A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Ugandan police’s seizure of Twaweza-produced calendars promoting active citizenship. This week, Twaweza’s Uganda country director spoke out about the calendar’s intended message and why he believes the police should release the calendars.
What reason did the police give to impound a consignment of Twaweza calendars?
They say the calendars contained messages which could incite the public. But we think this is a message that tells citizens to wake up to the realisation that they have to change their livelihoods not to wait for leaders, governments or NGOs to solve their problems. We believe empowering these people can help them make changes in their lives. We think this is a misunderstanding that the police should not have caused.
So do you don’t (sic.) believe what the police say about your calendars?
Absolutely not; we think the calendars are not inciting as they want you to believe. It is colossal misunderstanding on their part. There are no political innuendos in these calendars.
The full interview can be found here
The country director argues in the interview that the calendars were not intended to be “partisan” or “political,” but rather to encourage citizens to be change-makers in their own lives. Fair enough. But given that there was absolutely no suggestion of inciting violence in these calendars, their confiscation is a clear denial of open and critical political discourse. Irrespective of the goals or intentions of the sponsoring organization, the Ugandan state’s actions contravened any pretense of upholding democratic norms.