President Museveni has said he welcomes any form of protest or criticism from anyone who disagrees with him or his government, so long as this is done legitimately and with good intentions.
Museveni’s message was enclosed in a letter in which he discussed among other things; Security, economy and political landscape of the country, specifically protests.
He said that he has not issues with processions or protests or even criticism against him, but such must be within the law and not aim at discrediting the country for personal or selfish intentions.
“If you want to hold a public meeting (olu kungana) or a procession (ekivulu) for a legitimate reason, you should liaise with the Police, so that your public meeting or your procession does not endanger the lives of other Ugandans or the safety of their property. You agree with the Police on the route, if it involves a procession, or the venue if it is an event or a rally,” he wrote.
“You cannot be rallying and processioning for an illegitimate reason – preaching lies, preaching sectarianism, preaching hate. Those who made mistakes to tolerate such bogusness, paid a heavy price. Did you see the massacre in New Zealand? How about the ones in Sri Lanka recently, in France, in Belgium, in Norway etc.? How about the mega problem that occurred in Rwanda? These tragedies in those areas started with pseudo – and bogus preachers,’ he added.
Museveni said that the same should apply to religious institutions that are practicing hate preaching.
“At the beginning of our Administration, I had to handle the delicate issue of freedom of Worship on the one hand and bogus and dangerous preaching. We handled it correctly and firmly. On the one hand, I found difficulty in agreeing with some in the traditional faiths (the main stream Moslem, Catholics and Protestants) who argued that the new Churches were misleading people etc. I really could not be an arbiter in the issue of who was more-godly than the other. The acid test for me was simply that whatever you preach, do not break the laws of Uganda. These laws are constructed around the legitimate positions, justifiable positions, issue by issue.”
“The Churches were arguing about performing miracles, about what will happen when we are dead etc. These are matters in which we had no competence to adjudicate. However, there were clear earthly phenomena in which we were over-qualified in terms of competence to handle. When, therefore, Mzee Bishaka of Kibaale preached that people should not go to hospital for treatment and that he will cure them by miracle, I locked him up under one of the relevant laws. Indeed, one person had died on account of listening to that dangerous preaching on matters which were clearly earthly. Thereafter, we became very good friends and he went on with his religion which actually preaches unity because their slogan is: “enyahukana zihwaireho – sectarianism is dust binned – no longer there”.”
The president said no one will be allowed to preach hate amongst Ugandans or decampaign investments in the country.
He called upon citizens to contribute to the country by offering well intentioned criticism rather than discourage the progress of the country.
He also said he would be very much willing to debate with whichever individual has specific issues to raise regarding the progress or regress of the nation in a more civilised manner that is constructive to the nation.
“Besides, it is really criminal to get actors who create unnecessary controversy when Uganda is making so much progress. Of course, there are also problems. However, the problems we have today are problems in progress. The problems we had in the past were problems in decline of the economy and country. Only the enemies or the uninformed can be unhappy with the progress of Uganda. What is legitimate is to say that Uganda can even do better. That is well intentioned criticism. To say that Uganda is collapsing and declining is dishonest or uninformed. I totally reject that dishonest audit and can prove it to the people. “