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THE LAST WORD: Why Kayihura remains IGP

His contract was renewed because his enemies inside the government underestimate him while the opposition demonise him

By Andrew M. Mwenda

Parliament last week approved President Yoweri Museveni’s reappointment of Gen. Kale Kayihura as Inspector General of Police (IGP). With 12 years at the helm, Kayihura is now the longest serving IGP in Uganda’s history and equally the most controversial. This is unprecedented. No one has held such a sensitive job while exercising the amount of power Kayihura does for a long period under Museveni. He has achieved this is in spite of (and also because of) having many enemies in the system and criticism from the opposition and media.

To explain Kayihura’s success, we need to understand the historical context. When Museveni captured power, he inherited an established, even though enfeebled, state. All he brought with him was a new army, the National Resistance Army (NRA) now Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and intelligence services i.e. Internal Security Organisation (ISO) and External Security Organisation (ESO).

Thus, when it came to the internal organisation of the state, Museveni inherited a civil service, a diplomatic corps, a police force, a prisons service and a parastatals sector from previous governments. These institutions had suffered atrophy but they were functional. The personnel in them had been appointed by previous governments and many were not favourable to NRM.

Uganda had not suffered the kind of deep social shredding that was, for example, seen in Rwanda where state institutions, church, and traditional collectives had been either destroyed or grossly discredited when RPF took power after the 1994 genocide.

Regarding relations between state and society, the forces that exercised social control in Uganda; including religious and traditional institutions, had retained their legitimacy. The churches had substituted the state in the provision of many basic public services like education and health, not to mention their role in providing spiritual and moral leadership; factors that bolstered their prestige.

These factors were both an asset and a liability for Museveni: an asset because he had a base from which to rebuild Uganda; a liability because he had to work through public institutions largely staffed by personnel who may not have shared his vision. He also had to compromise more with existing social and political forces like Mengo and the Roman Catholic Church that enjoyed high levels of legitimacy.

Museveni had captured power by military might. However, his National Resistance Movement (NRM) was young, with a weak and shaky political base. His genius was to recognise that he could not use NRA’s military strength to compensate for NRM’s political weaknesses. He recognised that overt military rule was likely to be counterproductive. Rather than rule militarily, he decided to govern politically.

So he invited leaders of other political parties and forces into a broad-based (which later became a bread-based) government. However, the military remained a fall back force: if threatened politically, he could call upon it to buttress his political fortunes. At the time, each time Museveni faced a severe political protest, the police proved ineffective to handle it. So he would call on the army to “crash” it.

But remember that Museveni seeks to rule politically, not militarily. He, therefore, always uses hard methods (“crashing” a protest) as tactical measures to achieve a short term objective of ensuring stability. His medium to long term strategy has always been to politically counter-mobilise against his opponents by infiltrating centres of resistance, co-opting and buying off leaders of such protests, and/or meeting some of their demands.

Between 1986 and 1996, this latter job fell to ISO then under Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi. From 1997 to 2005, the centre of gravity shifted to the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) then under Brig. Noble Mayombo who was a tool for Museveni’s politics. Throughout this period, the police remained on the side-lines – under resourced, ineffectual, disloyal, and ignored in the power calculus.


  1. Paul Kilimi Wanda

    Ya, Kayihura has done it well. But; as if he was appointed IGP in 2004 not 2005.

  2. Kayihura remains the IGP because his natural replacement and immediate opponent was killed on the 17/03/2017 it is as simple as that.

  3. 1.I like the way he NRM govt is grooming the young to take charge of the nation the current Army commander with his nice eyes and Kayihura with his cute smile are a clear sign that govt is preparing a good future for the nation.This trend is across all sectors in Uganda e.g;My good friend Ann is the Head of global markets at Stanbic Bank she is young i told her if she continues working in the Banking sector she will some day become Governor BOU(Bambi Musinguzi dont go looking for her)
    2.The camps in intelligence is meant to fail Kayihura coz he is the blue eyed boy of the govt you can tell by the look in his face that he means well.
    3. Rajab i am not surprised with your comments no wonder all suspects are Muslims like you.
    4.You can die of laughter if you attempt to understand Ugandans mbu they should extend the sim card registration by one year;to them banking money in the Bank is more risky than banking using mobile phones, these are the same guys who say they have nothing to do not even to spare time to register their phones lines,they claim they have no money but at the same time say they have alot of money on their mobile phones i hope the current hacking of companies ICT units will not affect the mobile money business.

    • “Rajab i am not surprised with your comments” sometimes my comments are beyond your everyday intellect.

      • “Kayihura remains the IGP because his natural replacement and immediate opponent was killed” so you want to tell us Kayihura was grooming his opponent? Or you want to deny Kayihura’s hand in the rise to power of the one who was killed on 17/03/2017?

        • Now Abe forgive kakyama. He is so poor when commenting on local current issues because there is no text book to copy from. Normally his narration would have gone like this: ” It is so alluded to in the thinking and publications by Prof Broadhead Williams that the augmentation of a retort thinking of the proletariat would have deeply impacted on generational gaps leadng to events like kaweesi murderers if the economy had not sank to its knees under the ruthless misadministration of the NRM and its cohorts,mistresses and proxies” From such Omeros would pick and continue thus: Now that you mention it Kakyama, I cannot help quoting karl marx when he was approached by freshmen at the University of Vienna in the fall of 1942 when asked about what is likely to transpire in the world economic flight of capital. He is reported by Dr Wilbrim Zigzag that he looked one freshman in the eye and answered with one word.” the state and the economy my son are intertwined, interlocked and are all asses.” Adhola would pick from there and proceed with the confusion….

      • Rajab since you claim you r so brilliant for mankind why are Muslims alone being linked to Kaweesi’s murder yet they are only 3% in ug? How come no Muslim leader has come to protest their arrest is it by coincidence or they also dont trust their flock?

        Ugandans have a habit of heaping praise on people when they are dead;they all criticised Mayombo, Kaweesi,Nyakarima when they were alive.

      • I was about to say the same..how i wish she could have the guts to tell us her sir name…

  4. ejakait engoraton

    Whatever reasons one may advance, the one thing that it is NOT is MERIT.
    Most times when you try to advance reasons for ones suitability for a given post you look at that persons career, experience, qualifications in that or very closely related fields.
    In this case none of those apply and top of the list is the fact that he is willing and able to do his master’s bidding without any questions.
    He probably does more than what his master has required of him, service beyond the call of duty

    • So Mr Engoroton you say Kayihura did not merit the job? You want an officer that will question the boss’s orders? An officer questioning the boss’s orders leads to anarchy. I am sure you would not not tolerate that either

  5. ejakait engoraton

    Abe, we may not have anarchy, but we do have TYRANNY.
    Take your pick, but knowing the side you are on ( as sure as day turns into night, you are on the oppressor’s side) I know what your pick is.

  6. Abe, I have two words for you- that is “marriage” and “divorce.” Hope I answered you.

  7. Collins NYAKOOJO

    IGP kaihura to me has done so well to suppress n Saphocated the Opposition. To his boss, he has surpassed his set targets. If u were his boss after an appraisal, wouldn’t u give him another chance?

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