READ HOW MK KASIBANTE STARTED JOURNALISM IN S.5 IN 1997 AT DAILY MONITOR, THEREAFTER COVERED CAPT. NDAWULA OF PPU IN RUKUNGIRI UNLEASHING TERROR TO COL. BESIGYE’S SUPPORTERS IN 2001
By Wilber Muhwezi Kasibante
It was 1st March 2001 when I was deployed by the bureau chief for greater western Uganda Arinaitwe Rugyendo now of red pepper to cover news stories from Rukungiri and Kanungu that was curved shortly for daily monitor and monitor FM currently KFM
Dear readers, I was a senior six leaver who had never been to Rukungiri but had reasonable writing skills since I had done literature in English at both A ‘level and O’Level. I was earlier able to publish three letters in daily monitor while still a student at Alliance School Mbarara in senior five in 1997.
On my way to Rukungiri, we parked in Ntungamo, but the taxi touts almost stole my 40,000 shillings that was for upkeep and rent. I however guarded my penny.
We drove off to Rukungiri and I knew only one person in the district; Henry Kwikiriza the Entatsi reporter for greater Rukungiri then. I as well met Darious Tweyambe who was a newspaper agent for greater Rukungiri and teacher at Kinyansano Girls High school.
I got a house I slept in, got meals and the next day, I got up and went to Tweyambe’s newspaper agency shop and met other journalists like Coleb Bahikaho.
Rukungiri was a bee hive for news because of deployment by the president of Uganda of his Presidential Protection Unit headed by Capt. Abwooli Ndawula.
BESIGYE FINAL CAMPAIGN IN RUKUNGIRI ON 3RD MARCH 2001
The Bahororo in Rukungiri were in high gear that their son Besigye would become a president and sweep away the ‘arrogant’ Bahima.
Around 1:00PM, the NRM women league led by Susan Muhwezi and other NRM stronghold like businessman Kamugisha and all the other bahima staged a procession and started moving in the streets of Rukungiri whereas the Bahororo were gearing up to receive their son Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye to make his last campaign in Rukungiri.
The NRM supporters were being highly protected by the PPU soldiers whereas the Besigye supporters were being beaten like thieves by the same PPU.
Around 4:00pm, Besigye emerged and was received like a hero in Rukungiri but the soldiers were extremely angry and they started shooting at around 7:00pm and one Jackson Baronda a relative to Besigye was murdered dully dressed in his tie.
Rukungiri town turned into a battle field, PPU, UPDF, Police; shooting everywhere both in the air and buildings.
Calm was restored at 10:00pm and peace returned to Rukungiri town. This journalist came out of his hideout and started gathering news; putting different facts together to make a story.
I was assisted by Patson Barire who was a correspondent for daily monitor in Kisoro but had come home to witness Besigye’s rally.
He helped me and we filed the story on phone at night and it was published the next morning in daily monitor by David Ouma Balikoba (DOB) the then news editor (one of the founding directors with Onyango Obou, Wafula Ogutu, Kevin Alilo and others).
VOTING IS POSTPONED TO END OF MARCH 2001, BESIGYE CASTIGATES MUSEVENI FOR FEAR OF BEING DEFEATED, TACTS TO STEAL HIS VOTES
Chaos remained in Rukungiri being geared by Capt. Ndawula’s PPU and deputized by Lt. Kakiga from Bugamba sub county Rwampara district now.
Whenever procession of Reform Agenda started in town, PPU would disperse them immediately but those of NRM would peaceful hold their procession.
Capt. Ndawula together with his colleague Lt. Kakiga were commanding from the RDC Mary Kemerwa’s home.
Reform Agenda was chaired by George Owakukira’Oru the then Rukungiri speaker and councilor Rukungiri town council, deputized by the iron lady Ingrid Turinawe who was the deputy speaker and councilor for Buhunga and Ruhinda sub counties.
The Bakiga of Rukungiri were hospitable to this journalist especially Ingrid Turinawe and Jackson Turinawe her husband plus other friends who gave him comfort.
The day for presidential voting was announced again by the chairman electoral commission Aziz Kasuja now the late.
Voting finally took place and Besigye came to Rukungiri to vote, after ticking his vote he found the ballot box open thus opened it fully which caused havoc. He was interviewed by local and international journalists after voting before returning to Kampala.
The results were announced a few days later and Besigye got 30 something percent but observers said the elections had been rigged.
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS: MBABAZI VS TYCOON GARUGA, JIM MUHWEZI VS FRED TURYAHUMWEZA
After the presidential elections, the PPU never left Rukungiri they remained to cause havoc to reform agenda parliamentary candidates who included tycoon Musinguzi Garuga.
It was a tag of war between the candidature of Amama Mbabazi of NRM and Garuga Musinguzi of Reform Agenda.
Mbabazi was referred to as a lazy man who had contributed nothing to their municipality while Musinguzi had broken a record of extending electric power into Kihihi town.
President Museveni before he was sworn in came to Kinkizi east to campaign for Mbabazi but instead attacked him for being lazy. He on the other hand praised Garuga for supporting them during the war but advised the electorates not to vote him since he still had squinted eyes.
“Where is Garuga, the man who helped us during the war, I hear he is also developmental” Museveni asked. “Am here sir, am still developmental but I support Reform Agenda and Col. Kizza Besigye” Garuga responded openly.
Another scenario that shock greater Rukungiri campaigns was the meeting called by Suzan Muhwezi and the political assistant to the husband which this journalist attended and the women started weeping while narrating of how PPU commanded by Capt. Ndawula used by Suzan Muhwezi wiped and beat them.
They were given food at Randvous hotel but they never ate it comfortably.
This journalist after the meeting retreated to his house only to hear someone on his door at around 11:00 pm. He was told Jim Muhwezi needed him at his home.
Muhwezi asked me not to kill him having heard all the women said in the meeting but I insisted I would be a professional journalist then he ordered the drivers to drop me where they had picked me. I wrote a story the next day and it was run in daily monitor and on KFM.
Jim Muhwezi was no longer worried about the president since he was already a winner but how he would reconcile the majority Bakiga to vote him as a Muhima.
Jim Muhwezi maneuvered through the majority Bakiga , won and was appointed minister of health . In 2007, he got into problems with global funds together with Alex Kamugisha and Mike Mukula.
BACK TO KINKIKI EAST
Campaigns went on and because of the power and popularity that Garuga had exhibited, Capt. Ndawula attacked them and injured them.
This journalist became popular within 18 months by publishing headlines and appearing on KFM with news and had a programme called radio safari.
That is where his journalism is rooted at daily monitor and KFM for the 18 months he spent in Rukungiri and Kanungu while reporting factual news, being brave and professional.
He later joined new vision in greater Bushenyi before joining Observer where the editorial policy was similar to that of Daily monitor.
I worked with Observer for three years from 2010-2013 under supervision of Mr. James Tumusiime, retired in August 2013 and started www.mknewslink.com on 20th Sept. 2013 using experience from daily monitor, KFM and observer.
www.mknewslink.com is a news website that publishes local news from western Uganda; greater Bushenyi, Ankole, Bunyoro, Rwenzori and Kigezi.
It has 10,000 readers per day and a volume of advertisement from 25 companies.
Am able to do all this because of early training by daily monitor and KFM that ushered me into professional journalism that is corrupt free and nurtured me as a young man a responsible journalist; highly respected in greater western Uganda and has been able to nurture many more young journalists into the profession.
He was able to further his studies from certificate in journalism to bachelors degree in journalism and mass communication at Uganda Christian University and he is now preparing to do master degree in online journalism / internet based journalism at Aga Khan University in Nairobi.