President Yoweri Museveni Is The Biggest Beneficiary In Bobi's Arrest!

By Abbey Semuwemba

Friends, I’ve got to say this; there is nothing Yoweri Museveni does to his political opponents that surprises me anymore. It’s like he has got this blue print that he follows, and it has worked for him effectively for decades. Bobi Wine aka Hon.Kyagulanyi seems to be going through the same pathway that God designed for Besigye when he came out to challenge Museveni in 1990s. The only difference here is that Bobi’s pathway has been fast-tracked such that he is now the ‘Besigye’ of 2006 when he jetted on a plane from South Africa very well knowing that he was going to be arrested as soon as he comes back from the country. The Constitutional Court ruled then that the trial of Besigye and the 22 other People's Redemption Army suspects in the General Court Martial was illegal.’ The judges said that the Court Martial can only try cases under the UPDF Act. The judges also agreed that cases of unlawful possession of firearms shouldn't be tried in the Court Martial but rather in the civilian courts.’

For some reason, this time Museveni didn’t want Bobi Wine to go through all that Besigye and others, went through, and as a result, the army court has ended up dropping all charges against Bobi, only to be arrested again by the police and paraded in a civilian court in Gulu. I suspect that this had much to do with the donors’ pressure and the international headlines Bobi Wine has generated, rather than people power, petitions, or protests by Ugandans in and outside the country.

So far, two people have benefited from Bobi’s torture and his subsequent arrest. The first beneficiary is Bobi Wine himself. His political stars have risen. He is now probably the third most influential politician in the country in case of any elections, assuming Besigye’s stars are depleting. Well educated Ugandans and youths have found him tolerable and even lovable, and they are looking beyond his words and music to his character. The fact that he smoked weed in the past doesn’t bother them at all. After all, for most of us who grew up in rural areas, have been victims of a few spliffs here and there. A lot of opportunistic politicians, who used to hang out with Besigye and have fallen out with him, are going to hang on to him to get re-elected.

The second beneficiary in all this is Museveni himself. He has eventually managed to mitigate Besigye’s popularity, something he had failed to do for nearly two decades. When youthful Mao Norbert became the DP president, there was excitement, and he tried his best to attack Besigye in all corners, but he didn’t benefit so much politically. He could, he should have known better. Besides, I think his political expectations were exaggerated also; he was a hanger-on of DP, and if anything just a person only good with speaking English fluently. And there aren't any demonstrable in Mao's works, either -- only in his writings, and only as a small part. The infighting in DP affected his character and by extension his works. But again, politics isn't the point – prevailing attitudes are what I'm talking about.

Then came Mbabazi Amama but he fizzled out quickly after the 2016 elections. Besigye, for all his crankiness, was very much the better man. And anyone who can seriously deny that isn't arguing from the facts.

The biggest losers in all this are the NRM public relations (PR) guys. They have failed to make the charges of finding Bobi with guns stick. They’ve instead shared pictures of him and toy guns on social media trying to show people that he has used a gun, but the fact that the court martial has dropped the charges against him, it makes them look like fools. Now, they’ve embarked on spreading propaganda that Baganda are going to punish westerners if a Muganda becomes president. They intend to ridicule the Baganda with all their characteristic traits -- petty intelligence, hypocrisy and greed – the jargon is textually so cleverly suggested; but for God's sake it must not be exaggerated and overdone as they do. The UPC guys sold the same propaganda to the northerners during the 1980 elections and I’m not sure if it worked or not.

Then there is Bebe Cool and Bryan White, two young people allegedly state-planted to manage Bobi’s popularity among the youths. First, Bebe is a necessary part of the plot, a villain to represent the forces of reaction opposing the young artist and parliamentarian. Given the background, he has to be very much what he is -- the obstructive minority among the Mastersingers. Bryan, on the other hand, portrays himself as the rich youths who could solve anybody’s financial problems for free. He gives out cash but nobody seems to know his real source of income, or seen any factory or building owned by him. The caricature seems to be at least partly based on how they both publicly praise Museveni, and how they speak negatively of Bobi whenever they get a chance. Anyway, Bobi’s influence is clear, but the price he’s going to pay has also become clear.

*Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba* Stalk my blog at:

"Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive." - Henry Steele Commager 1902-98