HOW WILL KAYIHURA BE REMEMBERED
By John V Sserwaniko
Gen Kale Kayihura, the Police Chief since 2005, is finally out. In a social media message last evening, President Museveni elevated his deputy Okoth Ochola to new IGP deputized by Brigadier Sabiiti Muzeei who has been head military police. So will this end police incompetence and brutality? For the incompetence we aren’t sure; only time will tell but for the brutality, our answer is a NO. The situation could even worsen. To see our point, one needs to understand why the Kayihura-led police turned out to be very brutal. It had to do with outgoing IGP’s conviction that he had to primarily be loyal to the President than the people, the Constitution and the Republic of Uganda. This loyalty partly rose from the fear, as opposed to respect, Gen Kayihura had for the CiC. But more importantly, Gen Kayihura (whose next deployment might be diplomatic work abroad) had had a long history of closely serving as a Military Assistant to President Museveni. This proximity naturally cultivates that loyalty to an individual as opposed to country.
He was Museveni’s MA for many years and even after becoming IGP, he continued being a phone call away ever taking personal and sometimes confidential assignments from the CiC. Brig Sabiiti, a well polished and schooled fellow, who will most likely run the show and wield more powers than ageing Okoth Ochola shares this attribute with Gen Kayihura. He was until a few years ago the Commander of the elite SFC which guards the President. This naturally means he has very close personal relationship with the CiC, just like MA Gen Kayihura has been. The thing is if Gen Kayihura occasioned the beating of people in order to secure and make the Principal happy, Brig Sabiiti will certainly do that even more and here is why.
He is younger and ambitious with potential to rise even further unlike Kayihura who was older and had almost reached the apex of his professional career. The new police leadership will only be less brutal if the very provocative political threats to the regime, posed by the likes of Besigye, diminish and that is something the police leadership has no control over. But Adam Luzindana one of the knowledgeable analysts we spoke to for this article has a different understanding of the new police deployments: “I think we are going to have a police that is a two in one. Okoth Ochola concentrates on basic policing work, criminal investigations and administration while Mzee Sabiiti spearheads political policing of crushing city riots. That way you will have a police force that is not only effective in containing politically threatening riots but also effectively curbs crime. It’s the only way the image improves and Museveni reaps political dividend.” Its widely suspected that the reserved and very cautious Okoth Ochola could find himself in a situation similar to what Katumba Wamala endured as CDF whereby Joint Chief of Staff Wilson Mbadi, a former Museveni ADC, wielded more power than him as CDF.
Before we turn to the Kayihura legacy and how he will be remembered, it’s important that we reflect on the likely next course of action for the two relieved Generals. Whereas the less ambitious and more fearful Kayihura could retreat to his country home in Kisoro and watch the space in the coming months (in case he remains undeployed), Tumukunde is too ambitious and most likely angry to keep quiet for long. Now that he is a free man, and not tied by army restrictions anymore, the man from Rukungiri could call a defiant news conference and make very significant political pronouncements. Unlike Tumukunde, ill-fated Kayihura isn’t yet retired from the military meaning he has to be cautious with what he utters lest he is arraigned in the Court Martial for making controversial statements. But besides, that is not his nature. The man from Kisoro, whose ambivalence on the age limit debate is understood to have unsettled the CiC, is too respectful (and almost fearful) of the CiC and we shall all be surprised if he acts defiantly. It’s said that unsure of his loyalty anymore, the CiC significantly cut his police budget in the runner up to the Togikwatako vote in Parliament and being the fearful loyalist he has always been, Gen Kayihura never grumbled.
TUMUKUNDE’S MANY OPTIONS:
For the very eloquent Tumukunde who goes down with kudos having brought down hitherto much feared Kayihura, the options are too many including launching a political challenge from within NRM or join any of the existing political groups. But it’s also possible Tumukunde could choose caution because we highly doubt that he is financially prepared for confrontation with the Museveni system. “It’s also possible Museveni might reward him if my credible reports that he was brought on a mission to deflate Kayihura are anything to go by. He has properly accomplished that mission and depending on how wisely he plays his cards, Museveni could reward him with even a bigger ministerial posting,” says Adam Luzindana a Museveni ally famous for his prudent insights on deployment of security chiefs. Luzindana enriched his insightfulness on such matters during the many years he closed served Mbabazi.
