Profile: Matayo Kyaligonza & his terror squad



Maj Gen Matayo Kyaligonza deserted Addi Amin’s dreaded intelligence out fit the State Research Bureau (SRB) in the mid-1970s and joined Save Uganda Movement (SUM) one of the Anti-Amin fighting groups that was headed by Eteker Ejalu.

Under SUM, Kyaligonza is accused of doing everything possible to discredit the Iddi Amin regime.

When Iddi Amin was overthrown, Kyaligonza joined Museveni’s Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM) and was its local Chairman for Hoima District.

When the UPM genuinely and miserably lost in the 1980 elections, Kyaligonza opted to join Museveni in the five years guerrilla war.

During the war, Kyaligonza was in-charge of a special task force codenamed Black Bombers (BB) that is accused of terrorising Kampala city.

In his book “Agony of Power”, Kyaligonza on page 14 states thus “My unit BB and the 7th Battalion made Kampala city very unsafe . By 3.00 p.m all shops would be closed and this became the order of the day.”

In another book by one of his aides then, Pecos Kutesa, he states that under the direction of Matayo Kyaligonza, they planned and attempted to blow up the fuel depots and torch the city but by good luck, they contained no fuel.

In one of the several killing sprees in Kampala during the war, a BB top member shot dead Hon Bamuturaki the DP Member of Parliament (MP) for Mwenge county.

On that fateful evening at Kisement in the Kololo area of Kampala city, Kyaligonza’s squad had ambushed a UNLA army officer in the urinals mistakenly taking Hon Bamuturaki for the target officer.

Of course the then UPC government of Milton Obote took the blame.

Gen Matayo Kyaligonza and Hon Aston Kajara (currently a Minister) who was a member of the NRA clandestine squad should apologise to the country, the DP, the people of Mwenge and the Bamuturaki family.

During the final assault on Kampala in 1986, Kyaligonza commanded the NRA’s 7th Battalion that proceeded to Jinja.

Kyaligonza was made the 151 Brigade Commander based in Mbale.

He oversaw the mop-up operations against former soldiers and counter insurgency operations in eastern region.

His operations saw the ferrying truckloads of stolen cattle from Teso region to Hoima but most of them died due to change in climatic conditions.

The squad was very brutal towards captured insurgents, former soldiers and suspected civilian populations.

While addressing reportees (surrendered insurgents and former soldiers), Kyaligonza would loudly welcome them followed by a lowered voice, reportedly insult the NRA officer who had brought them “you are stupid”.

Kyaligonza’s attitudes towards the insurgents were to guide NRA’s future operations against insurgents in the eastern region culminating into some of the most bizzare incidents like the burning of people in a train wagon in Mukura.

Therefore, when the same Kyaligonza called Mrs Mbabazi stupid during the CEC meeting, he applied his common Runyoro word ‘Mudoma’ which means a stupid person that he is so much accustomed to using.

When the NRA introduced formal ranks in the late 80s, Kyaligonza was made a Brigadier and is reported to have been very unhappy citing secterianism.

He had hoped to have been on the same rank with the likes of Salim Saleh and Fred Rwigyema.

By the time Museveni swiftly and tactifully removed him from command positions in the eastern region, intelligence reports indicated that he was planning a rebellion.

Later Kyaligonza was retired from the army and he joined parliament as a member of parliament for Buhaguzi in Hoima district.

When he lost the seat, the going became tough and he had to kneel before Museveni to come to his rescue.

He approached the then CMI Noble Mayombo who advised him to write a letter to Museveni which Mayombo personally delivered to Museveni.

In the letter, Kyaligonza narrated how life had become so difficult for him to the extent that he could not even afford to take pay school fees for his children.

Kyaligonza’s pleas to Museveni came at a time when there was rumour of rebellion by PRA and senior army officers were fleeing to Rwanda.

To contain him, Museveni acted very fast by posting him to diplomatic service first to Kenya and later to Burundi where he is currently the Ambassador.

In 2012, Museveni promoted him to the rank of Maj. Gen from Brigadier which he had held for close to two decades.

Sarah Nalukenge, the author, is a social and political analyst

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