DR Vincent Magombe Was a UPC member and in power from 1979


I was astonished to read that “UAH’s Dr Vincent Magombe says he ran away to exile from Uganda in 1980 after an Amin soldier had pointed a gun at him” as quoted by our resourceful Corporal Otto. I stand to be corrected but I think this is the same Magombe who was Deputy Head Prefect at St Mary’s College Kisubi in 1977.

I think it is the same Magombe whose father was a powerful Uganda People’s Congress Member of Parliament from Mbale, right from 1980 until 1985, when the UPC’s military wing (UNLA) overthrew Dr. Obote’s government.

I think this is the same Magombe who was one of the moving forces behind a play they named THE RISE & FALL OF IDI AMIN, which featured several times, if not exclusively, at former Norman Cinema. They acquired it in 1979 and there could be no question of Amin’s soldiers chasing Dr. Magombe away, except if he was in their guerilla camps in the Sudan.

Norman Cinema? I think it is the same Magombe and others who had forcibly taken over Norman Cinema and re-named it THE CENTRE. It was here and at other areas in Kampala that Dr. Obote’s heroic return was planned. Dr. Magombe might remember pseudonyms like Dr. Mulondo or Dr. Obel Maktim Olero

During Obote II, this CENTRE was also a base for covert intelligence-gathering missions and it is suspected that part of it was  a dungeon, where suspected ‘anti-government’ elements were ‘processed’.

It is allegedly from THE CENTRE that covert UPC operations at Makerere University were conducted by, among others, Peter Wangima and Kasajja Byakika Jr, who were both at campus then and whom Magombe must remember very well.

The Centre? The Centre, which is now Kampala Pentecostal Church had Mr. Francis Odida as part of management and he and Magombe must remember those days very well. Odida has retired from politics into philantrophy, but he was the proprietor of UGANDA REVIEW publications, which died shortly after Museveni came to power.

Dr. Vincent Magombe is a respected consultant on Africa and on Museveni’s Uganda in particular as hell on earth. I wish he could tell
the world a bit more about what Uganda was when his Uganda People’s Congres was in power.

Tony Owana

NRM supporter

Journalist with Sunrise Magazine


18 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Mr Owana:

    You wrote “It is allegedly from THE CENTRE that covert UPC operations at Makerere
    University were conducted by, among others, Peter Wangima and Kasajja
    Byakika Jr, who were both at campus then and whom Magombe must
    remember very well”.

    The revelation about Mr (now Surgeon) Timothy Byakika has surprised me somewhat, though not entirely. He looked so harmless and sometimes lazy, but that is Uganda. He was the nice Budo chap-head prefect as a matter of fact- with brains and money.

    When he showed up in Nairobi shortly after the military takeover I thought it was because of his role in campus politics when the student guild was banned by the UPC authorities in 1981 and picked Mr Mbaine to head the new temporary outfit with Mr Timothy (Time) Byakika as his vice. Dunia ni dunia.


  2. Otto Patrick,

    Mr Owana,

    Well said.

    but you say:

    “They acquired it in 1979 and there could be no question of Amin’s soldiers chasing Dr. Magombe away”

    But the good Doctor has claimed that the gun was pointed at him in 1980. 1980, 1980 by an Amin soldier! They lurked around the centre up to 1980! Such inconsistencies are strange. Point them out and be dismissed as an idiot by giant brains like Okello George, the lawyer, who knows that your life can depend on whether you correctly quote 1979, or 1980; let alone 1995 or 2005 (as he mixed up Uganda’s constitution).

    Bigger problem: where do the people we debate with keep their brains?

    And how I wish the BBC knew that Dr Magombe’s anaemic talk is a Trojan Horse for the ghost of the man who called their very own Robin White a “Robin Hood”!…it would become more of Date Lie than Date Line.

