Col Kaka, the new spy chief at ISO

Monday January 30 2017

Col Kaka (left) signs documents during the

Col Kaka (left) signs documents during the handover of office in Kampala early this week. Looking on is Brig Ronnie Balya, the outgoing ISO director. PHOTO RISDEL KASASIRA. 

By Henry Lubulwa

In January 1997 when Nelson Luswata, a former team leader of the British American Tobbacco in Masindi was transportation tobacco in the area, there was a major transporter with several trucks crossing from Masindi to Kampala.
The then young Major, Frank Bagyenda aka Kaka, was in chage of finances of the travel company that owned trucks.
Kaka was in the area that he once served as an agricultural officer in the 1980s and he had strong connections and businesses there.
In 1979, he had been a civil servant attached to the Public Service ministry but was later posted to the Ministry of Agriculture before moving to Masindi District.
A soft speaking Kaka enjoyed bilateral relations with different government agencies in the area and was a known Democratic Party supporter in the area before the Bush War.
“I was supporting DP but there was vote rigging [in 1980] that caused disagreements and which forced me to join the Bush War to oust the government,” he says.
Through covert operations Kaka helped NRA rebels to capture Masindi Barracks and maintained a critical presence in the area as a spy who was tasked to gather intelligence information.
But this could land him on the wrong side of the law as the Obote-led government identified him as an enemy of the state who was put on the search list to answer a number of charges, key among them, treason since the rebels had taken arms from the Masindi Barracks.
Sensing danger, Bagyenda changed his name to Kaka, to elude capture.
“I tried to disguise since government was looking for me,” he says.
After capturing power, Kaka served until 1993 and was later retired from active service but in 1994 he was recalled and conscripted to assist RPA rebels end the genocide in Rwanda.
However, he never entered Rwanda deciding to go underground until September 2009 when he fell captive to a rowdy group of youth who were demonstrating against government which had refused the then Buganda Katikiro, J.B. Walusimbi to access Kayunga to prepare Kabaka Mutebi’s visit.
Jafaali Kasiriivu, a veteran of the Luweero war who knew Kaka requested the protestors to save the former NRA intelligence operative.
News of Kaka’s ordeal reached President Museveni who immediately sanctioned him to State House. In 2011, Mr Museveni, after meeting Kaka, reassigned him to protect government interests in Ssese Islands.
Around that time, according to Richard Wamala, a security agent in the Masaka region, Kaka was promoted to Colonel with a group of other UPDF officer among them Third Deputy Prime Minister Moses Ali.
He continued to do different assignments but extended his hand into business to establish Panaroma Cottages, which has been largely used as an intelligence command centre in Ssese Islands.
In Ssese Islands, where Kaka has lived for years, he has a host of business interests in tourism, fishing and agriculture.
He has largely been active in the fight against illegal fishing around Lake Victoria, which has made him interact with both political, and security leaders as well as coordinated security agencies in the island region.
Kaka has been a key intelligence and political figure with a number of Opposition politicians who cross to the ruling NRM party seen at his hotel.
Many of them, it is alleged would be sent to meet Kaka before they would be officially welcomed by President Museveni.
From here, source say, they are indoctrinated with the NRM doctrines.
“Actually most of them never know who they are meeting until he introduces himself. Sometimes he is there to get information from them that he relays to his boss,” says Ronald Lumbuye, a former employee at Panaroma Cottages.
Until his new appointment, he has largely been an unknown figure, mainly engaged in environmental conservation and hotel business.
His association with the Ssese Effort to Conserve and Save Nature has seen him in wrangle and running battles with a number National Forestry officers, who he accuse of abetting illegal tree-cutting in the area.

Brief profile

Born in February 1952 in current Ibanda District, Kaka is a graduate of Bachelor of Commerce from Makerere University.
He was born Frank Bagyenda but was nicknamed Kaka to elude capture by the Obote-led government that was searching for him to answer charges related to abetting an attack on Masindi Barracks.
The name, he says, was chosen by fellow NRA fighters in Masindi at the start of the Bush War just like many others who took on nicknames.
He has retired from the army in 1993 but maintained a clandestine presence operating in Ssese Islands, especially to protect government interest as task that he had been assigned by President Museveni around 2011.

Stepping in: Col Kaka is replacing Brigadier Ronnie Balya who President Museveni on Friday appointed Uganda’s ambassador to Juba.