In Walter Lippmann’s view, “the opposition is indispensable. A good statesman, like any other sensible human being, always learns more from his opposition than from his fervent supporters.”
Well, maybe Lippmann did not care to know that opposition is of different kinds and not all have something to learn from it.
Take, for instance, Uganda’s opposition. I watched with dismay last week as Hon Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine tarnished our good image before international media with wild allegations that we tortured him and are torturing many other opponents.
When will people learn to love their country? Is it still necessary to remind anyone that East or West home is best, though it may not be so homely?
We are aware that whenever Ugandans travel to a place where Uganda is less known, they are at least asked about Idi Amin. We had tried to correct this image, but Bobi Wine still wants the world to see us in Amin’s shadow! Which government can allow such mudslinging?
Who have we tortured? Can he prove it? The problem is that often lies travel the whole world as truth is still putting on its boots. But it can’t be hidden. He paraded some scars in his palm as evidence of the said torture.
It is true that he got those bruises while in our custody, but why can’t he say the truth that he was bitten by rats at night when he slept without washing them after a heavy meal served by our kind soldiers? Should we take responsibility for rats’ actions too? Ungrateful people!
He is moving around with crutches claiming that his back is injured. Yet he can’t be honest to say that he slipped against a piece of soap and fell in the bathroom while in custody. It is this accident that also hurt his manhood. Should we have followed him to the bathroom to ensure that he doesn’t fall?
We are not the beasts that he and other malicious people try to portray. They try to corroborate their stories by referring to Nalufenya precedents. I want to put it on record once again; we did not torture anyone at Nalufenya.
That facility was indeed ours but was often attacked by ghosts. They would come in at night and cause havoc among prisoners. They peeled one suspect’s knees and seriously injured others. We suspect that they were spirits of dead Amin’s soldiers.
In our commitment to a torture-free environment, we closed the facility and called in an exorcist to help cast out the malignant demons from envious past brutal regimes.
There has also been reference to Hon Francis Zaake as one of the torture victims. Pictures of his peeled fingers have been all over the place. I have also seen videos of him shamelessly screaming like a child.
If your ears are free of wax, we already informed the public and opened another charge on the fella for having escaped from lawful custody. So, you can’t be asking us to account for what happened to him while in hiding.
I suspect he could have sustained those injuries while trying to climb and jump down the hospital wall. Those fingers look like they were injured by barbed wire, or perhaps he jumped and landed onto a mechanic’s open pliers before they clamped off the skin.
My other suspicion is that in those jungles where he passed to find his way from Gulu to Lubaga, he could have run into baboons around Karuma. Who doesn’t know baboon violence? You cannot blame his irresponsible misfortunes on us.
Opposition has accused us of persecuting these fellas, and that they are only being punished for holding divergent views and being a threat to the regime. How petty! They ask about the guns and ammunition that were said to have been found with Hon Kyagulanyi, a case that the Court Martial later dropped.
The simple explanation is that on first sight we thought they were guns, but when we subjected them to deeper scrutiny, we discovered that they were stones. That’s why the case had to be amended in line with new findings about the evidence. Compliment us on the investigative sophistication, not simply condemning us on the basis of lay cluelessness.
We regret the death of Bobi’s driver, Yasin Kawuma, but it shouldn’t be blamed on us. I’m told it was a stray bullet that was meant to shoot some dangerous spider on the windscreen.
The good news is that it was killed, but we thought his car was bulletproof. In any case, we don’t know who fired that shot. It could even have been suicide.
As for the journalists, I insist, we did not beat them. The flashes from their cameras were affecting visibility as we hunted for suspects. We could not see clearly, that’s how we mistook them for snakes and beat them.
All I can recall is that we beat snakes, not journalists. Put yourself in our boots; if you were in our position, would you let a snake linger around amidst flashes in the dark?
Does anything above sound like torture to you? And I must caution the opposition: if you continue with this intolerant politics, we are going to tighten on you. Why would you want to harm us because of political disagreements? As generals Elly Tumwine and Jim Muhwezi said, you are spoiling our country’s politics.
Look now, some of our supporters have been flown out of the country to treat injuries caused by your violent politics and intolerance. Some are in hospitals not sure if they will ever be normal again! This is not the freedom we fought for and we shall do anything in our means to stop the opposition from dragging us back to the Milton Obote and Amin’s times.
The author works with the Center for African Studies at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi.