Uganda’s Major (Rtd) Roland Kaooza Mutale, a man with a history of election violence, is back in action with his first batch of cadres expected to pass out on August 20, raising fears of chaos in the run-up to next year’s polls.
The EastAfrican witnessed the training of youth in a bush camp in Luwero district, 60 kilometres north of Kampala, and learnt that the retired soldier plans to build an anti-opposition force numbering thousands.
Maj (Rtd) Mutale, officially designated as a special presidential adviser on political affairs, is mostly known for his past militia group, Kalangala Action Plan (KAP), founded in 2001, which was accused by the Opposition of torturing its supporters and interference in the electoral processes in the country, allegations that were quashed by court.
He was also associated with the Kiboko Squad, which emerged in April 2007. Dressed in civilian clothes and armed with big sticks, members of the squad beat up demonstrators who were protesting against President Yoweri Museveni’s proposed sale of Mabira Forest, along the Kampala-Jinja highway, to the Mehta Group for sugarcane growing.
The retired soldier has largely stayed out of the limelight since he was ordered off the campaign trail by President Museveni after his activities threatened the NRM’s fortunes in northern Uganda during the 2006 elections.
Today, Mutale says he is training the group to neutralise political opponents who are likely to challenge President Museveni in the 2016 polls.
But it is not clear if his activities are backed by the ruling NRM party or by the Uganda government.
Eugene Elwaru, the Luwero district police commander, first told The EastAfrican that he was not aware of Maj Mutale’s activities because he had never sought permission from them.
“He did not come to me for permission and I’m not aware of his activities. We had a security committee meeting yesterday [August 13] and we agreed with the resident district commissioner to go and talk to him on August 19. It is after meeting him that we shall decide on what to do,” Mr Elwaro said.
Maj (Rtd) Mutale said his agenda is to confront the generals who have turned against President Museveni. They include Gen David Tinyefuza, Gen Benon Biraro, Gen Mugisha Muntu, Col. Kizza Besigye and former prime minister Amama Mbabazi.
“Mbabazi and Tinyefuza fear me. They know what I am capable of. I don’t want to disclose what they should expect, but you will see,” he boasted during an interview at his offices in Kampala on August 12.
Maj (Rtd) Mutale will be training about 600 NRM youth every month, up to the time of the presidential campaigns.
In addition to drills, the former rebel leader, who joined forces with President Museveni in 1983, is teaching his recruits military science, physical education and income generation activities. So far, hundreds of youth have attended the two-week course. During a visit to the camp at Matembe farm in Kamira sub-county in Luwero district, another group was in session; the next intake is slated for September.
It is unclear though how the activities of Mutale’s group are being financed. But last year, shadow interior minister Hon Muwanga Kivumbi told the media that KAP would be revived under the supervision of Gen Charles Angina assisted by former chief of the Uganda Air Force Brigadier Moses Bukamabwe Rwakitarate, Chief of Staff of Land Forces Brigadier Leopold Kyanda, the Maj (Rtd) Mutale.
While Maj (Rtd) Mutale’s activities appear not to have been sanctioned or co-ordinated by the NRM secretariat, the suggestion that serving soldiers may be involved could explain the likely source of financing.
“We are not aware as a secretariat. But what I know is that as an individual Mutale has been training people for quite some years at his school,” said NRM party treasurer and woman MP for Nakaseke Rose Namayanja.
Given his past questionable conduct in the previous elections, there are worries about what role he will be playing to contain the opposition against President Museveni.
Shadow Interior Minister and MP for Butambala South Muwanga Kivumbi said:
“I have credible information that the regime, after realising that money alone cannot win an election, is going back to the 2006 methods of rigging, intimidation and using the military. The (NRM) have divided the entire country and mapped all the constituencies to raise a majority number of NRM MPs to influence the issue of age limit in the next parliament. That is why they have even created another 43 constituencies in areas where the system has advantage. So we are aware of what is happening but don’t plan to do anything.”
In the interview, the retired soldier said securing President Museveni a win in 2016 will be his last task, and that without his intervention during the forthcoming presidential campaigns the military opponents who have abandoned President Museveni could do more damage against NRM than is anticipated.
“That is why I am moving to stamp my foot to end this madness. There are new tactics that I am going to apply during campaigns whose details I can’t disclose now. This will be my last problem (assignment),” Maj (Rtd) Mutale said.
The ideologue, who has camped at his Matembe farm in Luwero to oversee the training of the youths, appears to be wary that the NRM ideology may not hold after President Museveni. “That is why I am training these young people,” Maj (Rtd) Mutale, who is credited for initiating political education both among the National Resistance Army (later UPDF), said.
Even though Maj (Rtd) Mutale’s actions have been brought before the courts of law in the past, victims of his violence have never secured help whether in form of compensation or court pronouncement that those activities were illegal.