The blacklisting of Ugandan musicians by their erstwhile fans is a pointer that Ugandans are utterly disgusted and disillusioned with President Museveni.
On Friday 17 October, President Yoweri Museveni presided over a function at Speke Resort Munyonyo where his campaign song entitled “Tubonga Naawe” was launched. The song overly praises Mr. Museveni and his NRM government. A number of prominent artists in Uganda attended the function and declared their support for President Museveni in the forthcoming elections set for next February, and the president gave them a gift of Uganda Shillings 400,000,000.
Following the artists’ open declaration of their support to the president, quite a number of social media activists lambasted them (the artists). Two notable artists, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine and Maurice Kirya shunned the event. The two were showered with praises and assured of unbridled support to their music careers. Following the attacks from their fans, I saw two singers in particular Bebe Cool and Juliana Kanyomozi post statements on their Facebook pages explaining themselves but most importantly assuring their fans that they do have a right like any other citizen to support a candidate of their choice. Juliana in particular was very humble in her explanation but even Bebe Cool wasn’t abusive.
While one would think that their fans would understand their (singers’) point of view and lessen the attacks, the fans instead re-launched a more acerbic barrage of diatribe against Bebe Cool and Juliana.
While I would expect the singers to use their talents to educate and build the nation through, for example, decrying police brutality which has become a norm rather than an exception, decrying corruption, egocentrism, prebendalism, neopatrimonialism, social marginalisation and impunity exhibited by the regime, I still maintain that the singers have their rights including the right to support a shameless, lethargic, listless and spineless pseudo-democratic ruler. But also as a human rights defender, I know that human rights are not absolute. Drumming support for a ruler whose police barely two weeks ago almost killed his opponent Dr Kizza Besigye and his team by a contrived road accident (wherein metallic spikes were thrown into the road) later on subjecting members of parliament to humiliation and undressing a female FDC leader is for sure treachery of unimaginable proportions. The video showing police undressing a female FDC leader has gone viral, a situation that has earned our president a reputation as one of the leading world dictators.
I listened to Bob Marley and Lucky Dube's music when I was young. Their music was instructive but also liberating. Seeing Ugandan musicians singing "Tubongenawe" to prop up life presidency at a time when political activists are undressed, tortured and dehumanised, at a time when many Ugandans die out of sheer neglect for the healthcare system is not ill but kaput; at a time where criticism is branded sabotage and opposition treason, is a sad commentary for our dear country.
The unpalatable response from many people to these singers especially Bebe Cool, Juliana and Chameleon, which included being christened names that I find weird to write in this piece tells me that Ugandans especially the informed and/or relatively informed, are not only tired of the sitting president but disgusted and utterly disillusioned with him. What this means is that Museveni is the president of peasants that vote him either out of fear, coercion or manipulation and deception or bribery (largely because they lack information and knowledge) and egotistic elites that Amama Mbabazi described as fortune hunters. Accordingly, one can authoritatively state that Museveni continues to impose himself on the rest of us. He for sure is an impostor.
Ideally, this country should be partitioned so that the uninformed peasants and the opportunistic elites stay with President Museveni as the selfless and informed citizens who know that Museveni is a cancer can free themselves. How to do it? Areas with the highest concentration of knowledgeable people could have the autonomy to choose their own servant leaders and how they need to be governed or served. Otherwise, in Kampala and other urban centres where the selfless, patriotic, knowledgeable, forthright and upfront Ugandans happen to be the majority, life will be too rough for the Musevenists. To an educated, selfless Ugandan Museveni’s supporters are deemed to be traitors. That is why it is next to impossible for Ugandan singers to invoke human rights as a defence because propping up life presidency is analogous to treason. One can successfully invoke human rights when what they are doing is not socially destructive.
LESSON FOR YOWERI MUSEVENI
The hostility that Museveni and his supporters are receiving is an indicator that a reasonable number of Ugandans will be defiant against him in the aftermath of the elections, which by all means will not be won by any of his opponents. I say Museveni will win the polls (of course fraudulently) because the process is already flawed. We are already in the electoral process but Museveni’s opponents are not even allowed to consult the voters; registered parties are disallowed to address rallies and open offices. Yet the incumbent has been campaigning since 2011 and all the contestants in the ongoing NRM party primaries are campaigning for themselves and Yoweri Museveni. What a paradox!
Accordingly, it is plainly clear that the 2016 election has already been stolen. But it will not be business as usual. The Musevenists will face it rough after the elections that they have already stolen. Ugandans are ready to defy them at whatever cost. They will only try to force citizens’ compliance by use of police and/ other armed brutality. And this is not sustainable. As for me I will not allow the manufactured, doctored and manipulated papers disdainfully called ballots to deprive me of my rights. At least, whether or not voted legitimately, we can never get accountability from Mr. Museveni. We already dismiss the 2016 elections whatever their outcome for the process is not just flawed but fundamentally flawed. And as all of us know, no wrong formula can yield a right answer. The best thing Museveni can do is to abdicate.
Under his watch too much has been destroyed. We have been dispossessed, deprived, down-trodden, dehumanized, disregarded and disrespected too much. He has used our own police to brutalize us too much; we can only get rid of him. We cannot tolerate this shameless, despicable, power-hungry yet crafty dictator any more. I have stated before and I reiterate it that in Museveni's Uganda, being an opposition politician is criminal; asking for accountability from government is criminal; knowing and asserting your rights is criminal; demanding justice and fairness is criminal.
I implore all the aspiring candidates and their supporters opposed to Mr. Museveni to desist from working against each other because that plays into Museveni’s hands. I urge all Ugandans opposed to Museveni to get out of the circular battle-front. On a circular battle-front wherein our commanders (read presidential aspirants) are encircled each time they command that we shoot, instead of shooting the enemy, we fire at ourselves and our commanders.
More serious work is to be done in the aftermath of the “election” which Kiggundu, Rwakojo and Kayihura have already secured for their master. The final onslaught will be after that sham exercise. It is at that time that Ugandans who have been pushed against the wall will say, enough is enough. Mr. Museveni still has an option of pulling out of the race and ensure peaceful transfer of power. Otherwise, like General David Sejusa also known as David Tinyefuza has warned, Ugandans, I included, will walk to State House and demand that Mr. Museveni leaves peacefully. Should he choose to shoot them, that is up to him. And nobody should think Ugandans are cowards if they have a cause in which they believe. The September 10 – 12, 2009 “Kayunga riots” should have opened Mr. Museveni’s eyes. Let’s organise, let’s not agonise.
* Vincent Nuwagaba is a political scientist and human rights defender. He can be reached via [email protected]; +256702843552/ +256772843552
* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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