The Secretary General of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Justine Kasule Lumumba has asked three government institutions to rein in journalists involved in what her lawyers say is a funded, ‘disinformation and misinformation’ campaign against her and the ruling party.
Chimp Reports has seen three letters written by Kasule’s lawyers, Anguria and Co. Advocates to Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Media Council of Uganda and the Criminal Investigations Directorate of the Uganda Police Force. They assert that client, “has been the latest victim of a sustained and choreographed disinformation and misinformation campaign by sections of the public identifying themselves as bloggers, journalists and editors operating online publications (websites) as well as shadowy Facebook and Twitter accounts, whose ostensible purpose is to broadcast and publish news.”
In the letter to UCC, a copy of which Chimp Reports has obtained, Lumumba, through her lawyers asks the executive director of UCC, Irene Kaggwa Ssewankambo to evoke its powers under the Uganda Communications Act, 2013 as the regulator of the country’s online communications.
In so doing, Lumumba wants UCC to help her lawyers with full particulars of online publications that she accuses of defaming her to enable them institute legal proceedings. UCC is yet to reply to the said letter.
In the last two weeks, Lumumba has been the subject of online articles accusing her of corruption and faking Covid-19 positive results to evade scrutiny for what the publishers claim was a shady running of affairs at the NRM secretariat.
Investigations conducted by this website however show that the source of Lumumba’s troubles stem from a conflict with renowned landlords that the NRM party has not yet paid rent for the numerous offices it rents in the city.
Despite assurances from both President Yoweri Museveni and Lumumba that the arrears would be cleared sooner than later, the landlords have taken to a smear campaign designed to pressurize her to clear the debts.
“Other landlords have an axe to grind with Lumumba for opting to give business to Hotel Africana where she has been in self-isolation after testing positive for Covid-19,” a source close to the ruling party’s supremo told us.
Lumumba has since been accused of renting an entire floor and living a larger-than-life standard of living akin to a 21st century day Marie Antonette, the last queen of France before the French revolution.
However, it has since established that these reports were exaggerated as the ex-government chief whip actually puts up in a VIP room costing her less than $1,000 a month as she was given a discount by the proprietor of the facility, Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige, a loyal cadre and friend of the NRM.
It has emerged that the stories doing rounds on social media had the behind-the-scenes hand of disgruntled hotel owners who expected the party’s top bureaucrat to offer business to their hotels in the stead of Hotel Africana.
Lumumba now wants UCC to avail her lawyers the identities, contacts and addresses of the publications that she says were paid to malign and blackmail her. She also wants the Media Council of Uganda to bring it to the attention of the owners of the websites that their stories were malicious and defamatory and demands for a public apology lest she goes to court.
Additionally, her lawyers wrote to CID boss Grace Akullo, “As you will appreciate from the attached print-outs, our client’s otherwise hard-earned reputation and good name, constitutional right to privacy, and constitutional protection from any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment have been sacrificed at the altar of this monstrous disinformation and misinformation crusade.”
The lawyers have asked Akullo to, “Exercise the powers vested in the Uganda Police Force under the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 (as amended), the Police Act, Cap. 303 and the Computer Misuse Act, 2011 and summon the editors, reporters and directors of the listed websites as well as Seruga Titus to bring to their attention our client’s complaint against them and institute criminal proceedings against the offenders as envisaged under the cited laws.”
When contacted for an interview, Lumumba referred our reporter to her lawyer, Mr. Ivan Okuda, who did not comment as he was in a court session and did not get back to us by the time we went to press.