Questions we must answer in the wake of assassination attempt on Gen Katumba

Author: Musaazi Namiti. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Mr Musazi Namiti says: Who kills prominent and powerful Ugandans and continues undeterred?   

Powerful and famous, Gen Katumba Wamala, his shirt drenched in his own blood, stood wailing and seemed completely powerless and helpless minutes after assassins on Tuesday sprayed his official car with bullets, most of which caught his daughter, Brenda Nantongo, and that of driver Haruna Kayondo, killing both instantly.

The attack shocked and saddened the country, not least because it involved deaths of people we thought were not targets. Gen Katumba was obviously the target, and only the assassins know why they wanted to bump him off.  

The problem with Tuesday’s attack is that it is not the first, and it is not going to be the last — unless the killers are apprehended and punished. We are dealing with a tragic series that began in April 2012, with the murder of prominent Muslims.

The latest attack painted a picture of a chaotic and disorganised country. Gen Katumba, a distinguished soldier who has previously headed the UPDF and police force and is the minister of Works and Transport, was attacked in broad daylight. The assailants just sped off, leaving Gen Katumba at the mercy of ordinary Ugandans. 

They improvised and rushed him to hospital using a rough-and-ready ‘ambulance’ in the shape of a boda boda owned by a young man named Hakim Kasibante. The sight of a General soaked in blood on a boda boda heading to hospital made a complete nonsense of the claim by the current administration that it is securing the future of Ugandans.

The attack raises many questions for which the answers are difficult to find. First off, who kills prominent and powerful Ugandans and continues undeterred? Is it individuals who are fed up with President Museveni? If so, what do they hope to achieve and what have they achieved so far? 

How can Mr Museveni and intelligence organs fail to know? The real losers are family and friends of the slain Ugandans.
Why is it that the government has not been able to find even one killer? Is a foreign government involved?  

The assailants knew that Gen Katumba was in his car with his daughter, a beautiful and youthful woman for whom life was just beginning. Why did they choose to strike when he was with his daughter? Was it by sheer luck that Gen Katumba’s bodyguard was not killed yet he was within shooting range and visibly armed?

Some answers to these questions should come from Mr Museveni. Yet apart from his swift reaction, which, sadly, was all bluster, Mr Museveni has not done anything that suggests he will tackle the root of the problem. He has previously sounded tough and vowed to hunt down killers who took the lives of prosecutor Joan Kagezi, AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi, MP Ibrahim Abiriga, AIP Mohammed Kirumira, but the killers remain at large — and that is why they continue to strike as and when they deem fit.

Mr Museveni called the killers “pigs”, but even if he called them something worse than pigs, it would not banish the fact that they murder and get away with murder.

Mr Namiti is a journalist and former Al Jazeera digital editor in charge of the Africa desk
[email protected]    @kazbuk