    Lance Corporal (Rtd) Patrick Otto

  3. George O. Pacu-Otto,

    My friend WBK,

    Youare very wrong about your recollections about Makerere politics at the time in 1980-1981. The UPC never banned party politics at Makerere. I was leaving Makerere at the time and I was the campaign Manager for Kweigwa when he stood against the DP candidate Opio Oloya. It was a close election but I was there, followed the entire process, attneded the counting of votes. So nobody can say UPC put in intelligence agents like Byakika because I was the one in charge of the Kwesigwa campaign against Opio-Oloya. Talk to Kwesigwa and he will tell you the truth. People just make up history. Like I said before, I wrote Kwesigwa’s election manifesto but Mugisha Muntu had planted a spy on our team, each of our documents would get to him so he was always ahead on us. Talk to Kwesigwa about this. Or even to Muntu himself. He knows I was instrumental in getting himself and Werikhe Watuwa elected as President and Vice-President of the Makerere Guild. He knows this. Without my support, in building a multi-national alliance and to get the entire northern vote supporting their joint bid, they would have lost to Wamala, supported by the DP, who was even my friend and classmate at Budo.

    George O. Pacu-Otto

  4. WBK,

    Mr Okello-George:

    You are wrong. After Mr Opiyo Oloya fled, the guild was banned in 1981. In its place, the UPC appointed Mr Mbaine Chairman and Mr Timothy Byakika as his vice to run a temporay student body (really UPC student body). This was the situation in 1981 but you were leaving so you may have missed it.

    You should understand that Mr Timothy Byakika and Mr Mbaine were my peers. We sat O and A levels the same year.

    I said that I am somewhat surprised because I had knowm Mr Timothy Byakika much longer and he was the lanky kid who looked harmless but brainny.

    What surprised me with Mr Owana’s story is the news that Mr Byakika who was in medical school may have also been moonlighting for intelligence services.

    And where is Mr Med Kwesiga? Still in South Africa or somewhere in Southern Africa?

    I told you that you were duped by Mr Werikhe Watuwa but you still never got it. If I recall correctly, Mr Herbert Wamala was done in by as plit in voting between him and Mr (now Rev) Mukasa son to the late Bishop Yowana Mukasa (RIP).

    Let me be clear because we are talking here of people I know and they know me. I am not saying that Mr Timothy Byakika was put in to mess the guild elections. No. UPC banned the guild and appointed Mr Mbaine (I believe from Bushenyi and partly because of his connections to Minister Kamuntu) and Mr Timothy Byakika because of family connections o run the student union.


  5. Vincent Magombe,

    Mr Tony Owana,

    Are you talking about me, or someone else?

    You wrote to UAH Forum the following – ”

    ….”I think it is the same Magombe whose father was a powerful Uganda People’s Congress Member of Parliament from Mbale, right from 1980 until 1985, when the UPC’s military wing (UNLA) overthrew Dr. Obote’s government. ”

    Are you refering to the late MP Magombe, my namesake, (but no relation of mine). How do you people in Museveni’s intelligence services work? How do you gather your intelligence? Let me help you my friend Tony Owana – my own father died in 1964 – and I beg you kindly to leave him to rest in peace.

    Also you write:

    “I think this is the same Magombe who was one of the moving forces behind a play they named THE RISE & FALL OF IDI AMIN, which featured several times, if not exclusively, at former Norman Cinema.”

    Are you referring to the film The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin? I do not remember a play in Uganda, in 1979-1980, by that title. Let me help you again – The play I wrote and staged, at the Centre, Makerere University, National Theatre, Lugogo Indoor Stadium, and in Masaka, Jinja, Mbale Tororo, Gulu, Dar-es-Salam, etc was titled “The Fall and Trial of Idi Amin” I have mentioned here before that your current paymaster, Yoweri Museveni, was one of the people who attended this play. One of these days, when you are delivering your intelligence reports to him, perhaps you can ask him to tell you what he thought about the play.

    And what is this about the Centre (former Norman Cinema being “forcibly taken over” by Magombe and others? Who is Dr. Mulondo? And who is Obel Maktim Olero? I can’t remember anyone by these names.

