KAMPALA – Towards the tail end of last week, pseudo nationalists, online soldiers of fortune and spin attack dogs aligned to the Kampala establishment went on a Twitter rage when it became known that the Americans had slapped Kale of Kasagama with visa and economic sanctions.
Kale’s slapping by the Trump administration is the best news of the past and present week. As head of the police, his notoriety for application of Soviet methods on victims was well documented. Under him, the police became a rogue outfit. Nalufenya, a patch on the bank of the Nile in Jinja, was a dreaded gulag where victims emerged limping in excruciating pain.
As his victims winced, Kale, the Leopard’s beloved kid of the moment was loving his fame. He hopped from one TV screen to another, crowing like an all-conquering village rooster until his leopadic boss unleashed his claws and applied the brakes, bringing a hitherto free roving and pompous Kale to a screeching halt.
Before Trump’s slap last week, it can be said Kale had in recent months enjoyed a relatively quiet life, away from Kampala’s wagging social tongues and vibrant but struggling press. His response a day after the announcement of the sanctions can best be described as local posturing for local consumption with insignificant impact on the American sanctions.
Kale is no longer in position to hire or influence the hiring of lobbyists and PR specialists to do his bidding in Washington. He can sit and sulk in Kasagama and feel the hit and heat. Not even a re-appointment by the Leopard can take the sanctions off his back. For a man who was not long ago a semi-god, the American punch on the nose is a continuation and escalation of a dramatic reversal in fortunes.
As the sanctions sink, some Ugandans are wondering why Kale’s family (wife and children were also restricted). The answer is a guess. What is not a guess is that the ever-sniffing Americans have a vast global reach in every nook and cranny of the world. What do they know that the average Ugandan bothered with sugar and salt don’t? That is the question.
It is absurd that the Americans have punished a Ugandan for the torturing of Ugandans. It is the damnation of our crooked system. But the sanctions are a timely reminder on what someone on Twitter called the ‘‘limits of impunity’’. Its timing is perfect, when the so-called ‘‘Safe Houses’’ are back in the news with Tumwine the new rooster steadily taking over Kale’s spot of notoriety.
Mr Odokonyero is a Ugandan journalist, writer, media trainer and communications specialist. … He has consulted for numerous local and international organisations including but not limited to the BBC Media Trust (BBC Media Action), DW Akademie, UNESCO and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).