The opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) has been charged by the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) for manipulating the “story” of missing people to advance its political interests.
The largest political party has been accusing the government’s security agencies for the past two or so years of kidnapping some of its supporters. The opposition party asserts that the current administration has continued to target opposition sympathizers for persecution, including abduction.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, UHRC chair Mariam Wangadya stated that in response to concerns of supporters going missing, they contacted the NUP secretary general and included a copy of the letter they had previously given to party leader Robert Kyagulanyi with information about the missing people.
“They provided particulars for 25 people but not the thousands they have been talking about that are missing. The particulars we requested for included their photographs, date when they are said to have gone missing and the contacts of their next of kin.What was missing glaringly were the national identification numbers. They provided for only one person,” Wangadya said.
Wangadya claimed that the rights organization started their inquiries by getting in touch with the missing people’s relatives in an effort to learn more about the circumstances behind their disappearance. However, the right body chairperson pointed out that they only needed to gather data on seven individuals.
“From our investigation so far, we have established that out of the 25 person provided, seven were arrested but released in December last year and have since reunited with their families. These seven can’t be said to be missing. Out of the seven, three were charged with murder.”
Jamshid Kavuma was one of the seven people missing, according to Wangadya, the bodyguard of NUP President Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine.
However, she issued a warning that it is unfair for the opposing party to vilify the rights agency because of the supporters who have gone missing.
Gaining Public Sympathy and Political Capital
The head of the rights organization charged the opposition NUP party with participating in the rising practice of politicians using fictitious kidnappings as a means of political mobilization.
“ I would rather the NUP and other political actors share with the public the better programs they have. They should tell Ugandans what they can do better than their competitors rather than use fake victimhood to attract political support and sustain it. UHRC will not be party to any agenda to use fake victimhood to sustain political support.”
NUP responds to her allegations
NUP spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi dismissed Wangadya’s accusations as baseless when reached for comment.
“I think Mariam Wangadya has a major problem. We have submitted several lists to them, and they never take action. One time she even said that people are brutalised because they are provocative…and this is supposed to be the head of our human rights commission,”Ssenyonyi wondered.