Opinion: No one is safe – when the authorities can take you in for “guilt” by association

The “drones” or “Panda Gari’s” never left the Republic. It is clear that abductions, kidnappings, keeping people detained incommunicado, torturing and also extra judicial killing is far from over. The authorities does it in broad daylight, they do it in the middle of the day. They come unannounced and without warrants, take away people and their remaining family or friends are shocked.

This can happen because the family is in exile, associated with the “wrong” political party or has some sort “questionable” behaviour. There can be “intelligence” gathered against the person, but nothing has been in the courts. None of the charges or the reasons to apprehend, abduct or kidnapped has been proven or tested. It is only on a hunch and possibly by association with someone. That’s all it takes and there is no other justification for doing so.

This is being done by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), Special Forces Command (SFC), The Flying Squad (Uganda Police Force) or Internal Security Organization (ISO). All of them are doing at different times to various of people. It is just so commonly happening. The only reason why we know about it is because people leak videos and messages from “loved-ones” or family members who has been “taken-in”.

The amount of this practice is hard to figure. The numbers fluctuate and the accuracy is hard to know. However, with the lack of oversight and no one been able to look into the practices of “safe-houses”. You just know the state has more facilities where they are keeping “prisoners” or “people of interest”. As they are held without their legal rights or after the 48 hours window to be taken to court to be processed. Because, the entities and the security agencies doing it is operating on a flimsy basis. There is little to no “intelligence” or “proof of criminal activity”. If the security agencies had it. They could have produced warrants and justification for the action in the first place.

The ones that is amazed by this have clearly lost a step. This has been done so deliberately over the years. In such a manner, that the state is now and then forced to pay damages to people captured without a legal basis. That’s why the Courts are forced to so, because the laws are stipulated in that way and the state has to fork out funds. This is for a reason and it happens too. The ones that is fortunate enough to challenge the kidnapping, torture, pain and suffering, which was caused on them by brutal force.

This is the legacy that the National Resistance Movement will leave behind. The acts of the CMI, SFC, Flying Squad, ISO and others will be things that has tarnished its reputation. Everyone knows they are doing it and they cannot run away from it. They have their Argentina House and other facilities that does it. There is no way to run away from it now.

There is no clever spin or sort of reasoning that can suggest otherwise. These actions will remain as dubious and be seen as deliberate acts of vengeance. They are not only done on political leaders, activists and random bystanders. It is also done on people by association and connected by blood. They haven’t even done anything, but their kin did a decision either in absentia, in exile or are already captured themselves. That’s how the state operates and they are not even hiding it. Peace.

Opinion: The “drones” never left

The “Drones” or the Panda Gari’s never ceased their operations. The National Resistance Movement (NRM) have only reconfigured things and made it their own. The same resistance group and rebellion, that promised freedom and liberty. Alas, security for all and no fear of sudden arrests, which would happen according to law. However, with the time that has withered and its now obvious that this was a lie.

The NRM wants to rule on intimidation, fear and strike vicious vengeance towards the ones that is defying it. That’s why people are ending up missing. Cheiftancy of Military Intelligence (CMI) is known for suddenly abducting, keeping people incommunicado and some even end up dead.

It is various of authorities who does this activity, not only the CMI, even if that is the one who is most recognized for it. The army own branched Special Forces Command (SFC) has been doing and so has other agencies like Internal Security Organization (ISO). It is not like the Uganda Police Force (UPF) or Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) haven’t worked in tandem on this.

There is a reason why “safe-houses” exists and they are used for keeping people unknowingly. They are there, usually tortured and battered. The authorities using violent means, which are supposed to break the spirit and get them to tell stories. However, this is only showing the brutal side of the government. As these people are detained, tortured and in harms way without any due process. The civilian are taken there and kept without warrants or court order. They are not deemed felons or people who has breached any statute or law. These people just happens to be caught, captured and be maligned for a crime they didn’t do.

That’s the sort of activity the Parliament is condoning, but never acting upon. No, the government isn’t stopping it. The Parliament haven’t been allowed to investigate and the authorities will only give progress or cliff-notes on the few that is mentioned in Plenary Sessions. The vans are coming to a street near you and someone is going to be at the mercy of the law.

When someone is saying it’s hard to spot the difference between a bloody gang and the people running the “drones”. That is saying something about how they operate. There is the same sort of acts that goons or street thugs do. They come silently and strike powerfully. The victim can be taken brutally away from the location and be kept at unknown location indefinitely.

