30 December 2012

Uganda: When Museveni Is Angry...

In an outburst triggered by a string of MPs who roundly disputed the findings of an autopsy report into the cause of Cerinah Nebanda's death, President Museveni said anyone who claimed government could have had a hand in the death of the Butaleja Woman MP was an "idiot" and a "fool."

Yet as Edris Kiggundu writes, this is not the first time Museveni is squaring off with people critical of his government. Some analysts say Museveni usually resorts to this tactic to deflect pressure off his government.

Constitutional court ruling overturning 2000 referendum:

In June 2004, Museveni lost his cool when the Constitutional Court ruled that the 2000 referendum on political systems was null and void. In a televised address to the nation, Museveni clad in military fatigues, said the people will not allow the courts to interfere with their power.

"This ruling, I am informed by the government lawyers, has got far-reaching consequences for the good governance and the democratization process of Uganda, if it was to be followed. If we are to go by the ruling of these judges, it would run the country into a lot of problems."

Museveni said that Ugandans had exercised their right to choose a political system during the "nullified" 2000 referendum. This right, he said, was not given to them by the judges.

He said: "So, there is no political system in place since 2000 according to these judges, the country is in a state of anarchy, if you were to follow what these judges are saying. I am repeating that the government, including the national executive, will not allow any institution including the court to usurp the power of the constitution in any way."

In September 2004, the Supreme Court overturned the Constitutional Court's ruling to Museveni's relief.

Buganda riots, September 2010:

In the aftermath of the riots that engulfed Buganda after government had stopped Kabaka Ronald Mutebi from travelling to Kayunga, the government closed down CBS radio and banned bimeeza (open-air talk shows). Later, an angry Museveni, while addressing Parliament, justified these actions, saying Baganda were trying to involve their Kabaka in politics, something which was against the Constitution.

"The real issue is whether we should have political kings - kings wielding political power. This concept is totally rejected by the NRM because it is anti-democracy. The king is not elected. If he wields political power, how shall he be accountable for his mistakes?"

Museveni also suggested that those arrested in the riots should not be allowed to seek bail.

Kasubi tombs fire:

In March 2010, with the country still reeling from the Buganda riots of September 2009, fire gutted Kasubi tombs, the burial grounds for Buganda's last four Kabakas. Fingers of blame pointed to the central government and Museveni did not make matters any better when he hastily decided to visit the tombs.

The military opened fire to disperse a crowd that tried to stop the president's convoy from accessing the historical site. Museveni was heckled and logs were thrown at him. In his speech, Museveni said the fire appeared to be "suspicious" and promised an investigation to establish the cause of the fire. But talk of a government hand in the fire did not die down, at least among the ordinary folk.

Addressing a press conference at State House Entebbe, five days later, an angry Museveni warned that those spreading such rumours would be dealt with firmly.

"I am infuriated by those who have been carrying out a slanderous, whispering campaign that it is the government which burnt the Kasubi tombs. What incredibly wicked elements we have in Uganda! If anybody was still in doubt of their evil and wickedness, a slander like this is part of the proof," he said.

He added: "I am waiting for someone to say so publicly. My fingers are itching to get such a person and I deal with him. I have instructed the security forces to scan all the tapes, radios and media because this is incredible."

Museveni said it was preposterous to claim such a thing when it was the NRM which reinstated the kings.

"How can the NRM government, that has not run mad and is in its right senses, burn the Kasubi tombs? What is the logic?" he wondered, rolling his eyes.

Almost three years later, the report into the cause of the fire has never been made public.

Attacks on Kadaga:

Ever since Rebecca Kadaga was elected Speaker of Parliament in May 2011, she has been applauded for her impartiality in steering the House. But not everyone has been impressed by that performance, at least not President Museveni. In February 2012, Museveni castigated the Speaker for allowing MPs to stop the Commissions of Inquiry into UPE and USE.

Addressing a party caucus, Museveni said Kadaga went beyond her limits when she allowed Parliament to stop the operations of a commission he had set up.

"How could she allow Parliament to put a stop on such an important committee? It is very unfair to pass a resolution against someone without listening to them," Museveni said.

This was not the first time Museveni was attacking Kadaga for decisions she had made.

In 2011, Museveni told the NRM caucus that Kadaga had erred when she called a special sitting of Parliament to discuss oil matters. In response, Kadaga said the executive should concentrate on its own turf and leave Parliament to do its work. And more recently, while addressing a press conference last week, Museveni said Kadaga would have to explain to the police why she said she was unconvinced by government's report into the death of Cerinah Nebanda, the former Butaleja Woman MP.

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