ssekamwa, Ritah Nabukenya, Dan Kyeyune, Charles Mutyabule, and countless others. Have some respect for these sisters and brothers whose lives were cut short under your watch and command.
For Ritah Nabukenya, after being run over by a police truck, your government shamelessly claimed that the cameras had become faulty all of a sudden! For Dan Kyeyune, we obtained a video footage. Actually we obtained it from some patriotic police officers (I know that you will try to find out who these officers are and punish them, but you will not succeed). In the footage, an LDU personnel called Faizal Kakooza was captured vividly shooting at our brother Kyeyune who died instantly. To date, your government has not done anything; not even conducting an investigation! For Hannington Ssewankambo (aka Sweet Pepsi), the beatings that damaged his organs and eventually led to his death were administered by soldiers who were captured on camera. For Hakim Ssekamwa, I watched with my own eyes as Police truck Reg. No. UP 2525 deliberately ran over him.
Now General Museveni is telling the nation that we have killed all these people in order to put the blame on his regime of blood and national shame! We are told by scripture that God does not sleep nor slumber. The blood of these innocent brothers and sisters cries from the ground. One day, they will get justice. When your friend Omar el-Bashir was butchering the people of Darfur, (the very same way you butchered our people in Northern Uganda, Kasese, etc), he thought of himself as all powerful and invincible. Today, he must be wondering what went wrong. The arm of justice may take so long, but it eventually catches up with those who commit atrocities and think of themselves as too wise and highly exalted. To draw the parallels for your ease of reference, only in April 2015, Omar el-Bashir had organized a sham election, in which his own version of Byabakama awarded him a sweeping 94.05% of the vote. Today, he is in a cold cage, perhaps wishing he had read the signs. I don’t want to remind you of your other friends Gaddafi, Mubarak, Mugabe, Campoare and the rest. Rest assured, you will end up on the dustbin of history, like all those who came before you. The tragedy is that no dictator ever learns from the fate of the other!
4. THE YOUTH AND OTHER SIGs ELECTIONS
You go on to boast of how your party “won” the youth elections. You go into fictitious percentages fixed for your pleasure and propaganda. One of the greatest contradictions in our country is to have a General who is also a coward. Ordinarily, these two words should never be used in reference to the same person. However, you are now a prisoner yourself, unable to clearly see how much you have fallen.
First and foremost, despite launching our Party (NUP) a few weeks earlier, we won in the majority of places where we fielded candidates in the youth elections. In most areas, RDCs, DISOs and the like were filling forms, apparently depicting only NRM candidates – in one case, they even included a person who is long dead! In Kalangala and other areas, our candidates were pursued and intimidated the whole night. Where our candidates won in many areas including some positions in Kampala and Wakiso, by morning, results had been changed to reflect victory for NRM! The evidence in some of these cases has been filed with the Electoral Commission!
And this is the cowardice, Gen. Museveni that I am talking about! You have blocked all those opposed to you from reaching out to the people. In a very primitive and backward manner, you have declared yourself a sole actor in Uganda’s politics. When I tried to carry out consultations as guaranteed by our laws, you blocked me and ensured I did not go to any district outside Kampala. I have been hounded out of radio stations, including the other day in Mbale. In Mbarara, radio stations have been ordered not to host Bobi Wine, or their licenses will be revoked. Burials have ended unceremoniously because of my appearance, including most recently in my constituency when senior Muslim religious leaders were teargassed when I stood to speak at a funeral. A few months ago in Kassanda, mzee Joseph Nsamba, father to Hon. Patrick Nsamba was teargassed and prevented from cutting his birthday cake, as soon as Kyagulanyi arrived at the event and took to the microphone! You recently boasted of how you personally blocked my music shows because I was speaking bad about your government! You resort to force because you know that what we say is the truth!
