opinionBy Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda
The National Resistance Army (NRA) was disbanded with the promulgation of the 1995 Constitution.
The Constituency Assembly (CA) replaced it with Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) and prescribed, among others, for its recruitment, deployment and promotion. The delegates, on behalf of Ugandans, wanted the country to be rid of an army built by an individual or a group of individuals purposely for grabbing and retaining power.
But in total defiance of the spirit of our Constitution, we continue spending money on festivities to mark the day this disbanded NRA captured power. This year's January 26th celebrations to mark 27 years of NRA have been moved to next week on January 30th. Threats of a possible military takeover issued by Gen Museveni during the NRM retreat, and repeated by Defence Minister Chrispus Kiyonga, in a Sunday media interview partly offers an explanation to this defiance.
The first point to note is that the NRA operated two wings: political and military. The formation of the NRM party meant on paper that its promoters had accepted to detach themselves from their military wing. The formation also meant Gen Museveni had accepted to play group politics. But like any totalitarian ruler, Museveni didn't and will not detach himself from the military. He will also never accept to play group politics and will prepare his son to succeed him.
Dr Kiyonga, to justify the possibility of a military takeover, describes UPDF as a revolutionary army. I want to argue, and with empirical evidence, that UPDF is no longer a revolutionary but an elite force built and being built to help Gen Museveni retain power and pass it over to his son, only upon his death. It is not different from Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard or Col Muammar Gaddafi's Khamis Brigade.
Explanation is found in the UPDF Act 2005. The third schedule of the Act lists the members of the High Command at takeover. They are: Generals, Yoweri Museveni, Salim Saleh, David Sejusa, Elly Tumwine and Maj Gen Matayo Kyaligonza as well as Honorary Brig Eriya Kategaya. The other members who are not listed have since died and they include Maj Gen Fred Gisa Rwigyema, Brig Tadeo Kanyankore as well as those who died in the jungles of Luweero and these include Ahmed Sseguya, Sam Magala and Kaggwa.
The above are the revolutionary members of the High Command, but which of them is in charge of the whole, or even any section of the army? Salim Saleh, since his Makindye Calendar House meeting with disgruntled officers who were complaining about the neglect of the revolutionary idea, has been limited to hunting for fortune (money). His influence in the army has waned.
Gen Elly Tumwine, who was nicknamed Gen Dayani by his colleagues after he lost his eye, commanded the army very briefly and as did Saleh. Tumwine is now a full-time politician representing the army in Parliament and an anti-corruption crusader. You all know what befell Matayo Kyaligonza. After nearly two decades in retirement, he was promoted to Maj Gen. All his colleagues are full generals. This group is not anywhere near the command.
The second group that is listed in the UPDF Act are the senior officers as of January 26, 1986, and these are; Major Generals, Joram Mugume, Mugisha Muntu, Kahinda Otafiire, Andrew Lutaaya, Jim Muhwezi, Pecos Kutesa, Lt Gen Ivan Koreta, and colonels, Julius Chihandae, Peter Kerim, Ahmed Kashilingi, Fred Mwesigye, Gyagenda Kibirango, Samson Mande and Amin Izaruku.
This group is also nowhere near the command of the military. The likes of Muntu, Otafiire, Muhwezi, Lutaaya and Mwesigye have all retired and, save for Lutaaya, are all in politics. Mande fled from danger and lives in Sweden. Joram Mugume is in charge of UPDF land, Pecos Kutesa in charge of doctrine, Chihandae a military attaché at an embassy abroad, Kashaka on katebe and Kibirango is in charge of the Mubende sickbay.
Of their colleagues who are not listed, many have since died, including Brig Bamwesiga Kamwesiga, Lt Col Sserwanga Lwanga, Brig Chefe Ali, Brig Akanga Byaruhanga, Col Fred Mugisha, aka Kalampenge, Maj Italikire Kiiza, Col Patrick Lumumba, Col Stanley Muhangi, Col Julius Ayine and Lt Col John Kyatuuka.
Those who are still alive have been made to suffer enduring humiliation. Take for example Joram Mugume, who now has to report to the new Joint Chief of Staff (JCOS) Maj Gen Fred Mugisha who joined the army long after power was captured. What about Chihandae and Mwesigye who were part of the legendary 27 but are still junior to Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba, a 1997 LDU!
Next week I will prove to you that the UPDF has since abandoned the British Defence Review Unit recommendations and the entire army is secretly being handed over to Muhoozi. For example, his Special Forces Group has now been elevated to the Special Forces Command with two units and has taken over the mechanized brigade, artillery, air force and the Nakasongola motorised brigade.
And I think you will no longer ask as to why Muhoozi was in Somalia. Part of his army is deployed there. Maj Gen Robert Rusoke opposed the creation of an elite force, probably the reason he was dropped as Joint Chief of Staff (JCOS) and that work is now in progress.
The author is Kyadondo East MP.