How an unknown young man’s death turned him into a political football for opportunistic politicians
THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, it became apparent that the initial news that a one Michael [K]alinda aka Zigy Wyne had been kidnapped, eye yanked out, fingers chopped off and face burnt using a flat iron were exactly that – a hoax. Zigy had a nasty motorbike accident at 7.30pm on July 21. People around the accident scene picked him up and took him to the nearby Hope Clinic. The nurse at the clinic referred him to Mulago for urgent medical attention.
The indefatigable Canary Mugume of NBS, then Tom Malaba of Daily Monitor, and other reporters went to the scene of the accident and interviewed eyewitness who told the story of what actually happened. Later I visited Mulago and talked to the doctors. Zigy was brought to Mulago by a “good Samaritan” who said the victim had been involved in a traffic accident and was admitted at about 9.30pm as an unknown person and given the code name “Zulu.”
Zigy was treated, fed, bathed and given fresh clothes; the ones he was wearing at the time of the accident were taken and washed. On July 24th, his family came. He recovered and was discharged on July 28. He was given medicines to stop convulsions. He was later readmitted on July 31; doctors suspect he was not taking his medicines. However, the convulsions he suffered as a result of not taking his medication are the most likely cause of his death.
Yet in spite of this mountain of evidence, the leader of People Power, Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobby Wine, continued to claim that Zigy was kidnapped, tortured and murdered. He feels no responsibility whatsoever to provide any evidence to back up his claims. The death of Zigy only serves him an opportunity to score political points, in complete disregard to all forms of decency. This crass political opportunism excites the passions of the hoards that see him as a messiah but shows how bankrupt he is.
Throughout last week, the journalists who told this truth became victims of cyber bullying by supporters of People Power. Rather than respond to the facts, the supporters of People Power hurled insults, abuses and false accusations at those who told the facts they did not want to hear. One wonders what sort of government Bobby Wine would preside over given the quality of people he has mobilised to his cause. People Power is not supported by only lumpens. Some very smart Ugandans support it. It has a clear strategy behind its madness.
Here is their strategy: it is to deny all facts and insist that everything is subjective and relative; to dismiss all evidence as forged if it does not promote their political agenda; and to argue that every argument that seems to favour President Yoweri Museveni and his NRM is not based on conviction but has been paid for. It is interesting that People Power resembles the Donald Trump movement in the USA although Americans who support it are anti-Trump.
Over the last decade, there has been a huge shift in government budgeting from consumption to investment – roads, dams, power lines, water pipes, hospitals and schools. Defiance and its bastard child, People Power, hate to hear this. They know that the good things happening in our country are contrary to their political interests. Therefore they insist that there is nothing good being done. All there is are the bad things they complain about – which also happen – and which are driving people’s momentary anger.
Hence, they exaggerate the level of decay and disregard and deny all the improvements in the country. They insist that everyone in Uganda should accept this gross distortion of reality. They do not seek to convince or persuade anyone to their point of view. They believe in using cyber bullying and psychological terror against all who disagree with them. This way they seek, like the European fascists of old, to rally everyone behind their cause by sheer use of psychological terror.
The aim of this strategy is obvious: bully everyone to believe change is urgently needed to rescue Uganda from catastrophe. They don’t want people to question the change they propose or ask for their alternative policies or even question their intolerant behavior. To question their lack of policy alternatives and the crudeness of their methods is evidence of having been bribed by Museveni.
For them politics in Uganda is a clash between good (People Power) and evil (Museveni); that these are the only alternatives available to us; that to say there is a third or fourth alternative is disguised support for Museveni; that evidence that someone wants change is fanatical, unthinking and unquestioning support for Defiance and People Power. Many young people have been pushed into this because to do otherwise is to get ostracised from your circle of friends.
We are told that if Defiance and People Power supporters exhibit intolerance, we should not blame them, as this is only an inevitable result of Museveni’s politics; that when People Power uses violence, intimidation, cyber bullying, blackmail, character assassination and insults against its opponents, this does not reflect on the nature of government they will run; that Uganda needs change and it does not matter which methods are used or the behavior of the groups who bring it about. That lies, slander, cyber bullying are “weapons of the weak” fighting to end tyranny.
People Power is not a stupid cult. It has a clear strategy. Lacking a serious policy alternative and being composed of the worst elements of our society, it needs to sell change as an emergency needed to save the country from catastrophe. To avoid questions about its competence and values, it needs to suppress all dissent using physical and psychological terror. And to compensate for lack of alternative policies or better values, it positions itself as a religious-like cult.
Yet Defiance and People Power have failed to subdue the spirit of our nation. Increasingly many journalists are finding the courage to stand up for the truths and defend it against this demented cult. The story of Zigy Wyne is one such example. Everyday, multitudes of elite Ugandans are coming out to say that politics must be about values. That the role of our leaders should be to articulate these values and impart them on their followers, leading by example; that leaders should not pander to the worst instincts in their followers but try to appeal to the better angels in them. Everyday my faith and pride in Uganda grows.