Every day, People Power/NUP youth are arrested for merely putting on our attire. When I step out of my house these days, there are several police or military officers riding motorcycles following me around. People are harassed for just waving at me and our other comrades. Shamelessly, with so many hotspots for crime having no cameras, your regime has brought CCTV cameras up to my gate and you are surveilling everything that happens in my home 24/7!
Then, using our own money- the tax payers’ money, you have taken advantage of the poverty which you have caused to our people, and started buying off some of our weak-minded supporters one by one! Recently, I saw you condemning voter bribery and I said “oh what a shameless man?” How can you talk about bribery and corruption? The chief priest of corruption condemning corruption?
Back to my point on elections, how then, do you feel celebrating any victory in an election in such circumstances? Are you really serious? Generals fight head on with their opponents. It is a sign of great cowardice to tie someone’s arms and legs on a tree, and start celebrating that you have won them in a boxing game! It is cowards who would celebrate such “victories.” I HAVE CHALLENGED YOU BEFORE AND I CHALLENGE YOU AGAIN TODAY TO A FREE AND FAIR ELECTION. Then we shall see who is who! Recently you said that Uganda etandise kukuwomela, but if you allow our nation to have a free and fair election, then Uganda egenda kkukaayilira nga kaziire. Let us have a leveled playing field ndyoke nkulage waaka.
How can a General of the National Resistance Army, as you prefer to be called, not be ashamed to come out thumping his chest that he has won a fight with a man handcuffed and chained on both hands and legs?
This very Friday, have you watched how NRM supporters gathered in hundreds, unhindered and guarded by the police? In every district of Uganda, no one whatsoever observed the COVID SOPs which you love to sing about. Absolutely no one. People were gathered in droves voting, waiting at the tally centers or celebrating victories of their candidates. While this was happening, Hon. Lutamaguzi Ssemakula had spent days in prison for speaking to a few people in Semuto Town Council! At least seventeen meetings organized by the leaders of the National Unity Platform in different parts of the country have been broken up and leaders detained for apparently not observing the SOPs! On 15th August in Masaka, a meeting of a few of our leaders was broken up, while in the neighborhood, your brother Sodo was holding a rally of thousands of people under the guard of the military! I do not want to believe that in your mind, COVID19 only affects People Power supporters and does not apply to NRM supporters.
Stop the double standards. Stop the cowardice. Let us compete as men, and see what the young man with the red cap will do to the old man with a hat!
General Museveni, when I read your comments on tribalism in Uganda, it was very difficult to believe that they were being written by a person who actually lives in this country. This is the absolute evidence that you live in a bubble, completely isolated from the country called Uganda. You are either oblivious to what happens in this country, or you are a pathological liar!
For starters, let me inform you that as a generation we rejected tribalism and nepotism a long time ago. We have transcended above chauvinism based on tribe /ethnicity, race, religion or gender. We tower above these classifications. We would rather see ourselves as Ugandans and as Africans. Personally, my wife is from Western Uganda, some of my closest associates from the North and others from the East. I never ask or even think of anyone’s tribe before I deal with them. This is true for most Ugandans, especially the young generation, my generation.
But the question of tribalism in our beautiful country begins and ends with you, General Museveni. If Idi Amin, Obote and Lule practiced tribalism as you often say, then you Mr. Museveni have lived tribalism! Just like corruption in our country, if tribalism is a child, you are its midwife. If tribalism is a plant, you are the seed. If nepotism and sectarianism are twin brothers, you are their father. In fact, the true mustard seeds you have sowed in Uganda are corruption, nepotism and sectarianism. You have bred systematic sectarianism and nepotism for the past three decades. Every Ugandan can see it wherever they are – including yourself.
Gen. Museveni, do you know that there are public offices in this country, where the official language spoken is a local dialect from one section of the population? Make a random trip to URA, the passport office at the internal affairs ministry, NIRA, UNRA or even the UPDF headquarters. Have you cared to look at who gets NFA land? Have you cared to look at the composition of the police force in terms of the most sensitive positions? Have you looked at which companies are most likely to win government contracts (procurement, works, etc) and who is behind them? I challenge you to release a list of the beneficiaries of the State House Scholarship over the years and see if up to 95% of them are not from the same region or even from the same clan! Is it because they are exceptionally gifted, like you recently alluded?
