Reactions: Kyaligonza is ruthless, wields sticks to flog motorists driving close to his car

Ivan Kimuli Kigozi: "When a leader encourages the culture of impunity, the society is lost and it makes the work harder for the rest of us"....Sole Soyinka

SOCIAL | Uganda’s Ambassador to Burundi Matayo Kyaligonza on Sunday took a street in Seeta and the entire nation 36 years back to the bush, leading his military guards in molesting a hapless Traffic Policewoman.

The woman’s crime? Doing her job right.

Maj Gen Kyaligonza joins a long list of Ugandan government officials who have in recent past exhibited bush-like manners in public. From Junior minister Ronald Kibuule, who beat up a woman security guard in a bank, to his fellow former minister Abraham Byandala slapping a journalist in a courtroom, the list of shame is long.

Sendo Cleaners

Except that there appears to be nothing like shame. If any, the last time a minister felt remorse was more than 20 years ago when Kahinda Otafiire resigned after pulling a gun on his Cabinet colleague Sam Kutesa’s wife in a club.

Since then, Otafiire himself has drawn a gun and threatened to shoot a journalist who was taking pictures after he crashed a car in a trench in the wee hours. He defended the action saying everyone else was helping him push the car but the journalist was only taking pictures.

And, last week, Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana, a man who was unapologetic in herding cows whilst slinging an assault rifle, rudely told a judge to “go hang” as he wouldn’t “give a damn.” He added that the judge could as well “go and report me to God.”

Not to be left out the impunity bonanza, Gen Kyaligonza showed his diplomatic class in leading his military guards to molest Esther Namaganda, a Traffic Policewoman, for allegedly stopping his motorcade from enjoying his VIP right to flouting traffic regulations.

President Museveni, the commander-in-chief and appointing authority, has never been known addressed himself on such conducts of his officials. He did so in the bush when he ordered Shaban Kashanku executed.

Museveni’s nonchalance leaves many wondering how or even if he ever reacts to such public impunity. Senior Presidential Press Secretary Don Wanyama could not respond to our queries on whether Museveni asks accountability of his officials’ actions.

However, Police deputy spokesperson Polly Namaye said in a statement that Namaganda had recorded a statement that that investigators had also visited the scene to speak to witnesses.

“Exhibits have been secured, including her white uniform. We also encourage the journalist to have his statement recorded for him to access justice,” Namaye said.

The journalist in question is UBC TV sports reporter Peter Otai, who was allegedly assaulted by the military guards for attempting to record the assault on Namaganda.

Namaye gave no indication that the shamed diplomat would be prosecuted.

But Defence and Military Spokesperson Richard Karemire announced Sunday evening that Corp Peter Bushindiki and Pte John Robert Okurut, the two escorts of Gen Kyaligonza, had been arrested as part of investigations into the assault.

“They are now held at Military Police headquarters. We reiterate our commitment to ensuring discipline of all ranks,” Brig Karemire said.

Social media casts the spotlight

Herbert Andrew Okello, a Facebook user, shed more light on Gen Kyaligonza, drawing from the NRM historical’s actions in Hoima. He said the retired bush war general is one whose name always sends shivers down residents’ spines.

“Tales are so often told of the man’s ruthlessness. Of errant soldiers guarding his family home. Of the man himself wielding sticks and flogging motorists who dared drive close to his vehicle,” he said.

“While I have always imagined these tales to be far-fetched urban myths, I believe this image making rounds online is pretty conclusive of the accusations of lawlessness levelled against this General.”

Stanley Ndawula, executive director of The Investigator, an online news portal, also drew from a past escapade with the envoy who reportedly headed straight to Entebbe airport departure lounge en route to Bujumbura.

“Some time in 2013, a story of Gen Kyaligonza causing trouble against his family members ran on the Investigator. He called me and ordered me to pull it down and I asked to first verify. When the reporter produced supporting documents, I called back and informed him that we stand by it and he could seek legal means if he felt hurt,” Ndawula posted on his Facebook page.

“He called and I never picked. He then used his Burundian line, which I picked without a second thought. ‘You son of a bitch,’ he started. ‘[expletives] You don’t know what you have started. Do you know how many guns I hold? I will shutter you stupid head.”

With NRA’s bush war combatants, such rude talks would hardly shock many a Ugandan. They threaten for breakfast, swear for lunch and vow for dinner. It is their 24-hour staple. But this does not mean the public condones it. Like Gen Kyaligonza will spend days wondering what he touched.

As Ernest Wisdom Kiyonga, NBS news editor, joked, the envoy may not be on Twitter but Twitter had come to him.

Sadab Kitatta, The Observer reporter, said: “Our Uganda is an incredible country. NRM CEC member, also Uganda’s Ambassador to Burundi, Gen Kyaligonza with his military guards pounced on a female Traffic police officer at Seeta in Mukono. She had stopped them for abusing the traffic and road safety law. Impunity.”

Muzaphal Kimbugwe, tweeted: “I am told this lumpen is Matayo Kyaligonza, feeling the need to have his two bodyguards hold a woman by the collar so he can beat her for doing her job. It is unfortunate that while anger within the masses piles, such hooliganism goes unpunished.”

Golda Namara, a Ugandan in the Diaspora, said: “What’s not going on in Uganda? Won’t these “freedom fighters“ start eating us one by one? My condolences to those who lost their loved ones in the bush war.”

Dalton Kaweesa, NBS TV journalist, challenged authorities to act now and not ignore Kyaligonza’s public antics. Tagging President Museveni, Uganda Police and other senior law enforcers, he said the impunity must be addressed.

Godber Tumushabe, lawyer, policy analyst and social entrepreneur, reflected on the stain thrown by UPDF officers instead, saying the public should pity them for the disgrace caused to the black, yellow, red flag by protecting impunity.

Justice Care Uganda, an NGO, said it condemned act in the “strongest terms” and called upon the UPDF to take disciplinary measures against the shamed General.

“Let’s get this right. Gen Kyaligonza is a diplomat with no single entitlement to right of way. He flouts traffic rules then commands his guards to assault a traffic officer on duty! This is unacceptable. Women have for so long been victims of assaults and violence,” the

Andrew Karamagi, rights activist and lawyer, went sarcastic, saying what the public witnessed was Season Five of Uganda’s Untouchables.

“If, as it is widely claimed, the man is unstable ‘upstairs’, why not retire and confine him in the public interest?” he posed.

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