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Resist voice of violence in the coming elections

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Added 20th January 2016 01:19 PM

Some perpetrators of violence have already been taken to court for trial. A case of assault may become a murder case in instances where the victim dies from the wounds inflicted on him or her. Violence in any form is criminal.

Resist voice of violence in the coming elections

Polly Namaye is the deputy Police spokesperson

Some perpetrators of violence have already been taken to court for trial. A case of assault may become a murder case in instances where the victim dies from the wounds inflicted on him or her. Violence in any form is criminal.

By Polly Namaye (SSP)

I belong to several social media platforms. On one of them, there are many other really respectable Ugandans, some as old as 60 years. Often times, a new topic is discussed ranging from politics, agriculture, social life, education, culture to any other trending issues of the day.


The experiences shared on this platform are unmatched, and sometimes the information they share is personal and sensitive to the holder. But they share it all the same. Unlike discussions on all other issues, political topics always tend to take the larger share of the deliberations and interest on this forum.


Members make comments aligned to the interests of the party they support and before long; they get involved in heated arguments and disagreements, calling one another names and throwing insults without care. It is this attitude of intolerance that has, on many occasions, resulted into a number of assault cases at police stations.


Some people believe that they know it all and think that everybody must agree with them, or keep quiet. In extreme cases, those who disagree lose jobs, are assaulted or they begin to receive threats to their lives and properties. This is criminal and all Police commanders have been strictly reminded to ensure that such threats are not taken lightly.


Some perpetrators of violence have already been taken to court for trial. A case of assault may become a murder case in instances where the victim dies from the wounds inflicted on him or her. Violence in any form is criminal.


Tony Benn once said "all war represents a failure of diplomacy,'' while John Ernst Steinbeck observed that all war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal''.


All candidates in the ongoing race to Uganda's presidency have different campaign slogans to rally the public to vote for them on February 18. However, one slogan that quickly draws my concern is that of ‘'defiance'', as used by one of the presidential candidates at almost all his rallies.


The Cambridge English dictionary defines "defiance" as behaviour in which you refuse to obey someone or something. In the case of Ugandan elections, ‘'something'' may refer to the laws in place or the guidelines given by the Electoral Commission and enforced by the Uganda Police Force. "Defiance", therefore, means to openly refuse or boldly resist policies, instructions, laws or guidelines given by any given authority. Synonyms of the noun "defiance", therefore, may include, but are not limited to, resistance, opposition, confrontation and insubordination.


An open call, therefore, to the public to defy the systems in place in Uganda can only breed anarchy and lawlessness, which may lead the country into a state of chaos and disharmony, something many Ugandans would like to believe is a thing of the past.


For some of us who are lucky to have interacted greatly with some elderly Ugandans, we have learnt that living in peace and harmony in Uganda is one of the most valuable assets Ugandans have and should treasure, especially since Uganda's past has had heavy traces of violent political engagements. Whereas many of us did not experience the past wars directly, those who did will tell you that the wars were as a result of intolerance, greed and selfish interests.


These conflicts could have been avoided had there been well-established and well-respected systems of governance and administration in Uganda at that time, where differences and complaints could be channelled for redress.


Today Uganda boasts of systems that have been established through the hard work of many actors such as the Independent Judicial System, the criminal justice system with high courts and courts of appeal in place to ensure that justice is obtained for all. It is common knowledge in Uganda that no one is above the law. Therefore, to call for defiance in the forthcoming elections is simply downplaying the roles played by the great men and women who worked tirelessly to establish the justice mechanisms that we have today.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in one of his speeches in 1958 is quoted to have said "Violence begets violence". President John F. Kennedy of the United States of America in his speech on April 5, 1968 stated that "No wrongs have been righted by riots or civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people." Back home in Kigezi, a common saying holds that some of the misfortunes easy to forget are poverty and barrenness.


Uganda has come a long way in achieving a stable Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and today, we are widely recognised as a fast growing democracy. This is a record to be proud of, and all of us should strive to sustain it for many generations to come. Therefore, all people who have helped to bring about peace in Uganda and to maintain it should be applauded and all Ugandans should be encouraged to support the cause of building a peaceful Uganda and not a riotous one.


One of my dear friends from India has on several occasions told me that Ugandans do not realise that they have one of the most reliable and non-discriminatory Criminal-Justice system, especially in Africa. Every time he says this, am reminded of a book my husband and I read sometime back. In the book, an excited young man caught a bird in his strong youthful hands. The bird quickly realised that it was trapped and had to think very fast of a way out.


So the bird said to its captor, "Set me free and I will tell you a secret you will live to remember." The young man was intrigued and he set the bird free so as to learn its secret. The bird flew off quickly to a safe distance and said proudly to the young man, "Inside my stomach, I carry a piece of gold as big as your head!" The man was dumbfounded. As he watched the bird fly away out of reach, he could only mutter to himself painfully, "And I let you fly away!"


As I conclude therefore, I would like to draw the attention of all Ugandans to the Parable of the Sower in the Book of Mathew Chapter 13 where a farmer went out to sow seeds in his garden. Some of the seeds fell along the path, some on rocky places or among thorns and could not grow to bear fruits since they did not get favourable conditions for growth.


Only the seeds that fell on good soils grew and produced good crops, several times what was sown. In verse 9, Mathew calls upon all those who have ears to hear. This is the same call I would like to send out to Ugandans. Peace is not a luxury but a necessity and defiance is not an option.


Ugandan musician Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi (commonly known as Bobi Wine) released a song that is quickly gaining media airplay and in the song titled "Dembe", he urges all Ugandans to desist  from violence since violence in the past destroyed our country and left many people homeless. Like Kyagulanyi, let us all advocate for peace in Uganda.

The writer is the deputy Police spokesperson

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