With the usage of these means, it is hard to separate who is criminal and who is law enforcement. It is the same sort of violent approach and it’s no difference then in Amin’s time, which Museveni has said to be different too. He is actually using the same means and intimidation. His security organizations are using similar means and they not even concealing it. That’s why the Penal Code haven’t been revised and the authorities have the same colonial laws to pin civilians in. Heck, the same government is using military court to detain and charge civilians. That is just showing how far the authorities has taken it. There is no boundaries and the state is willing to do everything to silence the ones in its way.

The drones never left. They were prevalent in the year and months in advance of the 2021 elections. They have been active since then too, but now they are targeting more people. It is happening so often and with such haste. You know the government is trying to do a point. Just like it did with the Flying Squad and the Black Mambas. Things are just coming back and we can rest assured that the LDUs will soon kick-it off too.

This sort of government don’t come in peace, but it comes in resounding viciousness and no one is left untouched. That’s the justice and liberty that the NRM serves the public. You have to be careful. One day it might be you. Just because you were associated with the wrong people at the wrong time or the CMI/SFC has grudges against people like you. Peace.

The state ordered to pay in total 400m shillings in damages to 2 URA employees after illegal detention and torture of them in March of 2021…

(i) The affidavit evidence of A1, A2, Capt. Isingoma, AIP Kisa Claire and Mr. Kabagambe when considered in totality look that like a movie. A1 and A2 are arrested through the use of trickery as if they were on the run whereas not. A1 is deceived that he was reporting for deployment on an operation. When he reports at the appointed time and place he is literally abducted. He is made to leave his vehicle unattended at a fuel station as if he was a terrorist.

(ii) A2 was called by a fellow driver at midnight claiming he needed help having got a mechanical problem. He is lured in the middle of the night and arrested like a terrorist” (High Court, 12.09.2022).

The state sponsored torture story of Robert Asiimwe Akanga (A1) and Kalemba Stevens (A2) is nothing new, but it needs to be told. These two gentlemen won their case against the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). This case just shows how the state uses torture and keeping people illegally detained without producing them to the courts within the 48 hours deadline. That happened to the people of this case and it is significant, but not shocking.

This sort of case should be spread, because it shows what the state does and how it operates. The authorities are acting like this on the regular. They are allowed to operate like this and it has no consequences. The state is paying damages and costs of the case, but the officers and the authorities will not clean up their act. This is how they are and it’s only a few of these stories that ends up in the Courts. Most of the torture cases are happening in silence and the victims cannot or have no options but to stay silent.

Just read these quotes… and it should make you shiver…

It all started with this: “The allegation is that on the 28th day of February 2021, Al and A2 being employed by Uganda Revenue Authority as a customs officer and driver respectively stole USD 410,000 the property of GAK Express Co. Limited. The two deny the charges” (High Court, 12.09.2022).

So, this all starts with alleged criminal behaviour, which is directly false. The authorities have pinned two men and because of their role in URA. They were easily targets as the work of Customs Officer and a Driver. However, there was never any proof or evidence of this crime.

That didn’t stop the state from doing this to them, which is quotes from the Court Ruling…

About the Arrest and Torture methods used on A1:

In his affidavit in support dated 25th March 2022 A1 stated that on 3rd March 2021, he received a phone call from Paul Karatunga, the In-Charge Operations Team 1 informing him of a planned operation along Entebbe road. Karatunga assigned A1 to lead the team. They met at Total Petrol Station, Kajjansi at 6.30 am. Karatunga was in company of two soldiers namely Captain Charles Isingoma and Captain Winnie Kusiima plus two armed escorts. A1 was instead arrested under gun point and pushed him into a vehicle. He was taken to URA offices where he met other UPDF and Police officials attached to URA. He was handcuffed. Lt. Col Zaakye informed him, the arrest is in connection with theft of money belonging to a Sudanese national. He denied participating in theft” (…) “Col. Cassette Ignatius Wamundu asked him to confess to the theft of money or be tortured by the Joint Anti -Terrorism Taskforce until he does so. That he was denied a right to contact his lawyer or make any phone call. On 6th March 202l at 7 am was picked by a team from CMI, blindfolded and taken to CMI Hqrs at Mbuya where he was subjected to torture” (…) “It was executed by 10 well-muscled men using weapons such as guns, sticks, batons, metal bars, pliers, chains, ropes and electric wires. He maintained his innocence as they demanded for the money he is alleged to have robbed. He lost consciousness due to prolonged torture. He regained his senses to realise he was in a corridor. He was bleeding and still chained. He was taken back to Custody at SIU Kireka during darkness. He could not walk” (High Court, 12.09.2022).

