Uganda Spies On HRM’s Payroll?

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(Dr. Besigye—is U.K. subsidizing Museveni’s spies?)

Ugandans here who have been denied asylum requests claim a Ugandan employee at the home office who works as a case worker routinely recommends that filings by supporters of Ugandan opposition parties be denied.

Asylum seekers who have been rebuffed by the British government even claim that the Ugandan government sends its own intelligence operatives to the U.K. to seek asylum status so that they can keep a tab on supporters of opposition parties such as the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), while living on HRM’s payroll.

Once these alleged operatives are granted their U.K. papers, they get government paid housing and a weekly stipend, thus relieving the Kampala government of the cost of maintaining its spying network. The allegations brought swift denial from a Uganda High Commission spokesperson. “It’s not true,� says the High Commission’s Second Secretary, Andrew Kalyango, when contacted by this newspaper.

The official did not exactly deny the existence of government operatives in London, rather, explaining that, “if we wanted to bring in our security agents, we have enough money to run and support their well fare. In some cases where there is not enough money, we don’t send them.� Kalyango’s reasoning why some asylee seekers have their requests rejected is that, “You can’t be a Ugandan and claim asylum here in the UK at the moment because Uganda is okay.�

Still, these explanations don’t seem to dispel the belief that Ugandan operatives have penetrated Her Majesty’s government. FDC President, Dr. Kizza Besigye weighed in on the matter. “We are trying to compile a list of people who are sponsored by Museveni’s government to come and claim asylum yet they are working as his spies,� Dr. Besigye, who was in London recently, said. The FDC contends that it was robbed of victory in the last Presidential election through massive rigging.

“It’s true many of my supporters are actually genuine and have been persecuted by Kampala regime,� the FDC leader added. “They were denied refugee status here. Yet Museveni’s spies are granted refugees’ status and some are working as Case Workers in the Home Office,� he said, referring to Ugandan president Lt. Gen. Yoweri K. Museveni.

The Home Office if the British government’s authority responsible for immigration matters. “The UK tax payers’ money pays Museveni’s spies, they are sponsored on official missions and come here disguising as asylum seekers,� Dr. Besigye said. It’s believed that Dr. Besigye himself was in the past denied U.K. asylum request. At the time, he was exiled in South Africa where there were reports that Ugandan agents had tried to reach him.

Under the U.K. governing Labor government’s program, some asylees are offered money to return to their countries of origin – now some Ugandans contend that the U.K. is also unwittingly subsidizing the operating cost of spies from abroad.
The Ugandans who claim there is such a program center their allegations on a Ugandan Home Office employee named John Guma. He is also the UK and Ireland Secretary General of Uganda’s ruling NRM party. “Most of the files of asylum seekers from Uganda are placed on his desk—in fact he is a big man,� says Robert Walakira.

“We have been complaining about this for quite a long time,� said another Ugandan, whose asylee papers were rejected. “How can a secretary general for NRM UK Chapter be a case worker and is trusted to decide on matter of his main rivals?�

Guma couldn’t be reached for comment. However, a supporter rejected the allegations. Patrick Asiimwe, who is the NRM UK-Chapter Vice Chairman, said Guma was indeed a case worker at the Home Office but denied he was an operative. “Yes, he is a hard working guy who supports the NRM like any other Ugandan but he is not a security agent,� Asiimwe said. “In fact he is standing down from his secretariat post---We don’t know about the security agents. We are just hearing those allegations but they are baseless.�

He added: “For us we are just NRM Party supporters not security agents. Anything to do with security is not our concern. That is one reason why Guma is resigning from any party post to concentrate on his job. Those allegations have made him uncomfortable.�

Miwambo writes for The Black Star from London.

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