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Special Report

Uganda Spy Chief Kandiho Secretly Meets Kayumba Nyamwasa




Impeccable intelligence information reaching Taarifa Investigative Desk confirms that Uganda’s chief military spy Gen. Abel Kandiho has secretly met with Rwanda renegade soldier, Kayumba Nyamwasa, in South Africa.

You should be reminded that Nyamwasa is Rwanda’s top enemy, running a rebel outfit, RNC, that has openly declared plans to overthrow the current government.

Gen. Kandiho flew to South Africa on Wednesday, “to deliver a special message from President Kaguta Museveni of Uganda to President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.”

A frail and slender Kandiho later met with the acting chief of Defence Intelligence Agency of South Africa, Maj Gen Ntakaleleni Simon Sigudu (pictured above seated right).

This meeting comes at a time of Uganda’s return to the Democratic Republic of Congo to hunt for the Allied Democratic Front Rebels linked to ISIS and the recent string of bombings in Uganda’s capital Kampala.

Although Uganda and DRC jointly claimed an early victory against the ADF rebels, military experts privy with the ongoing UPDF “Operation Shuja” in Congo argue that there is no proof of victory against the terrorists.

“There is no substantive evidence, photo, video or anything they [UPDF-FARDC] have shown the world worth claiming defeat against the ADF terrorists. This is not only a local concern but it is global. The terrorists pose a wider threat,” said a source on condition of anonymity.

At the end of November, Ugandan military launched air and artillery bombardment against the ADF bases in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in an operation agreed with Congolese forces.

Few days later, the Uganda military announced it had failed to penetrate into the jungles of this vast mineral rich country to reach the rebels for a possible shootout.

The UPDF said it had suspended the fight ‘hampered by bad roads’.

“We are going to halt the operations for a week such that we bring in graders to open up the roads,” said Major General Kayanja Muhanga commander of UPDF “Operation Shuja” in Congo.

However, later, the FARDC-UPDF coalition said in a joint statement on Saturday that they have captured 35 ADF rebels, after new airstrikes and artillery strikes but still there are scanty details of these claims.

Rwanda, which has been strategically observing Uganda’s operations in neighbouring DRC, remains vigilant about every single detail on ground for the country’s security threats emanating, largely, from the Congo jungles.

Rwanda accuses Uganda of backing rebels whose main goal is to destabilize the country and eject the Kigali regime.

Uganda government in a counter-charge accuses Rwandan state agents of operating unlawfully in Uganda.

Such accusations and counter accusations have pushed both leaders of Rwanda and Uganda to make worrisome statements that could strain further their relations.

For example after Museveni warned that “those who try to destabilize our country do not know our capacity.” President Paul Kagame countered that “nobody anywhere can bring me to my knees.”

The borders between Rwanda and Uganda have remained technically closed since March 2019 despite a later Angola peace agreement signed between the two countries.

Uganda still dumps tortured Rwandans at the border after lengthy detentions while Rwanda maintains a travel advisory that cautions Rwandans against travelling to Uganda due to safety reasons.

Thus with Uganda having gained invited access into the DRC and keeping to itself the details of operation against the rebels and later sending Gen. Kandiho to South Africa to secretly meet Nyamwasa, the Rwandans are carefully reading the matrix.

Nyamwasa is the leader of the P5 rebel group active in Fizi and Uvira territories in South Kivu.

According to the UN group of Experts, P5 was formed from a coalition of Rwandan “opposition political organisations”, including the Amahoro People’s Congress (AMAHORO-PC), the Forces démocratiques unifées-Inkingi (FDU INKINGI), the People’s Defence Pact-Imanzi (PDP-IMANZI), the Social Party-Imberakuri (PS IMBERAKURI) and the Rwanda National Congress (RNC).

The UN Group of Experts report indicates that P5 mostly received its arms and ammunition from Burundi and recruits fighters from across the region.

