PIC: MP Zaake flew back home on Thursday and was welcomed by a large crowd in Mityana. (Credit: Luke Kagiri)
KAMPALA – Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake is back home after spending over a month away in India for treatment.
He returned Thursday morning and was right away driven straight to his home in Mityana, central Uganda.
The legislator was early September given the all-clear to travel abroad for specialised treatment after being released on Police bond and having charges of treason and unlawful escape from custody preferred against him.
He was allegedly part of a group of people behind the pre-Arua Municipality by-election violence mid-August.
In the aftermath of that chaos on the last day of campaigns, in a race to replace slain legislator Ibrahim Abiriga, several arrests were made. Zaake was among the people taken into custody.
When he was arrested on August 13, he “developed a condition that necessitated hospitalisation”, according to Police.
But “he took advantage of the situation on his own, and or aided by some elements to escape from Police custody,” Police spokesperson Emilian Kayima said in a statement about two weeks later.
Somehow, Zaake ended up at Rubaga Hospital, and Police “refrained from interfering with his medical treatment but kept a keen eye on him”.
The MP would later be allowed to seek further treatment abroad after preferring charges against him. He flew out after his fellow MP Robert Kyagulanyi (Kyadondo East) had left for the US, also on a medical trip, having too been arrested in the Arua fracas.
Kyagulanyi, the musician-turned-politician best known as Bobi Wine, has since returned and is settling back in after his medical trip abroad.
Zaake is also now back.
Upon touching down at Entebbe International Airport at about 7:30am local time Thursday, the legislator was helped into an awaiting ambulance and driven off to his home in Mityana escorted by Police.
There was heavy Police and military deployment in parts of Mityana ahead of his return, but with the MP’s supporters remaining in jubilant mood around his home as they awaited his arrival.
Once at his home after a swift drive from Entebbe, Zaake, winching in apparent discomfort, was stretchered out of the ambulance amid ululations from the large crowd camped inside the compound, and then wheeled into his house for a breather.
About two hours later, he re-emerged to loud cheers, with a crutch in one hand and the other hand anchored over the shoulder of Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa, who supported him out of the house.
Clearly still hurting, Zaake took the mic and laboured to speak over the chanting group of his supporters. He voiced defiance, saying whatever the obstacles, he would remain strong and continue from where he had left off.
Zaake, with support on either side, laboured to wave to his supporters at this home on Thursday. (Credit: Luke Kagiri)
Deputy Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango said Zaake’s return was handled well and that he obliged to security directions at Entebbe Airport.
Mityana Police’s Norbert Ochom offered justification for the ubiquitous security presence in Mityana on the day of Zaake’s return. He said it was for the good of the residents in case of any unforseen episodes.
Part of the security detail were Police anti-riot trucks.
Zaake’s homecoming offered a measure of deja vu with that of Bobi Wine exactly three weeks before, when the Kyadondo East MP was also driven to his home in Magere, Wakiso district as soon as he had landed at Entebbe.
Bobi Wine spent 19 days in the US. Zaake, on the other hand, has been away for a little longer: a month and eight days.
Worry over health of Zaake’s mum
Meanwhile, although Zaake’s relatives and friends were delighted to see him back, many of them are worried about the health of his mother, who is said to be ill.
Teddy Naluyima reportedly fell sick after her son was injured during the Parliament scuffle last year surrounding the debate on the amendment of Article 102(b).
On Thursday, she was not around to welcome her son back from India, with some saying she was being hospitalised.
“She has been falling sick time after time and a few days back, she had expected Zaake to be discharged. When she was told that he would stay there [India] for more days, she again started feeling ill,” Zaake’s father, Emmanuel Ssembusi, spoke of his ailing wife.
He said she Naluyima has been on medication for different illnesses, supposedly sparked off by her son’s involvement in last year’s physical confrontation inside Parliament.
Around this time last year, ugly scenes played out inside Parliament when a group of plain-clothes security operatives entered the House to evict MPs who had been ordered out during the divisive age limit discussion.
Zaake found himself on the wrong end of the fight and what followed was his hospitalisation at Rubaga Hospital in Kampala.
Meanwhile, Zaake’s wife Bridget Namirembe, with whom he travelled to India, said the doctors there did their best to offer the required treatment to her husband.
She particularly thanked their insurance provider for having being every step of their way.
Meanwhile, while Zaake has yet to appear in court, more than 30 other people have been charged with treason and granted bail since the Arua anticlimax. Their case will resume on December 3 after court’s adjournment early October when they appeared (some represented by their sureties) for mention of their case.
They were implicated in the chaotic episodes in the leadup to the August 15 Arua Municipality by-election, including the attack of the President’s convoy.
The suspects include legislators Kyagulanyi, Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo Municipality), Paul Mwiru (Jinja East) and Kassiano Wadri (Arua Municipality).
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