Defiance is the only way out
Commenting on Bobi Wine’s acts of defiance, prominent human rights lawyer Laudislaus Rwakafuzi told The Independent on April 27 that “reality will dawn on all of the opposition politicians that defiance is the only way out”.
Rwakafuzi said that neither court nor parliament can help Bobi Wine because even if Bobi Wine wanted a declaration from court that the police actions were illegal, it is likely it would take years to come.
“The law is helpless, institutions like court that would help cannot,” he said.
He said Bobi Wine’s decision to escape from his home to attend the burial ceremony of former Bugiri District chairperson Siraji Lyavala on April 25, was an effective act of defiance.
“It is only through defiance that political activists like Bobi Wine will continue to enjoy their rights within the law despite efforts by authorities to restrict them,” he said.
He said is difficult to get a judge who will be bold enough to make the ruling because President Yoweri Museveni appointed all of them.
Even parliament cannot help Bobi Wine, Rwakafuzi added, pointing to statements made by the deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah while Bobi Wine was under house arrest.
Oulanyah had ruled that intervening in Bobi Wine’s troubles was not within parliament’s mandate.
“Let us make a distinction; parliamentary privileges and immunities relate to what you say and do in Parliament. They do not relate to what you say and do outside Parliament. Please remember this it might help you in future,” Oulanya told legislators.
He was responding to concerns raised by Mukono Municipality legislator Betty Nambooze regarding police brutality against the opposition.
Apart from Bobi Wine, police have in the past few months blocked and dispersed rallies organised by FDC’s Besigye and pulled radio stations off air whenever Besigye was to be a guest on talk shows.
On Bobi wine, Nambooze wanted Oulanyah to invoke the House provisions on privileges enjoyed by sitting MPs to rescue the legislator.
“I beg that government comes out clearly on whether it is an offence to dress in red and sing slogans of People Power,” Nambooze said.
Sewanyana of FHRI also told The Independent that preventive detention, which police is in the habit of exploiting, is “unconstitutional as it tantamounts to political persecution”.
He advised Bobi Wine and other activists who find it hard to protest because of the Public Order Management Act (POMA), to go to court and seek orders reversing police’s illegal actions.
“The court processes might not be expeditious but it also depends on what one asks for,” Sewanyana said, “I find that courts find it easy to issue orders and injunctions.”
But he added: “Where authorities defy court orders, a culture of impunity—where Museveni is the law and the law is Museveni—Ugandans must challenge this”.
He said that it was the duty of all Ugandans to carryout all lawful actions such that this does not become the order of the day.
“As long as Ugandans are not angry enough,” Sewanyana warned, “this state of affairs will remain. Ugandans need to know that the President is supposed to govern according to the constitution and the will of the people not his whims.”