Tuesday December 12, 2017

DAVID GAKUNZI: No, Bwana Museveni, our house is not your house

Yoweri museveni of Uganda (Photo:AFP)


Dear President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, I have just listened carefully to the speech you gave in Arusha during the recent EAC Heads of State Summit.

The bit on Burundi startled me: “Burundi is our member and no action should be taken against it without our input. Our house is our house. We have an issue with the European Union: It unilaterally imposed sanctions against Burundi; one of our members.”

I had the strange impression of hearing a ghost speak, the impression of hearing Idi Amin Dada’s voice.

Same comments, same nationalistic demagoguery: “Europe! Europe!” Has the freedom fighter in you been defeated a posteriori by the spirit of the grotesque marshal?

Should Julius Nyerere, to whom you often refer, have had the same strange vision of the world as you, Idi Amin would probably still be around as the supreme leader of Uganda.

But you see, Nyerere was a humanist. Nyerere did not say: Leave Idi Amin alone; leave this matter alone; it is a matter concerning the people of East Africa. Nyerere said: No, we cannot let barbarism take root and prosper at our borders; no, we cannot accept that a tyrant continues to torture and kill his own people in broad daylight and right before our eyes against a backdrop of general indifference.

Nyerere and Idi Amin

Nyerere stood up, took responsibility, gathered and mobilised the entire world and Idi Amin was overthrown. In the wake of that overthrow, you came to power.

Thanks to, it must be remembered, the crucial support of the exiled Rwandan youth residing in Uganda and the logistic helping hand of a certain Bagaza, then in power in Bujumbura.

Since that time, you regularly evoke Mwalimu in your endless speeches to say the exact opposite of what Nyerere would have said or done.

As a reminder, in case your memory is failing you, Mwalimu promoted sanctions against the apartheid regime, Mwalimu called for sanctions against the Lagos government during the Biafra massacre, Mwalimu was the champion of the sanctions against Burundi in the 1990s…

But you, yes you, what are you talking about today? The exact opposite. That Europe by imposing sanctions on Burundi dared to punish your child in your home without consulting or informing you first.
According to you, before deciding, in accordance with its own principles and values, to no longer give its taxpayers’ money to a regime of killers in Bujumbura, the European Union should have humbly sought your permission to remain faithful and coherent to its own values!

Such a stand is simply not worthy of the freedom fighter that you once were.


Bwana Museveni, in Burundi, and you know this full well, human lives are being destroyed, young people tortured, women raped, hatred and divisions instilled.

Horrors. Crimes against humanity. Acts of genocide. All this may not be such a big deal to you and will certainly not stop you from sleeping soundly.
And therein lies the tragedy of Africa: In that insensitivity; in that total disregard for life; that trivialisation of violence, crushing and destruction of life.
Kenyatta in Kenya, Kenneth Kaunda in Zambia, Mandela in South Africa, Neto in Angola, Toivo Ya Toivo in Namibia, were all imprisoned by the colonial powers and were all released…alive. And what do we see today under our famous Suns of Independence?

The prisoner Mandela in several African countries would not have done 27 years in jail. He would have been assassinated on the first day of his incarceration.

Bwana Museveni, The old man that you have become today speaks as did all the tyrants of the continent when confronted with the notion of respecting the life of their fellow citizens: “Human rights? Democracy? A matter for the wazungu; a matter concerning white people! Let us deal with our own problems.”

Sorry, we are not your own problems; sorry, our lives are not your property. And we are really tired of this argument served with gumbo sauce: National sovereignty, national sovereignty, respect of national sovereignty! … And especially coming from you! Because when plundering the mineral resources of your neighbours is on the table; then national sovereignty suddenly becomes an obsolete concept!

Borders are happily crossed and shameless pillage is quickly underway. But when it is about rescuing persecuted victims, those whose right to life and whose liberties are under threat, then the sledgehammer argument of national sovereignty is raised!
Bwana Museveni, you have certainly not committed any atrocities in Burundi, personally; you are not the perpetrator of the assassinations, the acts of torture, nor the author of the public incitement to rape women, nor the disappearance or the imprisonment of thousands of young people, nor the 500,000 Burundian refugees condemned to exile, but your responsibility is engaged. Because you know.

You knew, from that day in January 2015, when Nkosazana Dlaminin-Zuma, then Chair of the African Union Commission, came to see you in Kampala, to urge you to use your influence on your protégé Nkurunziza to prevent the unfolding tragedy in Bujumbura. You said nothing of value and did nothing to help.

What then do you hope for by your silence, your passivity, your ultimate support to the regime in Bujumbura?
No, bwana Museveni, your house is not our house.



By David Gakunzi, Pan-Africanist. He is an author of so many books on African issues.

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