By John V Sserwaniko
Depending on who you spoke to, AF Kaweesi at some point meant differently to different people. To opposition, whose Walk to Work protests he crushed, he was a saboteur working to keep Museveni in power.
To criminals in Kampala, he was a monster who deserved to die. Indiscplined police officers would say the same of him. To his police protégés like Emilian Kayima, he was a selfless mentor wishing everybody well.
To Museveni and IGP Gen Kale, he was the loyal officer who meticulously executed his assignments with unmatched precision. Some like Col Kizza Besigye have equated him to Noble Mayombo who died in similar mysterious ways in 2007.
In this feature article, we profile 43 year old Kaweesi who was tragically murdered outside his Kulambiro home last Friday. The following narrative is extracted from a long conversation I had with him at a city hotel in August 2014.
WHO WAS HE/WHAT MAKES HIM TICK?
The amiable officer from Kitwe Kya Njovu village initially wanted to be a teacher and never planned to ever be a big name police officer we came to know. He was a classroom teacher in mid 1990s and being St. Bernard Kiswera Director of Studies was his first job immediately after completing his Degree in Education (as a History Teacher) at Makerere.
He was Kiswera DOS for 8 months and left for better opportunities [Bernard Kakinda the owner of Kiswera School was Prof Lawrence Mukiibi’s brother].
Kaweesi used to mobilize fellow youth in Masaka district and that is how he got a job in Masaka local government and quit teaching at Kiswera. He became Assistant Secretary at the district, particularly assigned to then powerful LC5 chairman Vincent Sempijja as PA.
He did this until April 2001. During the 2001 heated campaigns, Kaweesi headed a secretive Museveni youth task force which liaised with army officers to do clandestine mobilization against Besigye who famously declared in Masaka that “Omusajja Agenda [M7 is leaving].”
This exposed Kaweesi to officers including Gen Aronda Nyakayirima who was Commanding Officer (CO) for Masaka-based Mechanized Regiment. It was Aronda who encouraged Kaweesi to apply for police cadet jobs advertised that same year. Aronda told him he had a great future as a career police officer.
Kaweesi applied and underwent 9 months training along with fellow elite recruits like Charles Kataratambi, Simeo Nsubuga, Fred Enanga, Grace Akullo and others. After pass out in 2002, he was deployed to Ntungamo as OC Station which equals deputizing the DPC. He served there from 2002 to 2003.
Then IGP Gen Katumba Wamala learnt of his mobilization skills and interactive nature and moved him to Masindi police training school as an instructor. Ntungamo politicians led by LC5 chairman Karazarwe protested to Katumba saying they still needed Kaweesi to pacify crime.
Katumba told them: “I need to use him at the training school to mould and produce more excellent officers like him.”
At Masindi, Kaweesi’s leadership skills quickly manifested. Within 2 weeks, Fred Nabongo who was the Commandant made him Course Director, heading fellow instructors. Trainees greatly liked him and found his style of presentation inspiring. He dwelled on building their self esteem as cadres that would change police.
This information somehow reached Katumba Wamala and within 6 months Kaweesi was made Deputy Commandant. This was no simple feat because it was unprecedented for a mere cadet to become deputy commandant. After Nabongo left, Kaweesi briefly deputized Moses Irunga from 2003 to 2005.
He would mainly coordinate training activities there and the police leadership wanted to make use of his unique skills as an instructor and budding administrator. His outstanding performance prompted authorities to recommend him for training opportunities to harness his potential.
He was sponsored to train at UMI and also in South Africa. He also did a middle command course at Kibuli after which he was taken to S/Sudan to train their police cadres as part of preparations for their independence. He was also in Somalia doing the same for 6 months under the auspices of the UN.
In fact Gen Kayihura, who many fallaciously thought was his relative, became IGP when Kaweesi was away on this assignment in Somalia. The first interaction he had with him was in late 2005 and in January 2006, Kayihura who had already admired his assertiveness made him his PA.
In that capacity, sitting in the IGP’s office, Kaweesi demonstrated likeable qualities which attracted Kayihura to like him more. He quickly became ASP. As PA he scheduled IGP’s meetings and handled complaints addressed to IGP besides managing the boss’ travels. He also traveled with Kale within Uganda and abroad. In all these engagements, Kayihura found the village little boy from Masaka results-oriented, fast thinker, courageous, incorruptible and well polished.
In 2007, Kayihura desired to streamline things at Masindi training school with a view of ensuring graduates there came out with the desired levels of ideological clarity and orientation. He couldn’t find a better officer to undertake this task. He asked Kaweesi to take it up.
A man of many firsts, Kaweesi became Commandant for this all important facility when still ASP. This had never happened-all its heads were men of higher rank. Ex-Masindi LC5 chairman Majara had just donated a huge piece of land to house Kabalye training school which is 20kms from Masindi town. There was nothing and UPF was still training using the UPDF military grounds attached to Artillery barracks in Masindi.
