By Alex Muhumuza
Whoever coined the slogan “Uganda Zaabu” – to mean all kinds of bizarre comedies – must have had the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence and its propaganda and misinformation outlets (the most notable being Chimpreports) in mind. Consider for instance that a few days after CMI boss, Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho, completed his hit on Internal Security Organization boss Col. Kaka Bagyenda, Chimpreports has somehow found a way to drag Rwanda into what Kampala commentators are calling “CMI’s gang war on ISO.”
In an article last Sunday titled, “ISO safe house raid: Lt. Arinaitwe of the ‘Rwandan plan to kill Museveni’ arrested by CMI commandos”, Chimpreports – whose editor Giles Muhame takes instructions from CMI deputy director in charge of anti-terrorism Brig. CK Asiimwe – resurrects the story of an ISO conman to then try to tarnish Rwanda with it.
“Obviously, CMI’s bosses are still trying to find more justifications for their hit on Bagyenda and now are trying to imply there were even people in ISO that ‘Rwanda had paid to kill Museveni’,” said a Kampala security insider that preferred anonymity to talk safely. “After Kandiho did his dirty deed, with the knowledge of President Museveni, somehow they have to include Rwanda as a scapegoat,” remarked our source.
As with most allegations of Chimpreports against Kigali, this latest one is puzzling in childishness. First of all, according to Chimpreports’, it was in January 2018 that the would-be assassin allegedly paid by Rwanda – one Lt. Issa Arinaitwe alias Furaha – claimed that “the Rwandan President had personally recruited and financed him to kill President Museveni.”
If so, one wonders, why then has this man been in ISO since that time, drawing a salary and working as an operative in one of ISO’s safe houses? In Uganda, the intelligence agencies are known to kidnap people, imprison, torture or kill people for almost no reason. One false whisper that “so and so is a Rwanda spy” usually gets people severely tortured in dungeons or safe houses.
But this Arinaitwe that they accused of actually receiving money from Rwanda not only is left alone, but he ends up drawing a huge salary from ISO?
This is one of those anti-Rwanda stories in Uganda’s propaganda media that leave one scratching his head, with no hope of ever understanding these people.
So, assuming it was discovered that (even though it was Arinaitwe himself that alleged Rwanda gave him money in the supposed assassination plot) there actually was no such plot, why then is Chimp resurrecting this fictitious story? “I sometimes wonder whether these Ugandan propagandists in their eagerness to tarnish Rwanda, there isn’t a thing they aren’t capable of writing!” laughed an informed, Kigali reader.
But Chimp’s’ story gets more bizarre. Writing about CMI’s raid of ISO safe houses at Kyengera and Kisaasi last Thursday – which according to eyewitnesses “unrolled like a firefight between rival, armed drug gangs”, sending hundreds fleeing, until the CMI men prevailed – Chimpreports said Arinaitwe was one of 20 ISO operatives captured.
“Lt. Arinaitwe was previously cited in shady gold deals with Congolese dealers,” according to the article. “Arinaitwe was involved in a fake gold deal that landed businessman Suleiman Mbuga in jail.”
The article also says the man was also a culprit in a case of ivory trade with a Chinese national known as Mr. Yu.”
An investigative report by Virunga in of 18 January 2018 revealed that Arinaitwe had worked with CMI at the time he announced his concocted assassination story.
“By then Kampala’s anti-Rwanda propaganda was in high gear, and Arinaitwe was just one of the criminals and conmen they were hiring to say anti-Rwanda things,” a security source in Kampala said. “That in fact was why this fellow Arinaitwe, working with CMI at the time, could make such dangerous claims and a few months later end up at CMI’s rival, ISO, where in fact Kaka Bagyenda was paying him even more,” said our source.
A seasoned scribe with one of the Kampala papers says Arinaitwe has to be understood as a smaller criminal at the center of a rivalry between CMI boss Kandiho (and Kandiho’s godfather Gen. Salem Saleh, Museveni’s younger brother) on the one hand, and Bagyenda on the other.
“Also he is the kind of criminal that Saleh likes to work with in his fake gold trades, ivory, counterfeit dollars and other dealings like that,” reliable sources close to power centers in Kampala add. “So it made Saleh, and by extension Kandiho, extremely angry when Arinaitwe instead went to work for Bagyenda.”
“You have to see the way they took out Bagyenda, and his safe houses, and took him to Mbuya, to understand how serious a beef they had with him!” exclaimed one of our inside sources, adding: this is something they’ve been planning for some time.
“Also it has to be understood that Kandiho could not have conducted that operation without the approval first of the president, working on the advice of Gen. Saleh,” analysts say. On the Ugandan president’s part, his dumping of Bagyenda – known as one of the “NRA historicals” – was the result of a successful whispering campaign by Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho against his intelligence chief rival.
The CMI head has planted the idea that in the campaign of harassment and torture of Rwandan civilians – characterized by abductions, illegal, detentions incommunicado, and horrendous physical torture – “ISO hasn’t been doing enough.”
The relentless persecutions of Rwandan civilians in Uganda began when the Kampala regime adopted Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC as a proxy in a long term plot to destabilize the security of Rwanda, “even with fantasies of regime change in Kigali,” as Mwene Kalinda, a prominent Kigali Twitter personality puts it.
“In one thing at least, Kandiho isn’t lying; no one can equal the hundreds of innocent Rwandans CMI has abducted, and illegally detained in its dungeons or safe houses to subject them to appalling treatment. No other agency has left as many innocent Rwandans maimed, injured, or even dead,” said the analyst, stating what everyone already knows.
Bagyenda’s fate serves the interests of the different parties either in slightly different ways, or converging ways.
For the Ugandan ruler, he’s gotten rid of someone he perceives to not be doing enough harassing or killing of Rwandans. But at the same time he’s ginned up a populist message with claims to the Ugandan public that he is “taking action against someone that’s been torturing people.” Very typical of Museveni really, one man remarked.
“He sends CMI, the biggest group of torturers, to arrest Bagyenda on accusations that he is a torturer; as of it isn’t him that ordered him to do what he does!”
For Saleh and Kandiho, they’ve not only taken down someone that “dared to try take a small bite out of their shady business empire; they’ve also gotten rid of a rival for the vast classified intelligence budgets.”
As for the Rwandans that still suffer torture at the hands of CMI on false accusations that they are “spies”, a security source wondered: “since CMI claims it raided ISO to rescue people from torture, who will raid the many CMI detention centers to rescue hundreds of innocent Rwandans; people suffering just so that Kandiho can justify his huge budgets?”