- Kaweesi was an accomplished strategist. I admired his calmness in the face of crises as UPF has faced several since he became head of public relations, including the recent events in Kasese.
- No situation seemed to overwhelm him leading some people to think that he was arrogant. He never was, instead he was suited to PR because he was a brilliant crisis manager.
I first met Andrew Felix Kaweesi in 2011. In the dying days of that election campaign, I was the running NRM communications Bureau. On an errand at Police Head quarters, a mutual friend in the Uganda Police Force UPF introduced us. We hit it off from then and he has been a friend ever since, as he was to many. Recently, we have worked closely together, him having been re-designated police spokesperson and I having relocated to Uganda Media Centre way back in 2013. On March 14, he spent hours at Uganda Media Centre together with UPDF and Defence spokesperson Brig Richard Karemire crafting a quick response to the lop-sided Human Rights Watch report. He fielded questions to the press pack.
Kaweesi was an accomplished strategist. I admired his calmness in the face of crises as UPF has faced several since he became head of public relations, including the recent events in Kasese.
No situation seemed to overwhelm him leading some people to think that he was arrogant. He never was, instead he was suited to PR because he was a brilliant crisis manager.
He spoke intelligently and convincingly. He wasn’t always right, but he always spoke correctly. He respected his institution as well as his audiences. You could not help note that as a PR professional, he dodged ‘bullets’ in the form of stinging questions.
Alas! he could not dodge the copper one. Asked why the dead body count at the Mumbere palace was different in all media reports including the Human Rights Watch, he shot back: “I have said this before and I repeat. We spent time combing the operational area including hills and valleys surrounding the palace and as we did, we kept discovering more bodies. But remember we were briefing media all the time. So, the count kept changing as we discovered more and more. Just focus on our final tally and total, not what was given in between.” You can’t beat that.
Whenever I met him at functions, well turned out in his police ceremonial uniform, I teasingly reminded him of Samuel Huntingdon’s philosophy in ‘The Soldier & the State’ – I would say to him: ‘Remember as a police officer, you remain subordinate to civilian authority’ and he would give me a mock salute as a joke. He was a jolly good fellow.
These unknown gunmen who killed Kaweesi will one day rot in hell, for that I am certain. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword.
It is a known strategy for terrorists and organised criminal gangs the world over to spread ‘fear’ and make citizens feel helpless and insecure.
In Uganda, we observed even worse situations in the past, where citizens lived under the reign of terror, perpetuated by the State. Fortunately, Ugandan freedom fighters led by President Museveni redeemed the country and reversed that unfortunate trend. We are a resilient nation, we resist fear and all. We shall not be cowed by hoodlums and we will confront them. Kaweesi’s killers will be hunted and brought to book.
From a humble beginning in Lwengo District, AIGP Kaweesi served in UPF for barely 20 years but his rapid rise to the third highest rank in the force points to his hard work, resilience and professionalism.
Having joined the force in 2001, he was posted as officer in charge of Ntungamo District. He was consequently promoted to deputy commandant of the Kabalye Police Training School in Masindi District. Kaweesi later became personal assistant to the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura but later went on a tour of duty to Somalia in 2007 to train Somalia police.
From Somalia, he took over as commander of the Police Training School. In 2010 he skipped the rank of Assistant commissioner to become full Commissioner of Police. Between 2007 and 2011 he rose from senior superintendent of police to the third highest rank in the Uganda Police Force, that of AIGP. In 2011, he took over from Grace Turyagumanawe as the commandant, Kampala Metropolitan. Again, he skipped the rank of senior commissioner of police to become assistant inspector general of police.
In September 2014, he was appointed the Director of Operations a position he held till July 2015 when he was transferred to the directorate of human resource development. At the time of his death he was head of public relations for UPF but also kept his responsibility as director, human resource development.
Despite these accolades and high rank, Kaweesi remained down to earth and an amiable officer. Felix, go and remain in the first lane - in the life after.
Mr Katungi is the communications and media relations manager, Uganda Media Centre.