If your music ‘annoys’ the president of Uganda, you can be jailed

critical song against Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has landed an artist and music producer in jail for “disturbing the president’s peace”.

31-year-old artist David Mugema and 23-year-old music producer Jonah Muwanguzi were dragged to a court in the capital Kampala on Tuesday for allegedly producing a song titled Wumula which attacked the president, reports a local news portal Daily Monitor.

The prosecutors have also charged them with abetment of offensive communication for allegedly “composing, recording, producing and electronically communicating through social media” the song that “disturbed the peace of President Museveni without a legitimate reason”.

The presiding judge Gladys Kamasanyu read out the charges to them and denied them bail despite their not guilty plea due to the absence of prosecutors from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) who were “busy at a workshop”.

“Hearing this bail application without a prosecutor may occasion injustice since they will not be heard to tell us the state of the inquiries in the case,” the judge was quoted by Daily Monitor.

Until the prosecutors attend the court hearing, the two musicians will remain locked up at the Luzira Maximum Security Prison for offending the president.

Human rights advocates have called on the president to pardon the young musicians. The executive director of Oxfam International Winnie Byanyima has described their arrest as an abuse of power and called for their release.

“What an injustice! I am angry at this abuse of power … Mr President @KagutaMuseveni. Have mercy on these 2 young men, whose song allegedly ‘attacked and disturbed (your) peace’. They sing truth,” she tweeted.

73-year-old President Museveni is one of the longest-serving African heads of state. He is pushing for constitutional reform to alter the presidential age limit which will allow him to stand for the next election.

The age limit bill which has been tabled before parliament has divided the country governed by Museveni since 1986.

This article by Ismail Akwei was first published on face2faceafrica.com

Published by Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei is an international journalist, digital media and communications professional, editor, writer, arts, culture and tourism advocate, human rights activist, pan-Africanist, tech enthusiast and history buff. He has worked with multinational media companies across Africa and has over a decade’s experience in journalism.

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