By Faruk Kirunda
Mityana Municipality MP, Francis Zaake recently declared that “they” are planning to remove President Yoweri Museveni from power before 2026 using clandestine methods. While it is common knowledge that the opposition’s only agenda and for which they want Ugandans to embrace them is removing Museveni from power, circumstances and context matters. In the context of recent events in the country, Zaake’s pronouncement deserves closer scrutiny. It should be considered in totality with similar pronouncements and actions of other opposition members whose public assertions suggest that they know something that the rest of us don’t.
Before Zaake said what he said, his fellow legislator from Nakawa West, who doubles as NUP spokesperson, Joel Ssenyonyi, came out to challenge President Museveni when he revealed that terrorists behind recent bomb attacks harbor political motives. Ssenyonyi did so while addressing the press at the NUP headquarters in Kamwokya. He made it look as if he had an alternative set of facts as to what the “real” motive of the terrorists was. I urged him to assist the public with that information and make his own input into how the terrorists can be defeated, what they want to achieve, who they are, who they work with, who their sponsors are, what next they are doing and where and how Ssenyonyi gets to know these things.
I am aware that the challenge put before the MP was too big especially if his statements were baseless and only seeking to excite gullible citizens for building political clout. Alternatively, if he has vested interest in the matter. It should be appreciated that what is most important at this time is not the motive of the attackers. That is secondary! What is most important and urgent is to track them, isolate them and bring them before the law, or if they are violent and resistant, they are set up to answer for their crimes at a divine level.
Arguing about their motive is dull and diversionary, only satisfying nothing doers posing as “something doers”. When President Museveni named a motive, he was not raising it for purposes of igniting debate; he was informing the country based on the facts on record within the intelligence community. And that was also raised alongside other issues that complete the picture as it was then. When new facts emerge, the public will be informed. They should not be distracted from exercising their own role and cooperating with state security which they pay to do the job of protecting them. Let no one play around this delicate function and partnership! They may get their fingers burnt.
When Zaake comes out to play politics around a sensitive subject in sensitive circumstances in sensitive times, he is imprudently close to poking the leopard in the eye and getting himself in its jaws. He says he cannot disclose the methods him and his unnamed mates (who may be fellow MPs, fellow party members, fellow anti-NRMsts, etc) are employing, and the hint is that it wouldn’t be through the legally established channels like elections (which are due in 2026, the year they don’t want the president to see while still in power).
What exactly are those methods, and if they are Constitutionally-compliant why is he afraid to divulge them? How do you mobilise for a just and legal cause by hiding information from the public which is supposed to back you or work with you? One may argue that silence on the methods serves to keep the government guessing or to prevent being preempted but that is best achieved by keeping the whole plan under wraps.
For that matter, one is tempted to conclude that the MP is naïve to the sensitivity of the matter, sending a “smoke signal” to contacts or encouraging certain tendencies intended to cause public discomfort and inconvenience.
It’s contradictory that the people who claim that there is no democracy, human rights and freedom of expression in Ugandan can stand on the podium and make potentially self-incriminating statements and get away without a scratch. Where else does that happen except in Uganda? Moreover, some of them have been elected in the very elections they say are not free and fair, something that emboldens them to think that because you have won a constituency then you are bigger than yourself and go around saying or doing anything without restraint.
Uganda is not lawless and any schemes that go against the law or attempt to cause public volatility will be brought to a quick halt. Zaake and group may enjoy keeping in the news to impress their donors but the interests of an individual, or small clique cannot outweigh the interests of Ugandans who just this year went to the polls and handed Museveni the baton to run until they decide otherwise, and who meet the bill of the MP’s flamboyance.
Another difficulty that arises from the conduct of these opposition actors is how they fail to attend to people’s problems and instead shift blame to Museveni. He is their favourite excuse when brought to account by voters. Zaake seems to forget how youths roughed him up accusing him of abandoning them while pursuing personal interests. How sure is he that voters cannot recall him before 2026 or that the activities he is engaged in cannot land him in the jaws of the leopard?
The author is Deputy Presidential Press Secretary.
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