It’s defiance or death
Kampala, Uganda | HAGGAI MATSIKO | An eventful five days from Easter Monday April 22 to Friday April appears to have made something snap in Kyadondo East MP, Kyagulanyi Sentamu aka Bobi Wine’s head.
It appears that the police’s restriction of his political and musical activities have pushed him from being an advocate of political change by the ballot to a believer in “change through defiance”.
In a sign of the change, Bobi Wine on April 22 defied police in an attempt to stage a music concert at his One Love Beach in Busabala. Police reacted with teargas and smashed his car window before arresting him and other and carting off the music equipment.
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Martin Okoth Ochola, in a letter signed by Assistant Inspector General of Police Asuman Mugenyi, had blocked the concert claiming previous concerts at the same venue have turned into a public nuisance, violated traffic rules, among others on top of endangering the lives of other people who are not even part of them. But that did not fool anyone. It is clear police is targeting Bobi Wine because of his opposition to President Yoweri Museveni.
Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana, the Executive Director, Foundation for Human Rights (FHRI), told The Independent that Museveni blocks activities like Bobi Wine’s concerts because “he fears that he will mobilise people and they will overthrow him”.
“What President Museveni needs to know is that no military might can save him from being overthrown,” Sewanyana added, “But guaranteeing people their freedoms and creating an environment where everyone feels involved would. Without that, people will always fight back.”
Bobi Wine says police has blocked 124 concerts of his since October 2017 when he started openly identifying with the opposition to Museveni. Earlier he had refused to be part of a coterie of musicians who sung a campaign song praising Museveni.
The latest police attack on Bobi Wine on April 22 was scarily similar to the infamous attack on leading opposition politician Kizza Besigye in Kampala in 2011. But Bobi Wine was not scared.
Locked up in his home, with police patrols and barricades all round, Bobi Wine on April 23 announced his readiness to lead mass protests if his rights continue to be trampled on. He also released a video of protest music against the police titled `Afande’.
Then on April 25 he showed up unexpectedly at the funeral of a prominent opposition politician in Bugiri, eastern Uganda and worked the crowds with the tale of how he escaped from his own home to be there.
“I sneaked out of my home which is now a prison,” he told the cheering crowd draped in red attire, capes, and bandanas –the colours of his `People Power’ movement.
“I do not support escaping from prison; I am a law-abiding citizen. But I got out because it was a violation of the law and against my rights,” he explained.
While police had earlier on April 25 left Bobi Wine’s, four days later, they struck again and arrested while he drove to Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters in Kibuli to answer for defying the IGP’s orders earlier on Easter Monday.
He was arrested near the Mulago roundabout, driven to Nagalama police station in Mukono district, and then driven back to Buganda Road court.
At court, he pleaded not guilty to charges that he and others held a public meeting—the OTT tax demonstration on July 11, 2018)—without notifying police contrary to provisions of the Public Order Management Act (POMA). Court remanded to Luzira until May 2.