A dislodge of ADF may translate into invitation of P5 to relocate into this territory where the Ugandans are still camped as they work on a road construction project that is expected to take over 5 years to complete.

Under the guise of road construction, Nyamwasa may be invited to mobilise, recruit and get direct training within this territory before the Ugandans leave Congo.

Intelligence experts consider Kandiho’s trip to South Africa as something Rwandans should take seriously.

Earlier in August, Gen. Kandiho flew to Bujumbura to meet President Evariste Ndayishimiye.

Intelligence experts viewed his visit as ‘sabotage’ of the improving relations between Burundi and Rwanda.

“You can be a hundred percent sure that Kandiho’s mission was about – to bad mouth any détente between Rwanda and Burundi,” a security source in Kigali told a local news website.

Gen Kandiho Meeting with Burundi’s Ndayishimiye

Meanwhile, South Africa is a major player in DRC’s mining sector with a score of its companies operating many mining sites.

South Africa is also a troop’s contributor to the UN Stabilization Mission in Congo (MONUSCO)- however, the link of these to Gen.Kandiho’s visit to South Africa is technically distant.

The 12,000 troops –strong Monusco has suffered numerous protest attacks from Congolese demanding for the departure of the peacekeeping force.

Protesters have been angry that UN and government soldiers have failed to prevent recurrent attacks by extremist militia.

Nevertheless, Uganda’s current military adventures are seen as a threat to regional security and a direct initiation of an arms race.

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Special Report

Museveni “Illegally Promoted” New Spy Chief From Major To Colonel in 2013



Uganda’s new head of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) is an officer of concern that the region will carefully want to scrutinize since he has been entrusted with a controversial military agency featuring in incubating trouble between Uganda and the southern neighbour.

Taarifa Investigative Desk has reliably learned that Uganda’s new Spy Chief Maj Gen James Birungi, a well trained tank Armour Fighter was in 2013 illegally promoted from Major to Colonel. This could be a trigger for minders to reset their lens on this new officer who has had stints in the Airforce, Special Forces Command and now the dreaded CMI.

Gen Birungi came into the world in 1973 at Ngoma, current day Nakaseke District. Birungi attended Ibanda Secondary School for O level and Nyakasura School for Advanced level. He later joined Makerere Business School Nakawa, MUBS, where he pursued a degree in Business Administration.

In 1996, James Birungi, a very shy but ambitious young man, was among a group of 11 recruits that joined the Uganda army and underwent a one year basic military training course at Kasenyi in Entebbe.

Birungi was later sent to India for a cadet officers course where he spent a year and graduated as a Second Lieutenant.

On return from India, Birungi’s first deployment was under armoured Brigade, a specialized unit of the UPDF Land Forces with its Headquarters at Kasijjagirwa garrison in Masaka District.

He also undertook different tank courses and was deployed in Kitgum District in 2002. Birungi was commanding tanks and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) to escort supplies for soldiers in the Forward Operating Bases.

Birungi was later transferred to Karamoja to fight cattle rustling. From Karamoja, Gen Birungi was sent to Karama at the rank of Major as the Commandant of the training school.

He later joined Presidential Guard Brigade, now SFC in 2008, after attending Junior Staff courses at Gaddafi Barracks (Kimaka), Jinja.

In 2013 Birungi was promoted to Colonel and appointed acting Chief of Staff of the Air Force until he was taken back to SFC as the commander.

Birungi’s promotion from rank of Major to Colonel faulted the law and procedures and this propelled protest from members of the Ugandan parliament.

Opposition MPs led by Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda petitioned the East African Court of Justice, accusing President Yoweri Museveni of faulting procedures while promoting and appointing officers. Birungi’s ranks were not stripped as intended by the MPs and remained a senior officer of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces.

Those who Know Birungi

“He is a free man, mature enough, jolly and God fearing officer,” says Godfrey Ssempijja a resident in Bugonga, Entebbe.

