The Forum for Democratic Change Acting President, Reagan Okumu, says all government spokespersons are like dogs tamed and conditioned to respond to the demands of their master.
In context are the likes of Tamale Mirundi [already known as the president’s dog], government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, and his deputy, Col Shaban Bantariza.
Only this week, an angry female activist, Rose Kagumire, insulted Opondo for claiming FDC women were undressing themselves to blackmail police.
Kagumire told Opondo never to include her in his “dumbfuckery” ever again.
Okumu who was also furious over the arrest of his FDC colleague, Kizza Besigye, from his Kasangati home yesterday, had no kind words for government publicists.
The angry Okumu clashed with Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Patrick Onyango, on Thursday evening during the KFM Hot Seat show.
“They [government spokespersons] are barking dogs,” Okumu did not mince his words.
Onyango, embarrassed in the eyes of all KFM listeners, shot back expressing disappointment in the Aswa county legislator.
“I didn’t think the honourable would use such a language,” Onyango said, speaking on phone.
“He [Okumu] is not an honourable Member of Parliament.”
Onyango reminded Okumu that he was one of the legislators who make the laws.
“Our work as police is to implement the laws which you as MPs make,” Onyango submitted, pleading for clemency.
Okumu who was not at all apologetic, told Onyango he could have given any other example if possible but the dog analogy was the most relevant.
“Let me tell you, when you are a spokesperson of any organisation, your job is to defend it in all circumstances,” Okumu moved out to educate.
“You are like a dog that barks to defend a home.”
The opposition member said all government spokespersons for that matter have been conditioned to defend the likes of President Museveni and police chief, Kale Kayihura.
“They are fixed and conditioned to defend their bosses.”
He said for the case of Besigye, police should have written to the leadership of FDC party informing them that his meetings were illegal since the party usually writes to police seeking for permission.
“You see Onyango,” he told the cop, “this person [Besigye] you are harassing and mistreating may be your commander-in-chief tomorrow.”
Cornered, Onyango fought back, saying that was very okay but his job at the moment is to keep law and order.
He said the IGP wrote to the FDC Secretary General, Nandala Mafabi, explaining that the Jinja rally was illegal as per the guidelines of the electoral commission.
“That was courteous enough. We had information that the rally would lead to destruction of public property and chaos,” Onyango submitted.
Onyango requested the opposition to conform to rules and be cleared giving an example of FDC presidential campaigns where Besigye and Mugisha Muntu were allowed to traverse the country having sought police permission.
This seemed to infuriate Okumu the more.
“Why don’t you stop NRM members from demonstrating? Why do don’t you stop president Museveni from rampaging the country with his rallies? Do NRM members who demonstrated carry police letters?” Okumu was breathless.
The humble Onyango explained that the “president is the president” and cannot be stopped from doing his duty.
“Please obey lawful orders,” Okumu ordered the police publicist, adding, “This country belongs to all of us. Why are police displaying double standards?”
Okumu said at Kololo airstrip, while Museveni was being given a gold medal and recognised as the Father-of-the-Nation, the president told people not to vote the opposition.
“This means he was campaigning,” Okumu said asking Onyango why they haven’t arrested the president for holding illegal campaigns.
“But he [Museveni] was doing his duty as president,” Onyango struggled to explain.
Okumu who was losing his patience reminded Onyango that Besigye has a right to participate in all party activities.
“Please, let us not waste any more of listeners’ time.”