The leak, insiders say, illuminates one reality – that Kayihura has recorded most private conversations he has had with many people, including leading opposition figures. Insider sources say that among the 87 missing tapes, one has Kayihura and DP President General Norbert Mao talking.
Mao admits that he talks to Kayihura regularly on phone. He told us yesterday that he last sat down for a one-on-one with Kayihura two years ago. The only other recent meeting with Kayihura, Mao said, occurred when he and other opposition leaders met the police chief to express their displeasure with the way police was violently breaking up their political rallies. However, and as if with a tinge of fresh suspicion, Mao recalls that lately, an aide to the police chief has been pestering him for a meeting.
“Unless I was recorded through a third party but for me I have nothing to fear or hide,” Mao said. “I am an honest and straight person.”
Mao said he was not a “double dealer” like some opposition MPs and, therefore, would never trade any secrets or take any money from the police chief if the two met. He said Kayihura’s approach of recording his private conversations with people was crude and some people who would want to give police sensitive information might be deterred.
Yet in a society where some politicians wear different political shades depending on the time of the day or night, revelations that some opposition politicians have been cutting deals with government might not be surprising.
Kidandala, a DP member, has been until the leaks, one of the most trusted lieutenants of Erias Lukwago, the embattled Kampala lord mayor.
Together with Makindye Councillor Allan Ssewanyana, they have been Lukwago’s key strategists in his battle to assert his supremacy on City hall. Yet from the contents of the conversation with Kayihura, it is clear that Kidandala turned against Lukwago.
What comes out clearly from the Kidandala tape is that the deputy mayor thinks lowly of the man (Lukwago) who handpicked him for the job. On tape, Kidandala is heard telling Kayihura that Lukwago suffers from “arrivalism”- a feeling of self-importance. He also assures the police chief that he is willing to work with government to weaken Lukwago. At a press briefing last week, Kidandala confirmed that he had met Kayihura but insisted he did not ask for any money from him.
“The voices were doctored to suggest that I asked for money,” he said.
Lukwago said during a morning talk show on NBS TV on Monday that he was “shocked and frightened by Kidandala’s recording.
“I have talked to him about it and we are still talking…but why does Kayihura go behind my back…,” Lukwago wondered.
In a separate interview,
Wafula Oguttu, the leader of the Opposition in Parliament, said conversations between Kayihura and members of the opposition were disturbing but not surprising.
“We have always known that there are moles amongst us but Kidandala is just one member of the opposition and therefore does not represent all of us,” he said.
Oguttu claimed that they too had moles within the NRM, the only difference being that “we don’t record them while they are giving us vital information.”
Asuman Basalirwa, the president of Justice Forum (Jeema), said it would be unfair to use the recordings to demonize the opposition.
“For me I think each recording should be analsyed case by case and put into proper context,” he said.
Basalirwa said the recordings had brought the opposition in the crossfire between Kayihura and Mbabazi. They were diverting them from bigger-picture issues such as fighting abuse of public resources, personalisation of state resources and absence of the rule of law.
At a recent press conference Police Spokesman Fred Enanga, attempted to explain the recordings.
Asked whether it was standard procedure for police to record people without their knowledge, he said, “When we are carrying out intelligence investigations, there is what we call investigative aids which involve things like recordings by having tapes, video and audio recordings because they facilitate investigations that we may need for future reference.
When you are handling such matters like politics, where a person keeps on shifting positions, for future reference, the recorded information helps us. When we have the recording, it doesn’t stop there. We have to go and refine it, investigate further and carry out extensive intelligence in processing the information so that we come up with something credible at the end…”
The recordings have also sowed suspicion of the opposition within the general public. The feeling of betrayal was palpable on social media, minutes after Kidandala’s recording was made public.
“There are very few young politicians who have been able to shake off M7 tricks. Remember some of these are young men with little wealth and need money for survival and development. Kidandala’s case requires more investigation and analysis. We need to know why he took the money, why he has been in support of the lord mayor despite the bribe, how has he been behaving and deliberating during the strategy setting…” wrote one of his Facebook ‘friends’.
Another questioned: “What kind of opposition do we have in this country?”
Yet another compared Kidandala’s action to that of Judas Iscariot, who, according to the Bible, betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. So far the contents of three out of a reported 87 missing tapes have been made public, meaning there are 84 more to go. For opposition members who have recently met Kayihura, formally or informally, the anxiety has just started.