By Jackson Mutabazi
Earlier this week on July 12, Uganda’s ChimpReports published a sensational article titled “ISO Safe House Raid: Lt Arinaitwe of the ‘Rwanda Plan to Kill Museveni’ arrested by CMI Commandos.” The “katemba” (theatrical piece) is the kind that deserves an Oscar. Apparently, during CMI’s raid “ISO agents tried to put up resistance in the pre-dawn attack only to be overwhelmed by persistent and heavy gunfire by [CMI’s] commandos.” Reading the article, one would be forgiven to think Uganda is at war in which pro-government militia are fighting anti-government militias. The Arinaitwe in question is charged with “fabricating evidence to implicate senior army officers in wrongdoing.” Among other things, ChimpReports claims “Arinaitwe is said to have fabricated a report that he was paid by Kagame to kill Museveni.”
There are two important issues to note here. One is the apparently fabricated intelligence President Museveni receives regularly. The second is the constant collisions among Uganda’s security agencies, pitting different organs against each other. Another point of note worth adding is how Rwanda is always blamed for this internal dysfunction within Uganda’s security and intelligence establishment only for it to emerge eventually that Rwanda had nothing to do with it, being used solely as a deflection to cover up internal weaknesses.
Every time the Ugandan leadership has had internal challenges to its hold on power, it has claimed that Rwanda was behind such problems. Every top security official in Ugandan has exploited this sense of insecurity or paranoia with Rwanda in their competition for the President Museveni’s attention and favor, including in their arguments to justify larger budgets from which they can then divert huge amounts to personal use. For the last three years, for instance, many top officials have enriched themselves from exploiting this Museveni paranoia.
After the arrest of Gen Henry Tumukunde, the open secret that he had been “fabricating” intelligence against Rwanda during his time as Security Minister was revealed to the public by Museveni’s top advisor, Andrew Mwenda. “He [Tumukunde] ranted and fretted, yelled and gloated anti-Rwanda and anti-Kagame rhetoric! He cooked lies that Rwandan intelligence using Kayihura were embedded on every arm and every leg of Uganda police,” Mwenda said. A year earlier, on September 3, 2018, while exonerating Museveni in the matter, Mwenda had also written in his Independent Magazine that Tumukunde was fabricating intelligence on “kidnappings’. He claimed: “Museveni has never made these allegations of kidnappings.”
In March 2019, in his remarkable letter acknowledging to have met RNC’s Charlotte Mukankusi and Eugene Gasana – by accident! – President Museveni wrote to President Kagame saying, “I get a lot of stories; but I will never raise them unless I have confirmed them.” This formulation allowed Museveni to hint at a self-exculpatory alibi, in which he blamed his officials for giving him fabricated intelligence. It also confirmed what president Kagame had said in an interview with the East African, that the main problem between Uganda and Rwanda is the RNC which feeds Museveni wrong intelligence about Rwanda that he believes. “Uganda has chosen to listen to the dissidents, and act against Rwanda based on the information from the group,” Kagame said in a February 2019 interview with the East African.
Is it possible that Museveni is genuinely misled or is he himself in fact a witting dupe of false intelligence? If he knows, as he has himself hinted as noted above that he has been regularly fed false intelligence, then, when will he stop acting on such false intelligence?
ISO and CMI – even SFC – had joined hands to “raid” UPF when Tumukunde’s fabricated intelligence to implicate Kayihura in their competition for president Museveni’s ear and money surfaced. This time it is CMI whose fabricated intelligence has cornered ISO’s Kaka. Ironically, it was recently revealed that Kaka himself – in collusion with Kandiho and Tumukunde – had doctored audio recordings framing Kayihura.
But the fundamental question is, for how long will Museveni continue to take action based on fabricated information? Or does he in fact use it as pretext to get rid of those who he wants to dump after he has used and no longer needs them?
One has to wonder what purpose the “safehouses” serve, for instance. They are not Col Kaka’s private property, he doesn’t personally own them. Similarly, closing ISO shouldn’t be the task of a competing sister security agency, unless the purpose is to deliberate set them on a collision path.
It has long been reported that extra-judicial killings, torture, rape, and private extortion schemes are rife at “safe houses” of both ISO and CMI spread around the country. For one to be used to close another suggests that some agencies are allowed to torture while others are not. The CMI raid on ISO only confirms that what happens in those “safe houses” is Presidential policy. Appearing before the parliamentary committee on human rights on August 28, 2019, the Security Minister Gen Elly Tumwine admitted the “safe houses” belong to government, but categorically told MPs they would not be allowed to visit them. “There are areas which for security reasons this committee cannot visit,” Tumwine told parliament.
Tumwine could not have been so adamant without assurance that President Museveni would back his contemptuous dismissal of the parliamentary committee’s demand. Which therefore confirms that all that which happens in these “safe houses” is done in accordance with President Museveni’s blessing. If he really wanted to end torture, he would simply order it to stop, not need to set one torturing agency to raid another. But that would be out of his character; it has always been Museveni’s approach to managing senior subordinates to encourage friction amongst them to make him the undisputed arbiter of the squabbling that he himself encourages. The fabricated intelligence is a logical outcome of the inter-agency conflicts Museveni himself creates and continues to stir up behind the scene. That means that his subordinates will persist in providing him with fabricated “intelligence” on Rwanda and accusing each other of working on Kigali’s behest. Museveni too will continue to pretend to believe such fabricated “intelligence” because he continues to need Rwanda as a pretext to dump those he no longer needs. For the rest, none of those in the know and involved in the game are so foolish or ignorant to believe that people who allegedly work for Rwanda are giving Museveni false intelligence against Rwanda.