“He is trustworthy but decisive, determined and principled cadre soldier, a friend of the young people and a son to the revolution,” Ibrahim Kitatta says.

Left : Maj Gen James Birungi has been appointed Chief of Military Intelligence

Birungi’s views

While speaking at the graduation party of his colleague, Birungi made some tantalizing remarks that most people just go to school to study, acquire degrees and other academic qualifications but never put into practice the skills they obtain.

“Even if you study to the level of a professor and you don’t implement the skills acquired, your education is meaningless. Some people just go to school just to acquire a degree but they cannot explain what they will do after acquiring it.”

He gave an example of those who have degrees in business management yet they cannot even start a small business.

However, Birungi forgot that he holds a degree in Business Administration and instead of pursuing a career in business he is now in the military. This view will mostly help in understanding how Birungi applies reverse phycology in management of information gathering, processing and eventual application in decision making.

Maj. Gen. James Birungi, a well trained tank Armour Fighter was in 2013 illegally Promoted from Major To Colonel.

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Special Report

When Rwanda Was Accused Of Stealing Burundi Drums



Before colonial  interference and eventual drawing of imagined boundaries, Rwanda and Burundi were once one solid nation known as Ruanda-Urundi later Rwanda-Burundi as a colonial territory, once part of German East Africa, which was ruled by Belgium from 1916 to 1962.

The People of Burundi and Rwanda speak a simillar language and practice the same culture and various norms.

Now two independent countries with extremely diverse visions, their recent past relationship  has not been one to boast about. Their militaries repeatedly clash, governments slam doors on each other and trade unending accusations but also surprisingly return to roundtable and mend fences without mediation.

In 2019, Burundi Accused Rwanda Of Stealing Drums Culture And Doing It So Badly.

It all started in 2015 when hundreds of thousands of Burundians fled to Rwanda from brutality of Pierre Nkurunziza’s regime as he was seeking a forced third term in office contrary to constitutional provision leading to a failed coup.

Among those that fled Burundi, included a group of Drummers organised under Himbaza group. In 2019, this group applied to take part in the ‘East Africa Got Talent’ television show in Nairobi-Kenya.

The group registered as from Rwanda. But when introducing themselves to the audience, they said they were Burundian refugees who had been living in Rwanda since 2015.

Himbaza group Performing at the ‘East Africa Got Talent’ television show in Nairobi

Willy Nyamitwe, a senior advisor and spokesman of Burundi’s former President Nkurunziza, was not amused at all.

“Not Original and not Authentic at all,” he wrote on Twitter, August 19. “These guys should be ashamed for debasing the quality and the cultural originality of Burundi drums in Rwanda,” Nyamitwe said.

However, “Himbaza Drummers” were so good that the judges voted them to the next round.

Organizers of the show, in response said via a statement that they “deeply regret” if any offence has been done by inclusion of the Himbaza drummers.

“Entry to the show was open to anyone who has the legal right to residence in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania irrespective of their nationality. The contestants are legal residents of Rwanda and therefore are legitimate contestants on the show,” said organisers.

Demonstrations against the Government of Rwanda in the Burundian capital were the order of the day, hundreds of Rwandans and their businesses were targeted but Rwanda refused to be provoked.

In 2014 UNESCO registered the ritual dance of the royal drum a Burundian tradition as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity  with hope to preserve and share with the world.

President Evariste Ndayishimiye (right) drumming sacred drums

Rwanda and Burundi currently maintain a closed border and have clashed several times since 2015 but the two sides have been involved in shuttle diplomacy and have announced that anytime the border may reopen.

President Evariste Ndayishimiye who is currently enjoying his annual leave, chose to traverse the country and visit various touristic destinations. He has been seen with his family enjoying boat ride, walking through a forest and most recently he visited Sanctuaire des tambours sacrés de Gishora (Sanctuary of the sacred drums of Gishora) in Gitega province.