About the Arrest and Torture methods used on A2:

A2, in his affidavit of 25th March 2021 states that on 2nd March 2021 at around midnight, hg received a call from Sekweyarna, a fellow driver at URA, claiming to be stuck near his home and needed help. A2 responded only to find army captains who put him under arrest at gun point. Col Cassette Ignatius Wamundu asked him about the money. He denied knowledge of where the money was. He punched him in the right eye and as he fell down. He was kicked in the ribs at gun-point before his children and wife who cried and shouted. He threatened to shoot him unless he admitted having stolen money on 28th February 2021. Present were Captains Isingoma. Diana Museveni and Winnie Karugwara. They took him back to his home” (…) “That on 6th March 2021 he was taken to CMI offices in Mbuya and taken to a room where four muscled men had assorted weapons including guns, sticks, batons, metal bars, pliers, chains, ropes, electric wires among others. He was undressed. He was badly and severely beaten using the electric cables, hang on hand cuffs up the ring as his legs were tied down and suspended in one position for a whole day as he was being beaten” (…) “He was tortured again on on 8th March 2021. His body became swollen with wounds on the legs, back, hands, ribs and abdomen. He did not receive any medical attention or have access to a lawyer or family members. Further mistreatment went on until he was produced in court after an ordeal of 16 days in detention” (High Court, 12.09.2022).

The damages they are getting for all of this:

Taking all these factors into consideration I award A1 as the main target and focus of torture a sum of 200 million as compensation for pain, suffering, and physical injuries. I award another 50 million to A1 as punitive damages for subjecting him to humiliation and embarrassment. I Award a sum of 100 million to A2 as damages for pain, suffering and physical injuries. I award another 50 million to A2 as punitive damages for subjecting him to humiliation and embarrassment. A1 and A2 are also awarded taxed costs of this consolidated application” (High Court, 12.09.2022).

We know the state will only condone but not act upon the mischief. These sort of cases never cease to exist. There is no retribution or stop of the practice. This has been going on since the inception of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and done by the government before it too. The NRM promised to end it, but they never will…

The damages of 400m shillings won’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things. The officers, the men who did the torture and the authorities will not go after the ones who did it. No, the mentioned high ranking officials and others will walk free. The only thing happening is that the gentlemen who was arrested, harmed and tortured will get damages. The system will not change… and that’s how the story goes.

A1 and A2 are reminders of how the NRM and the Authorities are working. This isn’t a one of or an isolated case for that matter. No, this is how they move and allowed to work. It just happens that this one ended up in the High Court. Peace.

Uganda-Rwanda Tensions XXX: Joint Statement on the Ministers of Foreign Affairs during the Bilateral Diplomatic and Political Consultations held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Kigali Rwanda (01.09.2022)

Uganda: State House – Presidents’ Museveni, Kagame discuss regional peace, stability (24.04.2022)

Uganda-Rwanda Tensions XXVIIII: Rwanda – Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Re-Opening of the Gatuna border post with the Republic of Uganda (28.01.2022)

Muhoozi’s one-day affair in Kigali: When diplomacy is set to die…

You can wonder sometimes… if blood is so important that state affairs and diplomatic agencies loose all values. Because, the Government of Uganda has a Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it has a diplomatic corpse in Kigali and has a Ministry of Interior, which all could have enforced and ensure protocol on the matter. However, the GoU sent Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerubaga, the first son of the President and Commander of the Land Forces in the National Army to represent and negotiate with the Rwandan President Paul Kagame. That says it all… and that’s brazen, if anything.

The National Resistance Movement, the State House and the whole “yes-men” will call it an achievement and proclaim whatever the son of the old man with the hat brings home. He could have brought stray-cats from Kigali and they would called him an environmentalist. However, there is no joint-communique or joint statement on the matter. None of the parties have let out much information, if any of substance.

Rwandan Government friendly press New Times states this about the meeting: “Details of the meeting between the two were not immediately made public but the Office of the President described the talks as cordial and productive. “President Kagame and General Muhoozi Kainerugaba had cordial, productive and forward looking discussions about Rwanda’s concerns and practical steps needed to restore the relationship between Rwanda and Uganda,” according to Presidency” (Edwin Ashimwe – ‘Kagame, Gen. Muhoozi discuss mending Rwanda-Uganda ties’ 23.01.2022, New Times Rwanda).

While the Ugandan Newspaper Daily Monitor reported this: “However, following his one-day working visit to Rwanda on Saturday to meet President Paul Kagame in what seems to mark warming relations between the neighbouring countries after years of tension, Lt Gen Kainerugaba who doubles as UPDF Commander Land Forces said Pte Arinda had been released” (Job Bwire – ‘Rwanda releases SFC soldier after Muhoozi’s visit’ 22.01.2022, Daily Monitor Uganda).

