At a protest in Braamfontein, Ugandan opposition activists called for democracy and an end to oppression in their country.  

Members of the National Unity Platform (NUP), the Ugandan opposition political party, gathered in Braamfontein on May 11 to lay down demands, among them a free and fair democracy and an end to oppression.  

The demonstration was planned as a rejection of President Yoweri Museveni’s sixth inauguration on May 12.  At least 10 African leaders endorsed his re-election, including those of Zimbabwe and Ghana, down from the 14 presidents who attended the 2016 ceremony. South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa did not attend.  

The small group of demonstrators in red regalia marched from Braampark Office Park to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), where a memorandum of demands was read out. A representative of the SAHRC accepted the memorandum and said she would deliver it to ‘‘the provincial leader’’. It was not specified who.  

The NUP has a list of demands that include an end to oppression, the immediate release of political prisoners, an end to the kidnapping of Ugandan citizens by security forces and the NUP becoming the ruling party under the leadership of Bobi Wine. 

The protesters moved through Braamfontein chanting, ‘‘The dictator must fall, the rule of law must be restored.’’ Richard Kamya, one of the march organisers, says this was done to raise awareness of the political situation in Uganda.  

Kamya, who is also an NUP coordinator, says the party has resorted to protesting in different countries, including South Africa, as there has been a series of military crackdowns on anti-Museveni groups in Uganda since elections in January 2021.   

During the presidential elections the main opposition rival, Wine, was arrested by police while on campaign. After his arrest Wine’s supporters came out to demonstrate, calling for his release, resulting in more than 100 people being killed by police and about 3 000 arrested.  

“It is an election that was taken over by the military and police,” Wine told France 24 (a French state-owned TV news network) after the elections in January. “It further exposes how dictatorial the Museveni regime is. It is a mockery of democracy.” Wine campaigned to end what he referred to as ‘‘widespread corruption’’.  

According to election results released by the National Electoral Commission, Museveni won 58% of the vote. The NUP says, however, that the results are not an accurate reflection of the elections. 

“In the recent presidential elections, candidate Bobi Wine was blocked from campaigning in over 20 districts by the army and police,” Sombi Ibrahim, an NUP coordinator, told Wits Vuvuzela.  Wine had been banned from communicating to people via broadcast and “the results of the election are not accurate’’, Ibrahim said.  

Similar demonstrations occurred recently in the USA, as well as in the UK and the Netherlands. “We are holding these demonstrations outside Uganda to give the world an exact picture of what is happening in Uganda”, Ibrahim told Wits Vuvuzela 

After Museveni’s inauguration on May 12, Kamya said Museveni had rigged the election by intimidating voters. “Many opposition candidates were assaulted by the military and jailed during the campaigns. His inauguration is illegal and many Ugandans do not recognise him as the president”, Kamya told Wits Vuvuzela.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Ugandans march through Braamfontein in protest against President Yoweri Museveni’s inauguration on May 12. Photo: Karabo Mashaba