By Barrister Peter Magomu Mashate
I want from the outset to sympathise with my elder brother Matia Kasaija with what he is going through in respect of the on going crackdown on corruption engulfing the ministers suspected of having stolen iron sheets meant for underprivileged people of Karamoja.
But again we have to realise the fact that our leader His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has always warned the people involved in service delivery to do diligent work so that Wanaichi can get the desired socio-economic transformation. The President therefore needs everyone’s support especially those charged with authority to deliver services.
The ongoing crackdown must however be put into context; hence the pertinent question – IS IT A POLITICAL OR CRIMINAL TRIAL?
Back in my home region-Bugisu when detectives arrested my sister Dr. Maria Gorette Kitutu, many voices came out including that of our venerable elder and Bishop Emiritus Most Revered Samwiri Wabulakha who came out urging the President to pardon my dear sister Kitutu thinking that may be she was the victim of a selective prosecution and political persecution.
However, as it turned out to be, this was never the case as many more ministers have been found to have unlawfully taken the said Karamoja iron sheets and even goats.
UGANDA PATRIOTIC MOVEMENT (UPM) DAYS SINCE INCEPTION IN 1980.
As a seasoned follower of His Excellency the President Y.K. Museveni from the days of UPM of which I was a very active Youth Winger, I can testify that what we are seeing is not new because President Museveni has always urged CLEAN LEADERSHIP which was the central theme and character which distinguished UPM from the rest of the 1980 political forces which were tainted with corruption and patronage.
UPM rose from humble beginning as a political party, whereas UPC operated from an opulent Uganda House which had been built by Idi Amin using tax payers money.
Our UPM operated from a dilapidated secretariat in a half-bombed house on the First floor directly opposite Bank of Uganda/Post office Kampala road next to present day Cairo bank. This was bombed by the Tanzanians with their Saba-Saba long range Artillery during the war to remove Amin.
This is where our UPM Secretary general Mzee Jaberi Bidandi Ssali used to sit and where myself as a UPM youth winger used to collect campaign posters and flyers as I campaigned for Mzee Jack Maumbe Mukwana (RIP) in Nakaloke/Mbale in the face of a very intimidating, dominating and reckless UPC supported then by Oyite Ojok’s (Chief of Staff) so-called Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA). I was at all material times attacked and “sorted” (read beaten) for putting/pinning up UPM posters and our posters were often pulled off with impunity from all visible spots in Nakaloke and Mbale town.
I vividly recall the first Press conference of the then Military Commission of Paulo Muwanga following the overthrow of my Learned brother Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa.
President Museveni at the time was the Vice Chairman of the Military Commission and also addressed the nation that was so sceptical about the reasons for yet again removing Binaisa after 9 months having earlier removed Prof Yusuf Lule after only 68 days as president who had flown from oppulent professional London to “murky” waters of Moshi liberation conference and to Uganda as president.
President Museveni impressed me in particular, Uganda and the international community when he gave his reasons for Binaisa ouster. He (Museveni) burst out at the conference with conviction that he could no longer be party to the circus of Gidfrey Binaisa his Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) in government.
President Museveni accused Binaisa of “abuse of office and the embodiment of sovereignty of Uganda by reducing State House into a DEALS CLEARING HOUSE. This resonated well with the country and frankly warmed my heart and in my view marked President Museveni out as a new breed of leadership and a very serious one to watch.
Therefore, since this Karamoja Mabaati scandal is happening in cabinet (which Museveni chairs) it is arguably similar to what he accused Godfrey Binaisa of perpetuating with IMPUNITY. Therefore His Excellency President Museveni couldn’t stand that embarrassment by his ministers which he has fought for many decades.
In the circumstances, it really beats my mind to see a seasoned personality like my senior brother Hon Matia Kashaija being accused of a scandal like this when in actual sense he ought to be one of the guardians, ideologically grounded, robust and sufficiently orientated to safeguard the real intention of our Liberation Struggle.
Suffice to say that my brother Kasaija is just a suspect and therefore “INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY”. In any event, Hon Kashaija as a product of our turbulent politics of Uganda’s 80s.
The UPM and therefore NRA under His Excellency President Museveni has always wanted to have a peaceful and pacified Uganda from border to border.
In this regard the issue of Karamoja doesn’t only concern KARAMOJA as a region but also the surrounding areas including Bugisu, Teso, Acholi, Lango, parts of Bukedi and indeed impacts on the wider East African regional stability through the Turukana/Pokot.
When we heard that President Museveni had come up with a strategy to keep Karamojongs more involved in constructive work, as neighbours we saw this as a sigh of relief from cattle rustling which is another form of insecurity caused by the K’jongs.
Therefore, every effort by His Excellency the President to settle the Karamajong question needed to have been understood, prioritised (above self interests even in the name of ministers/MP consitituents needs) and supported by all those around the President and all stakeholders.
The UPM/NRA stood for PEACE, UNITY, DEMOCRACY and CLEAN LEADERSHIP VALUES which should be fully respected and adhered to as guided by His Excellency President YK Museveni.
The writer is a London-based barrister on Human and Constitutional Law