Two plausible theories have so far emerged to define sponsors and aims for the assassination script against Gen Edward Katumba Wamala: (i) military theory (ii) political theory. Interestingly both point at a common goal: diversion of president Museveni from his original new deployment plans.
The Military Theory: Is ISIS-ADF playing Museveni mind games?
For the record, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala stands out from the crowd in how he pursues professional soldiering. It could be from how he was brought up or how he joined the armed forces. Very few joined the current national army the way he did. Most senior ones are remnants of the Front for National Salvation Army—fronasa and others are recruits from the 1981 bush days to date. He is among the few officers that NRA found already made by the vanquished national army—UNLA in 1986. He was integrated owing to his exemplary behavior. Since then he never looked back in the military rank ladder up to the current status of four-star general. But more impressively is how he has executed duties handed to him from division commander to contingent commander in the Democratic Republic of Congo and ultimately the chief of defense forces, the highest army office in Uganda.
Noteworthy, despite leading a contingent in DRC in the 2000s, Gen Katumba Wamala’s name does not feature among those for which Uganda was caught on the wrong side of plundering Congolese resources and Kampala is to pay heavy reparations.
It is therefore upon this rare impressive track record that Gen Katumba was anticipated to be trusted with yet a new military role in DRC. He is expected to handle the overall coordination of resources for the multiple forces deployed there—for the roads infrastructure team, the Special Forces Command and the Rwenzori mountain—based Alpine Brigade.
Therefore, the military theory postulates that in attempting to eliminate Gen Katumba, the ISIS affiliates of ADF aimed at: i) diverting and disorganizing Museveni’s original war plans by enforcing a last minute less thought review of the entire approach. (ii) Send a threatening message to whoever else would be appointed for that role.
The flip side of this theory, though, is that the Congo deployment is every commander’s dream regardless of the risks involved. The inability of one commander to execute it presents an opportunity for many others to take over.
The Political Theory: Is Gen Katumba steering the Muhoozi-for-president project?
At 81 in 2026, many perceive this to be president Museveni’s last term in office. Several within the ruling National Resistance Movement are positioning themselves to take over after him. But again they think Museveni is strategically positioning his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba in the queue. Among these are the president’s allies who have amassed unprecedented economic wealth and are already panicking that Muhoozi, himself not corrupt, will not protect their wealth. They have to do it themselves. Muhoozi’s key ally and mentor in both the political and military strata is Gen Edward Katumba Wamala. Apparently Gen Katumba has all Museveni’s ears and trust. Owing to his enormous influence both in political and security circles, Gen Katumba is, therefore, perceived to be the force behind the Muhoozi-for-president project.
In targeting to eliminate Gen Katumba before Museveni would hand him new roles, in the lucrative works and transport sector as well as overseeing the huge DRC deployment budget, the political forces intended to divert Museveni so that he could review his list of new ministers and specifically identify their favorite for the ministry of works. In this, they are seeking to deprive Muhoozi, the commander of SFC, of the benefits he would access from Katumba as the overseer of the DRC mission. They know that if they incapacitate Muhoozi from accessing enormous financial resources they would weaken his ambitions of becoming a president for this country. They also wish to deny him resources he would use to influence the youth constituency which requires a lot of money. To them, Muhoozi is as equally a threat as the official opposition.
Even though the mission to eliminate Gen Katumba didn’t succeed 100%, it achieved 50% of its objectives. The appointing authority definitely has to rethink how to make things move as fast as Katumba would push them without bullet wounds. By all means, a stopgap is currently necessary. But whoever this stopgap is, cannot match similar qualities as Gen Edward Wamala Katumba.
Swaib K Nsereko is an Assistant Lecturer at Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU)
Mass Communication Department.
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