Never a dull moment in Gicumbi District

Our President’s visit to fair Paris was the news headlining all of last week and I cannot deny that it did cross my mind to dedicate this week’s column to this.However, as everyone else had done such a good job covering and analysing the trip, I decided to write about something else instead and fight the temptation to comment on the convenient absence of France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Our President’s visit to fair Paris was the news headlining all of last week and I cannot deny that it did cross my mind to dedicate this week’s column to this.

However, as everyone else had done such a good job covering and analysing the trip, I decided to write about something else instead and fight the temptation to comment on the convenient absence of France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Monsieur Juppe or even the temptation to use the name of the album by Diddy-Dirty Money [older readers may not know this group and I can assure you, your lives are better for it] – “Last train to Paris” as the column’s title.

When I wrote about the Mayor of Gasabo’s suggestion to a business he had just ordered shut to aim at attracting fewer customers, I did not know that he had so many supporters.

I would have avoided the whole issue, and some heartburn, if I had known about his wide and popular support.

 My inbox quickly filled up with reactions from readers who supported the closure of what many described as an ‘immoral’ place.

Interestingly none of them lived in the immediate vicinity of Papyrus and only one or two confessed to living in the district of Gasabo.

In Rwanda, it would seem that many voters will applaud a leader if his or her decision is even remotely motivated by Christian mores.

Early 20th century missionaries would be proud of their handiwork.

The award of most newsworthy district in the country must however go to Gicumbi and not for the usual local leaders’ bullying, as in the case with Papyrus, but for some really spectacular stuff. Never a dull moment up there.

Every self-respecting media outlet needs to station a reporter or pay a local informant for reports on that district.

In July, it was the story of the plucky worshippers of River Rusomo playing an exhaustive game of night time hide-and-seek against the security agents of the District who deemed their prayers dangerous to themselves and even a more general security risk. 

Then in late August came L’affaire Museveni. This Museveni is not to be confused with the President of the Republic of Uganda.

Mr. Sinese Museveni, worked as the district’s Executive Secretary until the District’s Advisory Council decided to dismiss him over allegations of incompetence.

Mr. Museveni, like his better-known namesake, could not take injustice lying down then and spent the next month fighting this decision.

More than a little convinced of his own arguments, Mr. Museveni then attempted to access his old office at the District headquarters only to be physically restrained by security guards [I’m guessing these were the guys in maroon, Local Defence].

In outrage, the former Executive Secretary decided to appeal to the Ombudsman’s office while the Mayor denied the guards like he was Simon Peter stating that he had not given them any orders.

Sadly, reporting on the story ended there and I have no idea whether Mr. Museveni is still fighting the good fight.

Then came the story on the scared snitches [more politely known as ‘whistleblowers’]. Gicumbi district has illicit alcohol issues like a lot of areas bordering Uganda where this alcohol is legal.

In the spirit of community policing, the Police in the district enlisted the help of some residents in reporting any smuggling of the illegal brew.

The smugglers and dealers of the banned alcohol soon showed us what the authorities never tell you about, snitching – I mean whistle-blowing – comes at a price.

The criminals unleashed a wave of terror that involved destruction of crops, slaughtering of cows and brutal beatings, your basic vandalism, assault and intimidation of people who had volunteered to help the Police.

The area Police Commander gave the informants even more reason to fear stating that some of the security personnel in the area may be beholden to the smugglers, as they themselves consume the smuggled booze.

If you ever needed an insight into what the war on drugs is going to look like in a decade or two, this was a micro taste of it.

okabatende@gmail.com

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