Ugandan Lawyer Mashate: The Unsung NRM Hero!
By Acaye Henry.
A week ago the country celebrated its National hero’s day. The national function took place in Kakumiro. The celebration came at a time when the country was still grappling with unfortunate news regarding the murder of Col. Ibrahim Abiriga who was also the Member of Parliament for Arua municipality.
On such functions, the President usually (and he did) gives out medals to people with outstanding contribution to this country and it is on such occasions that much of the country’s history is referred to and those who helped make such a record.
In that perspective, our investigation took us into NRM party and we landed on this elderly man whose legal professionalism is best understood by the head of state.
Peter MagomuMashate is a London based Ugandan Barrister of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Court London and has been there for decades as a practicing Lawyer. He’s been on the forefront of fighting for justice not only for his British clients but also for the Blackman. Although most people when they reach the white man’s land do not want to associate with the black man, to Mashate this is like a taboo.
“I am one person who doesn’t believe in racism. Whether black or colored or white, we all have the same blood. Skin colour is something I really don’t pay attention to but of course as an African, I feel proud and I can’t burry my head in the sand because I want to look like the whites or even speak like them. I am an African of Ugandan origin and a tenacious freedom fighter and Crusader of Social fairness and Justice” he says.
Indeed, his argument can be seen in his long held consistent desires to serve his country back home. Though he has been in the Diaspora for decades, he unlike most Ugandans who do not want to return, has been a regular and active person as far as serving his country is concerned even more regular to his Constituency than some local MPs in Uganda do.
For example, when it comes to cultural matters, Mashate is not a stranger here. He is actually one of the brains behind the constitution of the InzuYaBamasaaba chiefdom. No wonder, when this institution began, he was appointed the Attorney General of this institution where he served with all his energy until he handed over power.
“Some people embrace this leadership as a way to enrich oneself. To me, leadership is all about serving the people. It is people first then you think of yourself. And this is an attribute which a few of our leaders have. Most of them think that leadership is the simplest way to amass wealth” he says.
That aside, Mashate is not a stranger to national politics. In his struggle for the freedom of his people from the bondage of poverty, he has tried to seek position of leadership and true; he almost made it. He stood for MP Bungokho North Constituency and uprooted the then area MP Yahaya Gudoi in the NRM Primary election. In the General election 2016, he polled 12,642 votes while FDC polled 13,021 and was only defeated narrowly by a contestable tiny margin of 379 votes by FDC candidate Sizomwe.“The huge surge in his vote is attributed to his unrelenting community involvement in constituency projects across all religious and ethnic divide as his brand of politics is uniquely one of unity” said a local resident.
And yet at the party level, Mashate is also there. For example he’s been the general secretary for the NRM Diaspora League led by Haji Abbey Kigozi Walusimbi.
His service to the country has not only been to people alone but also extended to the fountain of honour.
For example, recently the head of state came under verbal attack by one of the MPs in the UK parliament. To him, that wasn’t a simple situation. Here was a president of a sovereign country who was officially invited for a CHOGM meeting but he was not protected.
“It required someone of courage and selfless patriotism to counter the MP. As you can see, the president had an entourage but they all feared to respond to the attacks against the president. I sat down and said; if this is going to be my last day here in London, let it be but I can’t allow my president for whom I have served all these years to be humiliated like that!” He says.
To him, the MP Dr. Paul Williams’ attacks against Museveni weren’t directed at him as a person but it was an attempt to usurp the power of Ugandans who democratically choose their leaders.
“It was a big risk for me to respond but I did it. I thought was going to lose my citizenship here but because of my president for whom I greatly campaigned, I wrote a very strong materially and factually loaded letter to Dr. Paul Williams and I challenged him to come to Uganda and engage with us but not to dictate to us. Uganda is an independent country” he says.
Putting Dr. Paul Williams’ matter aside the same Mashate had earlier on rallied to defence of the president in a very sensitive and sensational suit in the UK courts where millions of pounds were being sought personally against the president and not vicariously as the President. As Uganda’s foreign affairs ministry was still dillydallying after being served with the Suit, the case was going to be determined exparte. This therefore meant that Museveni was going to incur heavy costs and by extension the country. Arrangements were made and Mashate ably defended Museveni till victory came his way.
His legal prowess also helped Museveni win the 2006 election petition filed by Kizza Besigye since he was part of the legal team for the President. Now one wonders what is in stock for him as the country awaits a realignment of the executive arm of government and NRM secretariat! Watch the space!!