Great Lakes February 27, 2020
By Charles Kamya Ssentamu
At just 24 years, Rita Nabukenya is of the generation that President Museveni has lately taken to patronizing as his grandchildren or bazukulu. Yet that was not enough to save her life in a targeted killing executed by none other than the Uganda Police.
According to eyewitnesses, Nabukenya’s journey to death started at about 8 am on February 24, when a police patrol vehicle rammed the motorbike taxi she was riding on her way to attend a court session at the Buganda Road Magistrates Court. There, Robert Kyagulanyi the People Power leader was scheduled to appear.
Nabukenya’s apparent crime was to be seen donning a red beret – the signature symbol of resistance that People Power has adopted. Eyewitnesses say two police patrol cars sandwiched the rider before one of them rammed into the bike, sending driver and passenger to the tarmac. It was very much a deliberate act.
Although Nabukenya survived the impact, she succumbed to her injuries hours later at Mulago Hospital, which in the years of Museveni has become more of a mortuary than undertaker a place of healing for the poor.
Nabukenya is so far the third victim this year of state sponsored violence targeting opposition activists, in particular People Power. Omara Bony the PP Coordinator for the Lango region was tortured to death in Amolatar District. On January 6, a day-old infant died after she choked on teargas after a canister was deliberately lobbed into her parents’ single room bedsitter.
Analysts are now warning that in a desperate bid to find an excuse to impose martial law, Museveni is trying to lure the youth into a violent response to his repression.
“Museveni is an incompetent leader who only thrives on anarchy. With these actions, he is trying to provoke a crisis that would not only allow him to violently eliminate his opponents but also suspend civic rule,” confided a senior police officer, recently purged out of the force on fictitious charges.
“I would advise Robert Kyagulanyi and his supporters not to fall into this trap because violence is the only game Museveni excels at, and the consequences would be tragic for many people,” added the former cop.
His views were partially vindicated when after a rather mild reaction to Nabukenya’s death, police tried to provoke confrontation with the youth by denying them custody of her body. When that failed to elicit the desired response they fired teargas and live bullets during the wake that was held at her parent’s home in Bunamwaya.
“We are in Bunamwaya at the home of our fallen comrade, Rita Nabukenya. But can you imagine that Police is firing teargas and live bullets now at her home? What impunity! Rest in peace Rita,” one People Power supporter said in a WhatsApp group message.
Speaking outside the city mortuary, People Power Spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi warned Museveni not to taste their patience. “We have tried to avoid reacting to these provocations but I don’t for how much longer this is going to hold,” he said in a message directed at Museveni.
The list of victims of Museveni’s callous strategy has been growing since 2018.
Everyone remembers the events in Arua when the state tended to eliminate Bobi Wine – with the latter narrowly escaping death when his driver was shot dead in an apparent bid to assassinate the outspoken MP. Embarrassed, Museveni faked an attack on his convoy, triggering violent crackdown on opposition supporters; an act that saw 160 of them, including pregnant women, charged with treason.
Last November, Hannington Ssewankambo aka Sweet Pepsi succumbed to injuries that were inflicted on him in September 2019, by elements of Museveni’s personal army within the army, the infamous Special Forces Command.
On August 4, Michael Alinda aka Ziggy Wine, died in Mulago hospital after going missing for days before he was dumped in Mulago hospital by unknown people. His body bore torture marks including an eye that had been gouged out by his tormentors.
In July 2019, FDC youth in Gulu that had turned out to welcome Bobi Wine to their area were without provocation attacked by police, leaving many of them badly injured. Several incidents of police vehicles going out their way to knock down opposition supporters have been captured on camera but no action has been taken against culprits.
Police officers that speak on condition of anonymity say while all those may appear like the random acts of a runaway lawless security system, they fit into a pattern.
The opposition will need to excise extreme restraint to deny Museveni the opportunity to plunge the country into a bloodletting orgy, they add.