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UGANDA: Why parliament can’t help in Museveni brutal campaign on the lakes

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CHANGE OF GUARDS – Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah has directed the House Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Industry to investigate the UPDF Fisheries Protection Force (FPU) for allegedly brutalizing fishermen on Lake Victoria. The Speaker’s directive came after the UPDF, in a statement read to MPs by State Minister for Veteran Affairs Bright Rwamirama denied the allegations of torture. Maj (Rtd) Rwamirama instead said the current operations are lakes Victoria, Edward and George have so for revived stocks of the Nile perch quantities and reduced foreign exploitation of our water resources.”

Last week, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga accused the UPDF of being notorious and taking the law in their hands after accusing the army’s fisheries unit of brutalizing fishermen. She gave the UPDF leadership up to Tuesday to explain the allegations.
And the statement read by Maj Rwamirama did not convince the MPs, especially those representing constituencies in island districts. Bukooli Island M.P, Ouma George Abott told Parliament thus;
“I pray that Capt Sebukera who is commanding the UPDF on the waters be withdrawn because I don’t wish for what may happen; the people are suffering and it is unfair when the minister says otherwise. I don’t wish to see a situation where we come here to eulogise,”

Jinja East MP Paul Mwiru tabled evidence to back up his claim that UPDF is torturing fishermen on the landing sites of Jinja. Among them are pictorials showing scars on the torture victims, letters written to UPDF and Police letters.
The legislator said the officers (UPDF) have declined to take any guidance from none other than the President himself and they publicly confess it to civilian authorities. The MPs accused the soldiers of extortion and torture among other vices.

Ms Kadaga last Tuesday demanded the arrest of Lt Col James Nuwagaba, the commander of the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU), whom she accused of torturing fishermen in the operations against illegal fishing on Lake Victoria. Ms Kadaga also revealed that she had interacted with several fishermen who had blamed the soldiers.
The Speaker said whereas other countries such as Kenya also have security personnel on the lake, complaints are usually against Ugandan security personnel.
Mr Abbot also accused the UPDF enforcement officers on Lake Victoria of extortion.
“They have become extortionist; they are beating our people and extorting money from them,” Mr Abbot said.
He claimed that last month, the army confiscated fish worth Shs9 million from a fisherman.

On April 14 2018 at Isakabusolo Primary School playgrounds in Bulida Sub-county, Bugiri District, at a thanksgiving ceremony for Bukooli Central Member of Parliament Solomon Silwany, Museveni as usual defended the brutality by soldiers thus;
“I decided to deploy army officers because the marine police was defeated by fishermen and had become fish thieves. But it is very sad because I hear complaints that soldiers are caning you but the canes came after resistance from fishermen to stop fishing young fish, which was killing the country’s economy,”

On April 8, 2018 this website ran an exclusive analysis of the driving forces behind this brutality as reproduced below;

“These routes on the lake prompted me to believe and realize that the government of the time had no control over the territory of Lake Victoria.”
Museveni telling residents of Bukasa Island how he used L. Victoria to leave and enter the country during his Bush War – March 2018.

Lake Victoria harbours Uganda’s southern and south-eastern border with Tanzania and Kenya respectively. Owing to the location of the Capital Kampala on the shores, this makes the lake an area of strategic security interest. It has vast islands and landing sites whose main economic activity is fishing which contributes 3% of Uganda’s GDP.

During the reign of Iddi Amin, Lake Victoria was a location of high security interest owing to the presence of exiled dissident main bases in Tanzania and to some extent Kenya. In the early days of the anti-Iddi Amin struggle, a canoe carrying 85 dissident fighters belonging to Save Uganda Movement (SUM), who had taken off from the Tanzania side of the lake capsized a short moment after taking off. At one time the Iddi Amin regime appointed a former British soldier, Maj. Bob Astles as head of the Anti-Smuggling Unit whose major focus was on L. Victoria.
Following the fall of Iddi Amin, Maj. Bob Astles was charged with murder of a 16 years old fisherman, Henry Musisi allegedly on 31st May 1977 at Kikoko landing site but was acquitted by the High Court in October 1981.

During Museveni’s Bush War (1981 – 1986), L. Victoria was the major route that linked the fighters with the outside world. With Kenya having been the hub of the rebel’s External Committee, Museveni and most of his top fighters often exited and re-entered the country via the same lake. Logistical supplies like the NRA radio equipment was smuggled into the country via Lake Victoria. A chain of fishermen, canoes, rebel contacts along the landing sites etc. were coordinated by now retired Brigadier Andrew Lutaaya. Being a port of Ssese Island, Andrew Lutaaya, like most islanders, was a master of the lake.

