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Ssempa, Other Ugandan Pastors Charged With Conspiracy

Jim Burroway

December 23rd, 2010

Pastor Male being arrested by Central Investigations Department (CID) officer yesterday

Christmas has come early for the LGBT community in Uganda. The Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, reports that two people are in custody and six others are being sought for conspiracy charges over last year’s pastor wars.

The two in custody include anti-gay pastor Solomon Male, along with lawyer Henry Ddungu. They are being charged in connection with a “conspiracy to injure the reputation of Pastor Robert Kayanja of Rubaga Miracle Centre Cathedral, Kampala,” according to Daily Monitor. Also charged are pastors Bob Robert Kayiira, Michael Kyazze and Martin Sempa, lawyer David Kaggwa, Deborah Kyomuhendo and David Mukalazi.

The eight are being charged with filing false accusations against Kayanja, in a bizarre conspiracy to accuse Kayanja of sodomy. As we reported last year, the conspiracy unfolded this way:

Other pastors are jumping onto the “outing” bandwagon to settle scores as well, and the rivalries are so complex that it takes some diagramming to keep it all straight. Here goes: Pastor Solomon Male of Arise for Christ Ministry accused Pastor Robert Kayanja of the Rubaga Miracle Center Cathedral of being a homosexual, along with “a group of other pastors.” Kayanja’s Rubaga Miracle Center is a very large and prosperous megachurch in Kampala. (Controversial American faith healer Benny Hinn will present a “Fire Conference” at that church on June 5th and 6th.) But an apparent friend of Kayanjka, Pastor Joseph Serwadda of the Victory Christian Centre, another megachurch in the Ndeeba section of Kampala which operates two FM stations, accused Male of of being an impostor, saying that he doesn’t even have a church.

Kayanja’s personal aide, Chris Muwonge, was allegedly kidnapped and tortured by armed men and held for five days. His captors allegedly wanted him to make a video statement accusing Kayenja of molesting young boys. Kayanja accused his rival, Pastor Michael Kyazze of the Omega Healing Center of being behind the plot. Kyazze’s assistant, Pastor Robert Kayiira was arrested earlier for trying to sneak a laptop computer into Kayanja’s Miracle Center. His close friend? Pastor Solomon Male. Kayanja reportedly believes that Martin Ssempa is involved in the allegations against him as well.

Today, Daily Monitor provides more details into Ssempa’s role:

Meanwhile, Pastor Sempa is accused of hiring Robson Matovu to blackmail Pastor Kayanja. Court heard that Pastor Male reportedly gave Mr Matovu a signed and stamped affidavit implicating Pastor Kayanja while Samson Mukisa was reportedly promised necessities on condition that he would speak publicly on how Pastor Kayanja had sodomised him.

A police report indicates that complaints of sodomy against Pastor Kayanja did not reveal any evidence the offences. “In retracting their statements, the complainants said they had been mobilised to make false accusations against Pastor Kayanja in order to tarnish his name,” reads a report.

Male and Ddungu were taken into police custody, but were later released on bond. They were were slated to appear before Buganda Road Magistrate Court to enter a plea today.

Interestingly, the government-owned New Vision is also prominently reporting the arrests as well:

In a letter to the director of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), principal state attorney Margaret Nakigudde said pastors Male, Martin Ssempa, Bob Kayira, Michael Kyazze, their lawyers, Henry Ddungu and David Kaggwa, together with David Mukalazi and Deborah Kyomuhendo face charges of conspiring to injure Pastor Kayanja’s reputation.

The two lawyers were included for allegedly commissioning false affidavits.

…Unconfirmed reports indicated that Police had earlier in the day been hunting for Pastor Ssempa, but he reportedly eluded them.

SIU head Grace Akullo said Male was arrested because he had failed to honour several Police summons.

Public charges of sodomy are a common way to settle political and other scores in Uganda. Should the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill become law with its death penalty and other heightened penalties for advocacy on behalf of LGBT people or failure to report gay people to police, such conspiracies will increase and carry far greater dangers. The bill will mean that no one will be safe, including straight people.

