By Ofwono Opondo
Politically washed out opposition figure, Dr Kizza Besigye, has after two months of not being given any media coverage of substance, on account of the Arua municipality by-election fallouts, returned last week with very ridiculous claims that government is behind the murders in Kampala metropolitan area.
Besigye’s rant was clearly intended for purposes of regaining cheap media publicity because, apparently, the Bobi Wine passing wave had swept him away. As his ‘people’s government’ got subsumed into the ‘people power’ sloganeering, Besigye had to conjure up some dramatic falsehoods for the gullible media to grant him audience and remain relevant.
Besigye, the perennial presidential candidate for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), convened a press conference, at which he falsely claimed that there was a plan by government to assassinate opposition politicians in order to create fear, which would then necessitate declaration of a state of emergency.
In this warped view, if a state of emergency was declared, it would then permit President Yoweri Museveni and the current government to continue in office without holding a general election scheduled for early 2021. It is part of his hate campaign build up towards 2021 in the hope he can raise unstoppable hostility against President Museveni and NRM.
In addition, Besigye alleged, that the on-going public recruitment of the Local Defence Units (LDUs) as an auxiliary force, and part of the UPDF Reserve Force, to support law enforcement in Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono districts, where criminality had recently increased, was merely a political handiwork to create an alternative force, perhaps a political militia. Firstly, the on-going recruitment is being done after due publicity notice in the media detailing the requisite qualifications for those interested in serving in LDUs.
Among these qualifications are that one has to be an adult Ugandan citizen between 18-35 years of age, a known and bonafide resident of the area where they seek to be recruited from, and upon training would return to serve in. Also, one must an academic qualification of between Primary Leaving Certificate (PLE) and Ordinary Secondary Level (UCE).
In addition, prospective recruits are required to obtain written approval from their respective Local Council leaders from village up to sub-county level showing good personal character. Therefore, the allegations, that the LDUs are political militia intended for future electioneering, is a false propaganda intended to create political fear.
Accusations that arming the LDUs with assault weapons, may not be managed well and lead to reckless violent criminality, is not born by recent and available historical facts. First because this is not the first time auxiliary forces like LDUs are being employed to support either the police or army. For the record, these forces have been previously used throughout Uganda. In Acholi they were known as hone-guards, Amuka in Lango, and Arrow Boys in Teso region where they were useful in neutralizing and eventually defeating armed rebellion in those respective areas.
With every passing day, Besigye is increasingly becoming too ridiculous to be believed by any right thinking members of the public because of the nature of his allegations and empty rhetoric. He appears, more driven by pent up anger and frustrations at his many election losses and defections of many credible opposition leaders who once believed in him. For instance, the claim that government plans to assassinate opposition leaders or create insecurity in order to avoid elections is so base.
Even with the strong political contention in the country, President Museveni and NRM enjoy credible, popular and demonstrable support among Ugandans as demonstrated in all the recent elections as well as policy in parliament. For that reason, there is therefore no reason why President Museveni or NRM would seek to avoid facing the people in an election.
But be that as it may, President Museveni and NRM record in handling its opponents even while still in the bush is well-known. NRM never assassinates opponents because it considers it not only cowardly, but also not strategic because it doesn’t decisively deal with the causes of the primary contradictions in dispute.
NRM’s record ably shows that even armed opponents captured in military combat have been brought back, rehabilitated, reconciled with and integrated in the community and government institutions if they qualify and willing to work.