Today Is Joseph Kabuleta, Tomorrow Is You!

By Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
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Dear Friends, Colleagues and Interested Parties,
The vindictive and outrageous charges that have been hurled at Joseph Kabuleta, are totally uncalled-for. The government is simply seeking to "control the debate"; and "silence" Ugandans.This is not about whether Kabuleta is right or wrong about the so called 'Muhoozi' project; it is about the manner in which the state organs/NRM are attempting to use ideological self-righteousness to suppress comment.They are not an unbiased source of opinion themselves.They have not engaged in genuine dialogue or debate with the opposition- forget the so called IPOD meetings between Museveni and a few opposition leaders- those meetings have not outlined or acted on any specific position agreed with Mr.Museveni. Whoever speaks against Mr.Museveni, his family, or the goverment, is publicly branded with a cleverly implied epithet,and I think this is totally wrong.

Kabuleta has always been outspoken and opinionated, just like most of us. We should be allowed to do this in Uganda, right?---or has police and other security organs become the arbiter of when, where, and how that may be done? Have we really gotten to the point in today's society when anybody who dares to speak up against the regime should be arrested? The government should know that pointing out the mud on your accuser's hands doesn't wash the mud off of yours.

In political opinions, in most cases, there's no line that cannot be crossed. Freedom of speech means the freedom to hold and state unpopular, outlandish, even stupid or dangerous opinions. If there are any curbs on speech, then it isn't free, is it? If people don't like your speech, they are free to respond.That is what they are supposed to do, after all. NRM should have got someone to respond to Kabuleta's article/s instead of arresting him.

Freedom of speech does mean that there are no legal curbs on speech, and no state punishment for speech.That's why,for example, i'm against the arrest of Dr.Stella Nyanzi over a poem that was construed as an attack on Mr.Museveni personally,as abhorrent as I find some of her views-Yes I didnt agree with the poem. Similarly, I also support Kabuleta in his '' Weekly Rants ''- to protect the free speech,yet I don't agree with him that Muhoozi shouldn't exercise his right to stand as president if he wishes. I believe no legal impingement should be visited upon those who hold views different from the government,or Museveni.How people can be so confused about this stands only as a testimony of just how incapable our over wrought rationalizing produces unattainable results. MPs should,therefore, review the COMPTER USE ACT, or any 'bullshit' they came up with that impinges on our freedom of speech.Let Ugandans speak their minds-while keeping in mind the consequences of slander and libel if the statements are untrue (or are made with "reckless disregard" of whether they're true).

Personally, I even didn't know much about Kabuleta till when my OB, Edris Kiggundu, started praising his writings. I now do think he is a clumsy writer who also loves to make an effect by stating this in a stark, overly simplistic way for the sake of clubbing readers over the head to get their attention, and I think he is, or can be, blissfully unaware of the implication of his words (or, even worse, he is aware of the implication and doesn't care). There was certainly

one sentence that got to me more than any other in his latest article about the Muhoozi project,' About twelve years ago, a close colleague raised the subject in a cavalier but serious way, if you know what I mean. He knows me to be a bit of a firebrand, a mover......'. I thought, after reading this,'who is this guy?', 'what does he move,exactly?'...'Is it some kind of self importance or what?' But there's nothing wrong in his piece nor is there anything that deserved for him to be arrested; in fact, it simply conforms to what we all know but--in the face of potential vituperation from the "politically correct"--are reluctant to admit.

*Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba*
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"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