Masette Kuya: Obote’s ‘Notorious’ Minister Known For Punching Opponents!

Masette Kuya

A powerful minister whose stay in office is said to have been characterized with alleged violence is dead, leaving a legacy of a dreaded and yet liked man!
Patrick Masette Kuya, was a minister for rehabilitation in Obote II government and also the treasurer of the UPC party at the time.

His reign in office is however, said to have been a chaotic one that no one dared come into an argument with him.
A close ally of Milton Obote with whom they used to load all tribes of ‘bottled-airtime’, Kuya is said to have boxed many in order to prove his authority!

“If you engaged him in an argument, you were assured of getting a hot punch. He used to box people who disagreed with him. He was by all standards a certified chaotic man” says an Inspector.

Even as he was a lecturer in his later days after serving in government, Kuya has spent almost half of his life in self-imposed exile. He was feared a lot that even before he died, some of his family members weren’t sharing a table with him. But who is he in Uganda’s political setting?

Francis Bwengye


A born of Sibanga, Khabutola Subcounty in Manafwa, Kuya was also MP for Bugisu south and chairperson of National Council for Sports. Those who know him actually say, he was a sports man too with good footballing skills besides boxing.

He studied at Makerere and was involved in student politics before he ran to Dar El Salaam as a refugee after the overthrow of Milton Obote.
At the time, Kuya was secretly part of the General Service Unit (intelligence body) as most of the NUSU student leaders had been incorporated into the spy ranks by Akena Adoko.
“These spy students ran away to Tanzania with Obote and actively got involved in Dar politics and stayed close to Obote” says an Inspector.

We’re told when Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere who was badly opposed to Idi Amin saw that the number of Ugandan exiles had grown, he asked them to work together to oust Amin. Unfortunately, Nyerere saw that Obote was unpopular among these elites and asked them to work independently so long as their goal was to get rid of Amin.

The elites (read Ugandan lectures) in Dar including Dan Nabudere, Omwony Ojok and Yash Tandori, ganged up with those of Lusaka (Edward Rugumayo) and Nairobi (Tarsis Bazana Kabwegyere) and started clamouring for reforms in UPC something which rattled Obote. He saw it as a planned second coup against him this time by the elites.

Inspectors said Nyerere urged and arranged several meetings to bring Obote on table with doctrinists led by Nabudere (whom he had fired from UPC in 1967) so as to bolster the struggle but in vain.
“Obote decided to ring fence himself with youth wingers who included Masette Kuya and Luwulixa Kirunda. Obote used these youths to put breaks on the advances. At one of the meetings attended by the Gang of Four, Obote unleashed his attack dogs; Masette Kuya and Luwuliza and they abused the Nabuderes” says an Inspector, adding that following that embarrassment, the Nabuderes decided never to attend any more meetings with Obote and each decided to form their own liberation umberalla. That’s how Museveni birthed his fronasa, Obote Kikosi Maluum, Eteker Ejalu and Akena p’Ajok (SUM) until Amin was ousted.


It is reported that by the time this meeting took place, most Ugandans were opposed to Obote’s return as president. He therefore, decided to create smaller groups disguised as factions so as to maximize his presence and therefore dominance in the meeting. Those small groups were led by Kuuya and when his opponents sensed this plot, they blocked Kuya from attending, and Obote branded the act as ‘politics of exclusion’
“Save for Paulo Muwanga group which was recognized as Obote group, the rest were chased away. When he failed on his attempts, Obote proposed that the Military should be represented in the UNLF hence the formation of the Military Commission where his man Muwanga was named chairman and Nabudere proposed Museveni to be the vice chairman. Therefore, the current arrangement of keeping the army in parliament was birthed during UNLF” says an Inspector.

When Godfrey Binaisa was overthrown alongside the Gang of Four, Obote then in Dar, formed a cabinet list which he handed to Muwanga to announce. The list had Masette Kuya as minister for rehabilitation and Luwuliza as minister for internal affairs.
Obote’s mission according to Inspectors was for Kuya to help Muwanga arrange for his return, prepare UPC delegates conference and also prepare for the 1980 elections.

Upon being appointed, Masette Kuya immediately went on rampage and closed all UNLF offices across the country which had been started by Nabudere who had been the head of political and diplomatic affairs commission under UNLF.

“Masette did more harvoc in Mbale. Here, he even punched the UNLF chairman Bugisu district Jackson Kisolo Makanya. During the elections, he performed the most horrible act when at a DP rally at the cricket ground, he reversed his own Benz and crashed people” says an Inspector who says DP SG at the time Francis Bwengye in his book ‘The Agony of Uganda ‘ describes Masette Kuya as a ‘Lumpen’ following that incident.


When he became minister, Kuya allegedly owned a transport company called Sibanga Transporters and Wanale Quick Transporters.
However, some of his close allies suggest that some of the trucks in these companies could have been part of the rehabilitation package but were allegedly diverted since he was a powerful man and close to Obote. In fact, in the 1980 elections, it’s reported that a powerful Kuya simply allocated MP seats in Bugisu.

During his tenure, he also allegedly oversaw the arrest of Museveni’s pal Maumbe Mukwana on accusations of trying to set up a fighting group in Mbale. Maumbe remained in Luzira until Museveni captured power and released him.
Back home, Kuya was said to be feared among his family members that even when he briefly returned to Uganda in 1995, president Museveni first gave him assurance that he was safe from attacks by his family members. That’s how he visited and shortly returned to Kenya where he died.

His other league of ministers who were feared and allegedly moved with detention orders on their mouths at the time included Samwiiri Mugwiisa, Kagurusi, Luwuliza, Rwakasisi among others. However, according his close pals, Masette Kuya was a terrific footballer and was a substitute to the legendary Ouma before he fled to Tanzania. However, his other contemporaries suggest Kuya was a real brain.

“Uganda had many brains out there in Tanzania and Kuya was one such a person. Imagine if these people had lived in the country, maybe it would be a different country given that there would have been intellectual discourse that would have given our country another better direction. We all miss Kuya. He was a man of zeal and stamina. A man who would call a spade by its name” says one of the inspectors who was close to him.



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