OP-ED

FARUK KIRUNDA: I smell another rat in visa business

Deputy Presidential Press Secretary, Mr. Faruk Kirunda

Uganda is under attack from many corners and some fellow Ugandans are working with our foreign enemies. For a long time, Uganda is the target of affronts from foreigners interested in controlling our affairs at a time we should be shaking off the last vestiges of colonialism. Neo-colonialism is ripe and if we are not careful, we shall go the way of our forefathers who looked on as imperialists came into the picture and conquered us.

We live in an era of globalisation where citizens in one country are interconnected with citizens in all the other countries that make up the world. That’s a beautiful thing, as it brings with it a system of opportunities for everyone in the web. Unfortunately, some countries are benefitting more from this global network than others, while some are it to undermine others.

Uganda is one country at the receiving end of this meanness. Despite the existence of diplomatic links, these are only a veil of underhand workings intended to weaken our state and take advantage of our people and Ugandans should be very cautious not to fall in this snare. Betraying one’s country is the height of disobedience, more like selling one’s birthright. We should all agree that no matter Uganda’s situation, it’s our motherland which we should guard jealously. We can argue on politics, compete in business, disagree on a number of things but we must co-exist like brothers and sisters, able to co-exist with other global citizens with dignity and pride as Ugandans.

For being an African country, for playing a role in decolonising this part of the world, for our strong stand on our values and culture, for our natural resources, for our role in fighting terrorism and for having a leadership that firmly advocates for African unification, Uganda is a target! Someone ring a bell! As it was in the beginning (when we were yet green), so can it be today if we do not wake up.

When you hear of a section of Ugandans, including leaders, targeted for sanctions and visa restrictions, President Yoweri Museveni, once again, being dragged before the International Criminal Court (ICC), when you hear of aid cuts and advisories portraying Uganda as a country at war, don’t be surprised. All this is calculated to undermine our stability, relations with mutually friendly nations, stir mass discontent among us and cause regime change or mass social breakdown. The level of interference in our affairs is alarming. Except for a strong state, things would be out of hand.

Amidst the strong language and terms dictated on us in regard to our morals and politics, doesn’t it surprise you that it has become a tendency for some of our international partner states to listen to only one side in the political sphere and to grant members on that side discriminatory privileges?

I call upon Government (security and immigration) to investigate the patterns of Ugandans seeking and granted visas at foreign missions. Very very likely, the majority are asylum seekers claiming to belong to NUP. Can we have those lists and publicise them widely because it’s highly probable that Ugandans are being “smuggled” out of the country under the pretext of fleeing from persecution due to their political leanings when, in fact, they are just leaving the country to seek greener pastures. Kyeeyo (leaving the country to work abroad) has always existed but some Ugandans, without assurance of jobs out there, are using the cover of politics to leave the country and then become “survivors” in foreign capitals where they join pseudoactivist groups with the aim of securing permanent or longterm residence and work.

It goes without saying that they are facilitated to go through this process by sponsors and powerful figures in the diplomatic community who then use them to their purposes. The aim is to ruin the image of Uganda and discredit the Government of President Museveni as though it doesn’t have its base among the majority of Ugandans.

What’s the claim about there being mass persecution of Ugandans when the relatives and friends of those asylum seekers stay behind and nothing happens to them? What’s so unique about the activities of those “fugitives” that they are targeted unless they are fleeing from the arm of the law for criminal engagements?

The wide-ranging but unsubstantiated claims about mass kidnappings and disappearances, isn’t it possible that some of those people have been granted visas and smuggled out of the country, then that information is fed to the opposition in order to help them build their case against the Government of Uganda and President Museveni? I smell another rat here, as it was with the latest ICC move! Some of the opposition members have been seen celebrating abroad after travelling without documentation (passports, etc). How did they move if not by being smuggled out? I have seen persons with genuine paper work turned away but when it comes to activists, it’s an open ticket. This is an attempt to disrupt our internal politics and to build bases outside to attack us.

At this stage, I also request the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights to publicise its report on torture allegations as raised by NUP. This report will be compared with that of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), then we analyse them and reach a conclusion. There is something that we are not being told about these allegations and why they are received as gospel truth and endorsed in diplomatic circles. Government should shine a spotlight on this critical matter!

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The author, Faruk Kirunda, is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary. Email: faruk.kirunda@statehouse.go.ug | Tel: 0776980486/0783990861



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