Ugandan Archbishop Meets with President after Accusing Government of Spying on Him
Crux || By Ngala Killian Chimtom || 10 April 2018
President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda on Sunday held private talks with the Archbishop of Kampala, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, in order to try and ease tensions between church and state in the East African country.
The most recent flareup began on Good Friday, when Lwanga publicly accused the government of recruiting Church personnel to spy on the archbishop.
“A few days ago, I got a telephone call… it was a private [number]; so, I didn’t know [who was calling] and this person had an accent from western Uganda and this is what he told me, ‘there are many lies being told to the president; that… they have recruited your priests, your sisters, your brothers even catechists and seminarians…and we give them a lot of money,” Lwanga said on March 30.
“Some of the clergy that have been recruited are giving wrong information; terrible, terrible, terrible messages…This is the humble message I have for His Excellency and the government; you are recruiting wrong people…some of them we have dismissed and the people with that record are some of those who are shining as saints before you, talking about Archbishop [Stanley, the archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda] Ntagali, myself and others,” Lwanga said.
Lwanga said another unidentified person “came at night at his gate and threw a letter. When I opened the letter, I saw a list of those who have been recruited to work for the security agencies.”
The archbishop repeated his claims of state spies infiltrating the Church in an Easter Sunday Mass, and brought up the case of a priest who died recently under mysterious circumstances.
Lwanga warned Museveni not to be guided by people who tell him “lies” such as “competing politicians, business people, and civil servants, members of the press, police officers and the security agencies.”
“Mr. President, these people…are your enemies and they are going to make you fail, because your mind is poisoned, and you act on that information.”
The Ugandan Minister in charge of security, Gen. Elly Tumwiine, added to the controversy when he told New Vision Tv that Lwanga had no reason to worry if he wasn’t doing anything sinister.
But the spokesperson for the police, Emilian Kayima, said steps have been taken to investigate the archbishop’s allegations.
“We will ensure that his security and safety are guaranteed,” he said.
Meanwhile, a statement issued from State House on Easter Monday said: “President Yoweri Museveni and the Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, have today spoken over the phone and agreed on a way forward.”
According to The Observer, the president let the archbishop know his displeasure.
“The president said he had had a better working relationship with Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala because for him if he had any problem, he would seek audience with the president instead of going to the media like Lwanga does,” a government source told the newspaper.
Lwanga said the president had “done well” in calling him, noting that he told the president exactly what he had told the congregation.
Later, Lwanga accused the state of intervening in the governance of the Church.
“It is the government interfering with the Church. If I went and recruited somebody from the army, I think I would be arrested. So, I call upon whoever is concerned in this saga to tell the truth. If it is true that [Ugandan security agencies] are recruiting from my priests, then they are the ones interfering with the administration of the Church,” he said Apr. 4 on the sidelines of the Inter Religious Council of Uganda.
“We don’t ordain priests to be spies,” he said.
Lwanga has been a vocal critic of Museveni, especially after the constitution was being amended at the end of last year to remove presidential term limits.
At the time, Lwanga called on Ugandans to “resist the bad politics” that characterized Uganda.
Museveni also got in his shots. During his New Year speech, the president said religious leaders are “full of arrogance.”
According to a government press release, the April 8 meeting was meant to find a way forward “on ironing out the standing matters,” adding that “investigations are already underway by the relevant authorities.”