Cheeye Should Settle Down and Rebuild his Life!

By Ofwono Opondo

March 29, 17  
It is a privilege to welcome ex-convict and disgraced former journalist, Teddy Ssezi Cheye, back into good community after successfully serving his ten-year jail sentence on corruption related charges of embezzlement, forgery and uttering false documents. Cheeye, was in 2009 through his Uganda Centre for Accountability in which he was the sole signatory to the bank account, found guilty, and addition to the custodial sentence he was forced to refund 100m/= of the 120m/= he misappropriated from the Global Fund for HIV/Aids. It is understandable when Cheye who came out of Luzira prison on March 3rd 2017 speaks so darkly about his trials and tribulations, and blames everybody else except himself.
It is almost natural, one would say particularly when one has been a political high flyer, and we have seen it in the recent past with former vice president Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, and former ministers Jim Muhwezi and Mike Mukula who found themselves in similar predicaments.
These four, Bekenya, Muhwezi , Mukula, and Cheye are very close and indeed supportive friends to many including myself, and while we ampathised with their situations, we couldn’t halt the wheel of the law and justice. Bukenya and Muhwezi where both acquitted at the initial trials for lack of sufficient evidence, while Mukula was acquitted on appeal because of a mistrial by the lower court.  Now, for Cheye who lost at the High Court, Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court to be speaking the way he does, one needs to tell him to calm down because all these judicial levels couldn’t have been politically biased against him or couldn’t have lacked professional competence to weigh the evidence that was severely adduced against the accused. Many will find it strange and absurd that Cheye conveniently singles out Justice John Bosco Katusi who convicted him at the High Court as the one at fault, and Cheye doesn’t mention that he lost all his appeals through the two upper courts.
In fact, many in the court of public opinion to whom Cheye now seeks to appeal would say he got a lenient sentence considering what they knew of him, and the bravado with which he carried his duties both as a journalist and state political intelligence operative who used blackmail, cynicism and charade as major tools of his trade. I can almost say Cheye will not get the slightest sympathy that he seems to be looking for, and he is better advised to recompose himself, settle down and rebuilds his life, after all Uganda has moved on these past ten years when he has been rightly and lawfully kept away from society, and no amount of bitterness soaks that truth.
In his media interviews so far, Cheye falsely claims that he was the victim of a well-knit intrigue within government, but does not state how he came to get the money from the Global Fund when he wasn’t a known health related worker which he subsequently misused as the evidence provided in court proved. Cheye then lurches on a phony straw that he will never work for the NRM government again, when in fact according to Uganda laws an ex-convict like him does not actually qualify for public office for some time.  

For the record, Cheeye was not only found guilty by the Anti Corruption Court of Uganda, his conviction was subsequently upheld by both the Courts Of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Uganda. Therefore, there is no way Cheeye can claim witch hunt in all these stages of trial he fully underwent.  This is the record of repute available.
Cheeye’s argument that he should have been told to refund the money like some of his fellow colleagues in the Global Fund scandal does not exonerate him. To the contrary, the submission exposes him as a naïve thief who hoped that his connection with powerful people in government would shield him from the long arm of the law. He should have known that one is singularly held culpable for the crimes they commit.
Cheeye further stated that during the course of his trial he tried in vain to meet President Yoweri Museveni, implying he was seeking presidential intervention. Why would an innocent victim do this, and since when did Museveni become a judge to acquit suspects? Such machinations are proof that shenanigans will always seek to subvert the law if left wild.
His claims that he was lured out of journalism into government as a ploy to strangulate him is also false because by the time Cheeye joined government he was on bent knees as his tabloid, Uganda Confidential had been declared bankcrupt by courts of law. This was mainly because of the wanton recklessness with which he practiced his ‘journalism’. Cheeye had multiple lawsuits around his neck by Gordon Wavamuno, Tumusiime Mutebile and Richard Kaijuka among others, and he couldn’t pay. His journalism career had hit a rock.
He should stop the skullduggery he is involved in of bringing in President Museveni into his problems. His greed and some sense of impunity is what landed him into trouble. Let him eat the humble pie, and we hope prison life has transformed him into a better citizen. Unfortunately, Cheeye’s demeanor exudes arrogance and defiance rather than remorse.