In a panel discussion yesterday, Thursday 19, on Kampala’s NBS television, journalist Andrew Mwenda – more widely known as “the Ugandan First Family’s fixer” – earned plaudits by appearing to take on ISO, and its boss Kaka Bagyenda.
Mwenda by all appearances held back no punches in lambasting the Internal Security Organization, fulminating about the security agency’s habit of picking up people, locking them up in the notorious safe houses, and torturing them.
“I know the safe houses in Kyengera, Base 1 and Base 2 where they are torturing people!”, Mwenda said.
The informed observer however asked: why go after ISO in such a spectacular way, yet this organ isn’t even half as brutal as the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, CMI? Anyone that reads the news knows CMI is by far the biggest abductor of people; the one accused more than any other of extra-judicial killings, and other crimes sanctioned by the Ugandan state. (For photos of CMI tortured Rwandans click this link)
No prizes for guessing: Mwenda was up to his usual dubious games. The talk show went on and Mwenda never even once mentioned CMI and its dreaded chief, Brig. Gen. Abel Kandiho. He was solely on ISO’s (and Bagyenda’s) case.
“I know Kaka has built a safe house in Kalangala – big and capable of holding a hundred and twenty people! I will expose these things!” Mwenda spat. “The thugs of Kaka Bagyenda can kill me if they want; I have no escorts and I will drive home – but we can’t keep quiet!
The man who has long been known as the Ugandan ruler’s de-facto mouthpiece added: We can’s accept that state agents are picking people in Kikuubo, robbing them of their money, and ISO forcing them to sign confessions that ‘somehow they were working with Kagame to overthrow Museveni’!
Mwenda’s bringing in Rwanda into the discussion in this context clearly shows he is trying to keep attention away from CMI. The latter organization is the one responsible for most of the persecutions, kidnappings, illegal incarceration and torture of Rwandans. (Ugandan Opposition Outrage On This Link)
Many Rwandans have been crippled, traumatized, and some died after periods in CMI custody. Just this month Silas Hategekimana, a Rwandan national that spent three weeks enduring physical torture in CMI’s Mbuya headquarters, and at its Kireka facility died. An autopsy report confirmed Hategekimana died as a result of injuries consistent with torture.
CMI is the one clearly intent on trashing the Angola MoU recently signed by the two states to restore badly soured relations. On that score, it serves Museveni and/or Kandiho better when it is others that get accused of acts contrary to the spirit and letter of the MoU.
On the other hand Mwenda – and by extension his de-facto master – could be turning Bagyenda into a sacrificial lamb. How?
The US has recently sanctioned former Uganda Police IGP Kale Kayihura, including all his family members. That has clearly induced panic in Uganda’s ruling circles, as well as in the leaderships of the security agencies.
Experienced analysts have pointed out that Mwenda could be working to forestall similar sanctions against Kandiho; and the best strategy is to demonize Bagyenda. “Better to smear Bagyenda and paint a target on his back as ‘the next candidate for sanctions’ – just in case!” said one informed observer.
The problem for Mwenda and his bosses is that the notoriety of CMI far supersedes ISO’s or any other group. Their torture dungeons at its Mbuya Military Barracks are so feared even boda boda taxi cyclists completely refuse to pass anywhere near there! CMI is the one that brutally abducts people whom even courts have granted bail.
In short, CMI is on a par with Idi Amin’s State Research Bureau, yet Mwenda is fixated on ISO!, commented an elderly scribe that has seen all Uganda’s regimes since 1970. That says a lot!