By; SOLOMON LUBAMBULA&DEO WALUSIMBI
Civil society activists in liaison with opposition politicians in Uganda, have strengthened their sensitizing exercise to the Public about the stricter Public Order Management law, which awaits to be assented to by President Yoweri Museveni.
Led by Bishop Zac Niringiye, activists under their coalition Citizen Alliance which brings together civil society Organizations, speaker after speaker, emphasized that they would lose their “Inherent rights” such as freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and others, should Museveni sanction the Public Order management law, yet these freedoms are not granted by any human being, but guaranteed upon birth.
“Public Order Management bill is uncalled for and we are not ready to obey it even if Museveni signs it. No one has powers to allow or disallow any person to freely enjoy his/her rights because they are inherent” Said the Host MP of Busiro South, Joseph Balikuddembe, while addressing residents of Entebbe Abayita ababira.
Under the new Law, a gathering of three and more people would be obliged to ask for permission in writing from the Inspector General of Police, seven days prior to the rally, which according to human rights defenders is an absolute violation of human rights, rendering the law a tool for the government to curtail the freedoms of the citizens.
They maintain that the act is not only stricter, but also “dangerous, illegitimate and undemocratic draconian legislation aimed at gagging the ordinary citizens and anyone who may attempt to critic the regime”
Bishop Zac Niringiye, stressed that if government is getting to the level of trying to silence the ordinary citizens with genuine concerns ranging from poor quality of education, health, failure by government to deliver social services among others, it is high time for the public to stop what he described as “injustice”
“We are pointing out not only the wrongs and there are many, one of them is the Public Order Management Law, it’s not only illegal, but it’s irresponsible, it is just a bad law… So every one of us must be able to say that this wrong must stop” said Niringinye.
“With all these wrongs, you cannot take them anymore, enough is enough, and we have had already too much so it’s time for each one of us to ask himself that what is my role? What is it that am going to do?” the retired clergy maintained, appealing to people that “You must appreciate that this is our country and the responsibility to make it better is for every individual”
Busiro East MP Medard Ssegona cemented the submissions by the previous speakers when he said that “we Ugandans should set aside our differences like tribes, political parties and religions to stop obnoxious laws by dictators like the Public Order Management law, when we are united to cause change” he said.
Asked why they (politicians) had teamed up with the civil society Organizations, to fight the Public Order Management law, Sseggona said that “This is an initiative of different players bringing together politicians and civil society activists like Bishop Niringinye to help the country get rid of dictatorship, theft in public offices, so we decided to work together to fight and bring about change in this country”
Other Politicians who included Kalungu East MP Joseph Ssewungu (DP) Busiro East Medard Ssegona (Independent) Jinja Municipality MP Paul Mwiru (FDC) and Wakiso district Chairperson (DP) Matia Lwanga Bwanika re-echoed their colleagues’ arguments.
“We shall never obey this Public Order Management bill because it is against the principles of democracy and human rights” Bwanika said.
On his part, Muhammed Ndifuna, the chief executive officer of HURINET-U, observed that he is optimistic that the ongoing interactions between the citizens Alliance and Citizens have yielded some tangible results so far.
“We have found out that people are concerned that government could actually come to a point to allow a law that is obviously not in the best interest of the country to go through, so they are appealing to all stakeholders that this law should be undone and secondly that laws of that nature do not come through parliament anymore because it is counter to democracy and rule of law in this country” said Ndifuna.
Asked whether their bid to block the Public Order Management law is not overdue, he was quick to say that “Better late than never and you want to prove that efforts of citizens as far as this law is concerned, you will find out that at the beginning when it was still a draft, citizens raised concerns which means that they have been consistently rejecting it but in vain” he said, adding “This law was crafted in a bad spirit and the provisions are likely to blow away the basic human Rights and freedoms”
“That is why citizens are now concerned that they were not listened to sufficiently and a bad law is close at hand so what they can now do is to make a more passionate appeal to whoever cares to listen that this law should not be implemented” Ndifuna said.
The citizens Alliance, which was launched last month in Kawempe, has so far traversed several parts of the country including Mbale, Masaka, Jinja, Iganga, Mukono and is now heading to northern region, to convey the same message of resisting the Public Order Management law.