National Unity Platform’s (NUP), Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu popularly known as Bobi Wine, is up in arms with party elder and lawmaker Dr Abed Bwanika.
Bobi Wine has accused Bwanika of massaging a dictator when he suggested that the National Unity Platform leadership should talk to the President to release the supporters of NUP who were arrested before, during and after the recently concluded general elections.
This would seem to negatively imply Bobi and his party don’t tolerate opposing views.
Yet Bobi himself has kept accusing President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to this day of being intolerant of views from political opponents and some from elsewhere.
It is close to a year now since hundreds of NUP supporters were arrested. The leading opposition party claims that more than a hundred of their members remain in ungazetted detention facilities.
NUP’s lawyers have been attempting on several occasions to have courts release them on bail, but in vain.
Yet some suspects such as lawmakers, Allan Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya have actually been released on bail only to be quickly met by security operatives who grab them and throw them back into incarceration!
Ugandans have watched in horror as the Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana indefinite search for justice become frustrated by illegal arrests.
The courts, accordingly, appear to have lost morale of granting bail to them. After all, they are grabbed and taken back to prisons on being granted temporary freedom while waiting for trial.
This is the reason Bwanika is now of the view that NUP approaches the President in order to break the impasse by having the party members languishing in prisons released once and for all.
Bwanika’s view is that the President in Uganda is the court of last resort. He can forgive any suspect no matter the crime and without anybody having the powers to question the decision.
This is again the reason Bwanika suggests NUP talks to Museveni in order for it’s supporters in jail to benefit from his ‘magnanimity’.
But Bwanika’s proposal has been rejected by the party leadership. In fact some have gone ahead to label Bwanika as an NRM mole.
The president is also on record firmly demanding an apology from the suspects here, short of which, they might end up languishing in jail for more years.
Bwanika publicly expressed his thoughts during CBS FM’s Saturday popular political ‘Parliament Yammwe’ talkshow hosted by Meddie Nsereko.
The thoughts rubbed his bosses at Kamwokya the wrong way. They subsequently called a presser to dig in.
From what emerged from the presser, Bwanika is faulted for using a wrong forum to air out such ‘sensitive’ views touching on an equally ‘sensitive’ matter.
Note that Bobi’s nemesis in Museveni says the same whenever any member of his party expresses views contrary to his outside the organs of the party.
Actually, the ruling NRM chairman usually ends up calling for tough disciplinary measures against whoever he happens to deem to have used what he calls a wrong forum to express his or her views.
In move akin to that of Museveni, during the presser Bobi directed Bwanika to appear before the party to explain himself over the views which in an ideal environment he is entitled to hold and air out.
By Tuesday when filed this story I had no idea whether the crisis called by the NUP principal had accordingly sat.
“I have my head. This head is full of ideas. I have the liberty to air out those ideas,” Bwanika responded to the fire from his party.
“No one’, he continues defiantly, ‘can stop me from airing out the ideas I hold in my own head!’
But he quickly concedes to the Kamwokya meeting to justify his views.
NUP argues, correctly, that Bwanika’s suggestion presupposes the party members in jail are already guilty as charged yet they are ‘ prisoners of conscious.’
But as we have noted above, NUP and the suspects themselves have exhausted all the legal means as well as pressure not to mention crying out to Western countries, but it’s supporters have remained in jail all the same.
Some on the contrary, have been able to leave jail after apologizing to the authorities as demanded.
This doesn’t mean they were in actual sense guilty. They were simply forced to apologise in order to regain their freedom and fend for their dependants and themselves. Other than remaining defiant in which case they would be still gritting their teeth in jail.
After all, they say desperate situations call for desperate solutions.
It has also been reported elsewhere that MPs Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana in one of the court appearances, powerlessly appealed to the court for help since many of their leaders in NUP had ‘abandoned’ them to their devices.
If such reports are true, then Bwanika’s proposals are justifiable since the NUP leaders are perhaps out of demolarization after fighting hard to save their own, are now desperately sitting back hoping against hope that fate would finally intervene on their supporters’ behalf.
One would excuse Bwanika, for emphasis sake, for proposing that now that other means have failed to liberate their supporters from jail, its high time NUP negotiated with Museveni since he is the alpha and omega in these matters.
To cap it all, Bobi by appearing to be questioning Bwanika over holding views he deems contrary to his or those of the party he heads, he is apparently vindicating critics who point out NUP is threatened by rifts caused by a clash of ideas among it’s leaders.
Yet Bobi has all the time been holding out NUP as a party which is as unshakable as a rock.