At some point, 27 out of 34 key government agencies were headed by people from the same region. At some point, over 70 or even 80% of the District Police Commanders were from the same region. Even where the commander is from another region, you will find another individual from your region giving orders and commands to their purported superiors! Go to any police station here in Kampala, Wakiso, Busoga, name it – and see what language is spoken at those stations!
Behind the scenes, you stoke the flame of tribalism as a tactic to divide and rule us, but in public you pretend to condemn it. It is not by coincidence that most of the private citizens that your leadership is using to attack me from all angles ever since I declared my intention to contest against you are people from the same ethnic group as me. This is a deliberate strategy by you to depict people from my region as untrustworthy and treacherous so that you set us against each other!
You implore us to leave “your” army out of the tribal/political talk but we never saw you condemning Minister Anite Evelyn when she boasted that your political party has the support of the army. You never condemned nor investigated Mr. Bob Kagarura, Mr. Twesigye Hamdan, Mr. Mwine Alex and other high ranking officers whom my colleague Hon. Zaake Francis accused of torturing while throwing tribal profanities against him on account of being a Muganda!
Recently, some Ugandan after reading your writings posted that, “When Museveni sees us with ears, he thinks we are goats.” I think this is what you take us for. You somehow think that Ugandans are so stupid, that they cannot see the obvious!
You have labored so much to point out which positions are occupied by individuals from the different parts of the country. Gen. Museveni, of what influence are those positions? Will you tell us how Mr. Kiwanuka Sekandi is the Vice President? Does he even know what happens in this country? By the time Prof. Gilbert Bukenya was dropped, he publicly complained of how he was a Vice President who merely had a convoy, and moved in a car with a flag, but did not know where key decisions were being taken from! What is the purpose of having Mr. Martin Okoth Ochola as the IGP [Inspector General of Police], when everyone in this country knows who effectively the IGP is? Major John Kazoora is on record telling the nation how you called the Ankole Parliamentary caucus in the early years of your leadership. In that meeting, Kazoora recalls, you spoke how people like Specioza Kazibwe, Jeje Odong and others did not wield any power, but were there simply to appease their “tribesmen” and women so that they give you votes!
General Museveni, I know you are very detached from reality, so I will tell you one of the jokes Ugandans make. During the festive season, the V8 vehicles are normally seen on Masaka Road, heading towards parts of Western Uganda. On the road that goes to Busoga and Gulu, you’ll normally find packed taxis and buses. That is to say that Ugandans are actually not as stupid as you think. They see these things and know them.
Make no mistake! We have nothing against people from any region of this country. As I have already said, my children have shared blood-they are both Baganda and Banyankole. But every day, I meet Banyankole who are disgusted by tribal tendencies perpetrated by your regime. Every day, I meet Ugandans who believe in fairness and equality. I therefore cannot blame the beneficiaries of a flawed system that you have created. Tribalism in Uganda is deep rooted, but when you are gone, the people of Uganda will start afresh and build a country that is fair and just for all citizens regardless of what their first name is.
6. LEAVE THE ARMY OUT OF TRIBALISM
General Museveni, first and foremost you should stop treating our gallant men and women of the UPDF as your personal army. These are our brothers and sisters. They are our fathers and mothers. They are from our generation. We live with them and understand their frustrations better than you do. They complain to us about so much unfairness in promotions and how deployments are made. They complain to us about instances where people of higher ranks are ordered around by their juniors, simply because their juniors have a connection with someone in the system. They speak to us and we listen to them. Because at the end of the day, when they put off their uniform, they are human beings and are ordinary Ugandans oppressed by your system, even harder than the ordinary citizens.