He garbbed drum sticks cheerfully spotting the red, white and green national colors of the famous Burundian drummers. Ndayishimiye did not hesitate to harmoniously sketch a few dance steps. He even sang some patriotic songs.

“You who have devoted your life to the drums, I did not barter the zither for the modest sum of 80 francs, I did not throw away my 90 francs for a razor blade, I did not betray my country for 1,000 francs, I did not become a young man, the kind of spendthrift in well-watered parties”.

And the guardians of the sacred drums sanctuary of Gishora loudly proclaim their approval by responding loudly with their cry: “Eeeeh! ”

The sacred drums sanctuary of Gishora: “It houses the Ruciteme and Murimirwa drums, 119 years, and served as a place of refuge for King Mwezi Gisabo when the resistance against the German invasion was organized.”

Ndayishimiye’s visit at the site hosting sacred drums of Gishora may have been a signal to end the Drum politics that had pitted the two countries against each other in 2019 and could pave way for opening a new chapter with Rwanda once accused of stealing these drums.

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Special Report

Habyarimana Sent Finance Minister’s Wife To Poison Kagame



In February 1992, a very busy Paul Kagame while commanding Rwanda Patriotic Army rebels, set aside some time to have an exclusive conversation with Sam Mukalazi, a Ugandan journalist at one of the rebel bases at Muvumba in Rwanda.

The war had entered its second year since the former refugees united and armed under Rwanda Patriotic Front/army overran Kagitumba border post on October 1, 1990.

The clashes were intense as heavily armed and well trained government forces, with support of air power, inflicted heavy casualties on rebels.

Kagame told Mukalazi that the rebel movement had suffered major losses and the rebels had lost morale especially influenced by successive deaths of their commanders at the start of the war.

Kagame, who was away on the first day of attack, flew back from the US to replace fallen commander Fred Rwigema who had been killed in action.

During this conversation, Kagame told the journalist that he had vowed to reorganise the rebel group and had begun achieving remarkable success, for example, his efforts had paid off in capturing a vast stretch of several kilometres deep from Kgaitumba to Ruhengeri and was considered the rebel operational zone.

“There is a large portion of this stretch on which the enemy cannot dare step,” Kagame told the journalist.

Commander Kagame boasted that the biggest and most successful battle in 1992 was in Butaro, starting January 23 and continuing for 10 days.

“We attacked enemy defences in Nyamucucu,Kitenge and Butaro and we overrun six of their seven defences,” he said.

He told Mukalazi that these RPA victories on the battlefield had provided strength to the rebels.

However, President Juvenal Habyarimana in Kigali was planning something terrible against rebel leader Kagame.

It should be remembered that 1992 was a busy year for both fighting sides.

The government army was fiercely fighting with the rebels while their political representatives were dressed up in suits for roundtable peace talks in neighbouring Arusha, Tanzania.

Habyarimana had carefully identified a non suspecting person to deliver and administer poison to Kagame. The Kigali regime had on several occasions declared Kagame dead.

“We arrested a woman sent by the Kigali government with some poison meant to finish me off,” Kagame disclosed to Mukalazi with a smile. “Even if I died, the struggle would go on,” Kagame added.

The woman was identified as Eugenia Kaitesi and said to be a wife of the former Rwandan Minister of Finance.

Kaitesi had been arrested in mid 1991 and was still being held by the rebels at the time of the conversation with this journalist.

According to Kagame, the woman assassin had claimed that her assignment was being coordinated by a Rwandan diplomat in Uganda and that if she had succeeded with this assassination mission, she was going to acquire a big mansion in Brussels at the expense of the Rwanda government.

Jean Pierre Claver Kanyarushoki was the  Rwandan ambassador to Uganda and led the Rwanda government delegation to Arusha peace talks in the same year.

The intention of the Habyarimana regime announcing the rebel commander’s death might have been to raise the morale of government demoralised troops that had lost subsequent battles.

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