On page 144 of his Sowing the Mustard Seed, Museveni recounts: “I stayed with the boat boys and Kutesa on the Island until night fall. At around 10. p.m. we decided to hire a canoe. We landed 200 metres north of Kasenyi landing site where our boat boys knew a certain family nearby.” It is during one of these treacherous journeys that after surviving a boat wreckage, Lutaaya gave the shivering Museveni a bottle of beer as a remedy. Years after coming to power Museveni rewarded some of these fishermen and contacts from Nsadzi Island with fishing nets, boats, engines, cash capital and motor vehicles.

Recently Col. Fred Bogere told The Observer that in 1981 after completion of military training in Libya, their group tried three times to enter the country from Kenya via Lake Victoria. After failing twice due to arrest by Kenya authorities and landing near Luzira Prison respectively, they succeeded on the third time when they landed in an area in Mukono that was under the control of Gen. Kyaligonza’s Black Bomber.

In the mid 1990s, Museveni created an Anti-Smuggling Unit (ASU) headed by Brigadier Andrew Lutaaya whose major focus was Lake Victoria. He was arbitrarily replaced by Gen. Kalekyezi and the Unit renamed the Special Revenue Protection Services (SPRS). The unit was so brutal in the execution of its mandate that many citizens lost lives, property and a livelihood. The unit was more concerned with security monitoring than revenue protection.

With growing political dissent over Museveni’s military dictatorship, he felt that some Ugandans may resort to use of arms to cause regime change. He created a Beach Management Unit (BMU) under the Police that was charged with monitoring security on the lake shores. In February 2017 he disbanded the BMU and replaced it with the Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU) under the army. Under the cover of fighting illegal fishing, the unit imposed a ban on fishing. It has been indiscriminately killing, torturing, illegally detaining, destroying property and ordering locals to vacate the fishing villages and landing sites. By July 2017 in Masaka area alone, over 1,000 had been evicted by the army from the fishing villages on grounds that they were not gazetted.

On 10th December 2017, 14 Members of Parliament from the fishing communities met Museveni and demanded the withdrawl of soldiers whom they accused of torture and general hostility. By January 2018 more than 10 arbitrary and gruesome killings by the soldiers had been recorded. On 9th February 2018, the Speaker of Parliament demanded for an explanation from the Ministry of Defence over the mandate of the army in fighting illegal fishing. This followed an appeal by the Mukono South M.P, Hon. Muyanja for relief aid to his displaced constituents after their 100 houses and property were indiscriminately set ablaze. It is reliably reported that the soldiers between fishermen and other local residents not involved in the fishing were affected.

The high-handed soldiers claim they have orders from Museveni to use excessive force. Ever since, no single soldier has been made to account. In an exclusive interview with the Daily Monitor, the Commander of FPU, Maj. Nuwagaba had this to say;
“…. the law gives us leverage to charge you as economic terrorists. If you are caught, you will be treated like Kong.” He went ahead to defend the brutality thus; “…. if one brings an axe to hit me, I will use skills to dislodge him. Some of them take alcohol. If you are not careful they can cut off your head. As a responsible UPDF officer how can I allow a person without a national I.D to cut me? Reasonable force cannot apply when a person is armed with a panga.”

In April 2016 security agencies at the Uganda/Rwanda border turned back a group of 34 Rwandese nationals who were armed with speed boat engines and their fishing gear headed for Kiyindi landing site in Mukono. It was reported that already the estimated population of 600 Rwandese who had settled at Kiyindi were deeply involved in illegal fishing and other criminal activities. The development came inspite of the policy of free movement of nationals of EAC member states. In February 2018 Museveni and Kenya’s Uhuru announced plans to set up a joint monitoring mechanism over the lake using radar.
“I was smuggling weapons through this borderline here. You should have scanners. We are working to put monitoring stations. We shall have a Lake Victoria monitoring plan too. We need eyes to see what is happening on Lake Victoria.”
Reliable sources reveal that a cartel of “Mafias” are using soldiers from the FPU to push their rivals out of business.

Therefore, from the a foregoing it can be authoritatively submitted that Parliament cant help. The brutality by the army is as usual with approval of Museveni and is part of a wider scheme of militarisation, keeping Ugandans in perpetual fear, economic deprivation through disabling of economic means of survival and eventual displacement from land.


—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: June 14, 2019 at 05:46PM

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