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Opinion: Mixing Religion and Politics: The Fallacy of Kabuleta’s Political Shadow Boxing

By Stephen Othieno Jr

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Joseph Kabuleta, a former New Vision sports scribe and television sports talk show host but now a chief “remnant” of the self-styled Prophet Elvis Mbonye recently posted a missive on his Facebook page, viciously attacking the person and character of the Senior Presidential advisor for Special Operations, Lieutenant General Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

The unprecedented character assassination of the amiable General, bordering on criminal defamation, was not only wild, unwarranted and baseless, but smacked of a man seemingly in the midst of a severe ongoing midlife crisis still grappling to discover the purpose in his life.

Hitherto considered by many as a fair sports commentator in his New vision heydays, Kabuleta has since ventured into commercial evangelism to now the skewed political commentator who believes he is the new political messiah Ugandans have been waiting for. The author’s quite impressive career in sports journalism was to be eclipsed two years ago in dramatic fashion when pictures emerged on the internet of him licking Elvis Mbonye’s feet – one of the country’s more controversial and enigmatic pastors. Mbonye’s main claim to fame is not the opulent lifestyle that has come to be associated with him and some of his followers, but his most outlandish claims of regularly holding meetings with Jesus in heaven and possessing the creepy ability to foretell the future.

The people of Uganda, among their many liberties, enjoy their freedom of worship, and the flamboyant Mbonye and his cult of followers have been going upon their activities unhindered. This should remain so as long as there is no imminent threat to life like was the case with a one Joseph Kibwetere in Kanungu 19 years ago March of 2000 when over 1000 followers were incinerated in the latter’s makeshift church with promises of going to heaven through fire.

Like now, Kibwetere’s followers revolved around a belief that their leaders were talking to God directly through visions and had received warnings from the creator himself about the coming Armageddon (end of the world) by the year 2000. Like Kibwetere, it would not be farfetched to draw parallels with some of today’s more insidious teachings by self-anointed prophets who rely on deception, prophecies and selective readings and interpretation of the Bible and in some cases outright lies to delude their unsuspecting followers.

The author’s latest political posturing, however, is not without background. It happens that his spiritual God-father and mentor Elvis Mbonye has since anointed his more eminent and loyal follower (remnants according to Mbonye) to be the country’s next leader after General Yoweri Museveni – and therefore what better time to start acting on that prophecy but now!

Deriding General Kainerugaba’s friends who organized a birthday bash for him in April, the author writes; “It started with sporadic appearances at events, a few dreary speeches, and plenty of social media activity but now it is clear to every discerning eye that the First Son is crawling out of his hole like a squirrel… his bevy of paid promoters are becoming bolder in their proclamations, calling him our next President.” It appears the author is the latest to catch the stale Muhoozi project fever, a red herring, that conspiracy theorists have span over the years more out of a resentful and misguided desire to fight and undermine the Museveni presidency.

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However, General Kainerugaba, like other Ugandans with the requisite qualifications as per our constitution, reserves the right to democratically contest for any political office in the country in future, if he so wished. In spite of the General’s calm demure as many Ugandans have come to know him, his array of credentials could not be understated.

The author, again, writes: “the regular army has been systematically disengaged and replaced with Muhoozi’s SFC, and SFC is in charge of natural resources and national parks.” What does this headless statement even mean? It is apparent that the author does not possess even the most rudimentary knowledge on military affairs, a matter of life and death as elucidated by great Chinese military philosopher Sun Tzu many centuries ago.

The SFC, as a specialized arm of the UPDF, conducts specialized operations or missions while coordinating closely with other service arms, namely the land forces and air forces. Its evolution from a small unit in the bush to a robust, lethal and tactically proficient multitasking force over the years is testament to Kainerugaba’s military credentials over the years especially while he served as the head of the UPDF Special Forces.

In essence, the author could as well simply declare his political ambitions as urged by his phony prophet instead of embarking on an ill-advised personal character assassination campaign of perceived political competitors. The choice of who and how to become a leader in Uganda is well enshrined in our constitution. It is a choice that is made through democratic processes, processes that many of our fore fathers sacrificed so much to achieve in the past through blood and sweat.

The writer is a Ugandan citizen and Pan-Africanist

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