It is not over until it’s all over. The assassination attempt by shooting Tuesday morning this week on Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala is a sad reminder that perhaps because of the Covid19 pandemic currently ravaging the world, we in Uganda collectively forgot that terrorism remains the main threat to national peace, security, and stability. There is general laxity on security measures that have been replaced by Covid19 checks at most points of entry to public places.
It is possible that terrorists have noticed this internal weakness in the country and among Ugandans, and established sleeper cells which they are beginning to activate as away to make bold statements of their existence, cause fear and paralysis to normal life. And because of the disorganized living especially in metropolitan Kampala, hostile politics and the general indiscipline, it makes it very hard to know in detail and trace even those in close neighbourhoods.
Those who wanted Katumba Wamala dead yesterday, today and tomorrow should be rest assured that Katumba Wamala has survived them, at least for now, and another battle, or war will be fought by those he mentored. Collectively Ugandans should be alert and never give in terrorism whether domestic or foreign sponsored. Katumba Wamala like all serving soldiers always live their lives in very risky situations defending Uganda and no amount of terror tactics will succeed. Under the current political circumstances it would be prudent not to rule out that this could even be the handiwork of the much talked about Plan B by sections of the political opposition groups in FDC and NUP. It is unlikely that this attempt on Katumba Wamala can be the work of organized criminal gangs operating in the underworld.
Judging from the celebratory mood on social media postings one comes to the conclusions that our politics has become so mendacious that most low achievers falsely believe that it’s those who have who are to blame, often without credible facts. Katumba Wamala is arguably one of the most disciplined and amiable senior personalities in Uganda who has served severally as UPDF Fourth Infantry Division Commander, Commander of Operation in South Sudan to break the back of the then Sudanese army that was supporting Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in northern Uganda.
Katumba also served as Inspector General of Police, Commander of UPDF Land Forces, and later as Chief of Defence Forces before his most recent postings to cabinet as State Minister, and Minister of Works and Transport. Considering that the two reported assailants managed to successfully escape from the vicinity of the crime scene, and have so far eluded the surety manhunt it is difficult for now to determine with exactitude their identities and motives.
But it would appear from the sketchy information emerging that the assailants must have been trailing Katumba Wamala for a while to learn his morning route and routine from home so as to get a killing ground from where they could executive their mission and escape with ease. And to strike when he was travelling in a well-known and marked military official vehicle implies that they were determined assassins perhaps even ready to be taken down by bullets themselves.
And while it is heart-warming that Katumba, the presumed main assassination target survived, the tragic double loss of his daughter Brenda Nantongo and driver Haruna Kayondo in one go, brings back cold memories of former police spokesperson AIGP Andrew Felix Kawesi who together with driver and bodyguard dies in march 2017 around the same area in similar circumstances under hails of bullets.
Then, there have been the cases of Prosecutor Joan Kagezi, Maj. Mohammed Kigguundu, Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga, and Kamuli District Police Commander Mohammed Kirumira who all died under similar circumstances where the assailants have gone un-apprehended or successfully brought to face the long arm of the law and justice. In all these incidences the assassins have been able to acquire, keep, transport and put their illegal guns to use without detection by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
These events where criminals who act with daring impunity in broad-day light on people usually armed or protected, cast a long dark shadow on the alertness, professional competence and investigation skills of the police and other law enforcement agencies. Hopefully, like in the George Floyds murder by police in the US ignited a mass movement for social and substantive justice for Blacks, the assassination on Katumba Wamala should force the hands of the police and other law enforcement agencies to conduct a thorough investigation that gets to the heinous criminals otherwise police will become a laughing stock in the eyes of the public that is increasingly getting skeptical.
With this very high profile assassination attempt on a former IGP, CDF and serving senior member of the cabinet, the Uganda security forces collectively, and Ugandans must know that they have been called to a bold and decisive action. From the outpouring of messages of good will, Katumba Wamala will recovery and continue the journey.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Africa Tembelea’s editorial stance.
The writer, is Government Spokesperson and head of Uganda Media Centre