Dr. Miria Rukoza Koburunga Matembe, a former Member of Parliament and political activist, has warned that unless President Yoweri Museveni eases on his “impudence and arrogance”, his regime is headed for a catastrophic fall.
“He must watch out…I tell him to watch out. If he doesn’t, he will end up like his friends who were dug out of trenches and killed,” Matembe summed up her evening while appearing on KFM Hot Seat recently.
Museveni’s such friend who was “dug out of a trench” and shot in the head is none other than the Libyan leader, the late Col Muammar Gaddafi.
Gaddafi died on October 20, 2011 during the Battle of Sirte.
Gaddafi was found hiding in a culvert west of Sirte and captured by National Transitional Council forces.
The NTC initially claimed he died from injuries sustained in a firefight when loyalist forces attempted to free him, although videos of his last moments show rebel fighters beating him before he was shot several times.
Matembe says Museveni’s arrogance could lead him in that direction
Matembe said she was particularly annoyed by the arrogance exhibited by the ruling party led by its chairman Museveni.
She cited cases where the President boasted of owning a strong army and owning all the money in Uganda.
She also picked out the Kabale incident in which Museveni called opposition politicians dogs vowing never to leave the country to them so they could tear it apart.
Matembe reasoned that from his speeches, Museveni could be happy Burundi President, Pierre Nkurunziza, is still in power since they share the same idea of “clinging onto power”.
“They both don’t respect term limits.”
Like Museveni changed the constitution to remove term limits, Nkurunziza has also breached the Arusha Accords that allow him to serve only terms.
He forcefully pursued a 3rd term amid protests and international condemnation while his Ugandan counterpart prepares for a 5th term.
Matembe recalled of how they went upcountry and collected people’s views on governance but when they met Museveni, “he laughed at us”.
“He was asking ‘who are they?’” she said, adding that in due course and as usual, Museveni ignored the people’s views.
Citing the corruption in government, Matembe wondered who this government is working for.
“When I heard him say he owns the money, the gun, the army; I asked myself whether I should collapse and die,” she pointed out.
“When he (Museveni) came from the bush, he owned nothing.”
“Did you see him being sworn in at Parliament (on January 29, 1986)?” she asked Patrick Kamara, the KFM Hot Seat host.
“Look at that picture,” she urged the presenter, adding, “He (Museveni) had no money, not even a handkerchief. He was wiping sweat using an old cape he brought along from the bush.”
Matembe said that herself by that time was richer than Museveni because she was earning some income.
“This money he is bragging about now belongs to Ugandans.”
Declares war on the constitutional amendment bill
Matembe vowed to ensure with fellow activists that the Constitutional Amendment Bill recently published by Parliament doesn’t pass in its present state.
“We shall see what to do about it,” she vowed calling upon Members of Parliament not to be intimidated or bribed to pass it.
The bill which seeks to change the name of the electoral commission ignored most of the proposals suggested by civil society and opposition political parties.
Matembe attacked deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, for daring ban MPs from travelling until the bill has been passed.
“That Oulanyah man, where has he been? Parliament has been empty and MPs were getting allowances. Now he stops them from travelling because government wants to benefit from the bill?”
“I appeal to MPs to ignore him and don’t discuss that lousy bill. It is a waste of time because some of the provisions never found light of day in that bill.”
She said that in any case, the committee of Parliament responsible for passing the bill has majority NRM members.
“Under their (NRM MPs) terrorism, your views can never be listened to. We are seeking God’s guidance to see how to deal with these people,” she prayed.
Matembe said God was not happy with the situation in Uganda because the country’s motto has changed from “For God and my country” to “For my stomach and my clan”.
“We don’t want this law to pass because its not relevant to our people. Our proposals wanted to create a conducive environment for free and fair elections. We are now saying enough is enough,” Matembe stated, alluding to FDC former President, Kizza Besigye’s new pressure group “Citizens Reforms Now” recently launched in Kampala.
“We are looking for peace, free and fair elections, peaceful handover of power from one government to another.”
Matembe recalled her visit to Nigeria where she was an election observer in the 2015 general elections.
“I was in Nigeria observing elections, it was a critical movement and for the first time a sitting government handed over power to opposition. It was very, very tough. The government had lost popularity but wanted to stay in power. The opposition organized themselves and became one the reason they won very highly. The electoral commission was independent, they even tried to assassinate the chairman EC, threatening to send him on leave but he made sure the registration of voters was good and no one could rig.”
As such, Muhammadu Buhari, an opposition candidate won Nigeria’s March 2015 presidential polls removing President Goodluck Jonathan from power.
Matembe was, however, skeptical when it came to Uganda.
“But here,” she sneered, “our Badru Kiggundu (chairman EC) does what he is told”.
“The man never looks into people’s eyes. Believe me, he can’t look into your eyes. That tells of what he is.”
She said after losing the election, opposition candidates will not even find justice in courts of law because courts too are bribed.
“Which court should we go to?”
Politics of the belly killing all signs of hope
Matembe said she had no kind words for the Ugandan elite and youth who have maintained Museveni in power by receiving handouts from him.
“MPs themselves kneel before Museveni, what do you expect? The educated ones and the unemployed youth (NRM) are the ones congratulating Museveni over insignificant matters.”
She cited a case in which Museveni appointed Youth MP, Evelyn Anite, as minister for Youth and Children Affairs saying that was when she (Matembe) “realized this country has no future”.
“The situation is now hopeless. The main evil that has brought us where we are is corruption. Materialism, moral degeneration and ethical breakdown at leadership, institutional levels are killing this country.”
“The brown envelope introduced by Museveni has worsened matters.”
Matembe said she was around during the Milton Obote 11 government but had never seen “such greedy stinking people”.
“They eat and can never be satisfied. Instead of using money for services, they channel it to their selfish interests.”
She said while MPs, on one hand, fear to talk lest they are thrown out of Parliament, the NRM youth, on the other, were like “young birds looking up, waiting to be fed by the parents (leaders)”.
“People should look at Uganda as theirs, all of us should be interested. Museveni has personalized everything. He is not a monopoly of the people and he must watch out. If he doesn’t, he may end up like his friends who were killed clinging onto power…” she warned as Kamara hastily struggled to put her off air before she could finish her magical sentence.
Matembe is a former member of the Pan-African Parliament.
While on the Pan-African Parliament, she was chairperson of the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline a permanent committee of the Pan-African Parliament.
In June 2006, she became a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow with the National Endowment for Democracy.