Whereas rumors are that he is very rich with vast residential property in the Namugongo neighborhood, not much is officially known regarding Kayihura’s wealth. In fact many are going to be surprised to learn that the Muyenga house he has been living in as IGP was being rented by Police for him. It’s officially difficult to tell what else Kayihura, who has been at the helm of hundreds of billions entrusted to police, owns in Kampala in terms of property. The same goes for his introverted wife Angela who works with Ceaser Mulenga’s St. Augustine University as an administrator. But Luzindana says Museveni can’t let Kayihura go just like that. He must find something to keep him around and within reach for effective monitoring. Luzindana says the man knows too much to just be let go. “Precedence has been set that you can serve as CDF and later become State Minister as was the case for Katumba Wamala.
The Museveni I know pretty well might make Kayihura State Minister something or even deploy him in Mbuya to chair a certain committee in the Defense Ministry,” says Luzindana bragging seeing most of the prophesies he made about those who tormented his master Mbabazi come to pass. “I told you whoever malice Mbabazi and antagonized him with Mzee will pay a heavy price and I’m happy I have lived long enough to see this with my own eyes. We had Andrew Felix Kaweesi who was sidelined and marginalized after humiliating JPAM at the Jinja Bridge. Then wait for Tamale Mirundi. He will eat dust with his financier Kayihura now gone. The other was Jim Muhwezi and Otafiire both of whom lost their MP Seats for tormenting JPAM. The remainder was Kayihura and Tumukunde who have fallen today. It has been my mission to make Mzee see that many of the things these guys reported to him about JPAM were malicious distortions without any grain of truth. Their fake reports about JPAM escalated things because they each had political ambitions and JPAM was the only stumbling block they were seeing between them and power. They thought Mzee would quit in 2021 and anoint one of them but see how they have all ended. This is why I insist we must all study this animal called Museveni.” Luzindana, the youthful political and intelligence operative from Kayunga that is close to both Museveni and JPAM concluded that: “You will see many more of those who blackmailed JPAM fall on their own sword. They will be defeated, isolated and crushed like Museveni has demonstrated this evening.”
Kayihura, who first met Museveni at the Makerere Main Hall in the late 1970s during the UNLF government, has been the longest serving IGP-and perhaps the most powerful- in Uganda’s history. At the main hall, Kayihura who escaped from his LDC lectures only saw Museveni from a distance and didn’t have much interaction with him. When the NRA war began, having been inspired by younger Museveni’s Marxist ideas, Kayihura wished to join the NRA but got frustrated. It’s understood that JPAM and other external wing guys in Nairobi were uncomfortable with the former UNC/UPC diehard’s son joining rebel NRA. They played hide and seek on Kayihura who had just finished his master’s degree (LLM) in London. A relentless Kayihura then contacted Prof Yusuf Lule who was based in London. It was Lule who linked him to Museveni.
THE IGP TURBULENCE:
Fast-forward: as IGP, Kayihura faced lots of violence in his first weeks in office yet he inherited a very ill-equipped police force. You had lots of strikes in Makerere where Musa staff strikes sparked off riots by students. On his first day in office, IGP Kayihura got a phone call from Prime Minister Nsibambi asking him to run to Makerere-and specifically Lumumba Hall. Kayihura naively walked into a trap and the riotous students detained him instead. Adam Luzindana, who was an influential student leader at Makerere and NRM-leaning, was among those who rescued him. That is how the closeness between the two started but was short-lived as within just months Luzindana desired to become the NRM youth chairman for Kampala district at Namboole. Kayihura preferred someone else-and that was Abdul Kitata who JPAM, Peacos Kutesa and David Sejusa-backed Luzindana defeated. Before the Makerere situation, which took Museveni’s personal intervention, could even stabilize, Kayihura faced another riotous situation relating to police-Besigye confrontation. Dr. KB had just returned from South Africa and had his countrywide tours which culminated into a match on Kampala. Kayihura was just weeks in office as IGP and Besigye’s November 2005 procession stretched from Busega into town forcing police to intervene. That actually was the day Besigye was arrested initially for leading this riot. But in the end he was charged with raping Joanita Kyakuwa. This Busega riot was the first day many Kampalans tested real wide spread teargas directly. The Besigye-police confrontation began at 3pm and stretched deep in to the night. There was teargas everywhere and people struggled to reach their homes. And indeed an impression was created that something had changed with the police force from the one whose IGP Katumba Wamala had been begging the public to buy trucks for him to one that teargases people.
