Cabinet sitting on Friday 4th August 2017 discussed among other items and noted particularly with concern, the increasing wave of politically motivated intolerance among sections of the political class resulting into physical attacks on targeted people.
In an August 5, 2017, press release issued by Frank K. Tumwebaze, Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Cabinet took strong exception to the incident which occurred in Mubende at the celebrations to commemorate His Highness the Kabaka’s coronation where a one Ntege (aka ‘Kyuma Kyayesu’) attacked Hon. Simeo Nsubuga in full public glare allegedly on account of the views Hon. Nsubuga holds on the proposed amendment of Article 102(b) of the Constitution being discussed in the public arena.
“Similar cases of extreme intolerance involving actual physical attacks and/or assault against Hon. Ibrahim Abiriga, Hon. Betty Kamya and Hon. Kahinda Otafiire have also been reported. This is not only unacceptable but criminal,” Tumwebaze said.
He said cabinet condemned the extreme cases of intolerance that are resulting into episodes of violence.
“NO one has a right to intimidate another person on account of his/her views. Government therefore cautions all those in the habit of taking the law in their hands to stop forthwith.”
He said political disagreements and contestations do not need to degenerate into violence or physical confrontations. “That is cowardice and criminal.”
Tumwebaze has thus directed the Police and other law enforcement agencies to firmly take action against any person alleged to be intimidating and/or attacking any other citizen on account of his/her divergent views.
“Nobody, Senior, Junior or Ordinary citizen is above the law,” he noted, adding that the Constitution is an expression of the people’s wishes, aspirations and ethos and therefore any citizen is free to express his/her views on any matter of constitutional governance.
Chapter 18 of the Constitution and specifically Article 259 provide for a mechanism of amending the Constitution and therefore gives anyone an opportunity to express him/herself and propose any amendments.
“It is therefore criminal for anybody to issue threats against any citizen on account of holding certain political views.”
Tumwebaze encouraged Ugandans to continue freely expressing themselves in accordance with the laws of the land.
“Government will protect the rights of all,” he said, clarifying that cabinet noted that some leaders have been going in the media to issue threats against others with different views.”
“Cabinet therefore called upon the media and all journalism practitioners to always moderate their debates within the confines of the minimum broadcasting standards. They should not allow or tolerate guests who trade in insults and use threatening language bordering on violence against others whose views they disagree with.”
He adds: “A democratic culture can only take root if every citizen is free to express him/herself without any threat from anybody.”
According to Tumwebaze, leaders of all shades of opinion are also encouraged not to stifle debate on any issue that is of interest and concern to the citizenry, as that would be negating the principles of pluralism and democratic governance.
“Government has not yet discussed the issue of age limit as contained in article 102(b). The ongoing discussions in the public domain are citizen driven.”
He concludes: “And any Ugandan or group of Ugandans is/are free to call for any amendment in the Constitution. Government will not stifle them.”