A Ghana-led group calling itself the African Coalition in Solidarity with the People of Uganda has issued a statement on the arrest and torture of a Ugandan MP, Hon. Zaake Francis Butebi.
Zaake, a lead Coordinator for Musician-turned-MP, Kyagulanyi ‘Bobi Wine’ Sentamu’s People Power movement, was arrested on Sunday 19th April 2020 and has reportedly been illegally detained without charge and tortured by members of Uganda’s police and security forces.
A vague statement from the Uganda Police stated that the MP was arrested for distributing food to the needy during Uganda’s COVID pandemic lockdown.
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Uganda’s President of 34 years recently issued a directive stating that anyone distributing food during the lockdown would be charged with attempted murder.
Local activists have criticized this directive, pointing out that people loyal to Museveni’s NRM have been allowed to continue distributing food, and that the government task force tasked with feeding the needy is focusing on the urban poor and not being transparent with the procurement and distribution of the food, much of which is contributions by members of the public.
Zaake was arrested shortly after he posted an image of food packages he had organised for delivery to his constituents.
Attempts by his family, colleagues and legal representatives to have access to him have proved difficult.
The Coalition, assembled by a group of Pan Africanists, is demanding his immediate release and the arrest of those alleged to have tortured him.
The coalition comprises nine Ghanaians, Togolese, Congolese organisations, as well as one from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ghana’s Economic Fighters League, led by Commander-in-Chief, Ernesto Yeboah, the People Power Ghana Chapter represented by Ghana-based Ugandan Citizen Namata Serumaga-Musisi, the National Union of Ghana Students NUGS, and Togo’s Togolese Civil League have all endorsed the statement.
Uganda’s presidential hopeful, Bobi Wine, has also condemned the torturing of the MP who is his ally.
Bobi Wine, a pop star whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, is seeking to oust aging leader Yoweri Museveni, 75, in presidential polls due early next year.
“He was tortured at each of those detention facilities. His eyes were sprayed with a substance that has left him unable to see,” Wine told a press conference in the capital.
Here is the coalition’s full statement: