By Faruk Kirunda
To the people of Busoga and Uganda at large:
On 25th of April 2020 I received a list of names that were mentioned to be enemies of Mr. Eric Sakwa, the embattled RDC of Jinja.
My name was prominently mentioned on this list.
This list is suspected to have been authored by a Jinja-based Journalist.
At first I ignored it, but late in the night I decided; being one of the senior leaders of Busoga, to give it attention and make a definite response to guide our people on this malicious and harmful list including the ongoing electronic and social media propaganda against some individuals from Busoga.
Below are nine points of my response:
In the circumstances when there is a complaint, there are basically two sides: the side of the accuser and the other of the accused. The first step usually is for the Police to investigate the matter to facilitate a Court process that gets to the bottom of the case. When the police file is sanctioned the matter is left to the Courts of Law to allow a court proceeding to ensue.
Accordingly, it is improper to politicize a matter which is before the Court and of a criminal nature. This may cause suspicion of bias from both sides of the case when the verdict is given.
It’s wrong to author harmful and baseless information in form of lists that aim at promoting malicious propaganda against some leaders in Jinja. Mr. Eric Sakwa knows how he returned to Jinja as full RDC and which people have contributed to his success. It is indeed very unfortunate to make conclusive judgment of an individual before analyzing their past relationship and involvement with the other.
At one time I was accused before His Excellency the President by one of the senior leaders of Busoga for influencing Mr. Sakwa’s return to Jinja and I recall what I said then. However, because of the oath of secrecy that binds me as a government officer I cannot delve this information.
It’s also wrong to assume that when one is not seen at the frontline, he is automatically against Mr. Sakwa. In my capacity as a Media Personality, I listen to all sides including the Opposition.
On several occasions I have called Mr. Eric Sakwa for guidance. That is why in one of his press briefings he publicly referred to me as his mentor in spite of my age.
After the arrest of the Kamuli-based New Vision Journalist; Mr. Tom Gobayanga, the matter went viral on social and electronic media. At first I did not take it serious due to the media propaganda, however; when Ms. Prossy Mwajuzi in-boxed me the details of the matter I immediately picked interest, analyzed it and made a follow up.
I realized some gaps in the case including the excessive use of force during the arrest which was allegedly conducted by civilian civil servants who handed Mr. Gobayanga Tom over to the Police.
After the law enforcers realized their mistakes; Mr. Tom Gobayanga was bailed out. However, during his arrest he was assaulted, a matter which is really unfortunate.
I later addressed the media and I advised all the RDCs and other Civil Servants to be very mindful about the Constitutional provisions while undertaking such missions. This would help them to avoid breaking the law and being arrested and charged before Courts of Laws.
It’s unfortunate that 2 days later, Mr. Sakwa was arrested by authorities on similar allegations and charged as an individual.
This factor is the one disturbing the author of this list.
A mass demonstration against Sakwa’s arrest during COVID lock down is not healthy to all of us. However, I appreciate the people of Jinja for the solidarity exhibited towards Mr. Sakwa. I received several telephone calls from the angry youths and leaders of Busoga who know my relationship with Mr. Sakwa and who called to seek my advice on the matter. I advised that since this is a matter in the Court, the best way out would be to mobilize a lawyer and embark on the legal process of applying for a court bail rather than mobilize crowds to demonstrate at the court moreover on a weekend. This is illegal and would be misunderstood by the public.
In a country where there is rule of the law you cannot avoid to be arrested; you can be picked and arrested anywhere as long as there is legal cause for it.
I want to appeal to the people of Jinja that anyone can be paraded before the law; however, what is important is for someone not to be denied the chance to defend themselves and this is the reason we need to appreciate the NRM government that ushered in the rule of law.
This reminds me of the arguments made by Gen. Kasirye Ggwanga when the former Minister of Security and Bush war Veteran; Gen. Tumukunde was arrested from his home two months ago alongside his visitors including a serving Member of Parliament from Tororo.
In these arrests, there is no arrangement for VIPs. The Constitution does not talk of VIP suspects. All suspects are equal during arrest.
In the arresting process sometimes mistakes are done by both the arresting and arrested parties basing on the pressures in the arresting environment. There may be use of excessive force.
I strongly agree with the people of Jinja by up to 90% that Mr. Sakwa is bold enough and can manage the historical challenges in Jinja. However, of recent there have been complaints about his method of work. I personally telephoned him to discuss his methods following debates on media platforms. I telephoned him several times to guide him and I appreciate he is a good listener and makes the necessary adjustments once he is advised.