As Kayihura congratulated himself for having successfully policed the 2006 elections, new challenges emerged. Besigye rejected the results, unsuccessfully petitioned court and when he lost he vowed never to return to court again. In fact he had initially threatened to go to the Court similar to what Museveni went to in 1980 but changed along the way and said he was now working to ferment a Tsunami which meant street riots. Indeed he targeted City Square as the venue for his demonstrations. The first demo was on a Saturday whereby Besigye and his right hand man Suleiman Kiggundu were brutally arrested before they even got out of their cars. In the weeks and days that followed Gen Kayihura, using then Mayor Seya, got a KCC resolution banning political gatherings at City Square, a place at which many DP rallies used to be held in the pre-Besigye opposition era. Another riot Besigye organized, insisting his Tsunami was still on, was meant to march to Luzira to demand the release of PRA suspects one of whom was his own brother Musasizi Kifefe. He left Nakivubo stadium where a protest rally had been held that same morning flanked by many FDC MPs but by the time he reached electoral commission many had fallen off due to excessive teargas Kayihura’s men unleashed. A few assistants including Makindye East MP Ibrahim Kasozi were still sticking to Besigye who was all covered in teargas. Kayihura seemed to learn from every experience for better tactics. From this attempt on Luzira, he invested in espionage and infillitration whereby using money, he penetrated Besigye’s innermost circle to the extent that information was now available to justify preventive arrests which restricted Besigye’s movements.
BRIBING MUSLIM CLERICS:
Muslims were also threatening to riot and shed blood after the Museveni state failed to punish Sheikh Mubajje and his faction over Muslim properties in the way they wanted. Kayihura, who had learnt how well the carrot works as he tried it on Besigye aides, resorted to the same with fiery Muslim clerics. He engaged and bribed many into silence and to denounce riotous plans and whenever he failed, he brought in Museveni. Then came Kayunga riots of 2009; Museveni called a meeting of the Generals late in the night and all of them refused to take charge fearing being indicted by KICC which had just investigated the Kenyan violence and indicted some officials. Kayihura wasn’t in that meeting having travelled to Turkey. Museveni rang him as the meeting progressed and he agreed to return to Uganda and command the operations against Baganda rioters. It came at a cost as many lives were lost but in the end, Kayihura pacified Kampala and other Buganda towns. We then had 2011 elections after which came the Walk to Work riots. This is another turbulence that almost took down Museveni.
Kayihura once again, relying on the young police officers like Felix Kaweesi he had recruited, came in handy and crushed the protests. Lives were lost but for Kayihura all was well as long his CiC remained president. Years later came the JPAM menace. Still Museveni needed a trusted cadre and Kayihura came in handy. It wasn’t easy because Kayihura had to step on so many toes to accomplish the mission. He acted ruthlessly towards fellow officers falsely thought to be Mbabazists examples being James Mugira who Kayihura almost disarmed and arrested for locking up Sebina Sekitoleko who had just defected from JPAM’s camp with a lot of secrets.
This was early 2010s and Mugira was CMI boss. The problem was that Jacqueline Mbabazi, who had armed Sebina, had made a U-turn saying she isn’t the one who armed him and Mugira as CMI boss wanted Sebina to account. In the end, this incident was used as evidence to maliciously build a case before Museveni that Mugira was a JPAM sympathizer. The late Gen Aronda was variously accused of almost similar things.
