|President Yoweri Museveni|
Yoweri Museveni: A Mockery of Justice and Leadership
The recently concluded Uganda’s general election is currently trending. I am writing this piece to express my displeasure on what has been unfolding in the Banana growing country. Once again, Uganda is on the limelight for all the ugly reasons. And of course, you can’t talk of Uganda elections without touching on the whole lot drama that characterizes the polls.
I am particularly puzzled by the heavy handedness of Museveni’s administration in detaining opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye thrice in a week. The leader of opposition was detained two days before the polls on the basis of holding a political Rally against the wishes of ‘the powers that be.’ President Museveni is insecure and because of this, he is heavy handed in dealing with perceived opponents. Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly stipulates that ‘None shall be subjected to arbitrary arrests, detention or exile.’ But is this is not the case in Uganda, a member state of United Nations. Will I be wrong to say that Mr. Museveni is a symbol of official government suppression? Definitely not.
|Dictator Museveni donning military regalia|
Living under despotic regimes like that of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni can never be smooth. People suffer a lot of injustices. They lack basic freedoms and are at the mercy of whimsical decisions by their mediocre leaders.
Then came Election Day and Museveni ordered closure of all social media platforms in Uganda, one Media House was also shut down. The poor people of Uganda were denied access to information. The right to information is a pertinent ideal in open societies. But this ideal, is not cherished by the government of Uganda. Article 19 of UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights obligates that ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinion without interference and seek, receive and impart INFORMATION and ideas through any media and regardless of frontier.’ President Museveni will hear none of this!
The notion that a state can feel threatened by Social Media users is laughable. The Government of Uganda has portrayed itself as insecure and therefore suspicious of its citizens’ access to social media during election period even when such acts bear little threat to leadership. This kind of heavy handedness is also seen in the shutting down of a popular Ugandan television station. This is unwarranted. It is an expression of lack of openness. The media is essential to democracy, and a democratic election is impossible without media. A free and a fair election is not only about the freedom to vote and the knowledge of how to cast a vote, but also about a participatory process where voters engage in public debate on social media.
|Uganda’s Leader of Opposition Dr Kizza Besigye|
Museveni’s regime is inept. The people of Uganda are plagued by many ills vested upon them by the government. The closure of Social media platforms in order to avoid incitements is a sign of irredeemable failure of the government to assure Ugandan Citizens of their security. Instead, the government ought to have tracked those misusing the social media in inciting violence and instilling fear among people. Museveni’s administration should emulate Uhuru Kenyatta’s government. Credit must be given where it is due. Kenyatta’s administration is good in tracking fake bloggers who misuse the social media. Findings by Pew Research Centre (2014) showed that sixteen percent of American Voters used social media plat forms like Facebook and Twitter to get political information and follow election news during the 2014 US mid-term elections.
|A supporter of Opposition being harassed by Ugandan Police Officers|
According to Samer Elchahabi, International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) Program Manager Social media helps in furthering the importance of new media in democracy and elections. Citizens get avenues to reach candidates and campaigns and share helpful information, presenting new opportunities and challenges for democracy promotion and new possibilities for democratic consolidation around the world.
Young people around the globe are now more involved in their countries politics, thanks to social media. The arrest of Uganda’s main opposition candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye on the pretext that he was conducting parallel tallying caused more distress in Uganda. There are no justifiable grounds for the state to bar any candidate from conducting parallel tally as there is no law in Uganda that hinders any presidential candidate or any candidate from having a parallel tallying center, given that it’s only the electoral Commission’s results will be upheld. President Museveni went further and tried to silence the dissenting voices by threatening to lock them in deep freezers. Such threats bring to the fore the ruthless nature of a regime that is just too keen on oppressing dissenting citizens and the opposition. Police set of stun grenades and fired teargas at the harmless opposition supporters. This kind of disproportionate force by the highest authority makes a mockery of justice and political leadership. It is healthy to exercise freedom of speech but this is not case in Uganda. In Philippines, social media has allowed voters to participate in elections more vigorously than before. Now voters can directly ask questions to the candidates and comment on their campaign platforms.
|Ugandan Police Officers bar Opposition supporters|
The official results of Uganda’s presidential elections do not represent the will of the people of Uganda. Evidence of staffed ballot boxes was rampant. This clearly tells there was massive rigging in the polls. It is clear that President Museveni engages in bad governance and has no integrity to rule. His feeling of insecurity makes him a person not worthy to be a head of state.