By Sam Akaki
Kuliira mu kavuyo, say the Baganda, meaning to eat or benefit during confusion.
Over in Germany, Adolf Hitler may have been a mass murderer, but he was right when he wrote in his book, Mein Kampf (My Struggle), that “there are three types of people in any struggle: the few real fighters, the many traitors and the majority who are self-seekers”. Where is the Uganda evidence?
We have had the fortune and misfortune to meet all the three types of people, when we were respectively the international envoy representing Reform Agenda and FDC to the UK and the European Union and spokesman to Dr Besigye during the 2006 presidential election.
Before and during that election campaign, we met real fighters like Joseph Musasizi, Sam Njuba, Louis Otika, Prince Vincent Kimera, lawyer Sam Okiring and Peggy Ntegyereize, all dead, while many others are still in exile. We also met “pro-Besigye security operatives”, who said they could not live with their consciences, having “personally” off-loaded millions of pre-ticked pro-Museveni ballots papers posted from South Africa and addressed to a Muslim leader.
We were also informed of another “friendly” security operative, who had convinced Winnie Byanyima and Jack Sabiiti that the State House had bribed court judges to convict Dr. Besigye on treason and rape charges.
It was the former British High Commissioner, Francois Gordon, who warned this correspondent to be careful about the possibility of disinformation designed to waste opposition time or set up a trap. Indeed, on January 24, 2006, Ms Byanyima and Sabitti were charged with giving false information and criminal libel after they wrote to Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki asking him to investigate allegations of plans to fix Dr. Besigye’s conviction. The two were later ordered to pay considerable amounts in damages.
In London, we spent as much, if not more time between 2001 and 20012 writing letters supporting asylum applications and giving “expert” witness evidence to the Immigration Appeal Tribunals, than we did lobbying the British government, parliament and diplomats to support free and fair elections in Uganda.
Reform Agenda and FDC meetings were packed to overflow with “pro-Besigye” political activists, who had come from all over the UK and across mainland Europe to greet their “hero”.
Men, women and their children mobbed Dr. Besigye in the streets, in my house and outside BBC TV studios, asking him to sign affidavits, confirming that he knew them as his supporters, who had fled political persecution in Uganda. They also queued up to take close-up family photographs with Dr. Besigye as priceless souvenirs for their children and their grandchildren.
We later discovered that these photos were presented to the Home Office as conclusive evidence that the applicants were not only bona fide Reform Agenda or FDC members, but also personally close to the most famous opposition leader in Uganda. As it turned out, the thousands of Kizza Besigye’s “loyal” supporters in the UK and mainland Europe were roughly made up of 5% committed party members, 20% government operatives and 75% self-seeking asylum seekers. Today, the once “vibrant” FDC UK branch has almost disappeared. Most of its former “loyal” members now official residents in Europe.
With this benefit of experience in Dr. Besigye’s “revolution”, we are reading with scepticism the almost daily newspaper reports about the “mammoth” crowds at Mbabazi’s rallies and their harassment by the Police around the country.
Presidential aspirant Amama Mbabazi was reported on the a local daily of September 11 to have said that his campaign team is aware of a ploy to use goons disguised as crime preventers deployed in districts where he is doing consultations to harm or kill him.
Jaffar Magyezi, the Mbarara District Police Commander, was quoted in the New Vision of June 15, to have said that they arrested four people who claimed to be supporters and mobilisers of Amama Mbabazi at Tataitwe area in Kisenyi, Mbarara town after a tip-off.
The New Vision of June 15 also reported that the Police in Lira, commanded by the district chief, Ezra Tugume and field Police Commander Sam Suubi, deployed heavily following reports that supporters of former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi were planning to demonstrate in various parts of the country.
Another local daily of March 23, reported that Police had arrested 13 youths allied to Ex-prime minister Amama Mbabazi and engaged in running battles with the others after they were found protesting at the US Embassy in Kampala.
On November 7, 2014, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda is quoted to have told Parliament that: “I don’t have information that my brother, Ndugu Mbabazi, is being persecuted by the Government. If there are issues that friends know, let them be brought forward because the Government will be interested in investigating them.”
These reports may well bear some truth. But it would be an extraordinary development in Uganda politics if the majority of those filing up Mbabazi’s rallies are not coming straight out of Adolf Hitler’s rule book on “the few real fighters, the many traitors and the majority who are self-seekers trying to live according to the Baganda’s “Kuliira mu kavuyo” dictum.
What is almost certain is that many will be gathering documentary evidence of their associating with Mbabazi to apply for political asylum. As usual, Europe is the default destination while China is excluded because of distance and language barrier.
The writer is a former FDC international envoy to the UK and European Union and also former parliamentary candidate in the UK. He is now executive director of the Africa-European relations.
Another cycle of electoral violence, another chance to seek asylum in Europe!