In the same period, many senior officers perceived to be threats to Kayihura got demoted to less juicy assignments. And whoever suffered this fate blamed Gen Kayihura for bad mouthing him to the CiC. One time Museveni humiliatingly rebuked Kayihura for giving him a false narrative regarding what happened at Mulago as Gilbert Arinaitwe violently attacked Besigye making him partially blind. Museveni, who got embarrassed during the NTV Kenya interview, returned very furious. Kivejinja was then internal affairs Minister. The meeting at Entebbe State House started at 2am and a furious Museveni rebuked Kayihura never to lie him again, a thing that made many Generals very excited seeing Museveni rebuke Kayihura for the first time. Sejusa was still in the system and was among those who got very excited. Museveni had to call for order as the excited generals ganged up on Kayihura in that very meeting.
It’s also true that when JPAM was out of the way, Kayihura actively marketed Rose Namayanja to be the SG for NRM but Museveni chose Lumumba, a thing that fermented animosity between Gen Kale and new NRM SG. Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who freely flew in the police helicopter as often as she wished, will miss Gen Kayihura most. The two have always been very close and a symbiotic relationship clearly existed between Parliament and Naguru.
THE TORTURE INCIDENT:
Another incidence that showed how much fellow senior officers feared Kayihura involved Brig Charles Bakahumura who replaced Mugira as CMI boss. A human rights organization organized an event at Imperial Royale Hotel and awarded CMI for being the most improved security organization regarding torture and human rights abuses. In the same meeting police was named the worst torturer and abuser of human rights. Bakahumura reached out discouraging journalists from publicizing the CMI award fearing that Gen Kayihura would feel bad and take it as if the new CMI boss was fighting him.
Prior to the JPAM saga, Gen Kayihura showed power when he oversaw the dismantling of Gen Sejusa’s structures amongst veterans and security agencies. In fact Sejusa appeared on BBC and said Kayihura, who had vowed to arrest him on return, was too junior in terms of rank to dare arrest a 4 star general. Museveni reacted by elevating Kayihura, who was merely Maj General, to a higher rank and this silenced Sejusa. Kayihura also tried to politically isolate and eventually neutralize Kizza Besigye but he clearly failed. He tried meeting Besigye through Maj Rubaramira Ruranga but not much came of it. Besigye remains angry the man bought off many of his recruits in the struggle. In the end Kayihura confessed saying he was becoming frustrating failing to politically neutralize Besigye and his right hand man the Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago.
KAYIHURA THE POLITICIAN:
He will also be remembered as a police chief who excelled doing political mobilization than doing conventional policing work. He always had a budget to buy off Museveni political opponents in Parliament, Universities and political parties. For instance through the late Issa Kikungwe, who was his agent on many such errands, Gen Kayihura delivered former Mbale Municipality MP Wilfred Kajeke who resigned hoping NRM would win the subsequent by-election. It didn’t happen. Instead FDC’s Wamanga Wamai came in. In UPC, Kayihura openly sided with the Akena faction to evict legitimate party President Olara Otunnu. In DP he is accused of similar things.
Kayihura also heavily invested in spying on his opponents within and outside government though much of the cash wasn’t money well spent. On realizing he preferred being told about conspiracies by his foes to bring him down, many young boys resorted to lying Gen Kale to get money. There is one University group which one time lied him that Gen Aronda had given them money to organize a seminar at Makerere Senate House and denounce him. They suggested that Gen Kale gives them a higher figure so that they turn against Aronda. It was all false but facilitation money had already been released. But it’s also true Gen Kayihura, that had long lost favor of influential first family members, must have seen the Sunday evening events coming. Sometime last year, something happened during a public ceremony in Mityana. The event related to veterans led by Mzee Seddunga. Kayihura, who was always beyond security checks, was singled out as he walked to the President’s tent with other generals. Museveni was yet to arrive and the SFC guys insisted he had to be checked.
He submitted but fellow Generals say the man from Kisoro was emotionally broken and tormented throughout the entire ceremony. “He kept saying he would ask the authorities what he had done to deserve such treatment,” recalls one of the generals in Kayihura’s company that day of the event in Mityana which the President presided over. Indeed on seeing that his clout was beginning to diminish, especially lost allies within the first family, many police bosses and directors opportunistically started getting close to new Museveni power brokers like Bukedea MP Anita Among to avoid losing their jobs and juicy deployments in the post Kayihura era. Watch this space for more comprehensive coverage of this Kayihura-Tumukunde saga. To comment on this & other Mulengera news stories, reach us on 0703164755!