On Monday, I received a telephone call from Mr. Ali who works as Mr. Sakwa’s Assistant. Mr. Ali informed me of Mr. Sakwa’s impending arrest and he required my intervention. I gave advice to Mr. Sakwa through Mr. Ali but before I got a feedback I heard about Mr. Sakwa’s arrest. I immediately called Mr. Ziwa who in turn called Mr. Sakwa to get some briefing. Mr. Ziwa provided VIP transport to Mr. Sakwa.
Later in the night I called Mr. Ziwa to obtain a briefing but I could not access him.
As a close friend of Mr. Sakwa, I called both Mr. Ali and Mr. Ziwa in the morning of Saturday (yesterday) to obtain any feedback. Mr. Ziwa informed me that Mr. Sakwa’s supporters were planning a big demonstration. I advised Mr. Ziwa to reach out to the leaders to advise the supporters to engage a lawyer. However, even before I could get a feedback I saw on social media the situation worsening with sections of the supporters matching to the Jinja high Court. These numbers were unmanageable on a weekend.
Overall, I wish to appreciate the people of Busoga for showing solidarity with Mr. Sakwa but the timing was very poor due to the COVID situation in the country. Congregating in such big numbers seriously contravenes the standing preventive measures issued by His Excellency the President. Jinja is a high risk point due to the long distance truck drivers. Indeed as we talk now there is long distance truck COVID victim admitted in Jinja Hospital.
Mr. Sakwa is still innocent until proven guilty. God willing he will be out. Let’s be patient and respect the courts of laws.
Immediately after the arrest of Mr. Sakwa the electronic media went viral beyond the control of relevant authorities.
I had to engage directly some of the Directors of the Media Houses after being called by my bosses to manage the media situation which had escalated and would result in bloodshed in town.
I want to suspect that it was during this time when I got involved to save a blood bath scenario that this unprofessional radio personality added my names on the list of Sakwa’s enemies.
As a responsible civil servant and a vigilant public officer serving in a democratic government where we listen to all people I could not just sit back and watch the situation.
The action of the radio personalities to mobilize the people for demonstration at this time of COVID-19 contravenes the Public Health Act.
It is not a public secret but rather a culture that there is politics of intrigue and malice in Jinja.
Isn’t it ironical, that the same individuals who first blocked the return of Mr. Sakwa to Jinja with their malicious accusations; are the very ones now ‘defending’ him? Their approach has always been diversionary and poisonous to the people of Jinja.
Indeed one of these individuals warned the people of Jinja (using his facebook and on media platforms) that Mr. Sakwa’s boots had been caught with someone during a robbery in Kumi. He could therefore not be fit for the job of RDC of Jinja. However, this individual never succeeded as Mr. Sakwa went ahead to be appointed full RDC.
When Mr. Sakwa questioned this individual about illegal land acquisitions on Spire Road in Jinja; he quickly mobilized the Jinja District Local Council Councilors to pass a resolution to reject Mr. Sakwa as RDC of Jinja. Mr. Sakwa was nonetheless saved by the Speaker of Jinja who failed to turned up for this fateful Council meeting.
The District Speaker, Mr. Nyende was instead threatened for frustrating their cause. Surprisingly, Mr. Nyende’s name is number 4 on this list. How is this so?
Those who facilitated the process of rejecting Mr. Sakwa are the ones spearheading the campaign to separate Mr. Sakwa from his supporters.
One of the group members was on Radio and at the RPC’s office showing how the lock down was poorly managed in the first week which resulted in a chapatti seller being assaulted to death in bugembe town council. Surprisingly this person is saying Mr. Nyende is an enemy of Mr. Sakwa.
The people of Jinja need to be careful with such people who benefit from confusion. Many of these names have also appeared in the lists of land grabbers in Jinja whom Mr. Sakwa relentlessly fought and defeated in his first days as RDC.
Why are they messing up Mr. Sakwa’s Court process to freedom? Why are they detaching Mr. Sakwa from his supporters? On the list of land grabbers their names are severally repeated. One may ask about their honesty in defending Mr. Sakwa?
I appeal to the people of Jinja to be patient and to keenly follow the court proceedings while observing the COVID measures. This matter will come to its logical conclusion.
You should give Mr. Sakwa all the necessary legal support.
As one of the senior government officers and a born of the area, I think the above guidance can help us to handle this matter. I also implore you to desist from abusing your leaders. We all need each other.
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