Three Anglican and Catholic bishops have denied claims in a much-publicised secret police tape that they are supporting and promoting Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi’s supposed presidential bid in 2016.
The one-hour-thirty-minute recording, which police now say was stolen from them by unknown people, features the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, debriefing a National Resistance Movement (NRM) party youth leader from Kayunga District.
The party youth leader, Mr Alex Kasirivu, claims on the recording that he had been recruited by Mr Mbabazi’s wife, Jacqueline Mbabazi, to mobilise NRM leaders in Buganda to support her husband’s alleged scheme for presidency.
Mr Kasirivu alleges that Mr Mbabazi’s presidential bid is supported by the Catholic Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese Cyprian Kizito Lwanga and the Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali. The name of the retired assistant Bishop of Kampala Diocese, Bishop Zac Niringiye, is also mentioned in the recording.
The Anglican bishops respond
However, speaking to the Sunday Monitor of Friday, Archbishop Ntagali said: “That is a very untrue and false allegation. We have never met that individual [Mr Kasirivu]; me and my colleague (Archbishop Lwanga).”
“I have never been involved. That person [Mr Kasirivu] only wants to make political propaganda,” the archbishop added.
In the recording, Mr Kasirivu seems confused over Archbishop Ntagali’s name during the conversation with Kayihura.
While naming religious leaders whom he says have been “meeting” and “counselling” Mr Mbabazi’s supporters, Mr Kasirivu says: “The Catholic Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga, then the recent one for…, the Anglican bishop, Bishop Niringiye.”
At this point Gen Kayihura interjects to clarify that it cannot be Bishop Niringiye because he retired, but Archbishop Ntagali.
Bishop Niringiye retired from church service last year and started advocating for the restoration of presidential term limits.
When the Sunday Monitor contacted Bishop Niringiye on his alleged support for Mr Mbabazi’s presidential scheme, the bishop burst into laughter.
“I don’t even know where Amama Mbabazi lives. I am told he lives in Kololo but I don’t know where exactly he lives,” Bishop Niringiye said bemusedly. Unable to restrain his laughter, Bishop Niringiye said, “Go away, I have no time for these things.” He hung up.
Archbishop Lwanga responds
Mr Kasirivu, who Gen Kayihura said had met him for the first time when the recording was taken, claimed that Mr Mbabazi was most supported by the Catholic religious leaders. “What I am trying to say is that religious leaders, especially Catholics, are supportive,” Kasirivu said.
Mr Kasirivu alleged that one Saturday, he met Archbishop Lwanga at Mr Mbabazi’s home and that Mr Mbabazi asked the Archbishop “to pray for his boys so that they may do their work very well”.
“I repeat this; they had tea at Amama Mbabazi’s home last Saturday and Archbishop was there. He came and by the time we reached his home, they were there the two of them. He even asked him to pray for his boys so that they may do their work very well,” Kasirivu tells the IGP.
Regarding this statement, the Rev Fr Lawrence Mutikka, the private secretary to Archbishop Lwanga, challenged Mr Kasirivu to name the date and time when he met the Archbishop at Mr Mbabazi’s home.
“I am in charge of the Archbishop’s programme and I can account for his movements at any time, whether day or night,” Fr Mutikka said.
Fr Mutikka said when Mr Kasirivu names the date and time of the alleged meeting, he will release the Archbishop’s programme to show where he was at the time.
We could not verify Kasirivu’s claim as he neither showed up for a scheduled interview nor answered our follow-up phone calls.