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The fall of Kayihura

Why the firing of the IGP has more to do with Kampala-Kigali relations than crime in Uganda

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda | Finally President Yoweri Museveni has fired the Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura. It was a sad ending for a man who more than anyone else has fought the hardest to defend Museveni’s job.

It must be painful for Kayihura because he was not even given an alternative appointment as minister or ambassador or even the token one of “senior presidential advisor” that the president gives to many people he fires. In leaving him jobless, Museveni has not disguised his extreme displeasure with Kayihura.

Kayihura has been the most hated person by Uganda’s opposition because he was extremely effective at blocking and disrupting their political mobilisation. While effectiveness made him very powerful, it also attracted considerable envy among some in government, especially in sister security agencies. These became determined to bring him down.

There thus emerged a convergence of different but compatible interests between certain powerful forces in government and opposition leaders and activists. Both wanted him to be fired from his job. Museveni kept Kayihura for long because he was extremely loyal to him and devoted his tenure fundamentally to protect Museveni’s power. So why did Museveni drop a man who sacrificed everything for him?

This is where we need to begin. In recent months, there have been complaints that crime has run out of control and that the country was on the verge of falling apart. These alarmist reports and analyses were not driven by crime but politics. Many Ugandan journalists became prey to a campaign against Kayihura by his rivals inside government and his enemies in the opposition who had a vested interest in exaggerating the problem.

Indeed Kayihura’s enemies could have been the ones behind recent crimes around the country including the kidnapping and murder of Suzan Magara. They could have designed this strategy in order to taint Kayihura and police and therefore create a justification for his removal.However, Uganda, like any other country, is going through a short spell of crime (if this, itself, can be proved statistically) that given time police would bring under control.

However, the opposition, journalists and social media activists who joined the “increasing crime” and “partisan police” bandwagon were mistaken. Kayihura’s departure will not change the fundamentals on crime but rather buy government a new lease of legitimacy by creating an appearance that something is being done. And if his removal stops police from being the political mobilisation arm of the NRM (and this is possible) another security agency will take over this role.

Museveni did not fire Kayihura because of “increasing crime.” Indeed, there is no scientific evidence of this. It is true perception and fear of crime hasgone up. But this does not necessarily mean crime itself has increased. Studies from the USA show that as crime fell in the 1990s, the perception of increasing crime grew as a result of media exaggerations. The same may be the case for Uganda. For example, compared to the crime situation in the 1990s and early to mid-2000s in this country, the recent spate of crime in Kampala is a mere pinprick.

Therefore it is unlikely that Museveni could have fired Kayihura because of crime. Rather the allegations of increasing crime, backed by public perception and anger provided the president the excuse to remove him. The primary reason for firing Kayihura seems to be the shifting geopolitical position of Uganda in her relationship with Rwanda.

When the feud between Kampala and Kigali began, Kayihura confided in friends that when Uganda and Rwanda fight, he pays the price. Being an ethnic Munyarwanda, the Ugandan side accuse him of being a mole while the Rwandan side see him as a traitor. A reliable source told me that Museveni was “convinced” by other intelligence organisations that Kayihura allowed Rwanda to use Uganda Police to conduct their operations inside this country. In exchange, it was alleged that Rwanda was helping him use police to build a political base for his presidential ambitions.


  1. The fall of Kaihura was on his day one in the office of IGP when he chose to be in service of the one man and not in the interests of the whole country. Kaihura was so interested in pleasing and appeasing the person of President Museveni even if it meant going against the police code of conduct. The downside to this, was that he didn’t have the manuscript to read from of, how high he would jump, or, how low he would scoop? That decision was only left at the discretion of the person of Museveni. When Kaihura decided to make Mr. Museveni his only friend, when it came the time to be dropped, it is only natural that he would fall hard, as they would be no one to pick him up. If Kayihura’s master is disgraced with his performance, who are we to praise him? I can humbly say, that when the question was posed to Kayihura to either serve person or country? Kaihura chose person over country. He should, therefore, be dumped onto the dug hip of history.

