I’m driving on Ggaba Road, heading to town (at the swamp just after Soya-Bunga). My side of the road is relatively clear of traffic. On the other side of the road, a stream of cars snail pace towards Ggaba. All good, until the driver of a UPDF double cabin truck pulls out of the traffic jam, full lights on and speeds towards me.
I could swerve out of his way, onto the walkway and perhaps run over roses and lilies sold along that road. But I don’t. I turn my full lights on and drive on. By this time, other motorists and pedestrians are looking at me, perhaps wondering what is wrong with my head.
Seeing that I am not going to give him way, he squeezes back into his lane. We exchange quick stares as we drive past each other. My eyes tell him, go hang, report me to Daddy or even God (in minister Rukutana’s voice). His eyes spit hellfire in my direction. On the faces of some motorists and florists nearby, I see smiles, smiles that say, well done, but eh! nga you can risk!
That was 2017. It was not the first time the driver of that double cabin truck was acting bullish on the road. When I saw him, I did what I did. It could have cost me. I was lucky that army man was not Maj. Gen Matayo Kyaligonza.
Kyaligonza & his U-Turn
Kyaligonza has been trending on social media since Sunday over the assault of a police officer on duty. The media reports that Sgt. Esther Namaganda stopped the car that the general was being driven in, from making a U-Turn in the middle of the road in Seeta, Mukono District. The general allegedly slapped Namaganda and his two security guards unleashed hands and words on her.
A photo has been circulating online of Kyaligonza in a white satin shirt (oh the irony of color) with his hands inches away from Namaganda’s face. One of his guards is clinging onto Namaganda’s collar, his colleague holding her arm. They are both in army uniform. A video has also surfaced, showing one of the UPDF soldiers clinging onto Namaganda’s arm as she attempts to writhe out of the grip in vain.
There has been outpouring of outrage. Rightly so. The Assistant Inspector General of Police Asan Kasingye said the incident is unacceptable and tweeted about Kyaligonza’s demotion in 1989 when he slapped the Officer in Charge of Jinja Road Police Station.
The army spokesperson Brig. Richard Karemire tweeted of the incident that “it is very regrettable and apologies to our Police Sister (sic)”. So far, the two soldiers – Private John Robert Okurut and Lance Corporal Peter Bushindiki have been arrested and held at the military police headquarters. If you were waiting, like me, to read that Kyaligoonza was also arrested, tame your excitement.
About 30 years ago, Kyaligonza was a brigadier. After the ‘slap’ incident, he was temporarily stripped of his rank and downgraded to a colonel. Today, he’s a major general. Smell the coffee!
Gwanga’s ‘happy guns’
If you thought Kyaligonza’s case is a first, remember Kasirye Gwanga. Trouble seems to follow him whenever he goes, and in many cases, he doesn’t shy from admitting it. In November 2007, the retired Major General slapped a police officer for allegedly blocking him from using Entebbe Road. Just last month, Gwanga shot at car tyres belonging to Catherine Kusasira, saying the musician’s bodyguards and friends were attacking his son. In 2017, Gwanga set fire to a tractor he found on his daughter’s land in Lubowa, Entebbe Road, accusing the owners of land grabbing. Gwanga even admitted it. “I burnt that tractor. Tell them. I am now hunting them. I am a bad hunter. Let them know,” he told Daily Monitor. In 2008, Gwanga reportedly slapped the aide of then Security Minister Amama Mbabazi.
To date Kasirye Gwanga has nine cases of similar character registered against him at police. None has led him to jail and they definitely didn’t stand in the way of his promotion in 2018 from Brigadier to Major General.
Gwanga has been a district chairperson, director of stores for the UPDF and presidential advisor on Buganda affairs, and is a bush war veteran.
In 2016, Minister Abraham James Byandala, who was on trial over corruption, reportedly punched a female journalist as she filmed him leaving the Anti-Corruption Court. Ms. Judith Nalugga of Bukedde TV was apparently punched in the abdomen (an accusation the minister denied) and was left holding onto her bosom. The incident drew condemnation from women rights activists and media fraternity and the public. Later, rumors had it that mediation happened, compensation was done and the case died.
Byandala has worked as minister for works and transport, legislator for Katikamu County North, among others.
Kibuule’s ‘indecent’ rape victims
In September 2013, Ronald Kibuule, then Minister for Youth and Children Affairs, said rape victims who are indecently dressed are to blame for their predicament. In Parliament, Kibuule denied okaying rape against women and girls. Daily Monitor, who reported the story first, released an audio of the minister’s statement. Still, he didn’t resign and wasn’t fired like rights activities demanded.
In March 2015, he was reappointed to cabinet as State Minister for Water Resources.
In 2016, Kibuule was accused of assaulting a female security guard at Stanbic Bank in Mukono District, after she reportedly demanded to check him before he can enter the banking hall. Women activists rallied behind Hellen Obuk and demanded the resignation of the minister. He denied wrongdoing and the bank issued an apology to the minister.
Kibuule is also Mukono North constituency legislator.
As you can see, our history books are not short of records about officials in high positions taking matters into their own hands, or being accused of grave acts. History will also tell you that such cases suffer from pre-determined death. And we can’t complain much. Someone sneaked impunity into our DNA and now all we can do is watch its many faces.
But, just in case things change for real real; just in case the Kyaligonzas start facing actual music, then wake me up.