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Opinion: USA’s Eliot’s Letter Is Against Ugandans, Not Museveni

Male H. Mabirizi K. Kiwanuka                   

I have seen a lot of excitement mainly from opposition leaders, mainly Dr. Kiiza Besigye, Kyagulanyi and their followers and supporters thanking the US Chairman of Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs ELIOT L. ENGEL for his 9th December 2020 letter addressed to US Secretaries for State and Treasury.

Upon scrutinizing the letter, I am unable to be part of that excitement because that will be self-defeating and will resonate with Luganda saying that “Ssebussiru bwanjoka, butta nnyini zo nga gyobeera zzo zinaasigala” translated that “The Stupidity of warms makes them kill their owner as if they will survive”

At page 2, he writes that “I also ask that the State Department commence a review of all non-humanitarian assistance to Uganda.” This means reduction of foreign exchange inflows into Uganda, which will automatically lead to a high exchange rate, making it expensive to import hence leading to increase in prices of commodities. Further, many Ugandans survive on US support through jobs, health care, education, supplies, among others, all of which will be no more if the requested for review goes in the terms desired by Kyagulanyi or Besigye.

In Zimbabwe, opposition politicians then led by Morgan Tsvangrai did the same to incite the West to cut support to Zimbabwe but Robert Mugabe continued in office as Zimbabweans starved. Is this what these politicians want to reach in this Pearl of mankind?

I know, some of you will falsely claim that I am writing because I work for Museveni but no amount of falsehoods will detract me from standing on the ground of objectivity. Museveni, as long as he is in power, cannot suffer the same way we shall suffer when US aid is cut because he will have access to all he needs at our cost. Unfortunately, most of propagators of these sanctions have either taken several years without being here to taste the harsh reality we go through even before USA sanctions but they want to worsen the situation or have for some time lived a good life making them fail to project the suffering of the common Ugandan if USA sanctions us.

As I stated last year in opposing the People’s Government’s 2,000,000 signature ICC petition, most opposition politicians are too lazy to take primary steps but are quick to go for secondary steps on top of their voices. Although Mr. Eliot states at page 3 that “My desire is a better human rights record in Uganda is firmly rooted in the country’s own Constitution and legal code…”, he earlier  names Lt. Gen. Peter Elwelu, Maj. Gen. James Birungi, Maj. Gen Don Nabaasa, Maj. Gen Abel Kandiho, Maj. Gen. Steven Sabiiti Muzeyi, Frank Mwesigwa & Col. Chris Serunjogi Ddamulira for designation by Treasury and State Departments, without ascertaining whether the opposition in Uganda pursued those individuals in Uganda Courts and failed to get Justice.

The method of merely naming serving security officers for purposes of international black-list without prior civil or criminal prosecution or an independent investigation is very disastrous to Uganda. It will create fear even among would-be good officers and it will create more impunity among them fearing to face the wrath of USA. This is not to say that these are good people, but even God offered fair hearing to Adam and Eva.

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The entire opposition in Kasese, which voted FDC Party in 2016, failed to institute any criminal or civil action against Elwelu over Kasese killings. I doubt that merely commanding SFC, without further particulars, is enough to implicate both James Birungi & Don Nabaasa. Without any particular allegations proved in Court or other tribunal against Abel Kandiho, his offence seems to be his being the head of Military Intelligence and Sabiiti Muzeeyi’s crime seems to be his service as Deputy Inspector General of Police; which in themselves are not crimes.

At hearing of Mbale Age limit case in 2018, I cross-examined Frank Mwesigwa over his role in Parliament violence and his main work was to deploy Police outside Parliament and the entire Metropolitan area, retrieve those maimed by SFC his main mistake being to arrest MPs after quelling the fracas started by SFC. Of recent, his crime seems to be arresting Kyagulanyi at Luuka but seriously, does that call for USA designation? If Kyagulanyi thinks the arrest was illegal, has he sued Frank Mwesigwa?

Last year, I filed a suit challenging appointment of among others, Col. Chris Serunjogi Ddamulira, as serving Military officer into Police but the unethical Judge, Musa Ssekaana, cleared the appointment. None the less, unless I have seen the particulars against this officer, his offence only seems to be holding the position of Head of Crime Intelligence in Police.

Ugandans, it is true these people must be accountable for their actions but it is dangerous to flame and humiliate them without particulars because that way, they may turn worse reasoning that “after all, even when I performed independently, I was framed, defamed & humiliated.” Further, with these, these officers are made to believe that any change of government will be dangerous to them yet we need state institutions to ride on in defeating the junta and after defeating them.

Mr. Eliot’s statement at page 1 relating to banning of political rallies and concerts makes me think that he wrote the letter before Covid-19 because I doubt that he would fail to know that as a Country we have a duty to take measures to secure our lives (without prejudice to the illegalities in Musveni’s Covid-19 Rules). With or without laws, it is risky for Ugandans to go to Political rallies and Concerts as it puts them at the risk of Covid-19 which has infected and killed many of our own.

Therefore, let us be objective despite our grave challenges with Museveni. Politicians, please stop behaving like wild birds which want to eat fruits from the top without any planting done. Stop looking at us when challenging the dictator locally and regionally and then think that you can do it from USA level, with grave consequences to the common Ugandan.

The writer is a public interest lawyer 

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