NEW REPORT PROFILES TOP UGANDA FAMILIES KEEPING GEN MUSEVENI IN POWER
Video: MoH MESSAGE ON CHILDREN & MATERNAL HEALTH
By Mulengera Reporters
Operating under a think tank called “Democracy in Africa,” a group of scholars, researchers and academicians have outed a 167-page report in which they profile the state of democracy in four African countries namely DRC, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Titled “The Shadow State in Africa,” the report is jointly authored by Dr. Nic Cheeseman of UK, Dr. Claude Iguma Wakenge (DRC), Dr. Lisa Rolls (Uganda), Dr. Sishuwa Sishuwa (Zambia) and Dr. Phillan Zamchiya (Zimbabwe). They each contributed a chapter or section reflecting on power relations and state of governance in each of the four Sub Saharan African countries covered.
The chapter on Uganda, running from page 70 to 97, was authored by Dr. Lisa Rolls who is described as “a long-time research analyst living in East Africa.” Dr. Lisa Rolls, who references his content on media reports, anonymous interviews with regime officials/insiders and official government documents etc, claims to anonymously have spoken to and interviewed a number of diplomats, first family sources and intelligence officers to piece up her chapter in which she highlights Gen Salim Saleh as one of the actors who wield enormous power and influence in contemporary Uganda without having formal positions in mainstream government.
In the same report, Prof Lisa Ross isolates and profiles other individual actors and strong families that are key in shielding Gen Museveni’s regime longevity schemes. The report author, who calls for global sanctions against some of these actors, describes these families and individual actors as “a network of friends and helpers” waking up every other day to knowingly work towards “perpetuation” of what the authors call “the NRM shadow state” now and in the post-Museveni era. The profiling of the families and individual actors goes as follows:
Claiming that Gen Museveni has families directly/indirectly overseeing and amplifying his political longevity project and interests in each region of Uganda, Prof Lisa Ross profiles former Deputy Premier Henry Muganwa Kajura’s family as pivotal in fortifying the Museveni regime interests in Bunyoro sub region. That Gen Museveni exhibited his appreciation by keeping Kajura Minister for decades before conspicuously standing with the family in 2017 when their granddaughter Suzan Magara was murdered by ransom seekers.
That the Kajura grand-daughter murder devastated Museveni to the extent that he determined to take drastic measures to tame such violent crime including cracking the whip on UCC while demanding streamlining of things like sim card registration which hitherto had been a casual affair. That Kajura has over the years recruited many young cadres to perpetuate the Museveni politics in Bunyoro.
Still in Bunyoro, the report focusses on Eng Fred Kabagambe Kaliisa (aka Omujwarakondo) who Prof Lisa profiles as remaining powerful and influential at the Museveni palace 5 years after ceasing to be Energy Ministry PS, a post he held for decades. Reflecting on an extract from African Intelligence Report (of October 2018), Prof Lisa writes about “Fred Kaliisa’s grip of oil sector remaining tight as ever.” That despite ceasing to be Energy Ministry PS in 2016, Kaliisa powerfully “remains a technical advisor to President Museveni on petroleum matters besides being chairman of the influential society of petroleum engineers.”
That he is an effective advisor who Gen Museveni “deeply trusts” on petroleum matters. The report also credits Kaliisa for strengthening the NRM regime further through the corporate works of his lawyer son Henry Kaliisa whose Kololo-based law firm ABMAK Associates remains “a leading Ugandan law firm with big foreign clients in energy and mining sectors.” In Bunyoro, Eng Kaliisa is a leading kingmaker and his traditional title of Omujwarakondo is further indication of the influence he wields at the King’s palace and in the villages of the oil rich region.
In nearby Toro kingdom or sub region, Prof Lisa makes reference to the powerful family from which the powerful trio of Andrew Mwenda, Minister Margaret Muhanga and Gen Kayanja Muhanga hail. That their mother Constance Muhangazima (who died in June 2019) was a strong “matriarch” on whom lots of NRM fortunes in Toro were anchored. That being a strong supporter of the NRM, Gen Museveni had personally travelled to Toro/Kanyandahi village to check on her before her death as did Gen Saleh. That when she died, First Son Muhoozi Kainerugaba was chief mourner and paid glowing tribute to her in his speech at Kanyandahi.
That the efforts of this family, directed towards “state rejuvenation,” in preparation of political life beyond Gen Museveni, is seen in the pivotal roles the powerful trio of Margaret, Andrew and Kayanja are playing in contemporary Uganda. Besides referencing on the fact that she is an NRM minister and MP, Prof Lisa refers to Margaret Muhanga as very powerfully connected to key NRM power brokers like tycoon Hassan Basajjabalaba. That the two are business partners ever pursuing real estate deals.
