It is one of history’s most famous trials.
In today’s legal speak, it would be cited as The Roman Empire v. Jesus Christ and Another.
When the crowd had gathered, Pontius Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus the Messiah?”
The crowd shockingly, but resoundingly responded in unison: “crucify Jesus the Messiah and release Barabbas!”
Shocking because Barabbas was a notorious prisoner. Jesus had no criminal record. Far from it. The man had fed five thousand (excluding women and children), healed the sick and raised the dead.
I’ll return to this in my conclusion.
I have no intention, in this article, of retelling the innumerable vagaries that marred the “election” in Hoima. Several news reports, raw footage and witness testimony confirm the fact that what happened in Hoima wasn’t an election, but a military operation overseen by the Crown Prince, Muhoozi Kainerugaba and other goons-at-large.
This sort of behaviour is what we should expect from an illegitimate and criminal thirty-four-year-old regime and so it doesn’t help to dabble in lamentations.
The scandal is when a watchdog group whitewashes and sanitizes these atrocities. This is what has tipped my scales and compelled me to make my reservations public.
For those who may not be aware, the Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda, a membership-based NGO has, for the past forty-eight hours been the subject of a public trial. This is because of a ‘preliminary report’ they issued saying that “the by-election was largely conducted in a manner that allowed the people of Hoima district to express their will, freely at the poll.”
The courtroom is both online and offline.
The verdict, as was the case with the trial of Jesus has been passed and the crowds are baying for Crispin’s blood.
Justice Simon Byabakama, a modern-day henchman, accomplished hitman of the incumbent regime (and the equivalent of the biblical Barabbas) hasn’t taken much flak perhaps because Ugandans don’t expect anything else but a rigged election under his watch.
The outrage is directed at CCEDU because Ugandans expect better and different from them.
I am of the conviction that CCEDU has broken ranks with the Ugandan electorate—in whose name it purports to operate—and has unwittingly sacrificed its watchdog role at the altar of a secret MoU that was concluded between itself and the Electoral Commission.
I do not make this statement lightly.
Crispin Kaheru is a friend. He is like an elder brother and is a senior colleague in the Ugandan NGO fraternity.
However, reading that “preliminary” report was so revolting that for my own sanity, and for the avoidance of doubt about where I stand on this public travesty called an election, I must express myself in the way I have.
Of particular ire to me is a paragraph in the report that says:
“Whereas there was tension reported in Kabaale Sub County due to arrests of the opposition candidate’s agents, CCEDU EOM noted that polling in that area proceeded without interruption or any major incidents.”
Begs a few questions: what else should go wrong in an election to be considered a major incident if the abduction of a candidate’s agent is a minor issue?
Assuming, for a moment, that arresting a candidate’s agent is in fact a minor issue, doesn’t that reveal how violent the process must have been to relegate abductions to minority status?
What are the major incidents that CCEDU saw in Hoima if the abduction of agents is minor?
What will CCEDU say if the election result is successfully impugned and overturned by a Court of Law?
How can this be the report by an institution whose name is derived from the people of Uganda?
What crosses the minds at CCEDU when they see known regime apologists widely sharing their report, in the aftermath of a process as fraught with irregularities on the scale we witnessed in Hoima?
I speak with firsthand knowledge because I have volunteered to guard the votes of my friends in parliament and so I know what it means to contest an election under the ruling military Establishment in Uganda.
It is literally a contest against the police, the military, regime-owned/funded media and the Electoral Commission itself. This much is public knowledge and evidence is available in the numerous successful petitions that have been filed against the same Commission and regime-backed candidates.
We in the fraternity of NGOs must never premise the legitimacy of our work on the basis of being validated by the military regime or its farcical pawns like the so-called Electoral Commission.
We must, at all material times, put the people of Uganda first in our thoughts, speech and actions.
Anything less is a betrayal of our mandate and raison d’être.
For now, let’s crucify Crispin Kaheru and release the Chief Rigger, Simon Byabakama!
Byabakama’s day, as did Kivuitu’s of Kenya, will come.
This article first appeared on Andrew Karamagi’s facebook page
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