Ugandan officials clash over Muhoozi’s invitation to border re-opening party

Ugandan officials clash over Muhoozi's invitation to border re-opening party
FILE PHOTO: Lt. General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the son of Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, who leads the Ugandan army's land forces, looks on during his birthday party in Entebbe, Uganda May 7, 2022. REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa

Kabale, Uganda | URN | The Nakawa Division Resident City Commissioner, Sheikh Kasim Kamugisha, and Kabale Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Abel Bakunda Mushambo have clashed over the invitation of the first son of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the Commandant of the Land Forces to the thanksgiving ceremony for the Katuna border re-opening.

The ceremony slated for July 9th, 2022, is being organized by a section of political and religious leaders in Kabale District chaired by Canon Joshua Mutekanga, a member of the synod at Kabale Diocese. He is deputized by Odo Tumukwasiibwe Onesmus, the head of the laity in the Kabale Diocese, Haj. Isa Tindyebwa, the Chairperson of Kabale Muslim District Council is the treasurer while Nakawa Division Resident City Commissioner, Sheikh Kasim Kamugisha is the publicity secretary.

Sheikh Kasim Kamugisha has since taken to his social media platforms and radio talk shows in Kabale to publicize the event. However, the Kabale Deputy RDC Abel Bakunda has written a long piece and shared it on several WhatsApp forums trashing the event, describing the organizers as “fraudsters and masqueraders.”

He told our reporter in a phone interview that as members of Kabale district security committee, they were not aware of any upcoming event involving Lt. Gen. Muhoozi as the Chief Guest. “Whenever the General wants to visit any place to attend an event of that nature, his advance team goes to an area and harmonizes with the local area leaders, especially the security committees,” he said. 

He, however, noted that they have not received any notification to this effect, meaning that Lt. Gen. Muhoozi will not be in Kabale.

Bakunda also claimed he was in touch with the team in charge of organizing the recent events involving Gen. Muhoozi, led by his uncle Micheal Nuwagira alias Toyota, President Yoweri Museveni’s younger brother. He says that the team proposed the postponement of the July 9th, 2022 event if the First Son was to attend, an idea that Kamugisha and his group rejected.

Sheikh Kamugisha on the other hand says he is directly in contact with Lt. Gen. Muhoozi who gave him assurance that he would be in Kabale on July 9th, 2022. He explains in any case if the First Son doesn’t show up, he can still delegate someone to represent him.

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Rwanda President Paul Kagame (left) and Muhoozi Kainerugaba, UPDF Commander of Land Forces and Senior Presidential Advisor in Charge of Special Operations at their recent meeting

According to Kamugisha, the thanksgiving ceremony was an initiative of the people of Kigezi, and the presence or absence of invited guests, including Muhoozi, would not stop the planned activities of the day. He challenged Bakunda to pen down his concerns on official-headed paper and forward them to the office of the president if they are genuine.

Toyota couldn’t be reached as he couldn’t pick up nor return calls to his known phone numbers. Micheal Katungi, the former Deputy Head of Mission at the Uganda High Commission in Abuja Nigeria, who doubles as Muhoozi’s adviser on diplomatic engagements, said that they were aware of the event.

“The people of Kigezi have prepared a thanksgiving ceremony to thank God for re-opening of Katuna border. If they have invited Gen. Muhoozi Kaineruagaba as the Chief Guest, that is fair because he negotiated the re-opening, but his coming or not shouldn’t be a matter of contention because his presence is not the most important purpose of the ceremony,” said Katungi.

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Our reporter has obtained copies of the invitation letters delivered to the religious leaders in the Kigezi subregion, and the invited guests including that of Lt. Gen. Muhoozi, which are signed and stamped by the secretary to his office acknowledging receipt.

According to Sheikh Kamugisha, the planned activities of the day include bicycle racing that will be flagged off by the Chief Guest from Katuna Town Council to Kabale municipality, a Mini-golf tournament, Basket Ball games at Emmaus Bible School, and a football match between a team from Kigezi and one from Kigali, Rwanda.

The Katuna border re-opening thanksgiving ceremony will be closed with a worship service led by a joint team of clerics from all religious denominations in the Kigezi region, and speeches from the organizers, and invited guests, at Kigezi High School Primary Playground. Kamugisha has also revealed that 10 cows and 1.5 tonnes of rice have been secured from well-wishers as contributions to prepare meals for their guests on that day.