Police has Monday denied stopping private meetings in private homes as widely reported in the press last week.
During a Police press conference on Monday last week, Police spokesperson CP Fred Enanga said that politicians who hold public meetings in private homes should as well meet provisions of the Public Order Management Act (POMA), a legislation which regulates public meetings.
“In a private home, people will find probably one toilet, one bathroom and you are holding a public meeting with about 7000 people in your compound. It becomes a problem because there is going to be congestion and you can’t protect these people in case of any form of attack or any act of hooliganism,” Enanga said on Monday last week.
“Even if it is your private home, once it is a matter of public interest where you have the public gathered in your home , it is supposed to also meet the provisions of the Public Order Management Act. So, even if it is a private home any you don’t have the right notification and formal authorisation under the POMA, we shall come and police that event,” he added.
Several media outlets including leading dailies would the following day report that all meetings in homes including wedding meetings had been banned.
The reports have since sparked a public debate with many Ugandans wondering whether policing is not exceeding the limits of the law.
But today (Monday), Enanga clarified on his statement last week saying his communication was only in regard to public meetings in private homes.
“We came out and said that we had observed that there are a number of political and non political actors and groups who were taking public meetings – meetings in the public interest in their homes. We did not say Kwanjula (wedding meetings), birthday parties and all private meetings,” he explained.
The police spokesperson says he tried reaching out to media houses who had falsely reported that police had banned private meetings to rectify it, but with no success.
“When you come out and populate a false story like that, it is not good, it has very bad repercussions. We are very clear with the message we bring out. Issues of public interest are regulated under the POMA like this press conference is a public meeting. If I decide to call you journalists to my home to address from there maybe when I am sick, it is not a private meeting, it is a public one because it is of public interest,” Enanga explained.
He reemphasized that holding public meetings in private homes where there is no security puts the attendants at risk in case of any form of aggression.
Enanga says all private premises including private homes become public places when public meetings are held there and they have to police them.
In December, the ‘People Power’ leader, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine launched his group’s coordinators in Wakiso District. The event was held within the residence of Busiro East County MP, Medard Lubega Ssegona.