Thursday, February 22News That Matters

The list of culprits annoying Speaker Among is extensive.

Perhaps there is no politician, other than President Museveni, who in recent memory has punished those who have criticised him or her more than the Speaker of Parliament, Annet Anita Among.
The list of culprits is extensive. It includes Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake, who was impeached as a commissioner for tweeting against the Speaker, and the State Minister for Housing, Persis Namuganza, who was also impeached, primarily for actions that displeased the Speaker.
Then there’s former Kamuli Municipality Member of Parliament contestant, Moses Bigirwa, who was imprisoned for unclear reasons but relating to the Speaker, and journalist Moses Mugalula, also imprisoned for several days for reasons also relating to the Speaker. Not to forget social media user, John Ssentamu, aka Kerry Slender, who did a stint at Luzira prison for tweeting something the Speaker didn’t like when she visited Pope Francis.
However, perhaps there is no one who has paid a heavier price than political activist Habib Buwembo for challenging Among. Between 2022 and 2023, Buwembo has been in prison twice, for a collective total of 157 days.
In 2022, he was initially arrested for speaking out against the Speaker after she allegedly downplayed the prevalence of torture in Uganda. During her congratulatory message to MP Zaake for winning gold in the East African Parliamentary games, Among said he had achieved this victory despite enduring torture.
Zaake had been walking with a cane for several months due to multiple beatings by security forces. Buwembo, along with other activists, organised a press conference to demand an apology from Among within seven days for her insensitivity towards torture victims. However, before the press conference, which was scheduled at Pope Paul Memorial hotel Ndeeba, could conclude, the police surrounded the venue.
Many, including Bu-wembo, managed to escape and evade arrest. Two days later, other activists, using crutches, demonstrated outside the Speaker’s Nakasero residence, reiterating their call for her to apologize. They also symbolically threw a pig painted yellow with red lipstick at the parliament building to express their discontent.
It’s worth noting that Buwembo didn’t participate in these two demonstrations, but despite this, the police arrested him for his involvement in the earlier press conference.
“My home was surrounded by plainclothes men, and they eventually arrested me. They confiscated my two phones and my laptop before forcing me into their double-cabin vehicle, which was later joined by three other police patrol vehicles. I was then driven from my residence in Busega directly to the Kibuli CID headquarters,” Buwembo recounts.
Upon arrival at Kibuli, he was subjected to interrogation in the office of Charles Twine, who served as the spokesperson of the Criminal Investigation Directorate of the police until May 2022. Twine has since been transferred to the police CID at the parliament.
“Twine picked up his phone and made a call, saying they had apprehended me. Then he said, ‘Yes, sir, IGP.’ Following their conversation, he ushered me into another office and inquired, ‘What is the issue between you and the Speaker of Parliament?’ He played videos of our statements from the press conference and asked if it was me, to which I confirmed. However, I questioned how that could be considered illegal,” recalls Buwembo.