Kaweesi had to start from scratch. His office as commandant was at first in make-shift tents with lessons conducted under trees. ASP Moses Kafeero became his deputy and the duo worked hard and within no time the Kabalye site began to change.
They engaged community leaders and corporate companies asking them to contribute under their CSR. The duo’s efforts resulted into iron sheets being donated and the first trainees’ dormitory was put up. Using some of the cadets who were engineering graduates, they put up multi-purpose halls among other infrastructure.
They invited Ps Robert Kayanja for a crusade and upon seeing the infrastructure problem; Kayanja donated 250 iron sheets resulting into more structures being constructed. NFA allowed them to harvest timber from nearby Budongo forest. They used the trainees, who are supposed to do a lot of manual work as part of their training, to cut timber and turn it into ready construction material. Lecture halls were constructed. They set up the quarter guard using a combination of the trainees and prisoners from nearby facilities.
There was no easy way because UPF was financially constrained yet Museveni badly wanted to see results at Kabalye. The duo invested in paving of the now glittering walk ways at Kabalye. Yet that wasn’t all. They planted pine trees (Kabalye sits on over 10 square miles of land) and also engaged a PPP of sorts to upgrade the 20km road stretch from Masindi town to Kabalye training school. They also successfully requested Dott Services, Sterling and others who were doing major road projects in the greater Masindi area to grade the Parade Square (as part of their CSR).
Kayihura was happy that the duo would do so much work in such a short time without straining police budget which was still meager. As of 2008, Museveni paid his maiden visit to the Kabalye facility and he wouldn’t believe his eyes. He told Kayihura: “with these young men I can see the future of the Uganda Police is bright.” Museveni had come to lecture and pass out that year’s 420 cadets whom Kaweesi had been training for 9 months.
Museveni directed extension of power and water to Kabalye “to supplement these two officers’ efforts to develop this place.” NWSC demanded a Shs200m contribution from UPF to do the trenches connecting water from Masindi town, 20kms away. As Kayihura looked for the money, Kaweesi mobilized the more than 4000 trainees to each volunteer digging 3 meters of the trench as part of their manual training. In the end he delivered the trenches NWSC wanted within just two weeks and water was immediately brought. Kayihura became even more fascinated.
In 2009, police leadership proposed KMP’s formation and Museveni advised Kayihura “why don’t you get one of my sons in Masindi to help you start this KMP?” Kaweesi stayed there and Kafeero came to help found KMP as one of the pioneer DPCs. Andrew Sorowen became pioneer KMP Commandant and Kafeero one of his auxiliary DPCs.
Museveni asked Kaweesi to recommend a perfect Kafeero replacement at Kabalye and that is how Hadijah Namutebi (one of Kaweesi’s protégés & ex-RPC for Katonga region) became Deputy Commandant at Kabalye. In 2010, Kaweesi joined National Defense College in Nairobi for 1 year.
It was a high profile enrollment because only Generals went there and Permanent Secretaries if it had to be civilians. He was at the ASP rank but was accelerated to enroll for a course that was ordinarily for police commissioners and above. He graduated in 2011 with a masters’ in Strategic Security Studies.
In August 2011, he became KMP boss taking over from Grace Turyagumanawe. In October 2011, Museveni made him AIGP which is the 3rd highest rank after IGP and Deputy. He took KMP when Walk to Work was at its peak and police was increasingly becoming overwhelmed by rioters.
“This is an assignment of your life,” Kayihura reportedly told him “you either annihilate walk to work or you go down trying.” Kaweesi proposed the containment approach whereby he used his OBs like Semujju Nganda, Muwanga Kivumbi and others to dialogue with organizers.
Rallies started to get a win-win situation: sometimes it ended in stone-throwing rioters injuring his men but gradually trust was built. He invested in community intelligence, infiltrated opposition plans and popularized preventive arrests. In the end W2W was annihilated and leaving Kaweesi then concentrated on tackling conventional crime in his KMP area. He also expanded KMP from 13 to 17 Divisions.
Childhood: The last born of 6 kids, Kaweesi’s was a typical peasant family in Kitwekyanjovu village Kyazanga Sub County in Masaka. His dad despised education, so Kaweesi toiled on his own. He is from the same village with Mulindwa Birimumaso, MPs Semujju Nganda and Cissy Namujju. A devout Catholic, Kaweesi went to Kyazanga P/S, St. Bernard Kiswera and Kitante Hill before joining Makerere (in 1996-99). At Kitante, he was a few years ahead of Bobi Wine and Bebe Cool.
At Mak, he was in Lumumba, was chief fresher and stood for guild with MP Odonga Otto as his campaign manager. Kityamuweesi Musubire, the PPS to VP Sekandi became his foster father and paid his tuition at Kitante and Makerere. Musubire first brought him to Kampala (at 17 years, 1994) and housed him at his Minister’s Village home in Ntinda.