In seeking to reveal the identity of TVO, a much sought after figure by state operatives, Muwena hoped to cleanse his reputation.
By Morris Komakech (pictured)
Fred Muwema's litigation brought against the mysterious person called Tom Voltaire Okwalinga (TVO), in Ireland, is an interesting ghost chase.
The case, many of you will remember, arises from post-2016 election as ex-Prime Minister-turned-presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi was preparing to challenge the presidential elections result in court.
On the morning of March 9, 2016, one local daily and a number of media houses reported that Mbabazi’s lead lawyer’s office was broken into and files containing evidence, affidavits and relevant documents prepared for the court battle had been stolen.
Many people doubted the legitimacy of this fracas before TVO (on Facebook) brought the matter to rest in their minds. TVO claimed that this Muwema law office break-in was an insider job. TVO is an instant celebrity and a darling to many on Facebook in a country where freedom of speech is suppressed.
Here, TVO embodies this restricted public space and represents an alternate media apart from the heavily censored mainstream media.
TVO is a phenomenon that exemplifies the power and instant reach of social media across space, time and generation. Even a mere symbol of a “cough” on Facebook generates thousands of followers - liking, commenting and poking!
Understandably, this claim by TVO spelled doom for Muwema. His reputation was dragged throught the murky political waters unfavourably. In addition, TVO had alleged that the former Minister of Information and National Guidance, Jim Muhwezi, had bribed Muwema colossally in exchange for the legal documents.
In seeking to reveal the identity of TVO, a much sought-after figure by state operatives, Muwena hoped to cleanse his reputation.
Post-election Uganda is a rough time for everyone and so we must hold our morals close to the chest like the poker card.
People are usually so divided through elections, and the mix of anger of defeat and excitement of victory causes tension.
Post-election tensions usually build up to the brim nearing a burst into violence. The only valve to that rupture is usually the petition of courts. For a practising lawyer, the implications of an insider-job allegations were profound, because it undermined the entire The Democratic Alliance (TDA) petition.
Uganda is also known as the land of the endemically corrupt. Such speculations are tolerated much without scrutiny because the possibility of it occurring has high confidence levels. Such situations actually are obtained in public offices regularly. How else do we get all sensitive government documents instantly on the social media?
A few years ago, the flip-flop Kampala entrepreneur and journalist, Andrew Mwenda, bragged that the cost of obtaining the most sensitive government document is no more than $100 (about sh350,000)!
By now, Muwema should have acquiesced himself with few lessons; by suing TVO and seeking TVO’s identity to be revealed makes TVO more popular.
Muwema is desperately attempting to unmask a ghost called TVO. I am not sure how many people sign up for Facebook with real names and date of birth.
Since the advent of email and online-based social media groups, very few people actually sign up with their real identities. A few people who do so sign up for offical emails and work-related emails.
Certainly, people sign up with true identities in professional social media networks such as LinkedIn, Xing, Makerbase etc. I doubt they do so on Facebook, especially for controversial postings like those of TVO.
Lastly, and most important, for Africans, Muwema can pursue the legal means to cleanse his reputation. Many locals will not care about such legalities. The more he tries, the more his reputation will remain attached to 'the JPAM lawyer whose office was broken into'. Such a description will elicit the next explanation, “anti, the one who was bribed!”
In Uganda, rumors carry more validity than legality or facts, and rumors tend to stick more in the minds than facts.
The more you drag the matter in the public realm, the more its association effect lasts. Didn't Bunyoko Kitara Kingdon collapse because of rumours?
Muwema, Facebook would not reveal TVO's identity. Have we forgotten the fate of Shaka aka Maverick Blutaski who was detained on suspicion of being TVO?