Why Does The New Vision Root for Mob Justice Against CBS FM?
In its editorial of February 9th, The New Vision joined the chorus of Government officials in condemning CBS FM for allegedly calling upon Baganda to take action against “people with long noses who threaten to take away their land” and the Government which “has a hidden agenda of killing Baganda”. The paper also alleged that CBS told Baganda to “chase away people who they think betray Buganda” and “on the day of the riots “called upon Baganda to escort the Kabaka prepared to engage the enemy”. It asserted that CBS FM’s actions are similar to those of Radio Mille Collines that flamed the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
In a nutshell the paper has declared its verdict, namely – that CBS FM is guilty of directing the public to commit genocide. This is absurd to say the least.
Doesn’t The New Vision recognise that CBS should not be condemned unheard? Is the paper not able to recognise a need for an independent, impartial inquiry into the causes of the riots and the legality of the government’s actions before, during and after the riots before it can pull the rope on CBS and its owners? Shouldn’t it know better than to participate in mob justice when administrative and judicial mechanisms exist but are sidelined? Does it believe that people should shut up and put up when their rights are being trampled upon? Does it support the rule of the jungle or the gun and not the rule of the law? Has it stopped to ponder the full facts and particularly the evidence on the use of excess force by the State security operatives where innocent people died? Does
What are we to think of a Government-owned paper that prints and propagates such sweeping allegations and makes hasty judgements? Doesn’t the paper realise that genocide is a very serious crime against humanity and that individuals accused of genocide or any other crime must be tried by competent courts and not summarily tried and executed by newspaper editors?
The matters in issue in the CBS saga are very serious and should not be taken lightly. Yet in several respects the CBS saga is only the tip of a huge iceberg of injustices suffered by the people of the Kingdom Buganda. The New Vision ought to know that our community has suffered many years at the hands of tyrants and treacherous politicians from the days of the British colonialists. And, perhaps more than others, it has born the main brunt of the wars aimed to liberate this country. Because of this reality, and in spite of the several adversities it faces, it has a right and duty to defend itself from acts that are illegal and undermine its core values and existence. This extends to the duty to defend itself from false accusations of genocide and to demand for justice.
For the record, the Kingdom of Buganda that I represent, has no agenda whatsoever against people from western or any other part of Uganda. Ours is a nation that comprises and embraces many nationalities with all shapes and sizes of noses – indeed it is a microcosm of Uganda in which all the native peoples of Uganda live in harmony, something that cannot be said about all parts of the country. The makeup of our Cabinet and Lukikko is reflective of this reality. It is paradoxical that, the more Buganda embraces and integrates other native communities, the more it is accused of being discriminative and ethnocentric! Genocide has no place in our constitution or thinking at all. But we fear that it may actually be is in the minds of those that constantly talk about it. Sadly, this thinking may be augmented by The New Vision editorial, whose role here may be more accurately analogous to the notorious Radio Mille Collines – the state-owned media outlet, which paved the way for the genocide of the Tutsi by demonising the Tutsi and convincing the Hutu that the Tutsi had a plan of genocide against them and that the Hutu, who wielded state power and armed militias, should move against them pre-emptively.
About the September riots, Buganda’s case needs to be properly understood. We strongly believe that it was illegal to stop the Kabaka from proceeding on lawful visits to Nakasongola and Kayunga. But for the unnecessary roadblocks in the Kabaka way, the riots would never have occurred and people would never have died the way they did. We also consider that it was illegal and wrong for the Government to remove CBS radio masts and cancel its licence unlawfully. Similarly, we find it wrong for the government to arm twist CBS to accept liability for the riots and to coerce it to withdraw its court case. In any case, we consider that it should not be condemned without a right to a full and fair trial. Thus before The New Vision pontificates on these matters it ought to be cautious and objective. We believe that The New Vision knows of the sub judice rule so, instead of writing inflammatory editorials, it needs to give the courts of law, or the statutory Broadcasting Council, a chance to interrogate the full facts and reach a law finding. Otherwise the paper’s rash statements may only serve to obstruct justice and obviate the public’s attention from the real questions to conjured-up charges of genocide and to individuals who seek justice in the matter.
Needless to say, CBS is entitled to a fair trial including: the right to summon witnesses; the right of cross-examination; the right not to incriminate oneself; the right not to be tried on secret evidence; the right to control one’s own defense the right to exclude evidence that is improperly obtained; irrelevant or inherently inadmissible; the right to exclude judges on the grounds of partiality or conflict of interest; and the right of appeal.
The paper, and others, should know by now that we shall not relent or waiver in the search for the truth and in the defence of our values and heritage. We demand and are entitled for a full public and impartial inquiry in the events leading to the riots and the punishment of those that are found guilty. Similarly CBS FM deserves a fair trial. Mob justice or a kangaroo like court in a newsroom simply will not do.
Apollo N Makubuya