UGANDA: Why Museveni is frequenting Fort Portal
CHANGE OF GUARDS – Within a period of one week, Uganda’s military dictator is scheduled to visit Fort Portal twice. He was there last week to attend the Birth Day celebrations of the mother of his lead boot leaker, Andrew Mwenda. He is going back tomorrow (February 10, 2018) to preside over the launching of a number of projects, some of them private.
During his recently concluded scheme to amend the constitution for his life presidency project, the people of Kabarole district vehemently rejected the obnoxious move. Leading the opposition were the two local Anglican and Catholic Church Bishops, Reuben Kisembo and Robert Muhairwe respectively and the two area Members if Parliament, Alex Rugunda and Sylivia Rwabwogo.
Hon. Alex Rugunda told parliament, “The people of Fort Portal asked me not to touch Article 103(b)…….we need to constitute a team to negotiate with the President about peaceful transition.”
Reacting to threats by the regime to take disciplinary action against its members who had refused to vote for the amendment, Hon. Sylvia Rwabwogo had this to say; “If they want to punish me let them punish the people of Kabarole who sent me to represent their views, what wrong did I do to……”
In one of the several statements that were made by the Catholic Bishop of Fort Portal Diocese, Bishop Robert Muhiirwa while at Namugongo in November 2017 had this to say; “The word of God must not be played with. The leaders of this country must not joke with the bible. They held a bible in their right hand and swore to defend the constitution. Therefore, with my authority as Bishop of the Catholic Church, the constitution must not be altered to fit the desires of an individual. The leaders must defend the constitution because they used the word of God to swear.”
Earlier, during the consultative meeting by Ministers and MPs from Tooro at Buhinga stadium in Fort Portal, the same Bishop Muhirwa accused many of them for being Museveni sycophants thus; “Even if Museveni tells those MPs to sleep in the toilet, they will sleep in it; except Rugunda and Sylvia who respect the constitution. We have to learn discipline. The constitution is above Museveni …. this time round he found us alert. Batooro welcomed Museveni in 1986 when he was returning from the bush but if he changes the constitution, Tooro will welcome another person that comes to liberate the country.” He singled out Ministers Adolf Mwesige and Mutuuzo whom he described as sycophants and Museveni’s boot leakers.
The Anglican Bishop of Rwenzori Diocese in Fort Portal, Bishop Reuben Kisembo, among other dissenting public statements, wrote an open letter to Museveni urging him to find a successor instead of amending the constitution for his life Presidency. In his opening statement he challenged Museveni over his constant rhetoric that the religious leaders should not talk about politics thus; “……politicians don’t have the monopoly of determining political matters/affairs of our country.” In the same letter he pointed out that Judicial officers who are scared to challenge the President and Members of Parliament before highlighting the role of security agencies in “intimidating, threatening, harassing, torturing, arresting, imprisoning or even eliminating” those opposed to amending the constitution. He concluded by reminding Museveni that the 27 people who took up arms to fight the then government were a minority just as the minority MPs who were opposed to the amendment of the Constitution. He cautioned against using tax payer’s money in buying off MPs, buying guns and teargas as propellants of the Constitutional amendment.
Around the same time, Museveni had held a rally organised by another boot leaker, Hon. Margret Muhanga at Karambi Sub County in Kabarole over the same issue. In May 2017 a local elders’ forum had petitioned the Land Grabbing Probe Committee over forceful land grabbing by both government and powerful regime individuals who are backed by armed security personnel. In particular the elders highlighted the controversial acquisition of private land for Banyarwanda that had been expelled from Tanzania and the gun wielding Balalo grabbing land in Kyegegwa. The lead petitioner, Hon. Alex Ruhunda described government’s failing land policy as being driven by “populism and disrespect of the law”. Just last month, Tooro Kingdom’s Parliament unanimously resolved to sue the Museveni regime over deliberate refusal to return its assets. Since 2013 Museveni has been buying them through empty promises.
Much as Museveni is mindful of Batooro’s resolve, over the years he has been taking them for granted. With the aid of a few sycophants, he has been manipulating the people of Kabarole. In order to use Kabarole and the Batooro as a buffer between the politically troubled core Rwenzori region and Buganda, he has with no success attempted to resurrect the old antagonism between the Bakonjo/Bamba and the Batooro. He is always citing the injustice suffered by the two communities while they were under the Tooro Kingdom but to his disappointment it has refused to ignite conflict. He has split Tooro and Kabarole into small administrative units called districts so as to ease land grabbing by “his people”. The recent bold stand exhibited by the people of Kabarole more especially through their local religious and national political leadership is a cause for worry on Museveni’s part. By frequenting Kabarole, he is trying to neutralize the impact and influence of these leaders. By singling out prominent local sycophantic families, he is trying to overshadow the influence of those patriotic leaders.
The Muhangazima family which was historically UPC, crossed to Museveni when Brig. Kayanja Muhanga, Maj. Baguma, Hon. Margret Muhanga and Journalist Andrew Mwenda chose to lick Museveni’s boots. During the Birth Day celebration, their 83 years old mother, Constance Muhanga thanked him for ” being supportive to the family “. You remember the shillings government land scandal where Hon. Muhanga claimed to have sold her goats to raise the ten billion shillings. Her husband who is the Executive Director of National Forestry Authority was two weeks ago detained by the Land Probe Committee over illegal sale of forest land.
Among the other functions that Museveni is to preside over tomorrow is the so called launching of the five years + old Kalya Courts Hotel in Fort Portal town. Its proprietor, David Mugambwa is the son of another prominent elder, Isaaya Kalya. Mugamba absconded from news reading on Radio Uganda in 1985 and went to work on the rebel NRA radio in Rwenzori mountains. Among the NRA ranks were other sons of Isaaya Kalya including a one David Kalya who while under ISO, he headed CAA Security Department for over two decades. Upon capturing power David Mugambwa resumed service at Radio Uganda. He got married to a lady of the Ankole royal clan from Rushere who was closely linked to State House. His father served Museveni as District Administrator and retired to private life. It is this lady from Rushere who introduced David Mugambwa to Museveni who in turn personally assigned him to URA. Based at Busia border post, Mugambwa did not waste time but simply made a lot of money for himself and was sacked shortly after. URA published a notice in The New Vision with his photos warning the public against dealing with him. With a short stint in the field of cargo clearing, Mugambwa hit a jackpot by boosting his loot from URA with fraudulently acquired loans from the defunct UCB with the help of his brother-in-law, Frank Mwine who was the MD. He is one of the leading land grabbers in Kiboga district. With the aid of his father who was a member of the Kabarole district land board, he fraudulently acquired the land on which his hotel stands. His Kalya Court Hotel in Fort Portal is the centre of Museveni’s regime activities in the area more especially during fraudulent elections. In return, it is enjoying preferential treatment in terms of hosting regime functions and guests.
As to whether Museveni will manage to once again succeed in manipulating the people of Fort Portal or not, time will tell.
INFORMATION IS POWER AND DEFIANTLY “HITTING ON THE HEAD” IS THE WAY TO GO