DRIVER REVEALS KASIRYE GWANGA FINAL MOMENTS: ‘SENT FOR HIS DOG, TOLD US I HAVE FOUGHT MANY WARS BUT LET ME REST
By Mulengera Reporters
Moments before his death at 5:30am in the morning of Tuesday, Gen Samuel Wasswa Kasirye Gwanga sent for his driver Yasin Kafuuma (closest aide since 2014) and bid him farewell. “I feel tired and exhausted. I have fought many battles and I feel time has come to go and rest,” Gwanga told Kafuuma in Luganda. After that brief encounter Gwanga never talked again, according to family sources, despite efforts by Kafuuma to prompt him to talk more.
Prior to that, Gwanga whose love for the pets was legendary, sent for his dog and bid it farewell too. It was delivered to his Nakasero Hospital room and Gwanga casually communicated to it thus: “Gwe animal I’m here not able to look after you anymore. I implore you to go and prepare to start a new life without me.” He communicated this message as he massaged his dog’s head and thereafter signaled those around him to take the dog away after that brief encounter. This dog was preceded by another one he had fondly named Boo which died due to inadvertent medical overdose by one of Gwanga’s vets.
Since he lived alone (only with his bodyguards) at his numerous homes in Ntinda, Mukono, Nkene in Busuuju Mityana’s Maanyi Sub County and occasionally his parent’s home Katakala, Gwanga took to living with dogs as his closest companions. His wife Solome Masembe (daughter of John Paul Masembe Kawalya of Greater Mityana) and children have been living in the US where he refused to live with them insisting he was badly needed to do President Museveni’s errands back home in Uganda. The family reluctantly let him go but always had fears that the heavy smoker and booze-taker, Gwanga had become over the years, would fail to properly look after himself by feeding well, regularly and on time. Children or even their mum would take turns to fly to Uganda to check on him while reminding him always to stop the smoking and heavy boozing which doctors unanimously warned him against during his last prolonged and serious hospital admission at Ian Clarke’s IHK in 2016. Materially, Gwanga (who served in the military for 46 years up to 2018) wasn’t very rich because to even get the Ntinda home, he had to first sell off the one he owned in Makindye’s Kizungu Zone (at Shs2bn) where he famously shot at his neighbors the balokole Christians accusing them of making noise for him during their night prayers.
His aides say the man naturally despised material things and always liked to generously share with his people the little he had. On being discharged from the military in 2018, Gwanga remained mere senior advisor to the President on security in the central region. In the military he hasn’t been earning much except for his monthly pension payments but the army leadership ensured he continued to live decently and left him with the posh cars which they fuelled and serviced to lessen the financial burdens on him. His journalist friend Andrew Irumba testified to this extreme contempt for materialism when he published a picture of a very modest house in which Gwanga lived and always proudly showed it to his visitors as his country home.
Reliable sources have intimated to Mulengera News that he willed to be buried at Nkene Maanyi where he had his farm, as opposed to the family burial ancestral grounds at Katakala, because he had deep disagreements with some relatives and extended family members (those things are common in African families). And Gwanga’s young brother Paul Kabenge says they have no difficulties honoring his wish to be buried at Nkene in Busuuju County whose former MP Vincent Nyanzi was his archrival in the politics of the area. In 2016, for the Busuuju MP Seat, Gwanga supported Joseph Musoke, another Movementist, against incumbent Nyanzi but they both lost to opposition-leaning independent Lukyamuzi Kalwanga who had been losing to Nyanzi before.
Gwanga’s elderly sisters Robinah Kasirye and Elizabeth Nabwami Kasirye recall their brother repeatedly cautioning them against Coronavirus in March (before getting indisposed in April) and they say the family respects his wish to be buried at Nkene as opposed to family burial grounds at Katakala.
On his deathbed, as he bid farewell to his driver Yasin Kafuuma, Gwanga (supra) referred to the many battles he engaged himself in. He may not have enumerated them (perhaps it wasn’t even necessary) but Mulengera News considers it appropriate to briefly reflect on some of them. At the Museveni political palace, Gwanga was among those senior army officers that despised former powerful NRM SG and Security Minister Amama Mbabazi. This manifested in the manner in which he stormed Metro FM studios in Old Kampala in late 2000s where he drew a pistol to Sebina Sekitoleko, then a leading JPAM assistant, who was defending his master over the Temangalo scandal. Gwanga had previously appeared on the same show and claimed JPAM was very corrupt and didn’t want Sebina eloquently erasing his earlier points.
