The book Animal Farm written by George Orwell is the most interesting book I have ever read. Pigs, according to the book, built the revolution, and also turned out to be the ones who would destroy everything they fought against—rings a bell right?
In a democratic society where rule of law is respected and the government efficient, there is hardly any hate speech that derives from the people against their leaders or government. People have freedom, leaders have no fear of hate speech because they do what they were voted to do, and even where speech shocks, offends, and disturbs another, it would still be a constitutionally protected form of expression.
Whoever is disgruntled in a democratic society, speaks out without fear of arbitrary state action and trumped-up litigation. No one is kidnapped and held incommunicado in military barracks and tortured beyond recognition and later produced in a subservient court when they are half dead, and charged with disturbing the peace of the leaders or offensive communication.
It is only in a kleptocratic gerontocracy and or kakistocracy that an oppressed person makes unflattering remarks against his oppressors and is seen as disturbing the peace of the oppressors. When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan—says the Bible in Proverbs 29:2.
I recently read in the news that a man was picked up from his workplace by a drone because it is alleged that he used Twitter to disturb the peace of the speaker of parliament. However, the charge sheet is defective since it doesn’t actually include what he posted that disturbed the said speaker.
But we all know that the man posted about skin bleaching. Is it not true? Anita Among is not new to our eyes, we saw her when she was a broke and dark-skinned member of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and we have seen her join the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and accumulated a lot of wealth and suddenly her skin turned whiter than the Pope’s.
It is only in Uganda where leaders stink and are greedy like pigs but when they are honestly asked to clean themselves or tame their greed, would in lieu, swiftly introduce a law that criminalizes such unflattering talk of reminding them that their greed is depleting the picayune taxes and that the stench of their misrule is pervading everywhere and is suffocating the people!
The people in power shouting that hate speech is the problem of this country have never asked why the people hate them or maybe they feign ignorance of the fact that the hate is derived from their opulence, impunity, and inequality—but instead of ironing out issues, want to prevent the angry people from talking.
Was ‘honorable’ Nsereko’s Computer Misuse Bill, before it turned into a law, guided by the international human rights instruments or he just introduced the stone age/archaic bushwa on the floor of parliament and the sinners voted yes just because it would protect them from being told that they are sinners and or evil people? As a lawyer, he is expected to be extraordinary in reasoning beyond the selfish nose and mouth by putting the country first but alas.
Now the country may need more prisons than schools because I am sure Ugandans shall not be gagged on the streets and also on social media. Free speech must never be criminalized lest we become automatons prone to destruction at any time. That law, the Computer Misuse Act, does not meet the standards set in criminal law — that the law is clear and certain.
I was told that Mohammed Nsereko is a lawyer and I keep wondering which law did he study and from where—or is it a matter of encasing himself in the British tailored suits to cosmetically appear clotheshorse outside when what he spews or suggests is bereft of any knowledge of the purpose of the law in this 21st century?
Free speech is the sine qua non of addressing the mischief (stench of pigs) in which we are enmeshed as a country and criminalizing it is a carte blanche to anarchy. Ugandans must be allowed to scream their grievances and break the eardrums of these rulers who pretend not to listen.
Our anger/steam of oppression must not be hoarded in our hearts, we must have the freedom to blow it off lest we explode due to excessive internal pressure. The exaggerated importance of these misleaders cum leaders will soon plunge the country into a bottomless pit of mayhem.
Whoever thinks that telling pigs that they stink is misusing the computer and that the law against it is justified, must ask why pigs are stinking for us. We must fight this draconian law using all fronts or suffer the indignity of being voiceless.
Kakwenza Rukirabashaija is a Ugandan novelist and lawyer. He is the author of The Greedy Barbarian and Banana Republic: Where Writing is Treasonous.