Kasese Should Answer to Own Sins

Ofwono Opondo


The cultural leader of Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu, Charles Wesley Mumbere is in the Dogs House (Prison) as Americans would call it, charged for now, only with murder at the Jinja Magistrates Court on the 29th Nov 2016. Mumbere, was arrested from his palace on 27th November 2016 by the police in a joint security operation following a spate of gruesome murders of people including that of about twenty security personnel with the crime trail leading to the palace and himself.

As the saying goes, when you make your bed, be prepared to lie in it. For close to four years now, Mumbere under the guise of building civic royal protection had built an illegal, extremist, radicalized and violent tribal militia which he refused to disband in spite of the fact that he agreed with government on a timeline and sequence to peacefully disband them. For the record, there are no disputes between the people of Rwenzori region, or Bakonzo in particular which government has refused to listen to that warrants violent reactions.

This militia, that went by several names, were at his many palaces across the Rwenzori region-Kasese, Kabarole, Ntoroko and Bundinbugyo, established at the sub county and parish levels, with the main intention to force people into compliance with their demands, financial and food extortions, erecting illegal roadblocks, and terrorizing whoever disobeyed.
In many instances over the last three years, they sowed indiscriminate terror hacking their victims with machetes, stabbing many to death with spears and knives, and burning down properties. Having set up military style camps in Kasese, Kabarole and Bundibugyo, they expanded recruitment, training, and acquison of assortment of weapons including guns, and explosives with they have used with abandon. The security system has captured this list. Sadly, in all these killings, the local politicians, especially members of parliament mainly from the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) never came out to condemn. The simpletons have now as usual instead vigorously come to the defence of criminal gangs that kill police officers on duty in the futile hope they can get political capital.

While the joint security operation on the palace last Sunday may appear excessive, as a prolonged siege could have been used to flush out the renegades, the nuisance at that palace had gone for far too long during which Mumbere himself encouraged belligerence and refused to hand-over the violent outlaws hiding there. It was not any different this time when the militia who had killed sixteen police officers in coordinated simultaneous attacks one day within Kasese district ran there for sanctuary, and Mumbere refused to hand them over. Mumbere, instead, preferred that they stage a firefight with the police and army falsely believing the palace enjoyed immunity from the long arm of the law.

When the government restored Cultural and Traditional Institutions in 1992, and later Constitutionalized in 1995, it was intended for a progressive agenda. As previously, in the 1960s and 1970s, Mumbere still believes that he can build his cultural institution on war and belligerence as was the case with the Rwanzururu armed movement. The on-going agitations are therefore an off shoot of a long history and not the creation of the NRM government. It is attributable to the quest for political cessation for the so-called ‘Yiira Republic’ whose flag they have been raising lately. This, to them would give them economic liberation to empower their “marginalized” people. However, that route they are using is unconstitutional, treasonable and has serious and negative regional ramifications, which Mumbere ought to fully know and appreciate.

Violent attacks on those who disagree and security personnel, with the view to curve out an independent state will not be tolerated and decisive actions will be taken to neutralize chaotic cultural leaders. Therefore, connotations by some leaders in Kasese especially those in opposition that the current security situation is  because  Kasese district voted opposition in the 2016 general elections is hogwash. Museveni and other NRM candidates lost elections in several areas in the country and there have been no such occurrences. In any case the violent clashes and killings in Rwenzori region have been re-currying since 2012 when there were no elections. The occurrences are a result of criminality by Mumbere and his militia, and should each take individual responsibilities.

In fact, what is happening in Kasese today is not much different from what happened in 2009 during the infamous Buganda riot during which some sel-seekers at Mengo held the Kabaka at ransom, believing  they can get whatever they wanted through blackmail. What befell them is common knowledge to all Ugandans.

The criminal indictment of Mumbere should serve as a warning bell to all cultural leaders in Uganda who tend to dream that they can create a state within a state because such attempts are unconstitutional, treasonable, and has negative regional ramifications.

The joint security forces will not relent despite all the attacks from the opposition politicians and members of the phony human rights groups. They will continue to monitor and tame the errant and radicalized militia. All peace loving citizens in the Rwenzori region should remain  calm, vigilant and continue to cooperate with the security forces in ensuring sustainable peace for the region.