    And, are you sure about the Centre (named by the late Okot p’ Bitek as THE CENTRE of artistic excellence) being “A BASE FOR COVERT INTELLIGENCE-GATHERING MISSIONS…” and “A DUNGEON, WHERE SUSPECTED ANTI-GOVERNMENT ELEMENTS WERE ‘PROCESSED’?

    The late Okot p; Bitek, Uganda’s finest poet, was one of the three people who run the place. Mr. Tony Owana, are you saying that OKot p’ Bitek was ‘processing’ anti-government elements at The Centre? Is that what they taught you at Kyankwanze? I would advise you to find out a few facts about The Centre from your ‘comrade in arms’ – Mr. John Nagenda. I saw him visiting Prof. Okot p’ Bitek a few times at the Centre.

    I think you are confusing The Centre, where artist like Jimmy Katumba were frequently performing, with the near-by Nakasero dungeons, Idi Amin’s State Research torture chambers?

    Mr. Tony Owana, are you really in your right mind? What type of Researcher are you? What type of Reports are you giving your BOSSES?

    You will excuse me for saying this about your post about me on the UAH Forum: Mr. Owana, your cooked up writings are pure garbage, only worth to be thrown in a pit latrine. I would advise to do exactly that – throw them in a pit latrine, but be careful not to fall there yourself.

    As for this so-called I stopped responding to his mad talk some while ago. I wish him well on his Mission on the UAH Forum.

    Best Regards,

    Vincent Magombe

  6. Patrick Oloya,

    I saw that play when I was about 14 years. It was good. I thought that these dramatists might have been finished in the UPC chaos of the 80s.

  7. Lance Corporal (Rtd) Patrick Otto,


    “Okot and a few other Ugandans (including myself) are crammed in his little office on the upper floor of The Centre, based on Buganda Road. Okot p’ Bitek curses and swears at the idea of Obote coming back to renew his tenure as President of the Republic of Uganda. The day before, I had gone with Okot p’ Bitek to down-town Kampala and we had bought a hoe. Okot had not told us what the hoe was for? But, now in the Office, on the day Obote was to fly to Uganda, Okot gets out the hoe and puts it next to the phone, as he attempts a few times to ring Milton Obote. Okot is not being successful in his attempt to reach Obote. He hands over the phone to me to keep trying. When the opportunity comes and we get through to Obote, Okot p Bitek exchanges greetings with the Grand Old Man, then drops the BOMB SHELL.”

    “Obote, Oboote… Oboooote…”, Okot p’ Bitek shouts, in his characteristically no-nonsense manner, “…Obooote… stop it! Stop it! Don’t come back to be President of Uganda… Stop being a fool…”. Okot then gets some metallic object and bangs on the hoe (creating a sharp tingling sound, meant to be heard by Obote on the other end of the line in Tanzania). “Obooote… I have bought a hoe for you… Come back home, and I will give you the hoe, and you should head straight home to Lango and cultivate the fields … Obote, stop dreaming of becoming the President of Uganda once again. You should retire to your home village and become a farmer!”

    Lance Corporal (Rtd) Patrick Otto

  8. WBK

    You are right and probably Mr.Okello also knows the truth but pretending. I have had this debate before with Mr.Mulindwa Edward(Toronto) and i think all Ugandans now know the truth.

    Obote 2 and Amin both banned the guild offices at Makerere University because they looked at them as power threats. Under Obote 2 the student Guild was abolished because UPC had lost popularity at Makerere. Therefore, the Guild was abolished in 1981, the then Guild President Mr Opiyo Oloya was driven into exile. After the Guild was abolished in 1981, the UPC leaders named Mr Mbaine-a Munyankole doing Bachelor of Commerce as the new chairman.

