8 January 2013

Uganda: Why Is Museveni So Afraid of MPs?


If the confession by Adam Kalungi that he caused the death of Hon Cerinah Nebanda was a tactic by the state to close this controversial subject, it has instead opened it even wider.

We can now freely discuss it in the media and in Parliament without being warned it is sub judice. It also signals the end of police investigations into the possible cause of Nebanda's death. The president, therefore, can nolonger accuse Parliament of trying to interfere with investigations. I have considered this development an own goal by both the president and police.

In fact, as we prepared our petition for the recall of Parliament, we deliberately left out any matter that directly touches on Nebanda's death because with criminal proceedings going on in court, it would be sub judice. And that brings me to the main subject of today's column, which is government's handling of the whole Nebanda death affair that presents them as a party behind it.

If the government is not guilty, why is it stopping every single process intended to discuss or even find out what and who could have killed Nebanda?

I can tell you that getting MPs to sign to recall Parliament has been a struggle, as was the flying of samples to South Africa for an independent medical examination.

Many NRM MPs' mobile phones bear Mr Museveni's 048-8... etc number. He has literally called everybody himself to either intimidate or persuade them against signing. Ministers; Rose Namayanja (Luweero), Ronald Kibuule (children) and Frank Tumwebaze (Presidency) were specifically assigned to prevent NRM MPs from signing.

Unfortunately for them, many NRM MPs are still interested in good governance and this motivated them to sign. I actually have no doubt in my mind that the reason Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo was kidnapped by police on Monday evening as he fuelled his car at City Oil Bombo road has everything to do with his mobilization of signatures and not earlier utterances about Nebanda's death.

I can reveal to you that some key signatures that concluded the collection exercise were brought by Ssekikubo. We had earlier relied on phone calls but Ssekikubo, Godfrey Kiwanda, Wilfred Niwagaba and Patrick Nsanja brought in an idea of knocking at MPs' doors. By the time Namayanja got to know of this new tactic, we had already hit the target. There is a Munyoro MP we located in Nansana, using LCs.

I am not surprised that police swung into action after our submission. But the question to ask is: "why would Mr Museveni be afraid of a parliamentary debate on Nebanda?

The answer is that since Nebanda breathed her last, the president wanted to transform himself into the only source of information about the possible cause of her death and poor police didn't know that. That is why they ended up allowing MP and medical doctors Chris Baryomunsi, Medard Bitekyerezo and Sam Lyomoki into the postmortem room, something that infuriated the head of state. Since then, he has never been the same.

I might be wrong and too suspicious, but the conduct of the president doesn't exonerate him. Within minutes of Nebanda's death, the president had rung everybody demanding to speak to the female medical person who had attended to Nebanda shortly before she was taken to Nsambya General clinic. I am now told that woman is in some sort of detention.

Her relatives cannot access her. And the media has not helped the situation by failing to follow people like these ones. The medical personnel was arrested and, to the best of my knowledge, not charged. The public must hear from her and I really hope she will not be eliminated. As mentioned earlier, Mr Museveni personally called everybody involved in investigations and either threatened or offered unsolicited advice.

The most scandalous story, which again the media has not followed is that of Nebanda's cousin brother, who Museveni and Kayihura loaded onto a plane to escort their samples to London. The mother said this guy didn't possess a passport but one was printed for him within minutes and at night. An air ticket was procured for him and at night he was driven in Asan Kasingye's vehicle and probably taken to State House before he was loaded onto the plane. Unfortunately for the government, the British authorities denied him a visa.

The mother drove towards Entebbe airport to rescue the young man and it is Mr Museveni who called her with information that the boy was airborne. And finally, Adam Kalungi shows up and is interrogated by every senior police officer, including Lt Gen Kale Kayihura. I am told before his capture, Kayihura was in Kenya. One day we will find out what took him there three days before Kalungi's capture.

As we all predicted, Adam Kalungi is not allowed to narrate the whole story but in one sentence confesses to have killed Nebanda. In fact this confession is first published in New Vision on the weekend before it is repeated in court. I think with the confession, the inquest can begin as it will not prejudice court proceedings. God help Uganda.

The author is Kyadondo East MP.

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