Comments

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Brad
December 23rd, 2010 | LINK

These arrests and allegations provide an interesting context to the anti-gay pogrom being executed in Uganda. Is it possible these pastors were stoking and taking advantage of existing anti-gay animus to create a nuclear weapon in their pastor wars? If so, it makes them even more cynical and devious that I had previously thought. It’s one thing to support a draconian law because it supports your own misguided sense of morality. It is quite another to support and use that law in order to exploit public anti-gay animus to increase your own religious and political influence by eliminating rivals. That is truly despicable.

Ben in Oakland
December 23rd, 2010 | LINK

I remember commenting that the circular firing squad was being put into place. I sincerely hope these POS pastors take each other out, and then the rest of the country recovers its sanity.

Erin
December 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Serves these evil bastards right. But watch, they’ll use their nice collection fund salaries to buy their way out of this. There’s no way LGBT Ugandans can be lucky enough to have them out of the picture.

BlackDog
December 23rd, 2010 | LINK

“If so, it makes them even more cynical and devious that I had previously thought. It’s one thing to support a draconian law because it supports your own misguided sense of morality. It is quite another to support and use that law in order to exploit public anti-gay animus to increase your own religious and political influence by eliminating rivals. That is truly despicable.”

It never was really about the gays, if you ask me. Oh, sure, lots of people in Africa hate gay people…this is something that mostly can be laid at the feet of American missionaries, too. But when it really comes down to it, it’s like this:

A lot of these pastors are Pentecostal. Pentecostals are often manipulative. For example, It was not uncommon to spend 58 minutes out of an hour arguing with my Pentecostal ex-wife, only to find out in the last two minutes what she really wanted…which was often only slightly related to the subject of the argument.

They tell you it’s about the gays, but it’s apparently about having a weapon they can use against their enemies (real and percieved) in their Pastor Wars. What it’s actually about is money and power. Among highly religious or uneducated people, Pentecostal pastors can live…and rule…like kings.

In a country where there’s a lot of Pentecostals and where the elite (See Janet Musaveni for example) is receptive to Pentecostalism…to be the Last Man Standing in the Pastor Wars…would be like being a god walking on the Earth.

A false god, yes, but for all intents and purposes what does it matter if the masses can’t tell the difference?

That’s a prize guys like Martin Ssempa would do a lot of things to get, or even come close to. I don’t think it matters to them what the body count might be.

Paul in Canada
December 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Well, not surprising, really. This is all about corrupt government officials using whatever means possible (in this case, religion) to get more power.

Encouraging to see it being taken into the legal system. I wonder what is really behind that move? Although I don’t have much hope this will have any lasting effect.

But it may dent the passage of the ‘kill gays bill’ if given enough press.

Christmas miracle in the making?

Indrid Kuld
December 23rd, 2010 | LINK

The wheels of justice grind slowly but exceedingly fine.

Indrid Kuld
December 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Sorry to use two posts, but I simply cannot help but wish to echo, most strongly, the excellent and eloquent comments of BlackDog, above.

(Everyone should read it!)

The necessary level of human perversity required to enact a murderous pogrom upon a considerable percentage of one’s own countrymen; simply to advance one’s personal standing in a “Christian” church at the expense of rivals, by then trumping-up the ensuing hysteria against them), is simply breath-taking and presents evidence of complex layering of nefarious planing. I knew humanity as a species was capable of much, but this bit of knowledge compels me to admit that I have severely underestimated its capacity for pure and unadulterated evil.

I could go on, but I think I’m at least starting to describe a sense of horror that I do not wish even to hold within my thoughts.

Soren456
December 23rd, 2010 | LINK

@BlackDog and Ingrid:

McCarthyism in the US operated in much the same way, and for the same purposes. And the wreckage has never been completely totaled.

There’s nothing new under the sun.

David Farrell
December 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Holy Cow! Here I thought the fundamentalists and evangelical churches in America was scandalous!!!!!

Robert Hagedorn
December 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Do a search: The First Scandal Adam and Eve.

SharonB
December 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Sounds like the ol’e “Nest of Vipers making others twice as fit for hell as they are themselves” trick.

Amicus
December 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Inquisition and Richelieu all mixed into one modern-day imbroglio.

