Sometimes in life, it’s important to sit down and let the tears roll down your cheeks as you release all your pain and sorrow into the universe. I will take comfort in Alan Paton’s brilliant works of literature as my mantra at this crucial point in history, C.R.Y T.H.E B.E.L.O.V.E.D C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.
The beloved country, Uganda, has been ruled by President Yoweri Museveni who came to power in 1986 through a 5 year guerilla war that led to the deaths of so many ugandans. He was initially credited for bringing ‘peace’ and for his fight against HIV, but that has currently been washed down with the widespread corruption, misuse of public funds and heightened tribalism that are characteristic of his regime today. His name is now being uttered in the same sentences with Idi Amin and tyrannical dictatorship.
Uganda’s 2016 elections: A couple of the country’s urban citizens have compared the recent 2016 Presidential elections to be worse than what happened in 1980 that took Museveni to war. Some taking it to twitter, “Voters went to sleep in 2016, woke up in 1980.”
A simplified breakdown of D.E.M.O.C.R.A.C.Y, Ugandan style:
No clear demarcation between the police and the military. Citizens have started to think this is normal.
Inability to conduct peaceful demonstrations, they are usually marred by teargas and unlawful assault by the police.
Unexplained disappearances, like that of Christopher Aine, who was on the opposition team led by Amama Mbabazi.
Opposition supporters were harassed by the police without fail before, during and after the elections.
The incumbent then, Museveni, refused to participate in the country’s first UG presidential debate claiming that such events were for schoolchildren. Topic: ‘Domestic policy’, a controversial topic for him to handle.
He took part in a second debate on foreign policy’. Of course, none of the candidates could beat him at this. It was not as colourful or as uncensored as the first debate.
Kizza Besigye, FDC candidate, was arrested a day before the elections, stopping him from addressing yet another packed rally at Makerere University (revolution is usually in the hands of the young).
Social media was shut down completely in Uganda. Millennials took it to VPN to show their allegiance to ‘change’.
Public harassment of the media houses especially the journalists who are being paid to do their work.
Heavy deployment of military tanks and armored display in the city centre, Kampala, which is a stronghold opposition of the NRM regime.
The Electoral Commission did not deliver materials to polling stations on time. Elections were pushed into a second day.
Voting process characterised by election anomalies that included stuffing ballot boxes with pre-ticked ballot papers and the like with social media being flooded with videos and photos of rigging in action.
Unknown people (speculations claim it was most likely the police) raided a civilian’s home (Musinguzi) thinking that it was one of the independent tallying centres keeping track of the votes as they came in.
Opposition front runner, Kizza Besigye, arrested again.
The Electoral Commission declared Museveni the winner with 60%, omitting results from opposition strongholds.
Many of the data clerks on the opposition teams got arrested unlawfully.
Threats from the current regime that anyone would be arrested should they try to ‘voice out any opinions’ (demonstrate) on the streets. Continued heavy military deployments in and around Kampala.
After EC announcements, with Museveni as the winner, many went into mourning mode.
General David Sejjussa was imprisoned over his participation in political activities while still a serving soldier.
Election observers all agreed that elections were not free or fair on top of being characterised by intimidation.
The Kenyan President was quick to congratulate Museveni on his win via twitter and Facebook (Amidst speculations that he was protecting Kenya’s business interests in relation to the oil pipeline).
Botswana criticised the election process in Uganda and called for a peaceful resolution of disputes between the ruling party and the opposition.
Ugandans in the diaspora also responded to the massive abuse of human rights and looming dictatorial tendencies through peaceful demonstrations (Interesting to note that the police outside Africa protects the protestors and tear gas is non existent).
On the music scene, many vowed to boycott artists that released ‘tubonga nawe’ claiming that they chose the money Museveni gave them over doing the right thing.
During this time, Bobi Wine has emerged as the people’s favourite for his refusal to be part of the song and the money. He managed to release songs like ‘Ddembe’ which means peace. He also released ‘Situuka’ after the election whose lyrics capture the struggle of many voters that are yearning for change.
Other musicians considered patriotic include Matthias Walukagga whose song, “Referee” criticises the Electoral Commission which is not an independent body despite many calling for Museveni to reform the state of affairs in this section.
Amama Mbabazi, former NRM member and currently an opposition leader, took the presidential poll petition to court citing that the elections were not free or fair. His lawyer, Muwema, defected and the rumor on ground is that this happened after being paid off by the government.
Unexplained incidents of violence and brutality in parts of the country in areas like Kasese and Bundibugyo.
Petition dismissed from court on 31st March, which clearly is not a surprise, considering that Uganda has no independent bodies in the judiciary or legislative
As usual, front runner, Opposition leader Kizza Besigye, still under house arrest 40 days after the conclusion of the elections. (Does Museveni think Besigye is like him? Does he think Besigye is going to the ‘bush’?)
Democracy, is it just an illusion in Uganda?