    The offices of the then Dean of students, George Kihuguru and the Deputy Vice chancellor,Gingera-Pinycwa, were used by UPC elements to disorganise the university elections. On 20th February 1981, Obote invited some UPC student supporters and Mr.Kihuguru for a meeting at state house and this is where they devised the plan to get rid of the then Guild president, Opiyo Oloya. After this meeting, UPC students broke into the offices of the Guild, looted files, beat up the Guild officials and announced that they had overtaken Opiyo’s government. The whole thing was done in Amin style and then you wonder where Idd Amin learnt these coup tactics from.

    Before Opiyo, there was a UPC Guild president in the names of Welikhe Watuwa who was the first to abrogate the constitution of the Guild(just like Obote aboragated our 1962 consitution did in 1966)-because he(Welikhe) was simply a fascist or rather neo-fascist. So a resolution of vote of no confidence was introduced and tabled in the Guild General Assembly to boot him out. Opiyo Oloya was the one that was elected to replace Welikhe and in the press release of 6th Dec 1980, Opiyo warned that the majority of students he represented wouldn’t recognise any govt that would come in power illegally or fraud.So when UPC stole the 1980 election, they booted him out too and that’s how he ended up in Canada.

    Ogenga otunnu was Guild President 1982-3, and was succeeded by Okuraba who was also rigged for by the same machinery. The late Paulo Muwanga rigged for Badru Ssebyala. UPC started serious rigging of elecions in Uganda and Museveni has now perfected it

    Nevertherless, I recently got a message from Professor Ogenga and below is what he had to say:”Your assertions require critical examination of evidence. I will leave it to you to struggle with them. One basic correction: Ogenga Otunnu stood as an independent. During the University Senate Hearing, following the elections, Ebil Otto (now professor Ebil Otto) confirmed that Otunnu won the election. However, he blamed the UPC establishment and government security operatives at Makerere University for intimidating his supporters. Thanks,
    Dr. Ogenga Otunnu
    Professor, Chicago.”

    He was responding to an article about the same on my blog. It is unfortunate that he does not give me any more infiormation and just tells me to struggle with more facts. So far, most of the people i have interracted with are supporting my assertions. If anybody has got more evidence of what happened at Makerere during the 1980S, please send it to us, since guys like Professor have decided to bury their heads in the sand.

    Byebyo ebyange

    Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

  9. Mr. Semuwemba:

    The sad part is that the current acting VC and the Dean of students are trying
    to rig out another DP kid who won the guild presidency. The acting VC may
    talk of fancy investment plans for Makerere but if he is rigging guild
    elections in favor of NRM, it won’t matter. He will be remembered for rigging
    out Mr. Hassan Senkubuge than anything else he does.

    I always worry when ‘blackmailable’ people get big positions. The acting VC
    belonged to Mr. Bidandi Ssali’s party. So the deal with NRM must have
    gone like this: We will facilitate your ambition to become acting VC, but you
    must promise to help NRM candidates’ breakthrough in the guild.

    Well, NRM delivered for the acting VC so he has to deliver
    or else he will not be confirmed as VC. The DP kid is paying for the VC’s quid
    pro quo with NRM. But the students are angry and they will not take it lying

    But whom is he kidding? And you know what, DP kids are fed up of being
    rigged out and one day, yes one day, Uganda
    will wake to the terrible news that university students have killed a biggie or
    biggies. It will happen soon if they
    keep rigging guild elections. It will be sad but it is going to happen.
    Mark my words. Enough is enough.


