Col Frank Kaka Bagyenda: The lethal NRA Bush war Operative
By Ben Byarabaha
President Yoweri Museveni last week named Col. Frank Bagyenda as the new director general of Internal Security Organisation (ISO).
Col. Bagyenda replaced Brig. Ronnie Balya who has been the DG since 2010. In today’s briefing, we unleash the untold secrets about Col. Bagyenda.
Col Bagyenda Kaka, in his late 50’s joined NRA around 1981.
While in the bush, he carried out reconnaissance that culminated into serious operations.
For example Kaka, then an intelligence officer in the NRA bush war carried out the first reconnoiter that resulted into the attack on Masindi in 1984, a turning point in the war that catapulted the current regime into power.
In his autobiography, The Mustard Seed (The struggle for Freedom and Democracy in Uganda), page 161 –Masindi and its Aftermath, Museveni writes about Kaka “…I had been monitoring Masindi barracks since 1982 and by September 1983, I believed we had enough information to enable us to attack it. I had intended to lead the expedition myself, but at that time my liver had become enlarged because of an amoebic infection. Therefore, I sent Elly Tumwiine in my place. On the way, however, the expedition encountered a small force of UNLA soldiers and they exchanged fire. Realising they had been exposed, our people called off the attack and returned to base.
“We made a fresh assessment of our plan and by early February 1984, I decided we had sufficiently good intelligence information on it to launch a fresh attack. Over the previous two years, I had sent several groups to reconnoiter Masindi. A certain grass cutter in the barracks was an informer for an intelligence officer of ours called KAKA. He gave us intelligence about the layout and activities of the barracks by day. This was useful, but since we wanted to attack at dawn, it did not give us a picture of what the barracks would be like at that hour. I therefore, sent two other men; Stanley Muhangi, an army officer who has since died, and John Mugume, now in the military police….”
According to Museveni, Kaka’s successful espionage shaped the success of the struggle.
“The attack was launched at dawn on 20th February, 1984 and it was a complete success. We captured 765 rifles, our biggest booty to date, along with machineguns and ammunition…Masindi was definitely a turning point in the war, because it finally ended the offensive which Obote had started in March 1983 and which had lasted nearly a year.”
POST WAR KAKA
Upon capturing power, Kaka became the commanding officer of the Kampala Brigade for several years.
He was later transferred to Wankoko, along Old Portbell road (now Modernity car bond) to head the directorate of transport.
He worked there till mid 90’s when he was transferred to the directorate of military intelligence (DMI, currently CMI) as the head.
At transport, Kaka was replaced by Maj. Gen. Otema Awany, currently commanding officer, Reserve Force.
He replaced Rwanda President Paul Kagame at DMI.
After DMI, Kaka was moved to Northern Uganda where he commanded a brigade before being retired thereafter in 1993 at the rank of Major.
In 2013, Kaka was promoted in retirement to the rank of Colonel.
He was among 34 army officers. Others included Gen. Moses Ali and Maj. Gen. Matayo Kyaligonza.
LIFE IN KALANGALA
After retirement, Kaka retreated to Kalangla Island in L. Victoria where he has been living a very low profile but actively engaged in business, majorly service industry.
He is the proprietor of Panoma Hotel in Kalangala.
He is one of the first people to have realised that Kalangala could become a tourist destination.
This was in 1991 when Kalangala was no more than a thick forest where monkeys made merry.
He was awed by the freshness, beauty and real country relaxation the island offers.
“When I told my friends I would be relocating to Kalangala, many laughed at me and some thought it was one of my crazy ideas,” the retired serviceman told an online tourism related publication.
He said he first visited the island while on assignment as a serving soldier.
While in Kalangala, Col. Kaka remained active in intelligence. This time he concentrated on disorganising marine fish mongers in Lake Victoria.
After 20 years in retirement, Museveni has remembered him.
Could it be that the president is now finding comfort in dealing with his fellow bush war comrades who have remained loyal despite the challenges in retirement?
Could it be Museveni has clocked the grandparent age where you must trust your own.
According to a military expert we talked to last night, the appointment of Kaka points two things; “…Museveni has reached the grandparent age where you must trust either your kids or childhood comrades.
“Museveni is at the level where he must trust his own tested people who worked amidst those challenges but didn’t give up…. back to ideology of discipline and patriotism.”
In fact speaking to Red Pepper yesterday, Kaka reaffirmed the same.
“Being retired is not end of the world…you can remain loyal even in retirement and what I know President Yoweri Museveni doesn’t forget,” Kaka said last night.
EDUCATION AND FAMILIY
Col. Kaka graduated with a bachelor of commerce degree from Makerere University in 1977 and thereafter joined the army till 1993 when he retired. He did his Basic military training course at Bombo in the 90’s.
He has a wife and children. His best friend during the bush war was Gen. Salim Saleh and they are still friends up today.
Col Kaka: I’m shocked by M7 appointment
Col. Kaka told Red Pepper on phone from his base in Kalangala last night that he was surprised by the appointment.
He said he received the news early morning yesterday, while at his hotel in Kalangala.
“It was quite a surprise when I was told that H.E has appointed me to head ISO,” Kaka said in a relaxed tone.
He revealed that President Museveni knows what he wants and “He knows my capabilities”
Kaka said he won’t let down the president, he added that his appointment is a national calling which he must execute with due diligence.
Kaka who retired from the army in 1993, said his comeback is a message to veterans that they can be remembered after many years in retirement.
“This is a manifestation of who president Yoweri Museveni is….he doesn’t forget his people, this is a message to my fellow veterans that anytime they can be remembered….,” he said. He will be shifting base to Kampala soon after 20 years.