A group of people calling themselves ruling party activists who produced a film on Uganda’s political history dubbed the Journey of Uganda are threatening to sue the government unless it pays them Shs 17 billion.
Organised as Twerwaneko group, the individuals say the money covers the controversial film’s production costs and compensation after it was banned when the opposition Democratic Party threatened to mobilise city riots in protests over the film’s content.
The film describes a version of Uganda’s post-independence history, highlighting key events from independence in 1962 through the different regimes up to 1986 when the National Resistance Movement shot its way into power.
According to Joseph Muhumuza, the spokesman for Twerwaneko group, they borrowed documentaries about what happened during the different regimes, capturing atrocities committed and acted some of the scenes using well-experienced film actors.
The film was briefly used for Museveni’s 2016 presidential bid. It was broadcast by some TV stations in addition to some free copies being distributed supposedly to mobilise Ugandans against election violence.
“When the film picked and was liked by various audiences, we went ahead and produced over five million copies which we marketed in various places countrywide expecting to get huge returns until July 2016 when the police seized the CDs,” Muhumuza told journalists on Thursday, July 12.
Before producing the film, Muhumuza said, the group sought clearance from the Media Council of Uganda which rated the film as G, implying it is fit to be viewed by all audiences.
Their efforts were, however, thwarted after DP protested the film’s screening and distribution because it demonized other political leaders opposed to the current regime by associating them with killings and murders of the past. Yesterday, DP again expressed concerns about the film.
“The organisation was financed by some powerful people in government to produce the film and DP raised the issue with former IGP, Kale Kayihura, but he did little about it. We have fears that they are reorganising and are bringing it back; we want the current IGP to intervene and stop the organisation from operating,” said DP spokesman Kenneth Paul Kakande.
Kakande said they are determined to fight the film once it is brought back on the market because the producers intend to use it in the next elections to the benefit of President Museveni against his opponents.
When the police banned the film, its makers sought the intervention of the minister for Kampala Affairs, Beti Namisango Kamya, who reportedly promised they would be compensated by the government. Two years later, nothing has come of Kamya’s promise.
“We wanted to insist on selling the film but Minister Beti Kamya advised us against it, and promised that she would press government to compensate us to recover the money we invested but up to now, nothing has come,” Muhumuza said.
The group’s chairperson Elias Kwerohoza wondered why government is not helping them despite the film’s contribution to mobilising support for Museveni and the NRM in the 2016 elections.
The group claims they borrowed heavily to produce three million copies of the film which carried a warning to Ugandans that without Museveni, the country would return to the days of turmoil.
“We have been struggling to pay back the loans; many of us have lost our property to banks and individual moneylenders,” Muhumuza said without naming which banks they borrowed from.
Through Ligomarc Advocates, the group has written to the attorney general giving government a two-month ultimatum to pay them Shs 17bn lest they resort to court.