  10. My friends Abbey and WBK,

    You have different recollections of what happened at Makerere in 1980-1981. I should know because I was at the thich of student politics at the time. There was an attempted coup against Werikhe Watuwa’s government. That was the one time Mugisha Muntu and myself worked together to support their government. Ask Muntu himself if it is the UPC that tried to sabotage his joint government with Werikhe-Watuwa. Ask him about the numerous meetings we had, late in the night? At one point I was nearly lynched by DP supporters who were demonstrating in the Freedom Square because they saw me walking nearby. At the Guild meetings, I was mainly the one who defended Werikhe and Muntu’s government against a very strong and sustained attack from the DP. I don’t know what happened with Guild politics after I left in 1981 because I had my own battles to fight as the President of the Law Development Centre, was expelled, and left the country afterwards.
    Abbey makes some strange and outrageous statements. Werikhe was not a fascist or neo-fascist. But maybe WBK is right in his assessment that I might have been duped. But remember, the NRA also tried to put me as their candidate in the 1980 Guild elections, but I concluded I would loose because I would alienate the entire northern vote and Herbert Wamala would win if there was a three horse race between me, Werikhe and Wamala. At the Livingstone elections, the Baganda students, who were a majority, voted enmasse for me so I had a huge victory and served as the only chairman of Livingstone not to be removed from office- there was never even any attempt to remove me because the students knew I served their interests, I was not political party partisan and they could come into my room anytime, sometimes at 4 am, I would have students knocking on my door with all sorts of problems.

    Maybe someday someone should write a history of Makarere guild politics. As someone who was so intensely involved in it for 3 years, I would make my contribution. And I don’t think that the UPC or security agencies had much to do with student politics. How could President Obote have held a meeting with Uncle Kihuguru and others at state house without my knowledge? I would certainly have known of such a meeting. Kihuguru would have told me about it.
    I think Abbey has developed a habit of re-inventing history and telling porkies is one of the weapons in his armoury.

    George O. Pacu-Otto



    I have just seen a very important clarification you sent me earlier on
    Edith Byanyima and I thank you for educating me!

    Dr Magombe has also just clarified on SOME of the matters I raised but
    he makes no mention about Byakika or Wangima.




    Dr Magombe,

    Thanks for the clarifications.

    I am now aware that the MP Magombe was not your father but I did not
    even state that for a fact. That is why I used I THINK and I apologise
    for my ignorance.

    You are also, by your response, absolved from having been part of the
    events you say you knew nothing about. Might that mean you accept
    participation in those you did not deny?

    From your wealth of experience, you should remember that Apollo Hotel
    and Nile Mansions were hotels which many ordinary people visited,
    without knowing the barbarities that were going on in several of the
    rooms there. That is how John Naggenda could have visited Okot p’Bitek
    in one part of THE CENTRE without knowing what was going on elsewhere
    in THE CENTRE.

    I also apologise for renaming your play but I now know the correct name.

    I will not waste time on your ‘discovery’ that I am President
    Museveni’s this or that because that has become the accepted method by
    some Forumists of closing debates.

    Similarly, I will not respond to George, who is convinced I have
    something personal against you.

    Finally, as you repeatedly confirm (to those who consult you) that
    Museveni’s Uganda is Hell on Earth, take time to tell them about Obote
    II also and avoid mistaking the period when you had to flee from
    Amin’s soldiers!



  13. Kaggwa Lubogo,

    Hello people,
    just found very interesting pieces of history about Makerere students’ politics and tyrrany at Nile Mansions, The Centre(as a kid, I knew it for Jimmy Katumba shows).How I got to this site, was sounding out Dr. Vincent Magombe having heard him twist facts on BBC today morning. Now I know Dr. Magombe twists facts very often. So sad!

  14. kateregga,

    well the truth is not easy to tell especially if you used lies to obtain certain status while climbing some of the ladders to reach some positions in your life but Magombe knows very well that during Obote two, the building which was once called Norman cinema housed among other the headquarters of the special branch which was a dept of police services and once you were grabbed especially during panda gari operation and you were taken to the center then you would definetly know that to come out you will have to know one big upc wig or cough up a big sum of money ,so David come on, stop embarassing yourself come clean now that you have become some body in the society it will bring clarity to all the acussations and i dint think that you can resort to that kind of language a man with a fellowship “dunia hayinamwenyewe”

  15. Med Kwesiga,

    May 5th, 2010 at 11:12 | #1 Reply | Quote Tony, George, Okello, Semuwemba, Pacu-Otto

