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Ugandan Administration to Explain Book Impoundment

  • James Butty

Information minister Kabakumba Masitko says the government was concerned copies of a new book were sent two different addresses

Uganda’s Internal Affairs Minister, Kirunda Kivejinja, is expected to report to parliament Tuesday why 500 copies of a new book about President Yoweri Museveni that were impounded by customs officials have not been released to the author.

The book entitled “The Correct Line? Uganda under Museveni” is written by Olive Kobusingye, sister of Uganda’s main opposition leader Kizza Besigye.

Ugandan author Olive Kobusingye

Ugandan author Olive Kobusingye

Minister of Information Princess Kabakumba Masitko told VOA the government did not impound copies of the book. She said the government was concerned about the fact that copies of the book were sent to two different addresses.

“What happened is that our customs department is mandated to search everything that comes into our country even if it involves other government agencies. The first technical thing that happened was the consignment had two consignees. So, those who sent those books have to sort out that,” she said.

Masitko said Internal Affairs Minister Kirunda Kivejinja only got involved in the investigation because of security reasons.

“No, no! He only came in to look at the security concerns, but there is nothing like impounding them (copies of the book)” she said.

She said freedom of speech and press is alive and well in Uganda, and the citizens have the right to read whatever material they want.

“We have (a) Freedom of Access to Information Act in place and several others. The media, the press I think are the most liberalized in the whole world,” Masitko said.

Masitko said once the issue of the book having been sent to two different addresses is resolved, the author may have the copies back.

“Whoever sent those consignments is supposed to sort out the issue of the consignees. That is all that’s remaining. They address it to Makerere University and, at the same time, address it to somebody else,” Masitko said.

Olive Kobusingye, author of the book and sister of Uganda’s main opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, said the government has said nothing to her about why it impounded copies of her book.

“No arm of government has told me anything about why they held the book. All of what I’ve heard was from DHL, which is the courier that was supposed to bring the book,” Kobusingye said.

She described as “nonsense” the claim by Information Minister Masitko that the book had been sent two different addresses.

“I mean that should have been the courier’s worry that they can’t deliver the package because they can’t figure out the destination. But, I think for the government to say that they are interested in the package because it had two addresses, it’s first time I have heard that excuse,” he said.

Kobusingye said her book is about how President Museveni made promises to the Ugandan people and how he has failed to fulfill those promises.

“Basically, all of those promises have been hollowed, so they were very well articulated, and what have we seen over the years? We have seen security agents tortured people, killed them, some killed in broad daylight on city streets. We have seen the right of citizens to choose their own leaders taken away in violence and stolen election. We have seen a government that is not accountable to its people. So, all of the things that President Museveni promised have run hollowed,” she said.

She denied that the release of her book could be political considering that her brother, Kizza Besigye, is a leading Ugandan opposition figure.

“I think if anybody will not read the book because they say it was written by the sister of an opposition leader, that’s their choice. But, I think anybody that has an interest in how they governed should read the book and take it on its own merit,” Kobusingye said.