You go ahead to mock our gallant soldiers and police officers. You pretend to care about them, yet you know so well that you have deliberately kept the rank and file of our soldiers and police officers poor, because you believe that is the best way to control them and keep them in check. Our soldiers and police officers live in ragtag shelters, even here in Kampala. What they are paid is insufficient to afford them a decent living. They can barely take their children to school. Our police officers are always stressed because of debts. By the time their salary comes, it is all going to pay debts. No wonder, many of them resort to extortion and bribery. Many of them are brutal, as a result of stress and desperation.
We have worked out a formula which will be laid out in our manifesto. Even with the revenue reflected in our national budget of 2020, our promise to our men and women in uniform is that we shall increase their salaries and benefits by far. The money you take in classified expenditure and spend in elections will be used to improve the welfare of our servicemen and women. We shall ensure that in three months of our takeover of government, the lowest ranking soldier earns at least 1million shillings a month! The same will apply to teachers and health workers whose salaries and benefits we intend to increase by three times!
On the question of tribalism in the army, without a doubt, officers from your region dominate most of the top leadership positions of our security forces while majority of their rank and file who have no influence cut across the regions. If you look within your guard unit the SFC, it is even worse! In Arua, while they tortured me up to when I was in Makindye, I heard no other language spoken, except Runyankole. How, in these circumstances, can we leave “your” army out of “this sectarian circus?”
7. HOBNOBBING WITH FOREIGNERS TO DESTABILIZE UGANDA
In your writings, you repeatedly accuse us, of hobnobbing with foreigners to destabilizethe country.
General Museveni, very unfortunately, you are living in the shadow of your former self. When you went to the bush, were you funded by foreigners to destabilizeUganda? If you think of yourself and your generation as genuine freedom fighters, what makes you think that yours was the last generation to fight for freedom? What makes you think that Ugandans must get funds from abroad in order to fight for their freedom?
I understand the source of your frustrations. In your mind, because you control our country’s wealth and dish it out at will, you somehow do not get it when some of us reject your “evil money” and stick to our values. To your mind, it can only mean that we have money from foreigners and that is why we reject yours! You are so wrong. There are patriotic Ugandans out there who are willing to risk it all, including their own lives, until they free themselves from the shackles of oppression which you have subjected us to! Ours is a homegrown revolution led by the people of Uganda to free themselves. We shall achieve this, or die trying.
But even if we were supported by foreigners? General Museveni, it is an open secret that you have mortgaged our country to foreign interests. You and your Ministers are always making deals – selling off government assets, leasing out chunks of land to foreign interests (that Ugandans have no access to), and getting loans and loans that will take our people hundreds of years to pay!
Secondly, when you were fighting Obote and Amin, you were supported by foreigners. In your own book, Sowing the Mustard Seed, you speak of how foreigners supported you and donated lots of money to your bush war armed struggle. On page 82, you write that Samora Machel from Mozambique gave you $50,000 which was a lot of money at the time. On page 182, you write that the Libyans gave you $100,000 and a lot of weapons! Were these Ugandans? Why do you think it was right for you to make trips to western capitals and get money from foreigners to fight Obote, and then at the same time make it sound criminal for us to appeal to friends abroad to support our struggle for liberation? How can you be so blind to the double standards? In any case, you were getting money and guns on your bush war expedition to kill our people. Ours on the other hand, is a genuine people’s struggle fighting for democratic rights.
Because of space and time constraints, I have responded to these seven issues for now. At an opportune time, I will respond to your other lies and distortions. I will also respond to your desperate attempt to ban our red beret, which symbolizes our struggle for freedom and democracy.
For now, I can assure you General Museveni that the people of Uganda will win in the end.
Reflect on these words by Hon. Eriya Kategaya, your former best friend and second in command (RO-002) in his book with which I opened this statement; – “In the course of the struggle, those who have everything to lose by democracy and constitutionalism are expected to put up resistance. These forces may appear fearsome but history is replete with such cases and they never win in the end.”
People Power – Our Power
Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert-Bobi Wine
6th September 2020