Ssemujju, Escapism Is Not Leadership [opinion]

Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda’s recent article (Donors, don’t bother us with your gay rights), with its language and callous treatment of an otherwise crucially-important rights and legality matter, and his attitude towards us who challenged the constitutionality of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), was most revealing of his person.

Rather than dwell on the substance of our petition, that, as a Member of Parliament, politician, journalist and responsible Ugandan, one expected him to do, he focused on debasing us petitioners, and on joining the Ugandan crowd in our great tradition of diversion, avoiding responsibility and scapegoating others – this time donors and the Latigos.

The first target was of course me, with Ssemujju saying “surprisingly, my party deputy president Prof Morris Ogenga-Latigo”.

Why surprisingly? Because he wanted to later justify his vile statement that “if there are any gays in this country [Uganda] it is donors and people like Prof Latigo and Prof Oloka-Onyango that are inciting the population against them”.

Was there anything to surprise Ssemujju about me on this matter?

I had made my position abundantly clear on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill right from its introduction in Parliament in 2009 (see Anti-homosexuality Bill diversionary,The Independent, 16 December 2009), and in two serious articles published in his own The Observer newspaper (see: Anti-homosexuality bill: where is our honesty?, and Anti-homosexuality law: choice is not in science). Ssemujju cannot tell us that he did not read or understand these articles.

For the record: I have never promoted Homosexuality, nor opposed a law to protect society against its ills and spread. In my very first response, I argued that enforcement of the existing law could be enhanced. Beyond this, my aocacy has been on legislating with proper scientific analysis, clear objectives and goals on avoidance of intolerance, hatred and insensitivity on respect for the human person and the Ugandan-ness of all of us and on adherence to existing laws and international obligations that we voluntarily signed.

What is wrong with me holding these positions to warrant the insults and insinuations being hurled at me?

Secondly, I am most surprised that Ssemujju is surprised that I joined the petition to challenge the parliamentary process that led to the passing of the AHA, when, in 2012, I cautioned Speaker Rebecca Kadaga against promising Pastor Martin Ssempa and his fundamentalist colleagues the enactment of the AHA as a “Christmas gift”, when her neutrality was imperative in the legislative process.

Equally, when Ssemujju was ignominiously thrown out of the House by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah and blocked from returning, it was again me who stood out against abuse of the speaker’s powers (see: Ssemujju right on Parliament rules, wrong on his conduct). How come he has so quickly forgotten these two episodes to now be “surprised” at my being a petitioner against disregard of rules in the AHA enactment process?

Lastly, Ssemujju states that “At the beginning I actually thought this law was unnecessary because matters of sex to me are private”, but that his support for the bill was triggered by “campaigners in favour of this type of sex”.

In this, Ssemujju implies that he was not aware that a law against homosexuality already existed in our statute books, something a good legislator ought to have known if heshe seeks to improve an existing statute. He also acknowledges that homosexuality is “a type of sex”. If he was logical in his approach, he ought then to have treated legislating “that type of sex” the same way as they do the “other types of sex”.

More importantly is the escapism in Ssemujju’s argument. In 2012, during the campaign to succeed Dr Besigye as FDC party president, Ssemujju similarly wrote that, “at the beginning I had fallen for Gen Mugisha Muntu because of his conduct…but later I moved towards Nandala’s militancy and confronting of armed men” (see Ssemujju Nganda: Why I will vote Mafabi, The Observer, 6 November 2012).

In blaming donors for opposing the AHA but supposedly doing little about oppression of the opposition, Ssemujju treacherously uses this to accept the dehumanization of minority Ugandans and trampling on their rights as humans, and to shamelessly abdicate his obligation as a political leader to defend the rights of all, including the opposition and even those he hates, no matter what. How many Ugandan elites have similarly blamed “opposition” as they personally benefit and heartlessly allow our country to sink to its knees?

Why did Ssemujju even leave journalism to join politics?

In this fraud, Ssemujju’s bedfellows are the selfish and hateful clerics who have benefitted from state handouts (including Pajeros and Sacco money), have not stood up against the ills now afflicting our beloved country and people (corruption, exploitation of the weak, sectarianism, hatred, vengeance, abuse of state resources, etc) and have not read the AHA to appreciate its dangers, but who the other day were on TV in their collars and purple shirts shamelessly showing the NRM “thumbs-up” sign and shouting “Museveni oyee” as if signing of the AHA was the salvation from heaven.

The author is former leader of the opposition and a petitioner against the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Source : The Observer