By Tuesday this week, the panga-totting thugs had butchered eighteen innocent Ugandans.
The chilling murders happened in a matter of weeks after these gangsters rebounded and picked from where they had stopped.
The fresh chilling incidents were first reported in Mukono and later in Nansana before the masterminds retreated to their preferred killing fields of Masaka.
With the situation threateningly degenerating, the president directed a number of government officials notably junior internal affairs minister, Gen. David Muhoozi to camp in Masaka to possibly gather evidence as well as lecture foot soldiers and civilians on how to combat this new wave of criminality.
Fearing for the worst perhaps, the president also shuffled a number of his representatives in the districts commonly referred to as the resident district commissioners (RDCs).
Security pundits contend how the president carried out the exercise in a bid to further strengthen security by ensuring that the RDCs are not only amiable to the communities where they are deployed, but also responsive to the concerns of the locals.
The fact that some of the RDCs had turned into Herods of sorts, the pundits submit, the locals in their area of deployment had in retaliation, or out of wary, stopped approaching such representatives of the president for purposes of sharing security concerns.
In turn, these pundits feel, had served to give an open cheque to criminals such as these ones of the pangas to run riot.
It is for this reason, the pundit continue, the commander-in-chief Gen Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Tibuhaburwa moved with speed and uprooted such harsh RDCs notably Fred Bamwine. Bamwine was sent to the far-flung Nakaseke district to ostensibly cool off.
Bamwine had gained notoriety for ruling Masaka by decree in much the same way former president, Field Martial Idi Amin Dada operated during his eight year reign.
Bamwine has been acting like a typical Taliban military general would. He would arrest, prosecute and sentence his victims to flogging in the glare view of the public.
The lockdown imposed to combat the spike in the number of Corona infections, has helped to showcase Bamwine’s iron-fisted rule. He would arrest the people deemed to be in violation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and summarily sentence them to canning
The political leaders in Masaka had grown so fed up with Bamwine that even those in the ruling NRM party had written to the president to report how his leadership style was costing the party a lot of support.
Bamwine would dress down whoever dared to lecture him to style up. He would do this in the public arena and before cameras of journalists.
Away from that, the president stepped out on the same day of Tuesday to reveal how the murders inflicted by the panga-gangsters are politically motivated.
“We know the people sponsoring these pigs,” the president said as he passed out prison warders. Museveni prefers labeling ‘murderers’ as pigs to categorizing them as suspects.
The backers of these criminals, according to the president, ‘give them marijuana’, to intoxicate them which ostensibly gives them the courage( emphasis ours) to kill others.
While the president didn’t drop names, the fact that he used marijuana to make his point, is more than enough a hint to drive home who among his political opponents he was referring to, albeit in passing.
A history of unexplained violence
Well, for the interest of this article, when Dr Warren Kizza Besigye first stormed the political arena, the son of Kifeefe wasn’t only swiftly accused of heading a hitherto unknown Popular Redemption Army (PRA) rebel outfit, but was also arraigned before the military tribunal on charges to do with treason.
To possibly get the croaky-voiced State House contender out of the way, the State even unleashed Thomas Kwoyelo, one of the deadliest commanders of the murderous machine of our times miscalled the Lord’s Resistance Army, to help link the opposition candidate to their atrocities.
But the maverick Justice John Bosco Katutsi saved the day when he directed Kwoyelo to march out of his court because his presence was defiling the Temple of Justice.
The State also arrested and arraigned Michael Kabaziguruka, one of Besigye’s key campaigners and former parliamentarian representing Nakawa, before the same tribunal for allegedly trying to bomb up the president at his Kisozi country home.
Several years later, pop star turned opposition politician Robert KyagulanyiSsentamua.k.aBobi Wine, who had hinted on standing for the office of the president, would too suffer a fate similar to that of Besigye and
Bobi was arraigned before the military tribunal on the grave charges of treason following his arrest in Arua for ‘stoning’ one of the official vehicles for the president.
Although the president clarified he wasn’t present in the car Bobi ‘stoned’, the clarification didn’t stop the overzealous people within security to slap the young man from Magere with charges of treason.
Bobi had caused a stir in Arua by pulling big crowds at the rally of KassianoWadri who was facing off with Museveni’s preferred EvelyneAnite for the Arua parliamentary seat. Wadri came on top following the tabulation of the valid votes cast during the voting.
Back to the president. While Museveni briefed the nation about the panga -killers criminality on Tuesday, the president appeared to be reading from a script which the police had just released regarding the criminality.
The script tended to implicate unnamed politicians in as far as sponsoring of these murderers is concerned. The police say the politicians are fueling the murders with the hidden agenda of tainting the image of the establishment.
