Win­nie Ki­iza, leader of the op­po­si­tion in par­lia­ment, Uganda

The Africa Report - - CONTENTS - Jeff Mbanga in Kam­pala

In Uganda, the fire­brand leader of the op­po­si­tion in par­lia­ment is stand­ing up to the gov­ern­ment, which is us­ing strong-arm tac­tics to change the con­sti­tu­tion and al­low Mu­sev­eni to stay in power Su­dan has ful­filled all the nec­es­sary con­di­tions re­lat­ing to the roadmap […] and there­fore we ex­pect the sanc­tions to be lifted ” Su­danese for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter Hamed Mom­taz is op­ti­mistic about the US. Congo is los­ing ev­ery day, ev­ery minute, ev­ery se­cond Mr Ka­bila is in of­fice ” Op­po­si­tion leader Moïse Ka­tumbi, who faces ar­rest, says he will re­turn to the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo in De­cem­ber.

BY THE TIME the sergeant at arms in Uganda’s par­lia­ment stopped se­cu­rity op­er­a­tives from man­han­dling Win­nie Ki­iza dur­ing a nasty brawl over a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment on 27 Septem­ber, the leg­is­la­tor and leader of the op­po­si­tion had seen enough. In that bareknuckle fist fight, where mem­bers of par­lia­ment threw what­ever weapon lay clos­est to them and an army gen­eral punched and bruised a young op­po­si­tion leg­is­la­tor, Ki­iza saw the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal dy­namic change. “You see, those goons were com­ing for ev­ery op­po­si­tion mem­ber,” Ki­iza tells The Africa Re­port about the se­cu­rity per­son­nel. What­ever re­spect Ki­iza, the first fe­male leader of the op­po­si­tion in par­lia­ment, had for the rul­ing party, it ap­peared to van­ish that day. “Be­fore, I had re­spect for [Pres­i­dent Yow­eri] Mu­sev­eni. At some point, I pre­tended we were in some sort of democ­racy. But now I am com­ing to terms with the real­ity of a dic­ta­tor­ship,” Ki­iza says, hit­ting a thick ta­ble for em­pha­sis, in her spa­cious of­fice on the fifth floor of par­lia­ment. Wear­ing red – a colour that has be­come a sym­bol of op­po­si­tion to a plan to scrap the con­sti­tu­tion’s age limit for pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, grant­ing Mu­sev­eni a chance to run for the pres­i­dency in 2021 – Ki­iza says Uganda will be de­stroyed if Mu­sev­eni ex­tends his rule be­yond 2021. She says the ex­pe­ri­ences of her dis­trict have pre­pared her for the fight to come. In late Novem­ber 2016, gun­fire rocked the palace of the king­dom of Rwen­zu­ruru in Kas­ese dis­trict, where Ki­iza is mem­ber of par­lia­ment (MP). The clashes started af­ter gov­ern­ment se­cu­rity of­fi­cials ac­cused King Wes­ley Mum­bere of of­fer­ing mili­tia a safe haven in the palace. The army bombed the palace

af­ter Mum­bere re­port­edly re­fused to sur­ren­der, killing more than 50 peo­ple, and the king was ar­rested. “I have lost any re­spect for Mu­sev­eni. The peo­ple who killed are the ones who were pro­moted,” Ki­iza says, re­fer­ring to Bri­gadier Peter El­welu, who com­manded the at­tack and was pro­moted to ma­jor gen­eral. For most of the heated po­lit­i­cal events over the past 10 years, Ki­iza – a former dis­trict coun­cil­lor – has been a quiet voice, pre­fer­ring to rep­re­sent her peo­ple rather than take cen­tre stage. There were mo­ments be­tween 2012 and 2014 as the chief whip of the op­po­si­tion that she ruf­fled some feath­ers. But Ki­iza, who turns 47 next month, has since be­come a fierce critic of the rul­ing Na­tional Re­sis­tance Move­ment, hit­ting out at another grand plan to in­tro­duce a new land pol­icy that would grant the gov­ern­ment per­mis­sion to take over land for a de­vel­op­men­tal project with­out im­me­di­ately com­pen­sat­ing the owner. And yet, she senses some hope. The emer­gence of a num­ber of MPS from the rul­ing party against the con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment ap­pears to have re-en­er­gised her. Ki­iza has al­ready promised to defy po­lice or­ders should there be a plan to block planned coun­try­wide ral­lies, where she will lead mem­bers of par­lia­ment from the op­po­si­tion to ed­u­cate the masses about the dan­gers of amend­ing the con­sti­tu­tion. “This thing of the age limit is not about the op­po­si­tion. This time it is for all of us, not a par­tic­u­lar side,” Ki­iza says. It is a mes­sage she in­tends to drum up wher­ever she goes, hop­ing that, like the peo­ple of Kas­ese, more will come to the re­al­i­sa­tion that the rul­ing party has reached its limit.

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