Maj Kakooza Mutale addresses the media in Kampala on March 29, 2017. PHOTO/ALEX ESAGALA
By Elizabeth Kamurungi & TABU BUTAGIRA
A senior presidential aide has asked the army for unmarked guns in order to conduct “covert operations” despite President Museveni’s June 2018 directive that all guns be finger-printed to stem abuse or use by criminals.
Maj Kakooza Mutale, the special presidential assistant for political affairs, made the demand – whose details this newspaper reveals for the first time today – in an August 10, 2019, letter to the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen David Muhoozi.
This was 14
months after Mr Museveni ordered engraving of all firearms in the hands
of security forces so that cartridges retrieved from crime scenes can,
through ballistic analysis, be matched to the bullet discharge gun and
The order followed a spate of killings in which shooters on motorbikes gunned prominent citizens at homes or on the road and fled after the clinical operations without trace, only to re-emerge and snuff out another person elsewhere.
Some of the prominent victims between 2015 and 2018 included the then Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga, former police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi and former Buyende District police commander Muhammad Kirumira.
Others were retired Maj Mohammad Kiggundu and principal state prosecutor Joan Kagezi alongside several Muslim clerics, among them, Kibuli faction spokesperson Ibrahim Hassan Kirya.
“I have [ordered] the sub-committee of the National Security Council that all guns must be fingerprinted by firing each gun a number of times in controlled conditions to capture the finger prints of each one. That will mean that if any legal gun in Uganda is used, we shall know which gun was used…,” President Museveni told Parliament in June 2018 at the height of the killings.
In the letter, Maj Mutale suggested that he was aware of the President’s instructions, but nonetheless required unmarked guns because his office “… undertakes special deployments of covert, sensitive and special political intelligence interests.”
Those unspecified operations, the retired army officer noted, undergird “the smooth running and management of the Presidency”.
“It is my duty to remind you that some covert operations do require unengraved arms for purposes of undercover operations of which (sic) my Unit undertakes from time to time especially undercover detection and investigation of counter-insurgency,” Maj Mutale wrote in his letter to Gen Muhoozi.
Counter-insurgency operations principally fall under the mainstream Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and affiliate spy agencies that, under the Constitution and the UPDF Act, are responsible for safeguarding Uganda’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Maj Mutale is not an active-duty officer and, therefore, it remains unclear under what law he inserts himself to run operations requiring use of firearms.
When we reached out to him to explain his quasi-military roles and supporting laws, Maj Mutale, before listening to the details of our inquiries, said security matters are off-limits for the media and this newspaper should not hold its sources in higher esteem than himself.
“ The CDF is the head of a military institution, I happen to be an assistant to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces, do you want to reduce us to an allegation? Whoever gave you that information … let me advise you young people, study, do not rush even into things that are very important,” he said.
He added: “As a journalist, you should check and know your status and know your upper limits. Advise those who give you information to write about other topics. Do not indulge in security matters or people who deal in security matters. Do not discuss the security of this country in the press or any other [platform].”
Maj Mutale is a former journalist
Our investigations, however, show that the duties in his appointment letter as Special Presidential Assistant for Political Affairs bear no mention of special or covert operations that may involve the use of firearms.
The President tapped Maj Mutale as a special aide in December 2000 and his schedule of duties communicated to him by Mr John Mitala, the head of Public Service, include receiving individuals and groups with political issues that require the president’s attention, establishing and maintaining reliable database in respect of matters of political significance, attending meetings and conferences as required to enhance analysis of emerging political issues.
His other responsibilities are to interact with ministers, MPs, opinion leaders, special interest groups and ordinary citizens, monitor political events, gather and analyse information for the purpose of briefing the President on political affairs; receive, study and analyse reports and memoranda and bring their imports to the President; and, and maintain liaison with Movement headquarters, resident district commissioners, political organisations.
The defence spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso, declined to discuss the issue of Maj Mutale, saying she had insufficient knowledge of the matter.
The Minister for Presidency, Ms Esther Mbayo, who is the direct political supervisor of Maj Mutale, was not available for comment.
In an interview last evening, Security minister Elly Tumwine, said he would expect Maj Mutale to seek military backup if political intelligence he gathers necessitates a sting operation.
“When coordinating security-related operations, they (soldiers) can be deployed to anybody where there is need, but you cannot request for unmarked guns when we are saying all guns must be marked,” said Gen Tumwine, a member of the military High Command.
Gen Muhoozi spurned Maj Mutale’s request for unmarked guns and ordered that whatever guns were in the latter’s possession should be engraved or withdrawn.
