Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine is at it again. Like he did about two years ago when he went on an international smear campaign of Uganda and President Museveni, he has again run to his Western masters with a recycled set of baseless accusations.
In an article titled “My Torture at the Hands of America’s Favourite African Strongman” published on July 29th in the New York Times, the novice politician, in a visibly desperate tone, makes all manner of accusations against President Museveni and the UPDF, while attempting to paint a picture of Uganda as a failed state.
The article is a collection of lies punctuated with exaggerated political experiences meant to cast Bobi Wine and his minions like Hon Francis Zaake as some form of long-suffering political messiahs who urgently need the intervention of Americans to install them as rulers on a throne.
Bobi Wine portrays the UPDF as a rogue army whose full-time occupation is torturing opposition politicians. He uses the August 2018 Arua fracas to make this case. Bobi Wine needs to be told that nowhere, not even in America that he kow-tows to, does a politician lead his supporters into pelting stones on a car carrying a head of state, breaking its rear window, and simply gets away with it.
Actually, in America, such a reckless and criminal act would elicit an obviously harsh reaction from Secret Service agents that I doubt its mastermind would live to write long letters to foreign newspapers years after the act. That Bobi Wine and his accomplices are charged in courts of law, granted bail, and are now roaming about freely, speaks volumes about this country’s state of constitutionalism and rule of law.
In his hyperbolic narrative, Bobi Wine stresses how both he and Hon Zaake have been forced to use crutches after alleged torture by Uganda’s security forces. The Americans he is writing to may not know it, but keen Ugandans noted how in August 2018, after leaving Uganda for the US in a supposed near-coma, Bobi Wine had two days into his American sojourn discarded the crutches and was gleefully appearing before TV cameras. It was a miraculous recovery befitting of the Guinness Book of Records!
The UPDF is not a rogue force. It is perhaps one of the most disciplined military forces in this part of the world. In the pre-Museveni era, the gun was a symbol of terror, synonymous with undisciplined soldiers who meted out violence to innocent Ugandans. Today, the army is subject to civilian authority. An erring soldier is quickly charged before a court-martial and justice dispensed. There are many examples of this but the latest being that of Pte Abraham Lokwap, who a month ago was sentenced to 35 years in jail for killing Benon Musimenta, a church leader in Kasese.
It is not surprising therefore that public surveys have continually listed the UPDF as the most trusted public institution—many times even trusted ahead of the media. The US, that Bobi Wine faults for working with Uganda, has cooperated with the UPDF in places like Somalia and the Central African Republic—on exactly that basis. That it is a disciplined, professional army.
Bobi Wine’s life story is evidence of the fact that Uganda is a progressive country. Born in the slums of Kampala, he worked hard at his talent becoming one of Uganda’s leading and wealthiest musicians. A country that enables talent to flourish and thrives even when it is from the most disadvantaged of backgrounds cannot be a basket case. That he can even dream of running for the presidency is a testament to the world of possibilities that Uganda is.
On democracy, Bobi Wine needs to know that the US he is running to report to until 1920 did not allow women to vote in national elections. Its 2016 presidential elections were so contested that they became the subject of a senate inquiry. President Donald Trump has hinted at the possibility of deferring the November elections because he fears they could be FRAUDULENT! No democracy is perfect and it is always a work in progress. What matters is that at the end of the day, election results reflect the will of the voters.
Whether Bobi Wine admits it or not, President Museveni is a visionary leader who has steadily led Uganda to a much better place than he found it in 1986. Our GDP has grown more than ten-fold, standing at approximately $40 billion up from a paltry $3 billion in 1986. The Harvard University Centre for International Development in 2017 published a report showing that Uganda would be the fastest growing economy by 2025—averaging a 7.73 percent growth, followed by India at 7.72 percent.
Never heard of before, Uganda today enjoys a favorable balance of trade with neighbors like Kenya. What was a country of shortages, dumping and magendo (black-market) is now a manufacturer of plenty, affording to export more to neighbors than it imports. We have cemented our place as the leading coffee exporter on the continent.
Uganda’s literacy rate today is 76.53 percent, up from 48 percent in 1988. Today, the average life expectancy in Uganda is 63 years, up from 38 years in 1988. We have made gains in energy, infrastructure, name it. Importantly, our dignity as Ugandans has been restored. Mocked in the 1970s and 80s as perennial refugees due to political instability at home, Uganda now is the haven for over 1.4 million refugees. Once despised, Uganda is now respected.
With an election around the corner, the battle among Uganda’s opposition outfits for resources from their foreign masters is getting stiffer. You must have an appealing business proposal to catch the eye of the purse holders, even if it means telling lies about your country. We saw this with the TDA in 2015 when they first met in Karen, Nairobi, and later London with Kofi Annan and others. Luckily, Ugandans can see through this façade. An overwhelming endorsement awaits President Museveni to come 2021.
Mr. Wanyama is the Senior Press Secretary to President Yoweri Museveni