A former Makerere University guild president identified as Bwowe Ivan has dragged government to court for gazetting the People Power red beret as military attire.
Government through the Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs on September 18, 2019, gazetted the red beret as part of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces’ marks, accessories, insignia, decoration and uniform as provided for under section 160 of the UPDF Act 2005.
In a Civil suit filed before the High Court in Kampala on Wednesday, Ivan Bwowe noted that it is illegal for Government through the Defence Minister to gazette items not covered by the UPDF Act adding that the move to gazette the People Power move is Political and it should be challenged.
Bwowe further argues that gazetting clothing, headgear, boots and other items other than the mark or marks is illegal, ultra vires and an abuse of the Law.
According to Section 160 of the UPDF Act 2005, the Minister shall, by notice published in the gazette, declare and make known what mark or marks, when applied to any arms, clothing, equipment, vehicle, aircraft, or boat shall denote them as a property of the state.
Section 160 (2) (c) adds that if any person unlawfully receives, possesses, sells or delivers any army clothing, equipment, vehicle, aircraft, or boat bearing any mark referred to in subsection (1) or forbidden by or under this act to be sold, pledge or otherwise disposal of, commits an offence and is, on conviction, liable to imprisonment for life.
However According to the former Makerere University guild president, despite the minister having powers to issue a notice published in the gazette to declare which marks qualify as property of government, the red beret is not part of the items covered in the UPDF Act.
The notice has grave consequences aimed at criminalizing the wearing of the red beret, black boots and other items worn by citizens illegally.
The Learned Counsel Ivan Bwowe desires that Court Issue an order that the warning to the public in the gazette over red beret is illegal, an abuse of the law and outside the minister’s mandate.
“The applicant wants court to issue an order compelling the respondent (government) to publish in the gazette, a proper notice only limited to a mark or marks in accordance with the law,” the court documents read.
The former Makerere University guild president wants court to issue an order restraining state institutions from arresting and prosecuting any citizen for donning the red beret because according to the notice in the gazette, government subsequently banned the sale or use of the beret which is part of the military uniform by any member of the public or else they face dire consequences.
On Monday, The People Power movement team leader Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi wine also dismissed the Army ban on wearing of red berets as a political move by the state to stress the People Power agenda in the struggle for democracy. He also urged the supporters to keep wearing their berets because they are breaking no law.