Defiance gains support
Bobi Wine’s acts and feats of defiance, which are likely to continue, have until now been associated with one person; seasoned opposition politician and former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) boss, Kizza Besigye.
In fact, until now, Bobi Wine has appeared to disagree with Besigye on using defiance as a strategy in the fight to end President Yoweri Museveni’s 33-year rule. Bobi Wine has been insisting that elections can remove Museveni.
“For a leader to say a vote can never oust Museveni without offering a solution is disappointing. Don’t talk about democracy and stand four times and on the fifth time you say it does not work, we believe it works.”
But the police’s continuous moves to block him from holding musical concerts appear to have taught Bobi Wine a new lesson; that to survive, he must fight for his right to perform his music and to politically mobilise supporters.
Bobi Wine who says music is his source of livelihood says he must hold concerts. By blocking these activities, it appears, police has forced Bobi Wine to resort to defiance.
In what many saw as an act of defiance, Bobi Wine called for mass protests at his home in Magere-Gayaza, on the outskirts of Kampala city.
Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Betty Aol Ocan; who on April 24 visited Bobi Wine during detention, told The Independent on April 27 that she is mobilising her group for defiance too.
“It has become clear that police belongs to one man, it is no longer the people’s police. It is also clear that police is not the problem but where they get orders, our police is being misused with a lot of impunity,” she said.
She said opposition leaders need to develop an action plan against police brutality. “Even when we go to court,” she told The Independent, “government doesn’t listen. So we go to the court of public opinion—defiance, just like Dr. Besigye has been doing.”
She said she was encouraged by other legislators- Roland Mugume (Rukungiri Municipality), Barnabas Tinkasimire (Buyaga West), Gilbert Oulanya (Kilak South) and Mathias Kasamba- were also there “standing with a colleague at a time his family was being traumatised by police”.
She told The Independent that a bigger group of legislators were planning to visit Bobi Wine’s home and protest the police brutality. Ocan was disturbed that in the case of Bobi Wine, government brutality has gone extreme and blocked his source of livelihood; staging concerts at his own private beach in Busabala.
Ocan said she was disturbed that leaders of opposition parties and ruling party representatives on April 25 had just condemned such police brutality but police had with impunity continued holding Bobi Wine under house arrest.
She said she had been in the meeting under the aegis of the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) on the Public Order Management Act (POMA) that police often cites to break up opposition gatherings.
She said the meeting attended by Prime Minister Ruhakana Ruganda, Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana, Security Minister Gen. Elly Tumwiine, Internal Affairs Minister Gen. Jeje Odongo, and Defense Minister Adolf Mwesige at Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo agreed that the police was implementing POMA in illegal fashion and something needed to be done about it.
For that, Ocan said, together with representatives of the opposition, the government side agreed that a committee comprising secretary generals of political parties under IPOD, the Attorney General and chaired by Democratic Party’s Gerald Siranda, drafts regulations that will guide implementation of the Act.
Ocan’s attendance of IPOD was a major effort at politics of negotiation because her party, the FDC, has for years boycotted the meeting to protest police brutality.
However, she told The Independent, as she returned to Kitgum on April 27, she was greeted with teargas and found that police was restricting the movement of people just because the FDC was launching an office there.
“Some people are out there stranded looking for police services but in other places police is deploying heavily just to restrict lawful activities,” Ocan lamented, “this misuse of power and of public office is disturbing. It pushes one into thinking that the only way is to resort to the power of guns just like Museveni did in 1981. Unfortunately, when you analyse, you find that taking government by arms ends up causing even more chaos. So, we will keep pushing for a peaceful transition using the defiance approach.”