By Andrew Karamagi
The scene of the crime was the High Court premises in Kampala’s commercial heartland. The co-conspirators were Yoweri Museveni, leader of the ruling NRA junta, and Alphonse Owiny Dollo, a consigliere to the ruling family, who holds out as Chief Justice. Several other accomplices who are still at large aided and abetted the commission of the crime.
A most revered Ugandan name was desecrated yesterday [Monday] when, at a function shamelessly named the Fourth Benedicto Kiwanuka Memorial Lecture, the leading perpetrators of maladministration and under-delivery of justice, gathered to commune on sycophancy, intellectual dishonesty, and outright lies.
Pity the taxpayer-funded tents which had to endure the spectacle that was held under the laughable theme: “Administration and Delivery of Justice In Uganda through The Years.”
As the day wore on, the thought occurred to me that the present Chief Justice and his predecessors—except Samuel Wako Wambuzi—would have comfortably held that office under Gen. Idi Amin, with no threat to their lives, just like they currently do, under Kijambiya Museveni.
Neither Benjamin Odoki, Bart Katureebe, nor Alphonse Owiny-Dollo said a thing about the overbearing character of the Executive branch, the abysmal financial situation of the Courts, the spectre of interference in the Judiciary’s work, and the routine disregard of court orders by the regime’s gun-wielding bandits.
In his lacklustre address, the incumbent Chief Justice momentarily forgot the pretence and told a public secret: “…you (Museveni) have the final say in certain court decisions. Many people don’t know that. The President is the last appellate court…” By the time Dollo made his concluding remarks, it was clear that he is a man after a dictator’s heart, a living embodiment of judicial misconduct, and one of the midwives of injustice in Uganda.
If you think I am being uncharitable to His Lordship, please challenge him to go to the infamous Kitalya Prison and walk out with MPs Allan Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya, whom court granted bail but have since been abducted by thugs in uniform.
In Benedicto Kiwanuka, the Judiciary had a father figure and even though long dead, we can posthumously point to his works and legacy. In Odoki, Katureebe, and Dollo, the Judiciary is a single mother, whose children have a living father, but is no more than a walking corpse—deadbeat, absent, detached, and aloof.
Kiwanuka was killed because he stood firm for the independence of the Judiciary against the tyranny of the Executive, very much a like to the kind that we see today. Such is the mettle that a real Chief Justice should be made of. There’s got to be more to being a Chief Justice, over and above being chauffeured in a noisy and recklessly driven motorcade, while hiding behind ugly colonial robes and wigs.
May the distinguished name and time-honoured service that Benedicto Kiwanuka rendered to our then young nation be cleansed of the debauchery of Dollo, Yoweri & Associates. firstname.lastname@example.org.