    • 1. “It is the DUTY of every (good) officer to OBEY any ORDERS given him by his Commander-in-Chief”.Nathan Hale
      Gen Kayihura is an officer and wants to be GOOD. M7 is the C-in-C. We don’t know which orders M7 gave to Gen Kayihura when Gen Kayihura was doing the deeds he did.
      2. “As the senior commander in Vietnam, I was aware of the potency of public opinion – and I worried about it”. Gen William Westmoreland. Gen Kayihura can too be so paraphrased.Gen. William Westmoreland, had requested 240,000 more troops in 1968 for the prolonged war, they were sent and the US went on to lose the(Vietnam) war which had started on November 1, 1955 – April 30, 1975.
      3. “To win this war(against KB and JPAM and their hordes), we need a field commander, not a professor of law” Ejakait knows who said that,to whom and on what occasion…
      It is a fact that all of us,in his position, would have done as (or worse than) he did. It is a question of the C-in-C saying ” do this” or “how will this be done without implicating me” and the good officer proceeds to deploy Kitata or Kifeesi. It was ironic that on the day he was supposed to appear in Makindye court, the same people who were there by 4am to demonstrate were the same composition that riots with KB… same people different cause. What doe it imply? That there is a reserve force under brief control of ‘whoever will pay’ that can cause mayhem for any cause no matter how vain. That mob was terrible. They nearly tore Lawyer Kiwanuka to pieces…let alone the magistrate who had to hide in the chambers. Let Gen Kayihura go and we see how reasonable IGP will do the trick. You never know.

      • I applaud your clarification. It wais effective brutality.

        If M7 could summarily sack his “most loyal” cadre, what about Mwenda the flip-flopper? Watch your back Andrew.

      • Nsubuga Moses Kakyama

        by Nsubuga Moses Kakyama

        it is clear, isn’t it? that Uganda is changing its name from Uganda to Museveni.. The people of Uganda are currently referred to as Musevenians instead of Ugandans.

  2. I meant to state, “dung heap” of history.

  3. Andrew; I think Kayihura was not “extremely effective at blocking demonstrations”. He was extremely brutal and heartless at it. A deeper analysis would reveal that he contributed immensely to NRM/M7’s loss of popularity in urban areas in Uganda (not that I care). I mentioned severally (when I was active on this platform and under a pseudo name) that the actions of Kayihura were a typical textbook style of failing a government from within. With him building a security base, including the recruitment of crime presenters that were loyal to him and we’ll facilitated when the police was lacking resources, it was only inevitable that a leader with “vision” would keep him around. I do not agree with you when you say Kayihura was very loyal to M7; he pretended to be loyal and was waiting for that window of opportunity to pounce. When you say it is because of others that M7 fired Afande tear gas; you are probably confirming to us that M7 is spineless which I would like to believe is not the case.

  4. ejakait engoraton

    …… law standing at a lectern”, yes it was Sarah Palin n the bit u left out was important if rather ironical in KK case, because yes a “lawyer”, not a professor, but was not standing on a lectern.
    So you can have a professor of law, but on the battle front or the command room

  5. ejakait engoraton

    The law of nature dictates that all things come to an end. We are told that even the sun which is the source of all life, and has been around for billions of years , is burning itself out, and in billions of years will be no more.

    THE issue of KK sacking was a question of when, how , why, how rather than IF.

    KK , in accordance with the terms of reference of his appointment , which terms are different from what may be in the books, were terms that were given to him by the appointing authority, and he has done a stellar job. There is no way he would have been in that job for close to 13 years if he was not doing a good job. There is no way his contract would have been renewed only a year ago if he was not doing his job. The killings, insecurity, corruption ( mess ) in the police did not just crop up yesterday, more so after the renewal of his contract so that that could be the basis of his dismissal .

    This narrative of trying to look for a fault is a creation and speculation by the likes of M 9 who want to reason that in order for M 7 to sack you, you must have done something wrong.It is well known that M 7 has sacked people for doing the right thing, just like he is trying to sack KAGINA for sacking an incompetent contractor who violated the terms of their contract. He is also known to retain, defend and even promote people who have done terrible things.

    SO all of us can only speculate as to the reasons for his sacking, because there are people whose actions and reasoning do not follow the normal script.

  6. ejakait engoraton

    HERE again M 9 is trying to spin the narrative that there has not been an increase in crime, and what we think is an increase is either our imagination, or according to his old script, just like the poverty, it is relative.

    CRIME is real, and most especially when it affects you. NO matter what the statistics may say about kidnappings, the only one statistic that matters to the MAGARA family is that there daughter was kidnapped and murdered. SO even if the statistics say 99% of those kidnapped are released, that statistic means nothing.

    AT some point in time on this very forum, I cautioned M 9 about figures, and my particular reference at the time was with reference to crime. That an authority could manipulate figures to suit their own purposes. KK for instance would have been caught between wanting the figures to be good and bad at the same time. BOTH would have served his purposes. To show that crime is falling would mean that his policies are working. To show that it was on the increase would have been reason enough to justify an increase in the budget, just as we are aware that the force had a big financing gap.