BlackDog
December 24th, 2010 | LINK

@ Soren:

The difference between McCarthyism and what the American Dominionists (Who are using Uganda as a laboratory to test policies they’d like to see implemented) are trying to do in Uganda is that McCarthyism, evil as it was, stopped at the US border.

I’ve even read it on here, that Ugandan leaders want to see their country be a “Christian moral leader” and would like to see other countries try to implement similar things.

There’s another problem too. McCarthyism was a fairly secular problem, and you could at least find evidence if somebody was a Communist or not. Can anyone find evidence of “Demons” or if a person is “Of the Devil?” No. There is no such evidence, there’s no membership cards, no student organization, no “Weathermen” as it were. There’s not really a “Satanese liberation army” for these idiots to oppose.

Any Pastor, hell, any Pentecostal Christian (especially men) in good standing could point to a man and say he’s gay so he must be satanic, or point to a woman and say she’s a witch, and then the lynch mob starts forming up. This is a big problem Africa has right now, especially Nigeria.

But at least in Nigeria one can run to the Police.

The problem is, these pastors want to turn the state into the lynch mob.

Soren456
December 24th, 2010 | LINK

@BlackDog:

I should have said McCarthyism AND red-baiting. Red-baiting was McCarthy’s focus and tool. Red-baiting as a tool existed before McCarthy, and after, but he (and Richard Nixon) perfected it.

That expansion of terms should add depth to my statement. Sorry to have left it out.

In no sense did red-baiting stop at the US border. Indeed, US foreign policy from that time until well into the 80s was essentially red-baiting. You can argue its influence, but you can’t deny its presence.

As for “evidence” of communism: Uncounted thousands of American citizens heartily wish that were true.

In fact, a simple accusation, ala the Salem witch hunts, was all that was needed to destroy a citizen’s life. It happened thousands of times; “evidence” beyond the charge was rarely required. Simply printing a campaign flyer on pink paper, as Nixon did in his first congressional campaign, was sufficient to make the charge and to stampede public opinion.

I suspect that you want to argue that the Ugandan situation is somehow special in the pantheon of world evils, in part due to the duplicity and hidden agendas of its participants.

It surely has its niche, and right near the forefront, but I can’t go beyond that.

I’ll stick with what I said: There’s nothing new under the sun.

billmiller
December 24th, 2010 | LINK

Good Christians all, huh?

BlackDog
December 25th, 2010 | LINK

Eh, my feeling is that while Red-baiting led to McCarthyism, and of course continued well after it, McCarthyism itself pretty much died with ol’ Tailgunner Joe’s reputation.

In a sense though now that you’ve brought up red-baiting, the two issues are connected. In the 70’s and 80’s the Full Gospel Businessman’s Fellowship International was a very active force in “fighting communism” in Central America, and supported dictators like Rios Montt in Guatemala.

Rios Montt was exactly the same sort of Christian as these whackos in Uganda, except there was a civil war on at the time. He was deposed by a coup, too. Also, he targeted Catholics and Mayans, not gays although I’m sure they were targets too, his war wasn’t against them but against the Maya minority and its guerilla groups. (Which were formed as much for self defense as anything else.)

No, Uganda’s not unique, except for the amount of effort being put into trying to stop the nutcases this time.

BlackDog
December 25th, 2010 | LINK

Also, certainly I would agree this is just another expression of the inquisition mentality.

Why is it, that people who want to do that sort of thing never seem to remember that it never works out for them in the long run? The mideval inquisitions led to the Reformation, and the Catholic Church lost a lot of power as a result. Witch-hunts in England led to at least one “Witchfinder General” falling victim to his own methods, the “Final Solution” while not a direct cause of the fall of Germany in WWII didn’t help matters in the end, and led to a whole new list of problems in the middle east later and the world is still dealing with that.

Why can’t people see that actions always have consequences? Are they that ignorant, or do they just not care?

Rebecca Ashling
December 25th, 2010 | LINK

@ Black Dog:

They KNOW they’re right so of course, for them, bad consequences cannot possibly occur. They’re the GOOD guys, incapable of error, hubris, ignorance and wickedness.

anteros
December 25th, 2010 | LINK

…man, they are gonna looove ssempa in da joint! that’s probably why he’s on the run.

anteros
December 26th, 2010 | LINK

that was an irresponsible comment. i apologize.

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