Police has banned all activities of a pressure group – Youths for National Salvation (YONASA) from all areas of Masaka.
YONASA is a pressure group, which claims to be fighting for restoration rule of law, democracy and wants President Yoweri Museveni to retire. It also claims to be fighting against corruption and organised state killings around the country.
The group started operating in Masaka in March this year. It is said to have a membership of over 600 youths drawn from the ruling party, National Resistance Movement (NRM) and the opposition.
Masaka district police commander, John Mwaule, quoting section of the Public Order Management Act (POMA), says the group must now seek police permission before holding any meetings.
Security authorities say YONASA has characteristics of an emerging rebel group. Joseph Ssekasamba, Masaka deputy resident district commissioner (RDC) says the group leaders have been illegally holding secret meetings and de-campaigning Museveni’s government.
Augustine Bukululu, the pressure group chairperson says they have been denied hotel space around Masaka town on orders of police. Bukululu however says the police action is instead making them even stronger.
“Indeed the DPC is intimidating some of us, but we’re also working upon it and we’re to find a solution on how easily we can handle the DPC. The fact is, it is making it [YONASA] strong. Why is it making it strong? These people have realised that they are doing things, which are not transparent. That is why they are trying to limit us from conducting our meetings anywhere because we’re free Ugandans, we’re youths, we’re concerned citizens. We’re supposed to look at everything that is concerning youths. So it gave us strength – the fact that they are limiting us from conducting our meetings from public places. We shall continue conducting meetings everywhere because we’re flexible; we’re adaptive to any kind of environment”, he said.
Abdullah Ssenabulya, the Masaka District Boda Boda NRM wing chairperson says at least 300 boda boda (motorcycle taxis) cyclists who supported President Museveni in the previous election are members. Ssenabulya, has therefore, warned police against persecuting them saying they will fight back if provoked.
“This caning of citizens by Kayihura’s men is what is going to spark off everything. Does he think citizens don’t know how to also use canes?…Museveni has ruled us for so long. Enough is enough. It is time he went home to enjoy his life after presidency. He has enough cows to live off even for the next 300 years in case he were to live till then. He has enough wealth, why is hanging on? We want a president who understands that majority of citizens are youths and plans for them. In fact, I pity the president because he has so many bogus advisors who can’t guide him about governance and when to retire”, he said.
Several hotels we visited confirmed that they have been told by the district security authorities to demand for police clearance letters before they can host the youths at their premises