Much earlier on in 2001, Gwanga was among those big-name Musevenist Generals that stormed Entebbe Airport to forcefully arrest Western youth MP Okwir Rabwoni who was accompanying Col Kizza Besigye to campaign in West Nile. Beti Kamya, who was speaking for the Besigye taskforce, appeared on WBS’ popular political talk show and adduced evidence to show that Gwanga was among those Generals who abducted Rabwoni into one of the security rooms at current Serena Conference Center and forced him to sign a media statement denouncing Col Besigye and were desperate to arrest him at Entebbe because he intended to expose them at KB’s news conference. Gwanga stormed the WBS studios as Kamya submitted insisting he had a right to clear his name. Moderator Ronnie Mayanja reluctantly let him.
On another occasion, after the Entebbe incident, Gwanga drove to Rubaga and forcefully attended KB’s rally where supporters nearly lynched him. He was always a very provocative supporter of Gen Museveni whose 2001 rival KB he one time faulted as unfit because he “doesn’t even know how to make a salute.” He equally bashed Seya Nasser Sebaggala, of the Haji Alagidde fame, for jumping on the KB bandwagon in 2001. Norbert Mao, then a very vibrant legislator, one time appeared on radio and urged opposition supporters to ignore Gwanga who he said was “an expired soldier.”
Kasirye Gwanga also had his battles in 2013 with late Andrew Felix Kaweesi who, as KMP Commander, had been tasked to forcefully evict him from the Makindye House after Kenyan owners (Owalla Home Investments Ltd & Mown Construction Ltd) got a court order for his vacation but which he defied. Gwanga threatened to shoot Kaweesi, invited journalists to photograph him doing rehearsals for the Kaweesi battle and there was a lot of tensions as the media exchanges escalated with then IGP Kayihura insisting he had to vacate. Gwanga refused saying the land belonged to his king Ronald Muwenda Mutebi and not the Kenyan claimants. Museveni later weighed in ensuring the debts were paid for Gwanga to remain in the house. But Gwanga’s supporters claimed he was being punished for the pro-Sejusa utterances he made as Sejusa ranted from his in UK exile. Gwanga, who was said to be acting on Sejusa’s behalf after his missive on the Muhoozi Project, belittlingly spoke to Daily Monitor’s Richard Wanambwa and in his interview dismissed the President’s son MK “as this mere boy.” MK now says Gwanga was a nice General and good friend of his. The tabloid media for some time carried stories profiling disgruntled elderly UPDF Generals and Gwanga was always top on that list.
In August 2017, Gwanga intervened in a land wrangle in Lubowa for 2 acres and burnt a tractor for a one Dennis Wakabi who tycoons (Hassan Semujju, Aloysius Seruwagi and Hajji Musa Sempebwa) had hired to level off the squatters. Wakabi reported the case against Gwanga demanding compensation of Shs500m which the maverick General hadn’t paid at the time of his death.
He also famously had his wars with singer Catherine Kusasira, a key Museveni advisor on ghetto affairs, whose car tires he shot at and flattened accusing her of driving provocatively in the Makindye area to the detriment of his children who had just returned for holiday from the US. Kusasira reported the matter at police but later withdrew the case after reconciling with Kasirye Gwanga. Gwanga also had his bust ups with leaders of NFA accusing them of corruption for licensing investors to harvest timber in government’s forest reserves in especially Mityana and Butambala. He would shoot at trucks carrying timber and defended himself that this was his work as President’s security advisor in Buganda region.
Gwanga also had his fights with Police authorities in the Bulenga neighborhood. And this was after he camped at his sister Angela Kasirye’s farm at Biira Kireka in Wakiso district where he prevented police investigators from exhuming the remains of a person to aid investigations they were carrying out. His sister is the owner of Tuwereza Bakery which makes bread and other confectionary. Gwanga only relented after police leadership at the Naguru headquarters spoke to him. He argued this would be used as a ploy to grab his sister’s land in such a prime location. He then chest thumped and branded police fools after it turned it’s a dog, and not a human being, that had been buried in the contested ground.
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