The police spokesperson, Fred Enanga had uttered the grave claim while he was addressing the press about the arrest of fifteen youths believed to be members of the gangsters butchering Ugandans currently.
Well, Enanga has made quite a number of such rush statements especially at times such as the current one. For this reason, a good number of observers have learned to take what Enanga says sometimes with a pinch of salt.
But the Fountain of Honor sometimes has treated such statements by Enanga as the gospel truth. Museveni has even gone ahead to quote those kind of statements while addressing the nation on matters of national importance, only to find himself in a spot of bother later after the real truth finally comes out.
Just recently, for instance, Enanga reported to the whole world how the passing on of Lt Gen Paul Loketch had distressed his superior, Martin Okoth Ocholla so much so that the police chief had found it impossible to attend his burial.
Minutes later, Ocholla’s minders clarified that contrary to what Enanga had fed the world on, he had been unwell prior to the passing on of Loketch which is why his doctors advised him to skip the burial.
But to be fair, the president seems to have learned lessons. Just recently, while addressing the nation on the state of security in the country, Museveni faulted the police and the security in general for doing a lousy job when it comes to investigating serious crimes.
Because the police is lazy, Museveni contends, they resort to torturing suspects in order to extract confessions from them.
Giving the example of the suspects in the attempted murder by shooting of Gen Edward Katumba Wamala who were arraigned in court with glaring torture marks, the commander-in-chief directed the police and members of the security forces in general to stop torturing suspects because it prompts the innocent people to admit to crime.
Museveni submits that when the innocent suspects confess to crime out of torture, real criminals who aren’t arrested simply because the police doesn’t carry out meaningful investigations but just round up people and force them to confess, benefit.
Be that as it may, the theory that the panga-gangsters are sponsored by politicians, though not necessarily true, deserves further interrogation.
This because, the government sympathisers and it’s critics aren’t ruling out the possibility that the murders are politically motivated. What they disagree on is which of the two sides are sponsoring or benefitting from the murders and for what ends.
Just because Bobi Wine and DrBesigye, among a host of opposition politicians talked of Plan B after losing elections, Museveni and his sympathisers contend how they are now desperately trying to use crime in order to gate-crash Plot 1 Nakasero, a feat, which the president say, the opposition has consistently failed to pull off at the polls.
“No one can military or politically defeat me or the NRM,” Museveni has always chest-thumped.
The son of Kagutarepeated the same boastful utterances in his brief address at the pass-out of the latest bunch of prison warders on Tuesday this week.
But the fact that Museveni fought his way to power following his humiliating defeat at the hands of former president Dr Apollo Milton Obote, critics contend, it naturally makes him fear that the opposition too is employing the same means in a bid to catapult to power.
Critics also contend how Museveni being a rebel can easily use crime or even sponsor one in order to malign the opposition as criminals.
“Rebels being rebels, they can say one thing at day break and do just the opposite at night fall,” the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mathias Mpuug a Nsamba said.
Fellow national unity platform lawmaker, Gedfrey Solo Kayemba, who also wears the hat of the Sports Shadow Minister, concurs.
“The government in power is so powerful and advantaged. It can do anything and afford to go away with it or even blame it on the opposition,” the Bukomansimbi South legislator asserts.
Critics submit how because the president lost Buganda moreover to a political novice in Bobi Wine for the very first time ever since he chose to subject himself to the popular vote, Museveni might be deliberately taking his time as far as stemming the murders is concerned in order to extract his revenge.
But since the panga-gangsters are largely restricted to the central region, one can falsely believe the above theory is totally true.
But a probing mind would stop and pose the question,” why are the gangsters not operating in the region of Busoga where the president also lost to Bobi Wine?”
In any any case, another curious mind would submit that the fact that the president ultimately won and was moreover sworn in , the fact would negate the foregoing theory.
If the president hasn’t killed his strong opponents why would he then kill old people who are moreover politicians b?, Lawmaker Isaac Sejjoba quips.
Enters lawmaker Joseph Ssewungu. The DP cum national unity platform honcho reasons how Museveni cannot fail to deploy security to defeat panga-totting thugs unless he does not care about the lives being lost.
Museveniwho managed to mobilize all manner of security and moreover recalled commandos fighting terrorists in Somalia to defend his electoral theft, the man of the Rosary submits, cannot fail to do the same in case of criminals killing people using machetes.”
Museveni’s camp is of the view that the opposition is sponsoring the murderers in order to instill fear especially among the elderly who have always voted for Museveni and his party during elections.
Those wrong characters are doing this thinking that our supporters will ultimately style up and do the needful during the forthcoming polls, the State’s media council boss, Ofwono Opondo contributes.
If the opposition aren’t sponsoring the murderers, he digs in, they are benefitting from the crime since it taints the image of the government ‘by exposing us as impotent’ as far as combating crime is concerned.