“The CDF has directed that all guns must be engraved and if not engraved, they will be retrieved. He directs that you (Mutale) are not authorised to conduct operations at all,” Col JK Mukasa, the then military assistant to Gen Muhoozi, noted in a September 14, 2019 response.
The letter was copied to Gen Tumwine, his Internal Affairs counterpart, Gen Jeje Odong, Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth-Ochola as well as the Chief of Military Intelligence (CMI), Brig Abel Kandiho.
Mr Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson, said up to 80 per cent of the official guns had already been registered and engraved and, as a result, gun crime has declined. He, however, provided no statistics for a trend analysis.
According to documents seen our reporters, Maj Kakooza is superintending a group of anywhere between 129 to 174 operatives, among them active-duty soldiers, veterans, members of an undefined auxiliary force and one MP.
Among the 129 operatives whose identities we are withholding for now is a UPDF Major, two captains, five Lieutenants, one Sergent, two Warrant Officer IIs, six staff sergeants, 18 sergeants, 18 corporals, four lance corporals and 45 privates. Additionally, there are also 25 special operatives and one senior special operative.
Another list of “organic staff” at the Mutale-led Directorate of Special Duties has up to 174 names, including the original 129 in the “schedule of officers and men” at the directorate.
It is this group that Maj Mutale, in an October 2018 letter to the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, put for the attention of Col Robert Damulira, communicated that President Museveni directed to be a standby unit of Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB), now the Special Forces Command.
We could not independently verify the claim. If true, it raises questions why and on what basis a loose grouping led by an individual, is authorised as a backup to the better trained and armed SPC without a legal basis or parliamentary oversight.
In the letter to Gen Muhoozi, whom we were unable to reach for this story, Maj Mutale noted that Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi had approached him to secure some sensitive cultural sites that land grabbers eyed.
“However, as you may read between the lines, this assistance which we extend to the Kabaka of Buganda could bear for us unexpected political advantages,” he wrote in apparent reference to the 2021 elections in which National Unity Platform flag bearer Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, beat President Museveni hands down throughout Buganda region.
Mr Museveni won the poll nationally with 60 per cent, according to the EC.
Mr Noah Kiyimba, the Buganda information minister, confirmed that the kingdom reached out to Maj Mutale for help about two years ago, but the assistance was sought on informal basis.
“There is a hill, Jinja Mawuno in Kawempe (in Kampala). It is big and prime [land] and some people have been trying to take it by force,” he said, adding that Maj Mutale offers the kingdom support, including securing Ekika Ky’Ente land, as a willing subject of the Kabaka.
Rtd Maj Kakoza Mutale is no stranger to controversy. A charismatic officer and political operative, Mutale who previously taught military skills to cadres at the present-day National Leadership Institute – Kyankwanzi, catapulted to the limelight during campaigns for 2001 elections as head of the para-military Kalangala Action Plan (KAP).
Members of the group were accused of, and later investigated by a parliamentary committee for meting brutality on Ugandans, especially supporters of Col Kizza Besigye who was challenging President Museveni.
His brass-band group rode on yellow buses and always preceded the arrival of candidate Museveni at campaign rallies.
Whereas KAP brought energy, excitement and drama to the vote canvassing exercise, the clobbering of people by some of its members scared and scarred citizens, turning the group into a dreaded force and the 2001 ballot violent. Museveni won resoundingly, according to Electoral Commission records.
Besigye, then a Reform Agenda flag bearer, challenged that victory and KAP was cited in his 2001 election petition in which he accused President-cum-candidate Museveni of sanctioning the violence through Maj Mutale. The Major vanished from the public glare and re-emerged in subsequent elections, except the one of last month, to drum up support for candidate Museveni.
“Those who fear us should fear us more. We are coming. Give us space and we get a way for [Museveni, who he refers to as Omulaalo]. If you get out of the way and he passes, we shall not bother you. Anyone who stands in our way will be forced out,” NTV quoted Mutale, who spoke in Luganda, as having said in the run-up to the 2016 elections.
He has been largely silent until now when it has emerged that he, in 2019, sought to circumvent President Museveni’s directive to have all the guns finger-printed, by asking CDF to give him unmarked guns.
Official duty schedule.
– Interact with ministers, MPs, opinion leaders, special interest groups and ordinary citizens.
– Monitor political events, gather and analyse information to briefing the President.
-Receive, study and analyse reports and bring their imports to the President.
– Maintain liaison with Movement headquarters, resident district commissioners, political organisations.
– Establish and maintain reliable database in respect of matters of political significance and solving issues of political consequence.
– Attend meetings as required by the President or as a means of enhancing analysis of emerging political issues.
-Work closely with the Presidency minister in respect of assigned duties and on progress made.
Source Daily Monitor.