    THE truth of the matter is that , the perception is that there is an increase in crime, be it mobile phone street thefts, car jackings, robberies, rapes , murders .

  7. ejakait engoraton

    OF all the reasons for KK firing, it borders on stupidity even to imagine that it was because KK was becoming/ or had become a threat. Militarily or politically?

    Whatever influence KK had in the police, that is how far it went and there is no way that he would have been in a position to build a network and force that would have been capable of challenging M 7.

    IF it did ever cross KK mind that he could mount anything like that, then he would have had to do something similar to what Sgt DOE did in Liberia, or Jerry Rawlings did in Ghana in that he would have to get rid of the top almost 1000 people.

    The last person who thought he had built a network capable of challenging his boss realised that network was just 2 people, and that was his wife and her sister.

    Whoever was close to KK and was serving his interests , was doing so in the knowledge that they were serving the interests of their overall boss, as was seen when KITATTA challenged KK infront of the president and was talking as if he considered himself an equal to KK.

    IF at any point M 7 realised that KK was or would become a political threat, learning from his past mistakes, there is no way that would be allowed to become a reality. WHY else has TINYEFUZA not been retired from the army to date.

  8. ejakait engoraton

    THE issue of frosty relationship with KIGALI is also a no brainer. FROSTY relations between Kampala and Kigali have always been there , even before KK came into the picture, and chances are that the situation will remain the same in the future. Brothers do have fights from time to time, for all sorts of reasons, some of their making , some not.

    DESPITE the underlying bad blood, mainly because of egos of the topmost key players, I have a feeling there is a pact between the two parties.YES , either one would want to be in a position where they have people within the others system whom they can call their own, and KK more than any other person fitted that bill. HE is close to KAGAME, and until recently, one of the most powerful people in KIGALI, JACKSON NZIZA, is first cousins with KK.

    BUT like KK, JN posed no threat to KAGAME because he was not very popular among the top hierarchy and being a MUFUMBIRA , was seen as an outsider and a MERCENARY , and when the need arose, was eased aside without much ado.

  9. ejakait engoraton

    LIKEWISE , whatever differences between KK and TUMUKUNDE are not likely to be reason for firing both of them.

    M 7 still harbors a drudge with his brother in law, M 7 is known not to forgive, or at the worst not to forget and waits his time and opportunity to exact revenge for whatever he perceives as a wrong.

    IN appointing him to that docket, he was giving him enough rope to hang. Tumukunde was supposed to supervise agencies which had other ministries as their overall bosses, so POLICE has the Internal affairs as its line ministry, CMI is under the Army and effectively Defence ministry.

    What KK said about not giving intelligence to sister agencies is standard practice in that all agencies are usually jealous about their info, the FBI and CIA have been known to be almost at war, just like Scotland Yard and MI 5 . It is usually on a ” need to know ” and this is usually through strict channels.

    THE problem here is that the president must have appointed Tumukunde with a particular duty to sort out issues within the police and no way KK was going to volunteer information, so Tumukunde must have found a way to get that info without going to KK, something KK was not amused about

  10. 1.Thank you Mr.Kale Kayihura we love just because you r you.
    2.In security,its important to work as a team because many lives are at stake.
    3.With the abundance of technology;govt needs to reduce the personnel in the security force because the security situation in Uganda has improved actually;most of them seem redundant thats why they spend alot of time with women the only time i see them active is when there are at a parade matching secondly; with modern technology and intelligence we all saw how Bin laden was killed by a team of less than 10 men of the Navy seal 6
    4. Security seem to attract people who are desperate and those from humble background that partly explains why Kayihura had a rough time in police because he was looked as a man who has been favored all his life.
    5.There is a lot of money in criminal activities and espionage so how do we expect the security personnel to balance the temptation to get rich quick and serve the nation diligently?

  11. The worst article of the year, i don’t think you will write anything worse come Dec 2018, imagine “that he has mobilized 11 million crime preventers, 300 per village”,more than the total votes cast (10M), Fraud_how many villages (LC1) have over 100 households and how many above 18 in each household? how can there be crime e.g in masaka where every household in a village has a crime preventer? YKM got close to 5.9m votes, where were the 5.1m crime preventers?


  12. It makes little sense since he’d just extended his tenure. Its could simply be M7 showing his generals who is boss; his way of keeping his “boys” in line.

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