JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party led by Julius Malema has said Uganda cannot call itself a democracy when it does not respect the basic political right to the freedom of assembly.
In a statement issued in the aftermath of the arrest of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine on Monday, January 6, 2020, Mbuyiseni Hdlozi, the EFF National Spokesperson, condemned the Uganda government’s use of the Public Order Management Act (POMA) to suppress public rallies.
“The EFF condemns the authoritarian Museveni regime for the arrest of opposition party leader and Member of Parliament. Boni Wine (Robert Kyagulanyi). Ugandan police have also dispersed a political gathering using tear gas and arrested other opposition MPs,” the statement reads in part.
“Uganda cannot call itself a democracy when it does not respect the basic political right to the freedom of assembly. No one, in a democratic system can ever seek police permission to politically assemble. To require of citizens to first get police or the Electoral Commission’s permissions is a violation of the freedom of assembly, which is a fundamental human right that cannot be subject to police authority. In a government that respects human rights, the procedures in law to regulate gatherings are not supposed to be -permission seeking. Instead, the police ought to be there to help attain the basic human freedoms. The state owes the citizens these rights, not the other way around,” the statement added.
EFF said the Ugandan law that requires that those who want to stand for presidential elections to introduce themselves to the Electoral Commission (EC) and notify local authorities of events plan in their area is ridiculous.
“The reality is that the authoritarian and power mongering Museveni wants to impose restrictions on opposition parties, monitor their events and at times refuse them permission, all in the name of clinging to power. He Is, In this regard, a perfect emulation of Idi Amin. We call for the unconditional release of Bobi Wine and others. Uganda must allow free campaigning anywhere anytime. It is fundamental to the freedom of speech, association, expression and assembly,” the statement adds.