President Yoweri Museveni has ordered for the arrest of a man who was recently captured on video uttering comments considered to be sectarian and demeaning to other ethnicities.
In the video which has been making rounds on social media, an unidentified man is seen speaking at a matrimonial ceremony.
The man who is a muhima from the Banyankole tribe states that he can never let his daughter marry a mwiru (the section of Banyankole who are predominantly cultivators).
The President reacted to the statements in a video message to the nation on New Year’s eve and vowed to deal with those who demean and abuse fellow human beings.
“There are some fools and enemies that spoilt my festive season. I watched a video clip from a certain party where one fool was spewing words that were segregative against Ugandans,” a seemingly disturbed Museveni said in his ten minute message delivered from his country home in Rwakitura.
He explained that the words ‘omuhima’ and ‘omwiru’ were used in yesteryears to describe the different sections of Banyankole based on their occupations and skills. The Bahima were cattle keepers while the Bairu were known to be crop growers.
But the President said some clans of the Banyankole tribe, particularly the Bahinda and Bashambo as well as the royals had tendencies of exploitation and confiscation of their subjects’ property. Subsequently, they began to use the term ‘omwiru’ to demean other people, he said.
He said that soon after the NRM government took power, it put in place stringent measures to stop the use of sectarian language.
“The word ‘omwiru’ means ‘servant’. We often use it when we are praying to God. We refer to ourselves as His servants. I myself am a ‘mwiru’ of God and it is gratifying,” the President noted.
“But sectarian people use the word to mean ‘slave’. When you refer to a fellow human being as a slave, that becomes contempt and demeaning to other people”.
In order to weed out the vice which had at one time become rampant, Museveni says “we gazetted this act [sectarianism] as a crime in Article 41 of the Penal Code and it attracts a punishment of not more than 5 years”.
“Fortunately, these fools who made these statements exposed their faces. We are going to find them, arrest them and charge them with sectarianism,” Museveni said.
In the same clip, a police officer is said to have been present at the event where the abusive comments were uttered. The President says that the officer will be investigated to establish what he did when the “foolery” was prevailing.
“We made this law, now luckily, these people will serve as examples to deter the rest from behaving like that,” he said.
Previously, there have been numerous other audio clips circulated on WhatsApp where anonymous persons referring to themselves as Bahima vilify the Beiru often using extremely abusive language. During 2016 elections, audio clips were circulated in which Bakiga vilified Bahima and vice versa.