    I ran for the Guild Elections at Makerere in 1980 against Opiyo Oloya, I lost by 129 votes. The campaign I ran as a UPC candidate was pitied against Opiyo as a combined candidate of DP,UPM, CP. If anyone rigged those elections, it must have been the alliance of DP-UPM. At that time, this alliance was led by Basoga Nsadhu- a later minister of the NRA (who was the elections returning officer) and Gen Mugish Muntu.

    it is important that those in search of history recall the events leading to Opiyo Oloya being “deposed” by a Students Redemption Council. Firstly, Basoga Nsadhu refused to call a GRC first meeting- the GRC was the Guild parliament on learning that at that meeting, a motion of no confidence was to be tabled against the government of Oloya. Despite a signed petion to call the meeting, Basoga refused leaving the Guild executive of Oloya to run without calling the parliament. This precipitated a crisis in the guild leading to the storming of the Guild Offices and suspension of the Guild Consitituion. A rear guard action by Oloya and Co led to further acts of violence and the Guild was subsequently suspended to cater for a new consittution that would gaurantee democratic accountability.

    The Oloya regime failed to live to the democratic tradition that had seen Ndamuranyi Ateenyi being voted out on a motion of no confidence in 1980 and replaced by Werikhe Watuwa as Guild President and Mugisha Muntu as vice. Basoga Nsadhu (RIP) manipulated the process and with Opiyo Oloya precipitated a consitutional crisis in the Guild. It cannot be said and neither justified that UPC rigged any of those elections. The UPC minister of Education Prof Newton Ojok only intervened to end the consitutional crisis and a new Guild consitution was enacted leading to new elections in 1982.

    The election of Mr Mbaine was part of the elections of the National Union of Students of Uganda (NUSU) Makerere Branch. it had nothing to do with the guild. NUSU was a national students body with its own elective conference and agenda; was national and international in persive not just parachial Makerere interests that the Guild represented.

    The Makerere students Guild was re-established and i recall Sebyala, Otuunu and Okurapa as their presidents. NUSU was a national body and at the time was led by Dr Paul Masaba, who happened to be a medical student from the Makerere cUniversity onsituency, Jayant Barisene and Kidega from UCC and has their own offices at Crested Towers. I was Chairman of the NUSU National organising committee (NOC) and facilitated the re-establishemtnt of NUSU since banning by Iddi Amin in 1972. Dr Paul Masaba contested the NUSU elections against Dr Tony Kerali; handed over the NUSU presidency to Kaboyo-Kisoro (RIP)who contested against Dr Ian Olwouch at the next national conference.

    In the meantime, the Makerere stdents Guild was re-established and carried out its own elections. The campaigns were always vigourous and tested the democratic foundations. I recall Sebyala on a UPC ticket, Ogenga Otunu as an independent and Okurapa as a UPC. There were always hotly contested and fairly won and lost. The NRA-DP alliance had been weakened and was waging a bush war in Luwero and I can see some of the commentators are recovering from the Luwero rage to re-write history of the Guild.

    As you must recall, UPC did adhere to its democratic tradition in its function and by its functionaries. However and whatever much obfuscation, history has absolved the UPC. Over the passage of time, false messiahs of the NRA and uits defunct cohorts will attempt to falsify facts and justify their undemocratic traditions and rigging mentality.

    I am still in the Republic of South Africa and you should feel free to contact me at medk@tuhf.co.za should need a refresher.

    Med Kwesiga
    Johannesburg, South Africa

  16. Did the UPDF come to power by law or by force? 18. December 2010 at 02:31
    Loyal to Ugandans or to Museveni? Officer recruitment 80% Banyankole very crude!

    A true army must only support a government by law and must only have an origin by law established!

    Civil war innitiatives shows that the army is sectarian, partisian,and abusing human rights including massacres and genocide!


  17. rosa,

    Not true

    hey i hate to burst your bubble but Mr obel Maktim Olero was not a a fictitus person.he existed.He is my father and his real names are abel Maktim olero,yes he worked in upc.how do expect us to believe your whole article when you dont have the facts as easy as that.

  18. Kikwany mukungu kibol i cet kongo!

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