The main opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye believes comedy outfit Bizonto’s skits critical of tribalism are partly responsible for President Yoweri Museveni’s August 01 UPDF shakeup.
Museveni announced a mini-reshuffle of the leadership of the national army, including replacing its spokesperson Brig Richard Karemire with Brig Gen Flavia Byekwaso, the first woman to hold such a position in the military.
According to Besigye the message in Bizonto comedy’s skits had reached the appointing authority, prompting the president to make changes in the military.
Recently, security operatives picked Simon Peter Ssabakaki (Akozonto akato), Julius Ssewanja (Ssabazonto), Marceli Mbabali (Giant zonto), Gold Kimatono (Jjaja zonto), and Saul Muro Kamya aka Baryanengwe from Radio Simba in Bukoto.
The five were detained at police’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Kireka for days and charged with the promotion of sectarian tendencies.
Bizonto had uploaded videos “with the potential of causing hatred and unnecessary apprehension,” and “threats of attack on the government, and individuals,” said Criminal Investigations Directorate spokesperson Charles Mansio Twiine.
The reshuffle affected almost 30 officers, including former special forces commander Don Nabasa and ex-army spokesperson Felix Kulaigye, who will now head to Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) and Amisom, respectively.
The list of reshuffled officers looks better balanced than previous ones in terms of regional distribution.
Besigye, who joined the #FreeBizonto campaign while the comedians were in detention, has now encouraged Ssabakaki (Akozonto akato), Ssewanja (Ssabazonto), Mbabali (Giant zonto), Gold Kimatono (Jjaja zonto), and Kamya Baryanengwe to “Keep it up.”
The Bizonto say they have not given up on their quest to highlight key issues affecting the country through satire and comedy. In their first press address after release from detention, they said they wouldn’t budge.
In one of their new videos since their release from police cells, Bizonto has called on the government to respect freedom of expression.
They also criticized the government for pushing for regulations that could soon require the approval of scripts by a select government committee before production into music and other art forms.