This shows that both nations are happy with the meeting, but the ties are not totally mended. We know the Rwandan government have come with clear stipulations to open up border and get back on good terms. However, even with the former meetings and negotiations it hasn’t gotten further.

What is only proof of goodwill is the return of a Ugandan repatriated after being arrested a few month ago. The challenge now… is to use the momentum and continue the talks. Since, the parties and neither state has shown true progress. If there was any progression, the would be a written communique or a statement saying something. There would be a possible Memorandum of Understanding to work to a new diplomatic agreement. However, that seems far away…

The first son can bring home a soldier, which has belonged to a unit and outfit, which he used to be commander of. Therefore, he can boost his ego and make himself look smart. However, that meant nothing to Kagame. Only a few positive headlines, which he didn’t pay anything for. While he gave no way or indicated for changes. As the stalemate and tensions aren’t resolved. That’s because the parties, presidents and authorities haven’t given way to each other.

Lt. Gen. Muhoozi wants to be seen as a diplomat and politician, capable of the big-league, but this meeting hasn’t proven that. The only thing this has proven, is that he can take a few snaps and return home nearly empty-handed. The release of a SFC soldier isn’t anything in the greater scheme of things. There been people wrongly arrested on both sides of the dispute, which has been dumped on the borders to return home. That has been the practice of both parties over the last few years and this isn’t changing anytime soon. Especially, when anyone becomes a dissident in Kampala, they are easily being maligned to counter espionage for Kigali. So, as long as this is happening. We know the things aren’t changing or becoming for the better.

Muhoozi couldn’t win this one and Kagame wouldn’t let him either. That would infuriate the elites and be a shallow one. Therefore, maybe it was for the better, that they only got a token of goodwill and the real diplomats can resolve the issues between them. Since, this was just a publicity stunt to boost the ego of an aspiring son of the President for Life in Kampala. Peace.

Auditor General Report says the government lacks ‘Fleet Management’

This is really special, unique and utter brilliance. For a government and a ruling regime so addicted to cars/vehicles. The Auditor General Report is really stating the errors of the National Resistance Movement (NRM). The OAG is clearly not saving its words.

When it states: Management of government vehicles (Fleet management) is faced with a number of challenges, such as: inability to respond to national emergencies, like COVID 19; inability to support the delivery of public service by government entities; high government expenditure on purchase of vehicles; misuse of government vehicles; inaccurate vehicle management records; and a general lack of a comprehensive and standard government fleet management policy” (OAG, February 2021).

If you read those sentences… the challenges is the whole gig and set-up. There is nothing that is done correctly and neither is there any procedures to follow. That is the government of over 30 years for you. A NRM who is always in every election buying vehicles and gives away that to public officials. Therefore, they should have secured these things and ensured their ‘fleet’ which they clearly are not careful about.

Just in the last three years, 36 government entities bought a total of 677 vehicles with a total cost of 176 billion shillings. That is the average price of each vehicle for close to 260 million shillings each. While the COVID-19 donations to cars was only 38.98 billion shillings, which is used to acquire 202 vehicles. That is at a price of 192,5 million shillings for each vehicles. So, the prices on the cars have clearly gone down, but still expensive.

It is ironic that the Daily Monitor reported this earlier this year:

The industry price increase is estimated to be between 6.25 per cent and 9 per cent spread across all sizes and models. Uganda is a net importer with much of the country’s motor vehicle imports sourced from Japan, India, South Africa, UK and Germany. According to data from Uganda Revenue Authority earlier this year, a total of 5,188 units were cleared in December 2020, which was a 22 per cent increase from the 4,012 units in the previous month” (Dorothy Nakaweesi – ‘Prices of used cars increase 30.04.2021).

So, on that note alone the OAG report doesn’t make much sense. Unless, the state suddenly bought smaller cars and not just Toyota Land Cruisers with V8 or something similar. Now, they are buying Toyota Corolla’s or a Sedan, which is cheaper than a big SUV.

We know there is no proper guidance or protocol for the fleet or vehicles as earlier stated, as the OAG Report further says this:

Furthermore, I observed that 38 entities (76.0%) out of the 50 entities did not have a specific policy or guidelines on Motor vehicle management to guide the usage and eliminate theft, losses, wastage and misuse of motor vehicles. This was in addition to the absence of a comprehensive standardized fleet management policy of Government. Different aspects of government vehicles management are found in different policies and guidelines cited in various government documents, such as; the Uganda Public Service Standing Orders 2010, the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2014, and Treasury Instructions, 2017. This affects the entities’ ability to address the unique motor vehicle management challenges which may not be envisaged in the standing Orders and Treasury Instructions” (OAG February 2021).

