On April 29, the Monday, Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) was arrested in Kampala sparking wild city protests; President Museveni angrily scolded his ministers for being reluctant to publicly counter what he called deliberately constructed lies spread by the Kyadondo East MP.
The president delivered the angry reprimand while chairing an ordinary cabinet meeting on April 29 at State House Entebbe; the same day police confronted Bobi Wine’s procession and arrested the lawmaker as he headed to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) in Kibuli to record a statement.
He had been summoned in the immediate aftermath of the public furore that followed the State’s cancellation of his Easter Monday music concert at his One Love Beach Busaabala in Makindye Ssabagabo Municipality, Wakiso district.
After about three hours of running battles with the MP’s supporters, police eventually produced Bobi Wine before Buganda Road Grade One Magistrate Esther Nahirya. The lawmaker was remanded to Luzira Prison for his role in last year’s protests against the social media and mobile money tax. He has since been released on bail.
Several sources familiar with the State House Entebbe meeting say Museveni asked his ministers why they had allowed an “ambitious young man” to roam free attacking him. He asked of what importance they have been to him “since this young boy became MP and later showed keen interest in running for president.”
It is not clear whether the unfolding events in Kampala that day before and after Bobi Wine’s arrest informed Museveni’s angry speech during the cabinet meeting but according to one minister, the president spoke at length about Bobi Wine and other opposition politicians. “He talked about processions and how they should be regulated, he read for us a statement; his guidance on holding processions which he later published in newspapers,” a minister who declined to be named said.
In the statement posted at the weekend on his social media platforms, Museveni referenced the 1986 NRM 10-point programme that guarantees peace and security for all Ugandans and their property – and said that is the reason he will not allow any processions without a “legitimate” reason.
“If you want to hold a public meeting (olukungana) or a procession (ekivulu) for a legitimate reason, you should liaise with the Police, so that your public meeting or your procession does not endanger the lives of other Ugandans or the safety of their property. You agree with the Police on the route...The problem we have with some elements of the opposition is that they ignore this. They want to hold meetings or processions near markets or through crowded streets. This one we cannot allow,” Museveni said.
“If it is to preach hate, to decampaign investments in Uganda etc., then we shall not allow you. Those who have ignored this logic have paid a heavy price,” he added.
AGE LIMIT RULING
Museveni also took a swipe at ministers for keeping quiet when the opposition continuously abused the judiciary for ruling in favour of the president in the age limit petition appeal. Last month Supreme Court justices ruled 4-3 to uphold the Constitutional court ruling that endorsed the deletion of Article 102(b) from the Constitution, ultimately removing age limits for presidential candidates.
The ruling handed Museveni an opportunity to rule for life. The subsequent wide condemnation of the justices that ruled in Museveni’s favour became a huge concern for the president.
Quoting minutes of the day’s cabinet meeting, the minister said that Museveni was concerned that judges get abused when they rule against the opposition, but get widely praised when they adjudicate cases in the favour of the opposition.
“He wondered why the Attorney General and government generally don’t come out to defend the judges in the face of this criticism,” the source said. As Museveni continued to rant, Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa shot up and told him that the minister for Information and ICT Frank Tumwebaze had been on TV speaking for government.
That didn’t soothe the president. “That is not enough, the entire government should be involved, it should not be one individual doing this,” Museveni reportedly said.
He asked the Attorney General William Byaruhanga to work with other legal minds in government and NRM to explain the Supreme Court ruling.
To diminish the gains of Kyagulanyi’s People Power movement thus far; Museveni plans a countrywide tour to explain the achievements of his government. Museveni is to begin his campaign in Bunyoro on May 12 with a zonal meeting in Hoima to be attended by leaders from all districts in Bunyoro.
He will on May 14 move to Masindi to commission roads constructed in the Municipality under the World Bank-funded Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) programme. He will later address a public rally and later on in the evening appear on a radio talk show.