On 14 January 2021, presidential elections were held in Uganda under a government mandated Internet blackout and allegations of rampant fraud and violence. In the lead-up, supporters of opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (also known by his stage name as an actor and singer, as Bobi Wine) were often harassed and assaulted.
November 2020 saw some of the most violent riots in recent history, resulting in at least 50 known deaths. The riots began when Robert Ssentamu was arrested under the accusation of not following COVID-19 regulations. Ssentamu had also gone through the harrowing experience of having his car shot at by police.
On 16 January, the country’s President Yoweri Museveni was announced the winner of the election with 58.6% of the vote, and so he is to be president for the 36th year, which will be a 6th term.
On 15 January, Robert Ssentamu tweeted that they are under siege and “The military has jumped over the fence and has now taken control of our home.” He then tweeted straight afterwards:
On 17 January, he Tweeted that he and his wife have run out of food supplies and wrote “…when my wife tried to pick food from the garden yesterday, she was blocked and assaulted by the soldiers staged in our compound.”
Bobi Wine speaks while under house arrest late afternoon yesterday, 18 January
When asked what his motivation is to carry on, he answered: “The main motivation for us to keep doing what we’re doing in the face of all this intimidation, is because what we are doing is moral and what we are doing is right. We are fighting for our rights and we are doing this morally. We are doing this legally. We are doing this non-violently.
And we know while we have the luxury of being detained in our own home, many of our colleagues are in unknown detention. Our entire campaign team is in prison, they are being charged with trumped up cases, while others are on the run. That alone keeps us going, knowing that by getting freedom for ourselves we will be getting freedom for everybody else.
And also knowing that people that fight for a just cause have not failed in history. Therefore, when we continue standing for what we stand for, we will be able to overcome. So many people are paying the price for standing for what is moral, for standing for what is right, and that alone motivates me not to give up, because giving up on a cause so just, and a cause so moral, and a cause so human, it would be betrayal for the 45 million Ugandans that are yearning for change, peaceful change.
And also knowing that we have an entire generation standing with us and yearning for change and, yes, agreeing that non-violent, moral actions can actually change our lives forever and can be able to reshape our country and redefine us as a generation, as members of the international community, as members of the human family. That is motivation enough for me to keep struggling.
And I’m very, very happy that my wife has also accepted to stand the pain along with me and that motivates me too.”
US Ambassador to Uganda turned away from Bobi Wine’s house by Ugandan Military
Today, Tuesday 19 January, Bobi Wine has tweeted that they have run out of food, and that their 18 month old niece, who was visiting at the time the military started the siege, has not been allowed to go home.
Siege out in the open for all to see
While congratulatory tweets from some world leaders are directed at President Museveni, it is unclear if South Africa will do anything about the currently ongoing abuse, even as our president Cyril Ramaphosa is the chairperson of the African Union.