The heavy price of annoying Speaker Among

The heavy price of annoying Speaker Among

The heavy price of annoying Speaker Among

Maybe no politician in recent memory has  penalized people who have criticized  them more than President Museveni or  Speaker of the House of Representatives  Annet Anita Among. The list of those at fault is long.

It includes the State Minister for Housing, Persis Namuganza, who was also  impeached, mostly for actions that irritated the Speaker, and Francis Zaake, the  Member of Parliament for Mityana Municipality, who was impeached as a  commissioner for tweeting against the Speaker.

Then there is journalist Moses Mugalula, who was also jailed for several days for  reasons connected to the Speaker, and former Kamuli Municipality Member of  Parliament candidate Moses Bigirwa, who was imprisoned for reasons that are  unexplained but related to the Speaker.

Not to be forgotten is the social media user John Ssentamu, sometimes known as  Kerry Slender, who served time in prison at Luzira for tweeting something critical of  Speaker Pelosi during her visit with Pope Francis.

However, perhaps there is no one who has paid a heavier price than political activist Habib Buwembo for challenging Among. Between 2022 and 2023, Buwembo has been in prison twice, for a collective total of 157 days.

In 2022, he was initially arrested for speaking out against the Speaker after she allegedly downplayed the prevalence of torture in Uganda. During her congratulatory message to MP Zaake for winning gold in the East African Parliamentary games, Among said he had achieved this victory despite enduring torture.

Zaake had been walking with a cane for several months due to multiple beatings by security forces. Buwembo, along with other activists, organised a press conference to demand an apology from Among within seven days for her insensitivity towards torture victims. However, before the press conference, which was scheduled at Pope Paul Memorial hotel Ndeeba, could conclude, the police surrounded the venue.

Many, including Bu-wembo, managed to escape and evade arrest. Two days later, other activists, using crutches, demonstrated outside the Speaker’s Nakasero residence, reiterating their call for her to apologize. They also symbolically threw a pig painted yellow with red lipstick at the parliament building to express their discontent.

It’s worth noting that Buwembo didn’t participate in these two demonstrations, but despite this, the police arrested him for his involvement in the earlier press conference.

“My home was surrounded by plainclothes men, and they eventually arrested me. They confiscated my two phones and my laptop before forcing me into their double-cabin vehicle, which was later joined by three other police patrol vehicles. I was then driven from my residence in Busega directly to the Kibuli CID headquarters,” Buwembo recounts.

Upon arrival at Kibuli, he was subjected to interrogation in the office of Charles Twine, who served as the spokesperson of the Criminal Investigation Directorate of the police until May 2022. Twine has since been transferred to the police CID at the parliament.

Finally, he was granted bail, consisting of a three million cash bail and Shs 10 million non-cash bail for his two sureties. However, even on the day of the bail hearing, he wasn’t released immediately because, by the time they completed the payment process, the magistrate had already left.

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