Review of 2016

Review of 2016

Revd Amos Kasibante

The elections

The main event marking the year 2016 was the Presidential election and election of Members of Parliament. There were eight presidential candidates, one being a woman called Maureen Kyalya Walube.  But the main contenders were three: Yoweri Museveni (71), Dr Kizza Besigye (59) and Amama Patrick Mbabazi (67). All three played a part in the war that brought the National Resistance Movement (NRM) to power, with Museveni and Besigye actually having been combatants. But a rift had developed between the two and Besigye in 1999 issued a document detailing his grievances against the direction the NRM was taking under Museveni. He competed against Museveni during the 2001 elections and was later to become the President of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), the main opposition party in the country.

Amama Mbabazi had held many positions in the NRM government in security, defence and justice. He was Secretary General of the NRM and later became Prime Minister. He had campaigned for the removal of Presidential term limits in 2005, but decided to stand against Museveni, citing the need for competition as opposed to having a sole candidate for the NRM party.

Besigye and Mbabazi had a hard time campaigning and they and their supporters complained that the police and other security agencies put many obstacles in their way. Besigye was arrested several times during the campaigns. Museveni won the election with 62% of the votes, while Besigye came second with 34%. Both Besigye and Mbabazi contested the results. Mbabazi went to court, but lost. Besigye did not bother to go to court on this occasion. Instead he declared himself as the winner and started what he and his supporters called “the defiance” campaign. Since the election, he was under house arrest for several months and has been arrested and thrown in prison an uncountable number of times.

Political turmoil in Kasese

Another major event of national political significance was the attack in November by Uganda’s armed forces on the palace of the Omusinga (cultural leader) of the Bakonjo, Charles Wesley Mumbere, which threw Kasese district into turmoil.  The government alleged that Mumbere’s royal guards had made an attack on the police in the area as part of their attempt to revive the Rwenzururu rebellion of the 1960s and 1980s. In its bid to restore cultural leaders, the NRM government had installed Mumbere, son of a former leader of the Rwenzururu armed rebellion, as king. The attack on the palace left 46 royal guards dead, and over 130 of them arrested and transferred to prison in Jinja. Mumbere was also arrested and charged with murder. The palace was burnt to the ground. He was granted bail in February 2017.

Election of new Bishops of the Church of Uganda

On the Church front, 2016 saw the election of six new bishops, these being Henry Katumba-Tamale (West Buganda), Patrick Wakula (Central Busoga), Samuel Kahuma (Bunyoro Kitara), Benoni Magezi (North Kigezi), Michael Lubowa (Central Buganda), and Charles Andaku (Madi and West Nile). Three of them were consecrated in 2016, the others early in 2017.  The Bishops who have retired are Nathan Kyamanywa (Bunyoro Kitara), Jackson Matovu (Central Buganda), Joel Obetia (Madi and West Nile) and Patrick Mugume-Tusingwire (North Kigezi)

Drought

Uganda experienced a long period of drought not seen in the recent past and this led to famine in various parts of the country and to the drying up of crops in areas such as western Uganda which have not experienced such drought before. The drought led to an increase in food prices in the country and it also affected the boarding schools. December, which used to fall within the rainy season, was dry for most of the time.

Human sexuality

Although the Church of Uganda was not as vocal on the issue of human sexuality as it had been in previous years since Lambeth 2008, it still maintained its diligence regarding what it regards as the biblical and orthodox teaching on human sexuality and the sanctity of marriage as between a man and a woman. The church leadership was sensitive to statements coming from the leadership of the Church of England on the matter.

However another subject that focused the minds of many Bishops in the Church of Uganda at home was what Archbishop Stanley Ntagali called “syncretism” during his sermon at Uganda Martyrs Day on June 3rd, at Namugongo.  Syncretism in this case is the mixing of Christian faith with religious beliefs and practices, often from African traditional religions, that the Church deems incompatible with a Christian faith and commitment.  In his Christmas message, West Buganda’s Bishop Henry Katumba-Tamale spoke out against the revival of practices associated with witchcraft which the Church deems not only anti-Christian but also inimical to human flourishing. The situation was particularly worrying if Christians were participating in these practices.

Death of Bishop Brian Herd

We were saddened by the death last year of Bishop Brian Herd whose funeral took place on 5th August 2016 and whose obituary is included in this newsletter. Brian was an inspiration to many people on a missionary journey that included postings in England, Uganda and Ireland. He and Norma went to work in Karamoja in the early 1960s and lived through the political turmoil of the post-independence years, and it was a miracle he left Uganda alive, as Amin wanted to get rid of him.

 Revd Amos Kasibante, formerly a tutor at Bishop Tucker Theological College, is a vicar in Leeds and Chairperson of the UCA.