We’re in Panda Gari repeat, says Musumba

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Salaam Musumba, Prime Minister, People's government

Forum for Democratic Change [FDC] Vice President for Eastern Uganda, Salaamu Musumba, says Uganda is back to the days of “Panda Gari [get into the vehicle]”, one of the legacies of the Obote II regime.

Male Ugandans were randomly arrested and many were never seen again.

Musumba who was appearing on NBS “Frontline” programme Thursday night commented on the re-arrest outside court of suspects in the murder of former police spokesperson, AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi.

“This is a pattern. It goes back to Black Mambas that kidnapped and later killed Dr Kizza Besigye’s brother. I was a victim of Omara in Butaleja. All this is a repeat of Panda Gari.”

She went on: “I get sad when I hear. Gen Tumwine talk. This is unacceptable. It was done in Northern Uganda for two decades.”

According to Musumba, this is creating a very bad future because the population is radicalised.

“No one trusts the security forces. We are not secure spiritually. The regime is secure but as a people, we are not.”

Host: Is it possible that some government officials create a state of insecurity to secure more operational allowances?

Musumba: This is a pattern. There are war profiteers. Under Kayihura, budget went up. His justification was that Besigye had to be contained. Safe houses exist. Check your neighbourhood. Victims of those places exist. There are many impotent men in this city because of torture.

The MPs should have tried to break the door. Instead, they sheepishly walked away. They needed to be more serious. The chairman should have prepared better.

In his turn, government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, said it is possible that people are judging the arrests wrongly based on one part of the clip.

“We all know the media chooses to show what reinforces a certain narrative. I want to watch the whole clip to find out if indeed these officers didn’t identify themselves.”

He went on: “From what I have been told, the officers identified themselves but the suspects and their supporters chose to play to the gallery.”

According to Opondo, these people who were arrested are in a gazetted place in Kireka.

“The authorities are not as distilled as per our promises but we are on the way. Some of the mistakes can be operational or tactical. That is why we need to put ourselves in the shoes of these officers. They may have acted over zealously but are there mechanisms for review? Yes. These are isolated incidents that can be addressed.”

He even joked: “Since Hon Muhammad Nsereko is not sure about his safety, I hope he is going to sleep in the studio. We don’t have sufficient cameras and should buy more. About their quality, I don’t think Hon Nsereko is being genuine when he suggests that every crime should be solved with CCTV footage.”

Safe houses

Opondo said if they are illegal detention centres and that torture takes place there, that is not acceptable.

Norbert Mao: I went to visit one of the Kony generals in a safe house…Illegal detention centers should be closed. Parliament should pass a resolution. We need testimonies from those who have been there. Parliament doesn’t have to prove anything. We know these things happen.

Opondo: There are members of opposition who are running away from opposition and are being threatened, they are kept in safe houses.

Nsereko: The law empowers the internal affairs minister to gazette a detention centre. Anything outside that is illegal. The ruling of the Speaker who authorized the MPs to visit safe houses is final.

Safe houses are for purposes of keeping some suspects or victims safe but if they are used for torture, that is a different story. Had they been told two days earlier, they would have found a clean house.

A safe house shouldn’t be known. The fact that people know where safe houses are means that those torture chambers exist. Witnesses pinpointed these places. This could be a tip of the iceberg of a battle within the security forces.

Bright Rwamirama: It is regrettable for safe houses to be known. However, anybody who is running a torture chamber should be exposed. Safe houses are supposed to be comfort areas where witnesses are protected.

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