Politicians react to the Kizza Besigye book

A reader keenlyperuses Daniel Kalinaki’s Kizza Besigye and Uganda’s Unfinished Revolution, a book on Kizza Besigye’s life. PHOTO by stephen wandera ouma

What you need to know:

But Mr Ernest Kakwano, who once served as the chairman of the Coffee Marketing Board (CMB), says Besigye’s claims are false

Dr Kizza Besigye on December 12 said the remarks attributed to him in Daniel kalinaki’s book are true:
“The story written by Daniel [Kalinaki] is definitely from the information that I gave him. I am aware that publication of this information is going to make the concerned people uncomfortable.
Those who are criticised, being a part of the regime, will likely deny or seek to present another version of the events. This, in itself, is good, because it starts a process of conclusively ascertaining the incontrovertible truth.

“Those who are victims of the regime will, understandably, fear further victimisation. I am quite pained by the knowledge that such a publication may further traumatise such people; and even, expose them to new risks and dangers.

“In the interests of all those involved, some of these stories are better told in the aftermath of the dictatorship. However, the risks notwithstanding, the telling of the stories themselves, may help people understand the origins and magnitude of the problems we face; hence, help in generating the will to effectively solve the problem.”

Major John Kazoora affirmed that the senior officers often grabbed most of the items – milk, sugar, chicken, cigarettes and alcohol – that ideally should have been shared equally among the troops.

“That is true. The commanders would consider themselves first. One day, in Semuto, Frank Guma was distributing cigarettes among the senior officers.

Katungi (Suicide) a junior officer, asked for some cigarettes but they refused to give him. So he fired a Rocket–Propelled Grenade (RPG)! At that time, an RPG was a precious weapon. Imagine firing an RPG just to get a cigarette! The officers scampered off, leaving the cigarettes,” said Major Kazoora.

Mr Hannington Karuhanga, who Besigye claims was unsuited for the CMB marketing manager’s post, said he would not make judgments about himself.

“I had a job while I was in the United Kingdom. I came back to Uganda and when the job was advertised, I applied and sat for interviews. I had an honours degree and an MBA. Was I unfairly recruited? Somebody else can answer that,” Mr Karuhanga said on Tuesday, December 16.

He added: “If he [Besigye] has issues with the leadership [of the country] and anybody who is remotely related to the President, I cannot stop him; but we will be collateral damage.”

Mr Kazoora, who then served as the deputy director general of the Internal Security Organisation (ISO), which used to vet the candidates for all public jobs, said he would rather not comment about Mr Karuhanga because ‘the person involved is my childhood friend’.

But Mr Ernest Kakwano, who once served as the chairman of the Coffee Marketing Board (CMB), says Besigye’s claims are false.

“That claim is not true,” Mr Kakwano told the Daily Monitor on via telephone on Thursday, December 11.
On being asked why Dr Besigye made the claim, Mr Kakwano said: “Politicians have their programmes. I do not want to be drawn into government quarrels; I am living my life quietly, and happily.”
Mr Elly Rwakakoko on Friday, December 12 denied ever contacting Besigye go and to talk to President Museveni.

“I do not remember contacting Dr Besigye to go and talk to the President. I do not know why Besigye would claim so; maybe he has issues with certain individuals. All in all, I do not entertain influence peddling,” Mr Rwakakoko told the Daily Monitor on telephone.

General Caleb Akandwanaho, aka, Salim Saleh the president’s adviser on defense, said Besigye’s claims are “very inaccurate details”.
“He [Besigye] is, I think, falsifying history. I was the army commander for five months; that is from June to November. Let them check the records,” Gen Salim Saleh said on Thursday, December 11 on telephone.

Asked why Besigye would do that, the general said: “That is his [Besigye’s] problem.”
Gen Saleh said he would read the book and then maybe “the publisher could be sued for defamation”.
Though the book has been on the market for the last five days, Mr Tamale Mirundi, the President’s Press Secretary, on Thursday maintained that he could not comment about its contents because he has not yet read it.

“Kalinaki has written a book? Even you can write. The title [of the book] is not appetising,” Mr Mirundi told Saturday Monitor in a telephone interview, and asked: “Can you rely on the testimony of Satan against God? I do not expect anything positive from Besigye. Let us wait for the book.

How can I comment on a book I have not read? I am a serious person. I will comment after reading it”
Mr Mirundi added: “ I buy the Monitor every day because it is a critical paper.”

However, Mr Mirundi did not specify when he will buy the book, which this newspaper is serialising.
Mr Ofwono Opondo, the executive director of the Uganda Media Centre, said it is a “no brainer” to claim that President Museveni uses the presidency to illegally influence other people.

“The President must have some influence otherwise what would be the point of being president. It [influence] would only be a problem if the president were to act unlawfully. Besigye wants to become president because he thinks when he becomes the president, he will have some extra leverage to change things,” Mr Opondo said.

When contacted for comment on Gen Saleh’s stint as the army commander, Major Kazoora said: “Salim Saleh was a good commander. However, he had his weakness; alcohol.”