By Bakireke Betty Nambooze
This morning I had to cancel several of my important engagements, among them an appearance at Dream TV and at the Kyaggwe Day Celebrations in Mukono organized by the Ssekiboobo.
It proved very urgent that I go and visit Rtd Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye at his home in Kasangati where he has practically been put under house arrest and is in every sense a prisoner.
At his residence in Kasangati, I found that one had to go through three Police Checkpoints, all on his private property to access his house.
At the last barricade to the gate, any intending visitor is required to fill and sign all their particulars in a book. When I asked if the book belonged to Besigye or the Police, rowdy and mean faced fellows approached me and rudely told me to sign or leave. On the front cover of the book was written Nangabo Road Checkpoint – Kasangati Police Station.
As if that was not enough and to emphasize the point, these were manned by decorated police officers, probably at the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police judging from the three pips on their shoulders. The deployment there and in the surrounding area is so heavy that some policemen can be seen up the trees, all watching out for one man at his home.
Dr. Besigye’s home in particular can be mistaken for a Police barracks of sorts. Confused I asked the nearest Policeman if this was a home or a police station indicating to him that there is actually no police station that should be accessed with as much difficulty and inconvenience.
In fact I asked one Kacumu a policeman if this was a police matter or one of terrorism. When I finally entered, I found that several Members of Parliament and Members of Uganda Law Society had also come to visit with similar concerns.
They too are grossly disturbed that the human rights of one man are violated with such impunity and nobody raises a finger and we are all silent.
The lawyers decided to invoke their mandate as Uganda Law Society in whichever legally acceptable manner to have the Besigye matter resolved once and for all.
On our part as parliamentarians, we all thought we could invoke our mandate to have parliament recalled from recess to deliberate on this matter once for all. It is enshrined in Article 79 of the Constitution for Parliament to ensure the rule of law in Uganda.
I have also reliably learnt that government intends to smuggle in a law to legitimize house arrest. Besides, government is not charging Besigye with any offence, yet they continue to curtail his movements.
While seeing us off, Dr. Besigye was forcefully taken from us and bundled into a police van and whisked off at dangerously breakneck speed to Naggalama. I followed them there only to find the place barricaded and I was denied access.
I was almost tempted to return fire but thought against it. I remembered Nelson Mandela’s response to his wife Winnie Madikizela Mandela in his memoirs Conversations With Myself. She was bitter that a Magistrate had denied her clearance to see him in jail. Mandela told her not to waste her anger on the magistrate because the magistrate was himself captive.
Some of our tormentors are themselves captive as we are but just enjoy the additional privilege of having the obligation to torture us. When we hate our tormentors, subject them to the defensive so they fight back in fear that in case the tables turned and we took power, they too would be hunted.
I eventually decided to leave Naggalama hating it that the dictator recruits from our very own to further their evil scheme. I kept wondering why none of us has stood up against this escalating violation of human rights. I turned on the car radio and it was the learned lawyer Yusuf Nsibambi being hosted. He castigated the Democratic Party for having failed to take power for all the time the party has been in existence.
I just couldn’t help thinking that there is a crop of people who think that someone should come and take power on their behalf as they look on. In fact they even only sit back, criticize, commentate and apportion blame.
In essence, some of them are accusing DP for not choosing to shed blood. But I wish we knew how demoralizing it can be to those of us who yearn for change and how much in so doing we glorify our enemy.
The writer is the Member of Parliament Mukono Municipality.