ISO boss forced out of office

Wednesday August 11 2010

OUT: Mukumbi

OUT: Mukumbi 

By Alex B. Atuhaire

The Director General of the Internal Security Organisation (ISO), Dr Amos Mukumbi, was yesterday forced to hand over the leadership of the intelligence outfit to his deputy, Lt. Ronnie Balya.

President Museveni last week fired Dr Mukumbi, who has been at the helm of ISO for the last five years. He had refused to hand over to Lt. Balya, saying he had a confidential file auditing his deputy’s performance as well as those of some other senior directors.

Dr Mukumbi was sacked following an audit of the July 11 terror attacks in Kampala which placed most blame on ISO’s failures. More than 74 people were killed and scores injured in the twin bomb attacks at Lugogo and Kabalagala, both Kampala suburbs.

But even before the bomb attacks, President Museveni was reportedly furious with ISO after it failed to detect the magnitude of the September 2009 riots in which 27 people were killed after demonstrators took to Kampala’s streets, protesting the government’s refusal to let Kabaka Mutebi visit Kayunga District.

At that point, the President temporarily handed over political intelligence information gathering, especially the Buganda docket, to the External Security Organisation—which reportedly looked more organised

Litany of faults
But sources indicate that upon further scrutiny of ISO’s operations, the President faulted Dr Mukumbi who had removed the counter-intelligence docket from Lt. Balya, a veteran covert operations specialist.

The President was also reportedly furious that government programmes like NAADS and UPE have been abused yet ISO has structures meant to monitor them. Security Minister Amama Mbabazi and the Coordinator of Security Agencies, Gen. David Tinyefuza, yesterday supervised Dr Mukumbi’s exit.

At the function where only two government media houses—the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation and The New Vision were allowed—Mr Mbabazi announced that Dr Mukumbi had been appointed special presidential adviser on security matters.

Daily Monitor barred
Daily Monitor was barred from covering the ceremony. Dr Mukumbi replaced Col. Elly Kayanja in 2005 as the boss of government’s civilian intelligence agency responsible for providing national security intelligence to Uganda’s policy makers.

The agency’s role is to also engage in covert operations on government programmes and security at the request of the President. Dr Mukumbi, a veteran intelligence operative who joined ISO 24 years ago, bows out on a low after poor rating of his performance despite Mr Mbabazi’s attempt to flower his departure punctuated by tense moments.

Before an afternoon stage-managed handover ceremony in front of the government media, Dr Mukumbi was ordered to pass the baton before all ISO directors including Lt. Hannington Kakura (collection), Lt. Frank Banana (human resource), Lt. Barungi (office of the DG), Lt Kiiza (IT/technical), Lt. Herbert Muramagi (operations) and Lt. Lubega (Secretariat).

Others present were ISO Deputy Director in charge of West Nile, Taban Amin, the Undersecretary at State House, Hajj Kakande and all regional security officers.
The agency was founded in 1986 and took over the duties first performed by Military Intelligence.

The first Director General was Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi, who led it until 1996, before Brig. Henry Tumukunde took charge up to 2003. ISO has trained intelligence officers recruited from all over the country. Upon recruitment, the operatives are trained at the Institute of Intelligence and Security Studies at Makajo.