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For those that do Museveni’s dirty work, what goes around comes around

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By John Kakooza

The sight of Andrew Mwenda publicly lambasting Internal Security Organization (ISO) Director Kaka Bagyenda should serve as yet another warning to those that serve Museveni – no matter how long it takes, the ruler will throw you to the wolves when you are no longer of use to him!, observers say.

Journalist Mwenda is an individual better known as an attack dog that will savage those whom either President Museveni, or the president’s son Muhoozi, or First Brother Salim Saleh have an interest in publicly setting up for a fall. So when late last week on a NBS TV talk show Mwenda roasted Col. Bagyenda for running safe houses and torturing Ugandans, analysts knew the time for the ISO chief has come.

“It is clear as daylight Kaka Bagyenda is no longer of use to Museveni!” more than one commentator said.

Related: The US sanctions Kayihura; it should sanction those “higher up”.

“I know the safe houses ISO runs in Kyengera, Base 1 and Base 2,” Mwenda fulminated, saying he has video of victims describing the torture that goes on in those ungazetted places of detention. Mwenda continued: “Kaka has built a big safe house in Kalangala capable of holding 120 people. I shall expose them (ISO and its chief); we can’t allow ISO thugs to do these things!”

The question however was: if Mwenda was sincere about denouncing torture or state violence, why go only after Bagyenda? The latter did not appoint himself ISO Director General. It is the president that gave him that job. It is the president that gives him his orders.

“Is Mwenda then trying to pretend that Museveni knew nothing of ISO’s safe houses, or the human rights violations happening in them?,” asked a journalist that preferred anonymity.

Everything that Kaka Bagyenda has been doing as the head of one of Uganda’s main security agencies – the torture; the arrests without warrants; the abductions – has been in the interests of his boss the president, and at his orders – so how can anyone hit out at Bagyenda but never once mention his master?, analysts ask.

The second question has to do with another entity – and its chief – that commits far more crimes against Ugandans than ISO or Bagyenda, but that Mwenda didn’t bring up even one second. Ugandans know that the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) abducts, illegally jails and tortures far more Ugandans than ISO.

People know that CMI runs far more safe houses around the country than any other security agency, leave alone ISO. In fact, CMI’s headquarters at Mbuya Military Barracks also houses the biggest torture chamber in the country. ISO has nothing like that, the facts show. The same applies for the Kireka Police CMI facility, another place where multitudes of people are illegally incarcerated and suffer torture.

“Even if ISO too is guilty of torture and other crimes against Ugandans, it has no facilities like CMI,” said a security source on condition of anonymity. “CMI is far bigger; in fact ISO isn’t even half as bad as its sister agency!” our source remarked.

Related: The cost of corruption during 33 years of misrule

Yet Mwenda, the ruler’s de-facto attack dog never mentioned this fact once and neither did he bring up the acts of CMI head Brig. Gen. Abel Kandiho – a man whose name has become synonymous with abductions, torture and disappearance of people perceived a problem to the regime.

When People Power activists Eddie Mutwe and Sebuufu Edward were abducted and tortured in August last year it was CMI that did it, they reported. When in October 2018 Yusuf Kawooya was abducted, beaten almost to death with gun butts, and loaded into a van by four armed men, the public saw in broad daylight the brutality and criminality of CMI. When Joseph Kabuleta in July this year was abducted and tortured for a post on his Facebook page that was highly critical of Museveni’s son, he reported it was CMI that did it.

These and so many similar examples of state-sanctioned violence against citizens make CMI the undisputed number one tormentor of Ugandans, in the public’s view.

So, when Andrew Mwenda goes after Bagyenda and ISO, that can only mean the regime is turning them into a sacrificial lamb. Informed speculation is that with the US having sanctioned former Uganda Police IGP Kale Kayihura and his entire family and imposed travel and business bans on them the regime leadership is panicked.

Read: MUSEVENI REGIME LIST OF CRIMES: ABDUCTIONS, KIDNAPPINGS AND MURDER

The Mafias are asking themselves who could be next!, according to analysis.

Further informed analysis is that to protect CMI and Kandiho – entities deemed far more useful to the regime, or to “the Mafia” – Bagyenda is being lined up to become the fall guy. “Basically Mwenda is painting a target on his back and saying: ‘in case you want to sanction someone else, this is the one!’”

What is happening to Bagyenda is a classic case of Museveni using, then dumping someone like soiled tissue, observers say. “Don’t be surprised if the next thing you hear is that the man has been arrested!,” observers add.

The best example of someone that did things that Museveni ordered him to – consistently and for years, only to be thrown to the wolves – is Kayihura, most agree. The consensus is that no one has ever done the dirty work of Museveni more than Kayihura.

What Kale did for Museveni; steal elections for him through violence and other extra-legal methods; clobber Besigye, lock him up, or block him from organizing constitutionally protected activities like “walk to work”; battering people at Kayunga, and all other dirty deeds, no one else ever did!, most agree.

The Uganda Human Rights Commission for instance accused Uganda Police under Kayihura of a number of repressive activities in the run-up to the General Election of 2016 that included use of the so-called “crime preventers” to perpetrate violence on opposition voters under the guise of “community policing”. The “Kiboko Squads” were another vigilante group – notorious for using sticks against supporters of Besigye to suppress thousands of his voters – that too operated under the auspices of Kayihura’s police.

Related: Dear Secretary Pompeo, Kayihura violated human rights under Museveni’s direct instructions

In all these and similar acts, Kayihura never did a thing that the president didn’t order him to; or that was not of benefit for his re-election purposes.

The late DCP of Buyende, Muhammad Kirumira in a video circulated posthumously commented: “Museveni gains through violence! For him a police that’s not violent is of no use; he cares very little whatever image the force is tarnished with!

Yet for Museveni to just wake up one morning, sack and jail the man on unproven allegations – which were discovered to be fabrications by none other than CMI – takes the cake! He is completely without principle or scruples!, experienced pundits long ago agreed.

Everyone that works for this president and does his dirty work for him, beware. One day it will be your turn!, warned a veteran scribe in the capital.

“Today it is Bagyenda’s turn! Tomorrow you can be sure there will be another!”

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