Profile: Rise of Mwenda’s bro Brig Kayanja to fame


Brig Kayanja Muhanga (L), the new 4th Division Commander, taking over office from the outgoing commander, Col Emmanuel Kanyesigye on May 27, 2014.

Brig. Kayanja Muhanga is an older brother to journalist, Andrew Mwenda, the publisher and editor of The Independent (Uganda), newsmagazine.

Kayanja went to Duhaga Secondary School and later Mpanga Day School in Fort Portal.

It was during his S.5 at Mpanga around August 1985 that he joined the NRA in Fort Portal.

He was posted to the newly created Military Police at the NRA headquarters at Rukoki sub-county in Kasese.

Upon the NRA taking over power in January 1986 Kayanja was sent to the Presidential Protection Unit (PPU) at the rank of private.

Around 1988 when he was axed from the PPU, he found the going tough and deserted the army.

Around 1988, he privately went to Kabamba training school with the intention of convincing his friend Capt Moses Kintu who was based at Kabamba to fix him in the nominations from Kabamba for the imminent Cadet Officers training in Jinja.

The mission did not succeed and Kayanja together with his colleague quietly left Kabamba for Kampala.

Somehow in Kampala, he succeeded in being included on the Officer Cadet Training and he attended the course at Jinja with among others Rwanda’s Gen James Kabarebe.

He graduated as a commissioned officer and was posted together with a squad of about 30 other officers under the office of the Chief of Combat Operations (CCO).

They were specifically concerned with the logistical backing to the SPLA in Sudan.

Around 1990, the entire said squad was transferred to the then DMI at Basiima House.

At DMI, Kayanja served under Combat Intelligence department then headed by John Kasaija.

Kayanja was not all that active since he had no prior experience in intelligence.

He was kind of redundant. Around 1993, Kayanja was posted to the Causality Unit in Mubende as an Intelligence Officer.

His brother then Lt. Baguma was the DISO of Mubende district.

Critics say Kayanja “ganged up” with the Commanding Officer Capt Muhanguzi to make some cash in alleged “flimsy payments, shoddy deals and inflated payrolls”.

He is said to have constructed a posh house overlooking the Fort Portal stage along the highway in Mubende town.

Around 1987, Kayanja had been withdrawn from Mubende and was redundant in Kampala.

He was posted to the north where the conditions were worse and he absconded. He attempted to leave the army.

Critics further say he went to Mbuya Military Hospital and feigned sickness so that he is discharged on medical grounds.

He was put on the list of patients and qualified for the necessary entitlements. He tried to register for a Diploma in Law course at the LDC so that he could benefit from the study leave.

Luck struck, when Brig. Noble Mayombo was posted to Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and Kayanja was assigned to head the notorious Joint Anti-Terrorism Taskforce (JATT).

His prominence came to public notice when he spearheaded the manhandling of Col Kizza Besigye at Entebbe Airport during the Maj. Rabwoni fracas.

However, he ran out of luck when he was implicated in gross human rights abuses and extortions under JATT.

He was also directly implicated in colluding with notorious city robbers upon which he was relieved of duties at head of JATT.

By that time he had become a Captain and was later promoted to Major and then came the Somali Mission.


AMISOM Colonel Muhanga commands his forces in firefight during Operation Free Shabelle west of Deynile

It’s after the Somali Mission that he was posted to the Military Police as the Commanding Officer.

Brigadier Kayanja who is criticised for “lacking experienced as fighter and a commander” currently serves as the Commander of the UPDF Contingent in South Sudan.

He was appointed to that position in January 2014 by General Yoweri Museveni, the Commander in Chief of the UPDF and the President of Uganda

His official military career says:

Joined the NRA at the rank of Private, serving in that position until NRA captured power in 1986. Served in the military police unit based in Kasese.

Served in the Presidential Protection Unit (PPU), at the rank of Private from 1986 until 1988.

Following the Junior Cadet Officer Course, he served in the office of the Chief of Combat Operations (CCO), at the rank of Second Lieutenant.

Transferred to the Directorate of Military Intelligence in 1990, serving there until 1993.

From 1993 until 1997, he served as the Intelligence Officer, attached to the UPDF barracks in Mubende.


Muhanga commanding UPDF contingent in South Sudan

He was assigned to the Joint Anti-Terrorism Taskforce (JATT), at the rank of Captain.

He was promoted through Major, Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel and was posted to Mogadishu, Somalia, as part of the UPDF contingent to AMISOM. While there, he commanded Uganda’s “Battle Group Eight” and concurrently served as the deputy commander for the Ugandan contingent in Somalia.

After his tour of duty he served as the Chief of the Military Police in the UPDF, until January 2014.

In January 2014, Colonel Kayanja Muhanga was appointed Commander of the UPDF Operations in South Sudan.

In February 2014, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier.

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

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