Manufacturing and exaggeration of threats has become the surest way of attracting attention from an increasingly paranoid, desperate and vulnerable Gen Yoweri Museveni.
It is a tactic beleaguered former inspector general of police (IGP) Edward Kalekeezi Kayihura mastered and executed with a surgeon’s precision.
Two days after the February 2016 general elections, I passed by a column of soldiers and policemen walking towards my residence in Bukasa-Bweyogerere. They came following a procession I led from Wakiso district headquarters, where I had just been declared winner of Kira Municipality parliamentary elections.
Siraje Bakaleke, the former Kampala Metropolitan East regional police commander, rang me and asked why was I planning to burn the Electoral Commission national tally centre at Namboole stadium. His phone call actually found me 90 miles from Kampala at Kinoni on Masaka- Mbarara road where I had rushed for burial.
The soldiers and policemen holding their guns at the trigger paced up and down near my residence until they were recalled. Trucks carrying tear gas had also arrived to reinforce them. In order not to disrupt the victory celebrations in my compound, I had sneaked out in a different vehicle for the burial.
Then the following day, I read in the newspapers how police had foiled an opposition plan to burn the national tally centre. The truth of the matter is that we didn’t plan to burn the centre.
During elections, soldiers and policemen can be deployed for precautionary measures. But it appears calling deployment precautionary doesn’t attract attention and money under Museveni. It must be profiled as real. I think this is what Donald Trump calls fake news.
And fake intelligence is what has exhausted our resources. I was, therefore, not surprised when about 10 days ago, the new Internal Security Organization (ISO) director, Col Kaka Bagyenda, paraded two youths who confessed to have participated in murdering people using machetes/pangas.
The youths claimed they did this on behalf of the opposition political party, FDC, and were led by Ingrid Turinawe, our secretary for mobilization. That they were the ones distributing and throwing leaflets threatening attacks. To complete the story, they accused hapless Kayihura of having released such suspects when reported to him.
They also claimed that they used to address press conferences at FDC headquarters at Najjanankumbi. And Col Kaka Bagyenda, who paraded the boys, then said he would investigate. Just like that.
I think dramatic episodes like this should help even an average person to understand why the security situation in the country has deteriorated. Veteran military men tell me that Kaka was a very good intelligence gatherer in the early days of Museveni.
They in fact don’t understand why he and Brig Tolit were placed on katebe (remain un-deployed/semi deployed) for a long time. Now see what the man is doing since he was re-deployed.
Maybe the environment under which people work has changed. I had been made to believe that Kaka was intelligent. Maybe he is! Then why does he do these sorts of things?
Maybe not doing them was the reason he remained undeployed for a very long time and he decided to operate a beach in Kalangala. Now that he has learnt how things work, he can be re-deployed.
Gen Kayihura used to do these things. See where he is. Kayihura created his own threats throughout his tenure.
And because they were self-manufactured, they were easy to deal with. He would wake up and announce that Ssemujju wants to burn Namboole.
Ssemujju is either put under house arrest or taken to Naggalama police station. Then a press conference is organized and a police spokesperson tells the nation that an opposition plan to burn the city has been foiled.
And because Kayihura spent all his time chasing no threats, when the real threats (murders and kidnaps) came, he had no clue.
Now Kaka has started doing exactly the same thing. Kayihura tormented us (opposition figures) so much that Kaka looked like a saviour. We have enjoyed every disagreement between the two and nearly applauded when ISO and later CMI publicly humiliated Kayihura.
I think we naively forgot what motivates intelligent people serving Museveni to act stupid. We should have known that Kaka would act like Kayihura. The threat against our individual and collective lives is more eminent than before.
And when the big man decides to buy a bulletproof vehicle for every MP, he doesn’t have to tell you that things have run out of control.
He has threatened each time a murder has been committed. The last time it happened (Abiriga), he simply quarreled uncontrollably.
His order is a bulletproof vehicle for each MP. What about the sheiks, the biggest victim of these murders? And the girls being raped and murdered? The truth is that the centre cannot hold anymore.
The author is Kira Municipality MP and opposition chief whip in parliament.