Today, Uganda celebrates its independence anniversary. It’s been 58 years of mixed fortunes- some good and some bad.
“We have made strides as a country for which we must be grateful. But we have also witnessed some of the most severe forms of bad governance, betrayals and lost hopes,” said Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, the founder of People Power Movement.
“To those who have stood in the way of our nation’s full independence, we say your days are numbered.”
“May we all come together and renew our commitment to building a truly independent, free and prosperous nation,” he added.
Bobi Wine, now the National Unity Platform [NUP] presidential candidate, has come a long way to challenge President Museveni in 2021 elections.
Counting the cost
Bobi Wine’s political ambitions soared in 2017 when he overwhelmingly won the Kyadondo East parliamentary seat.
Ever since, his followers and supporters have either been tortured, kidnapped or killed by state agencies.
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” — Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
On February 20, 2019, Aggrey Masaaba, a People Power supporter, went missing.
His disappearance was announced by the Bamasaba Community in a newspaper notice of February 26, 2019.
He was reportedly abducted by unknown people from his home for his affiliation to People Power.
On May 28, 2019, Makerere Law Society says Mukisa Joshua, the third year law student went missing.
The People Power candidate, Mukisa had just lost the guild election to the current Guild President Julius Kateregga.
He was found a month later near a swamp with scars and marks of physical beatings all over his body, an indication that he was tortured by his captors.
In the same month, Ashburg Katto, a then popular “People Power Movement” blogger who runs Ghetto TV, went missing.
Then a close confidant of Bobi Wine, Ashburg had been sent threatening messages asking him report to Uganda Communications Commission [UCC] for interrogation regarding the activities of Ghetto TV.
In June 2019, John Bosco Kibalama, a resident of Seeta Kiwalimu zone, went missing. He was an accountant with British American Tobacco.
On October 28, 2019, Zulaikah Nalukenge Ssekitto Kasujja, a very committed People Power supporter, mobiliser and activist, was found having gone missing for three days.
Nalukenge, 26, was kidnapped on October 24 2019 while out to Acacia Mall in Kampala to buy her birthday cake.
The killings of People Power supporters started with the August 2018 Arua town debacle where security forces shot dead his driver Yasin Kawuma.
In December 2018, Kobusingye Alice, a supporter of People Power was allegedly killed in Bujuuko.
A resident of Bushenyi, Kobusingye was returning home after a concert by Bobi Wine at his One Love beach in Busabala, Wakiso district.
Indeed, on 14th May, 2019 Raphael Walugembe, a People Power coordinator and student of Nkozi University was shot dead in Nateete under suspicious circumstances.
On 22nd May, People Power supporter and coordinator Okot P’ Bitek Junior sustained grave injuries after being shot in Amolatar district by a UPDF solider.
On 7th June, our strong mobiliser and L.C. 5 Councilor for Buvuma district, Lukoma Stephen Ssalongo was shot dead.
In August 2019, People Power supporter Michael Alinda aka Ziggy Wine, died after being beaten beyond recognition.
One of his eyes was plucked out and some of his fingers were cut off. A blogger, Wine was vocal on social media for supporting Bobi Wine.
In the same month, Mityana Municipality MP Zaake Francis Butebi who heads the youth leadership of People Power Movement accused police of killing Hakim Ssekamwa, a People Power – Uganda supporter and the boda boda rider.
Zaake said Ssekamwa was knocked at high speed by Police patrol truck No. UP 2525 after Wobulenzi Town in Luwero District.
People Power diehard Hannington Ssewankambo alias Sweet Pepsi died in October 2019 after being severely beaten by security forces.
In January 2020, Omara Bonny alias Masembe Solomon, the People Power youth coordinator of Amolatar district, was murdered in Lira, Lango sub-region.
Omara was mobilising and establishing People Power structures in Amolatar before his death.
In February 2020, Rita Nabukenya, a member of People Power Movement was killed by a police truck while moving on a boda in Nakawa.
On the same day she was buried in Kiboga district, police in Nansana shot dead Daniel Kyeyune, a People Power member who was returning from the burial.
Tough Road ahead
At the start of March 2020, Ugandans in the diaspora gathered in major cities across the globe to protest the death of People Power supporters in Uganda.
In Kampala, People Power Women Wing led by former Makerere researcher Dr Stella Nyanzi, also criticised government killings.
They cited the killings of; Rita Nabukenya and Dan Kyeyune, Yasin Kawuma who was killed in Arua, Hakim Ssekamwa, killed when we were coming from Gulu, Asuman Walyendo, killed in Bugiri during the bye election, Ssalongo Lukume, one of our mobilisers killed in Buvuma Islands, the late Ziggy Wine, Hannington Ssewankambo, also known as ‘Sweet Pepsi’, among others.
Court petitions to seek justice for the lost souls have not yielded positive results.
Even when this era seemed to cease, People Power supporters are still being arrested, mistreated and wrongfully imprisoned including Bobi himself.
Bobi Wine has since been chosen as the presidential flag bearer of NUP but the same party is being contested by Moses Kibalama, the founder who sold it to his nephew and later betrayed him.
Despite all the gloom, Bobi Wine still sees a flicker of hope as Uganda nears the 2021 by-election where he is running against President Museveni.