A Tale of Unmasking a Ghost called TVO

The writer, Morris Komakech

Mr. Fred Muwema’s litigation brought against the mysterious person called Tom Voltaire Okwalinga (TVO), in Ireland, is an interesting ghost chase.

The case, many of you will remember, arises from post 2016 election as John Patrick Amama Mbabazi (JPAM) was preparing to challenge the fraudulent Presidential elections in Court.

On morning of March 9, 2016, the Daily Monitor and a number of media houses reported that JPAM’s lead lawyer’s office was broken into and files containing evidence, affidavits and relevant documents prepared for the court battle stolen.

In addition, TVO alleged that the former Minister of National Guidance, Jim Muhwezi had bribed Muwema colossally in exchange for the legal documents.

Many people doubted the legitimacy of the fracas before TVO brought the matter to rest in their minds. TVO claimed that the Muwema law office break-in was an insider job.

TVO is an instant celebrity and a darling to many on FB in a country where freedom of speech is suppressed.

TVO embodies this restricted public space and represents an alternate media apart from the heavily censored mainstream media.

TVO is a phenomenon that exemplifies the power and instant reach of social media across space, time and generation.

Understandably, this claim by TVO spelled doom for Mr. Muwema. The lawyer’s reputation was dragged on the murky political waters unfavourably.

In seeking to reveal the identity of TVO, a much sought after figure by state operatives, Mr. Muwema hoped to cleanse his reputation.

Post-election Uganda is a rough time for everyone, and so we must hold our morals close on the chest like the poker card.

People are usually so divided through elections, and the mix of anger of defeat and excitement of victory causes tension.

Post-election tensions usually build up to the brim nearing a burst into violence. The only valve to that rupture is usually the petition of courts. For a practicing lawyer, the implications an insider-job allegations were profound, because it undermined the entire TDA petition.

Uganda is also known as the land of the endemically corrupt.  Such speculations are tolerated much without scrutiny because the possibility of it occurring has high confidence levels.

How else do we get all sensitive government documents instantly on the social media? A few years ago, the flip-flop Kampala entrepreneur and journalist, Andrew Mwenda, bragged that the cost of obtaining the most sensitive government document is no more than US$100!

By now, Mr. Muwema should have acquiesced himself with few lessons; by suing TVO and seeking TVO’s identity to be revealed makes TVO more popular.

Mr. Muwema is desperately attempting to unmask a ghost called TVO. I am not sure how many people sign up for FB with real names and date of births.

Since the advent of email and online based social media groups, very few people actually sign up with their real identities. A few people who do so sign up for official emails and work related emails. Certainly, people sign up with true identities in professional social media networks such as LinkedIn, Xing, makerbase etc. I doubt they do so on FB, especially for a controversial postings like that of TVO.

Lastly, and most important, for Africans, Muwema can pursue the legal means to cleanse his reputation. Many locals will not care about such legalities. The more he tries, the more his reputation will remain attached to – the JPAM lawyer whose office was broken into. Such a description will elicit the next explanation, “anti, the one who was bribed!”

In Uganda, rumors carrymore validity than legality or facts, and rumors tend to stick more in the minds than facts. The more you drag the matter in public realms, the more its association effect lasts.