22 March 2017

Uganda: Kaweesi Murder Dampens My Visit to John Magufuli

The news of Andrew Felix Kaweesi's murder found me in Tanzania, concluding a visit to the Ugandan High Commission there.

Together with six colleagues, we were on a routine visit by Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to receive responses to accountability issues raised in reports of the auditor general.

Frightened can best describe my reaction to the person who broke the sad news to me. I was frightened because Kaweesi was one of the people not only trained but also fairly protected. But here he was, being killed together with his bodyguard and a police driver. And moreover in broad daylight!

Until the murder of Maj Muhammad Kiggundu, almost in similar fashion as Kaweesi's, the earlier victims were accused of not being vigilant enough. Sheikh Ibrahim Hassan Kirya was especially accused.

Reason: he was given a police guard but had dropped him at Kireka barracks on the night of his murder. In fact, it was further claimed that Sheikh Kirya also possessed an AK47 gun but had put it in his car.

President Museveni immediately proposed that all the sheikhs whose names had appeared on an anonymous elimination leaflet be taken for military training. I think the murder of Maj Kiggundu and his military escort presented a new challenge to Mr Museveni and his security. It meant that training and being in the company of an armed bodyguard was in itself not enough.

If Maj Kiggundu's murder left Museveni with any doubt as to the capability of the murderers and the confidence with which they execute their mission, I think Kaweesi's has eroded it completely.

Those were the thoughts that came to our mind when our souls consumed this sad news. One of my colleagues even suggested exile as the only solution now.

And Mr Museveni is now proposing procurement of CCTV cameras. Maybe he has forgotten that South Africa, with the highest incidents of murder in the world, has these cameras. I suspect this proposal will be abandoned when the gang puts it to test.

They have now demystified bodyguards. And I think Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata was right to suggest that when you are armed, they rain more bullets on you. Again the one other theory on test is the nature of the killers.

For the sheikhs, it was immediately concluded that it is members of the Allied Democratic Forces. Their colleagues at Nakasero mosque, with whom they are embroiled in an administrative conflict, were rounded off and some are facing murder charges.

Again, Museveni made the same mistake while delivering a speech at the home of Kaweesi on Sunday evening. He suggested that the murderers were ADF!

There is absolutely a big risk in concluding matters of this nature before conducting thorough investigations. It is very possible to have various groups killing in similar fashion.

In fact, one or all the groups, if they are there, may learn from the others. They may exploit similar loopholes in our security systems. That is why it is dangerous to rush to conclusions. This is a matter that must attract vigorous investigations and building of a network that is not hunting for fortunes.

Museveni blames infiltrators in security forces but the major problem in Uganda today is that people who work for the president are mainly fortune-hunters. Security has become a big enterprise through which public money is siphoned.

Museveni himself uses security to siphon money which he uses for his cannibal-like appetite for power. And wait what will happen when the process to procure CCTV cameras begins.

On Kaweesi, my condolences go to the family and people of native Kyazanga upon the loss of our son. Kaweesi had political ambitions and he was building himself a constituency.

In fact, I was surprised when he didn't stand for parliament in 2016 because there were all indications that he was raiding Bukoto West in Lwengo. Because of his promotions and appointments in police, he had slowly but steadily grown into almost the most influential figure in our area.

The last time I visited, they were digging boreholes in neighbouring villages courtesy of Kaweesi. Lwengo Woman MP Cissy Namujju was even annoyed that a policeman was the one influencing and taking credit for all the developments, including extension of electricity.

Joining politics was eminent, especially after he fell out with his mentor, Gen Kale Kayihura. The real reason they fell out relates to the work method of Museveni and the un-ending feud among his lieutenants.

I am told there are occasions when Museveni would call Kaweesi directly, which became a problem. Secondly, the late Gen Aronda Nyakairima had allegedly proposed to Museveni to appoint Kaweesi as the inspector general of police when Kayihura's term expired in 2015.

Kayihura was eventually reappointed but the boy he had trained and propelled had clearly become a major candidate for his job.

Kaweesi saw all this and started preparing for his exit. But some other sources tell me he also feared the post-Kayihura era in police if he was not the one chosen to replace him.

Anyway, all this is theoretical. What is real is that people are being gunned down on Kampala streets in broad daylight. The earlier killings happened in the evenings or at night, but now they are happening after sunrise. Mzee Museveni, the commander in chief, should take responsibility and stop the blame-game.

The author is Kira Municipality MP.

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