That whereas Mwenda is a leading ideologue and propaganda chief for the regime, Gen Kayanja is playing key roles on the security front the example being the decision by Gen Museveni to assign him to oversee security for the entire Kampala Metropolitan area during and after the 2021 general elections. That Gen Kayanja (a wealthy man with swanky apartments in Kampala suburbs) has tackled Gen Museveni’s sensitive assignments in Somalia and South Sudan besides the fact that he previously served as Commander 2nd Division.
As for Mwenda, the report shows he is pivotal because he does plenty of diplomatic assignments for Gen Museveni besides being close friends with his son MK. The report adds that besides making some families powerful in these regions, Gen Museveni also uses intermarriages to procure political loyalty for his regime longevity among people from outside his native Ankole sub region.
That in the Northern part of Uganda, Gen Museveni counts on the Awany family from which powerful regime loyalists like Richard Todwong (ex-URA officer, Minister, MP and now NRM SG) and his elder brother Gen Otema Awany (head of UPDF reserve force) hail. That this family, working with other regime loyalists like Lillian Aber, patronize others in placating Museveni’s political interests in West Acholi.
Prof Lisa asserts there is an equivalent of the Awany family for Gen Museveni in all regions and sub regions of Uganda before proceeding to cite other examples of families whose heads she asserts are “tried and tested” though none of them can claim indispensability in the Museveni political calculus.
Saying that some of such powerful families are apolitical and allergic to limelight, Prof Lisa then reflects on the Sam Kutesa family in the Buganda region district of Sembabule. That besides SK, who has since exited from active politics, his daughter Shartsi Musherure (MP) and son-in-law Albert Muganga (businessman with strong presence in [Kenlloyd] logistics & petroleum business) and his brother Allan Matsiko of SFC will ensure the family continues emboldening Gen Museveni’s rule. The report also refers to the fact that MK’s wife, Charlotte, too hails from the SK family.
While reflecting on the experience and bitter lessons learnt from the ‘betrayal’ of hitherto powerful actors like Amama Mbabazi, Kale Kayihura and David Sejusa, Prof Lisa asserts that Gen Museveni is now wiser and will never permit any “political fixers” emerging on the national scene which is why all “fixers” in contemporary Uganda are regionally based. That it’s only Gen Salim Saleh remaining with national appeal among the original power brokers and in Prof Lisa’s estimation, the Gulu-based General is currently the only one who can succeed in upstaging Museveni politically and even militarily. No one else can, Prof Lisa stresses in her close to 30 page narrative on Uganda which she fears will end up becoming a failed state.
The Professor, who the report’s preamble presents as a leading researcher on democracy in East Africa, then proceeds to reflect on the role of wealthy Ugandan families mostly in business. Under this segment, reference is made on Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia whose 2015 Shs3bn contribution towards the construction of NRM headquarters inspired fellow tycoons (like Mohan Kiwanuka, Patrick Bitature, Charles Mbiire, Amos Nzei, Karim Hirji and others) to make equally generous contributions.
That Ruparelia is a great friend of another pro-NRM tycoon Amina Moghe Hersi of Atiak Sugar Ltd who is renowned for owning upscale apartments and malls in central Kampala. The report observes that, because she is close to the President, Amina, a Somali-Kenyan business lady (in whose Atiak business the GoU owns 32%), is very powerful to the extent she can even publicly bark at Ministers if she considers them floppy. That in his hey days as owner of Crane Bank, Sudhir supported her businesses to the extent that at the time of the CBL closure by BoU, 39% of the loans had been taken by her. The report observes that none of these tycoons named above can afford being antagonistic to NRM and that some of them get rewarded by the regime through access to lucrative government contracts, free land allocations or even tax reliefs.
The report also makes reference to Hassan Basajjabalaba asserting he has close links with people in both State House and First Family just like Sudhir. That the latter’s Crane Bank would continue having BoU overlook its regulatory breaches without anyone sanctioning them had he not fallen out with some powerful actors in government. That the good thing is Sudhir has since mended fences, regained legitimacy among elite circles and made peace with some of these people having painfully realized you can’t go against them and walk away with it just like that.
Peripherally, the report also makes reference to Dr. Sudhir’s son Rajiv who it portrays as being agreeable to the so-called Muhoozi project. That in 2019, when friends considered a surprise birth day bash for MK (then 45), Rajiv offered Speke Resort Munyonyo to host the event which he even attended along with others like youthful Minister Frank Tumwebaze who is equally featured as a strong pillar in the Museveni political calculus.
Along the same lines, Prof Lisa makes reference to Ugandan Asians behind giants like BIDCO or even the Chinese firm behind the Kapeeka ceramics manufacturing business; claiming they have always benefited from generous incentives from the state whose operatives and key decision-makers they close work with always. That Gen Museveni’s directive imposing 35% import tax on all imported ceramics products was aimed at protecting the interests of the Kapeeka-based Chinese ceramics maker.
That many such large business enterprises have used their power brokers (who Prof Lisa claims earn huge kickbacks in return) to get the NRM state impose heavy tax obligations on imports similar to what they manufacture locally here.
The report also profiles the role Barrack Orland, a renowned Israeli arms and private security provision dealer, has played towards strengthening the regime in Kampala over the years. That much as many falsely perceive him as MOSAD agent (Israeli intelligence) in Uganda, Barrack does plenty of work for the regime. That leveraging on his connections in the international system, Barrack helps key regime officials to access deals relating to provision of private security globally.
That some regime officials, until recently, had stake in his Kajansi-based Airfield, Kampala Executive Aviation and Busiika-based Motor Cross Arena. Besides the Ugandan businesses, Barrack is the investor behind other globally-renowned private security provision firms like Yamasec, Spartasec and SWAT. That through such private security provision deals, quite often enabled by the vastly connected Barrack, some of these regime officials are able to earn lots of money which they use to buy political patronage downwards. Prof Lisa also writes about Alain Goetz, whose gold export deals through his company AGR, are reputed for enabling key regime officials make a killing off informal gold trading activities. That such money is used to strengthen the regime in ways many citizens have no idea about.
THE KIN KARIISA GROUP
Towards the end of her narrative, Prof Lisa makes reference to a “new media savvy generation of political fixers.” That whereas the transition in the military from the Museveni to younger generation is finally complete, something similar will soon be happening on the political scene too where Gen Museveni remains among the very few old generation members. That the political transitioning is benefiting from voluntary input of a lot of young people who have no problem having MK become President immediately after his father (now officially aged 77).
That, consciously or unconsciously, this group of political fixers was pioneered by Amelia Kyambadde during the decades she selflessly served as PPS at State House. That these are people she patriotically because of the talent they exhibited and exposed to modest opportunities which they harnessed to grow themselves into giants currently influencing a lot of stuff through the media space. Many of them officially are private sector guys and not strictly in mainstream government though they have been very successful in leveraging on political connections to succeed. Prof Lisa drives this point home by referencing on so many actors including Dr. Kin Kariisa Andrew Mwenda, Don Wanyama, Red Pepper’s Arinaitwe Rugyendo and the very eloquent Awel Uwihanganye. That Kin Kariisa (cool barber who became media baron), having been connected by Amelia Kyambadde, started out as Information Technology Consultant for State House before metamorphosing into a Special Presidential Assistant on internet & communications.
After some time, he exited State House to concentrate on his private sector gigs growing into the powerful CEO behind the highly successful KIN Group which is now very big and dominating in sectors like media, telecommunications and ICT. Yet that isn’t all Prof Lisa says about Kariisa describing him as pivotal in “the generational rejuvenation” going on in the NRM political arena.
She makes reference to the fact that the youthful media executive and proprietor currently sits on 7 prestigious governing boards for NGOs and companies including Ecobank. She also describes him as part of MK “inner circles.” The esteemed author and researcher also makes reference to the hostilities Bobi Wine and his social media army directed at Next Media in the aftermath of the January elections.
Regarding Awel, the report portrays him as a powerful young man who Amelia Kyambadde raised from total obscurity into the key mover of things he is today. He was until March this year, the Head of the Government Citizens Interaction Center (GCIC) which the report portrays as the PR machine or framework the regime uses to anonymously counter its adversaries on social media.
The report adds that, greatly inspired by the likes of Andrew Mwenda, Awel also founded a think tank called “Leo African Institute” which he runs with Amelia’s son Ivan Kyambadde. That the two are close friends and they are doing many things together including pulling off events like “Young Achieves Awards” which many government officials used to generously support.
That the duo is equally behind the “African Strategic Leadership Institute” through which they sometime back organized the “Africa Now Summit” in Kampala which Prof Lisa says was very successful and served the interests of the regime in a multiplicity of ways. That Awel also co-owns a company called “Tetea Communications” which Prof Lisa says is famous for many things including building “a very expensive” website for State House. That this turned into a scandal of some sort as powerful groups bickered over it at State House. Prof Lisa sums up her notes on Awel by describing him as an actor who is very influential in things like “surveillance, IT and social media.”
In her conclusion, Prof Lisa calls on the international community to end their indifference and take some steps aimed at preventing Uganda from descending into a failed state including imposing sanctions on some of the notorious regime officials previously implicated in corruption and human rights violations. She also proposes strengthening of the civil society organizations, parliament as an institution, human rights defenders and anti-corruption agencies to salvage the situation before it becomes too late. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).