Politics Vs the Law; Besigye Seeks to Blackmail, Corrupt Chief Justice

By: Edgar Tushabe Muhairwe

Rtd. Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye was remanded to Luzira prison on the charge of treason. On June 1, health 2016 he wrote to the Chief Justice of Uganda “RE: Complaint about mistreatment.”

That letter got to the media a few days ago and has been social media forage for about 3 days now. In the long and winding letter, this Besigye attempts to appeal to the emotive side of the CJ, sickness blackmail him and trap him in the monkeyshines of politics, albeit untactifully.

These are my thoughts.

To begin with, it is not surprising but it is sad that for all this long, Besigye had never congratulated His Worship The Chief Justice Bart Katureebe ever since he ascended onto the helm of the Uganda’s Supreme Court. This is witness of Besigye’s little regard for the office of the Chief Justice and the court system generally.

On many occasions, Besigye has lambasted Uganda’s court system and encouraged citizens to disobey lawful orders and fail orderliness. He has been quoted on several occasions preaching politics of lawlessness saying that “politics trumps the law.”

This is the campaign he has preached to Uganda ever since he lost the 2006 election petition. He has since unleashed a PR war on Uganda’s justice system.

Even with this mentality, his letter is crammed with successes he has achieved in these same courts of law. Because of his little respect for the courts, or at least what he has desperately preached to his fanatic base to believe, he speaks of these court victories as personal political triumphs over the unjust, unfair and evil justice system.

In refusing to tap the courts on the back for the times they have “stood their ground” Besigye makes a tactical error. He seeks to steal all the lightening, the thunder and the earthquake from the system that has been good to him when he sought justice and builds for himself an image of “Besigye the magician.”

The real purpose of Besigye’s letter; Besigye as a preacher of extreme libertarianism and a crowd politician knows the effect of personal messaging, and it is evident in the letter.

He sought to appeal to Justice Katureebe as an individual. In his wisdom, Besigye knows that compromising the Chief Justice is critically important since he will sit on the last bench that will hear his petition if ever the lower courts convict him.

From his cell in Luzira, Besigye’s forecast could have tipped him that all this could end at the door of the CJ and thus he should embark on a charm offensive on the person of the Chief Justice.

That is why, in his letter, Besigye venerates himself and his contribution to the NRA struggle, the CA and constitution making, his later days in the army and the electoral processes since 2001. He goes on to narrate his plight to the CJ, of his struggle to redeem this country and the personal pain he has had to bear throughout the times, as if to say, “Take this cup of suffering from me.”

Besigye having failed to corrupt the system now wants to corrupt the person at its helm. In his last paragraphs, Besigye attempts to blackmail the Chief Justice by referring him to the history of that position in Uganda, implicitly alleging that even if the Chief Justice does not release him, he too could be killed at any time.

Benedicto Kiwanuka was allegedly killed by security operatives in the government of Idd Amin in 1970s when he was CJ.

Second, he refers him to the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, the German pastor and poet who was killed by the Nazi “First they came for the Jews…” this poem rallies people for activism against injustice especially if it’s not them suffering it because it would soon be them.

These two last paragraphs are meant to rally the Chief Justice, the custodian of justice in the country to activism against his own system. They mean to create an activist Chief Justice and then to use him to attain political ends.

This attempt at blackmail and arm-twisting is Machiavellian, and it will fail. This is why;

a) The merits of his case under which he is incarcerated will not change. I have confidence in the courts of Uganda to be fair and just.

In his letter, he gives evidence of their fairness but denies them their credit. Once again, they will be fair and just. It was not necessary that he tries a Machiavelli on the CJ.

b) The “Defiance Campaign” that has enormously contributed to his present condition was in the first place started to undermine court orders saying that the courts do not have the spine to be independent and thus, the FDC shall campaign free from their biases. It is ironical that the head of the system Besigye undermined is the one he is lamenting to.

c) It is important to note that Besigye’s passion overwhelms his ability. Since 2001, Besigye has promised a myriad of misfortunes that would consume his rival Yoweri Museveni but nothing has happened. He has little organizational abilities and thus survives on his demagogue character and a weak intra-FDC challenge.

Because of this, he has for 4 times over a period of 16years ridden on the wave of a bubble only for it to burst on the day of reckoning. Because of his weak organization abilities, he has failed to capture the parliament that purportedly makes bad laws, and also to convince the police against implementing those bad law (leave alone the fact that they vote for him.)

Besigye may call this a dictatorship but that is not an excuse for his organizational failures. Despite the fact that the Electoral Commission and the Military Commission were all captured by UPC in the 1980 election, DP did not perform as miserably as FDC does in Parliamentary elections.

And despite the fact that MDC-T and ODM in Zimbabwe and Kenya respectively have lived and operated in very difficult conditions, they have been able to produce a good number of MPs, on one occasion outnumbering their respective incumbents, and gone ahead to make some qualitative and quantitative bargains from formidable positions to the extent of causing compromise in the core of their respective military and security systems.

If Besigye and the FDC could have decent representation in Parliament, they could be able to stand against the ostensibly bad laws that have kept the peace and security of the country.

An attempt to corrupt the chief justice yet bypassing parliament, the police and the people is ephemeral.

d) It is important too that Besigye restrains his misapprehension that today’s Uganda is comparable to Amin’s Uganda and Nazi Germany. The mere attempt to think about it is sad. Ugandans are at relative peace with themselves, their army, their police and justice system. That is why time and again they have voted not only Yoweri Museveni as president, and also NRM Members of Parliament, NRM Local Government candidates and even the councilors to these local councils.

If indeed the situation was as bad as Besigye wants to portray it, Ugandans wouldn’t have the resounding confidence they have in the NRM which they show by voting it overwhelmingly over other electoral participants.


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