So, the government haven’t any sort of idea what it needs to do, if the cars are lost, forgotten about or lack service. These cars can just dwindle or disappear into the thin air. Just like cars bought decades ago and suddenly found in a government organization parking lot dusting down. While the cars are falling apart without anyone knowing why and was a procurement deal gone bad or something. Therefore, this report isn’t shocking, but its proof of why this is a mismanaged cash-bonanza for the government entities.

To make things even worse, the OAG Report says this:

I noted that 33 of the selected entities holding a total of 4,979 vehicles spent UGX.123.4bn on vehicle maintenance, and had an increment of 35.3% of the average total maintenance costs per vehicle over the 3 year period. The increasing maintenance costs were attributed to the ageing fleet. For example, 1,794 vehicles (55%) out of 3,234 vehicles held by 27 entities had exceeded the recommended 5 years useful life or had their mileage above the recommended 250,000km” (OAG February 2021).

The Auditor General is clear in the message. Though this is only from 33 government entities and still shows a pattern. It also shows the massive car-park or fleet it has. Which is ageing just like the President and needs a peaceful transition to buy new ones. Since, the government is on a spending spree when it comes to vehicles.

That will clearly not stop as there is a possibility there is a need to downplay the value of the current fleet and even scrap the cars eventually… as they are not fit to be on the road. This here is another proof of no guidelines or planned procurement of the vehicles. As that is a short-term expense and not planned for what happens after a while. That’s how it looks and it isn’t shocking.

We can always remember the vehicles bought for the papal visit a few years back. Those cars was spent a small fortune on, but left behind. To never be seen and kept in a government parking-lot.

The OAG is just putting the truth out and this needs to be discussed, as this is horrible governance and misuse of government funds. They are wasting millions of shillings and cannot even take care of the car park it has created. Peace.

The State propose a 0,5% Cash Withdrawal Tax (!)

The Ministry of Finance, Planning Economic Development (MoFPED) is preparing a tax on every cash withdrawal from ATMS or Commercial Banks. This means every time someone takes out cash from their accounts. The customers i.e. the citizens have to pay the state a fee to access their money. Just like they do with the mobile money transactions. That’s why the state is proposing this.

This is an easy way to access more funds without adding any value to the monetary market. The state will not do anything, but adding a fee. A percentage on every single transaction. In the meanwhile, they will also deplete funds from the citizens. As the citizens have to calculate every transaction to ensure they are paying less taxes. That is what people does when they want to ensure they get most value out of the money. Which will be standard.

The manner of doing this. Is in a state where there is already lots of cash and money in circulation. The Republic is built with cash based economy and need for cash itself. That is why in some ways this will even be a double tax. Especially for the ones having first mobile money transfer to family members and loved ones. They are first paying a fee to send it too them, which is the Mobile Money Tax. Then the person receiving the Mobile Money will have to pay either at a bank or at ATM the Cash Withdrawal Tax. In this way the state is getting paid twice before the money is even getting in circulation.

I wonder, if the MoFPED have thought of the consequences of this? Has the state considered the implications for the citizens? Or are they only trying to figure out new ways to cash in on every citizens. So that their behaviour and need for money will cost them.

Because, it is normal that foreigners or aliens are paying to take out money at a ATM abroad. They usually pay a transfer fee between their currency and the Ugandan Shilling. That is making sense and the bank also takes a fee for doing so. A tourist knows this and accepts it, as it is a way of easily access and securing local currency. However, what the state is proposing is paying a tax to access your own money.

The state is billing people for withdrawal of cash. In essence the state will take money for service rendered for printing money. They are billing the public for having circulated coins and bank notes. Since, they are taxing every transaction and that’s really ill. This sort of enterprise isn’t growing the tax-base, but taking away more funds from circulating. The more you tax, the more funds you are depleting from the system. In the end you have a evil circle where all taxes are overburdening the citizen. In such a manner, that they start to do all business and transactions on the black-market to save money. That is when the state loses out and cannot access these transactions at all. This because they have found other means of moving money and doesn’t want to pay added taxes on their needed funds.

The more these taxes are put forward. The more funds are taken away from the ones who needs them. This is all taken away from the citizens before they get to access the money. Either it is mobile money or taken from their account through a withdrawal. That should worry the Representatives and the ones making laws. The amount of 0,5% doesn’t sound like a lot, but imagine that on every single transaction or withdrawal. That will be huge sum and be a costly endeavour. Peace.

Uganda-Rwanda Tensions XXVIII: Office of the President – Border Incursions by Rwandan Security Forces on Ugandan Territory (04.08.2020)

%d bloggers like this: