The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Ssemujju Nganda - Celebrating NRA Is an Insult to Officers

opinion

Today, January 30, 2013, the National Resistance Army (NRA) celebrates the day (January 26) it captured state power, 27 years ago.

And in a week's time, again the NRA will mark the day (February 6) it officially launched the bush war. All these would have been innocent milestones worth remembering if they didn't substitute more deserving national days and had they not been personalized. There are highly-trained UPDF officers (careerists) who didn't take part in the guerrilla war but have diligently served their motherland - the reason they easily got integrated even in a partisan army.

They include Lt Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, Major Generals Joshua Masaba, Ali Kiiza, Emilio Mondo, Bernard Rwehururu, Fred Oketcho and Julius Oketa. In last week's column, I listed the first and second category of the senior NRA commanders. In the military, they refer to them as columns.

The above officers who have served virtually in all armies (Amin, Obote and Museveni) qualify to be in the second category - some observers place them even in the first - with the likes of Museveni, Saleh and Tinyefuza.

Some UPDF officers have participated in overthrowing at least two governments. It is, therefore, not wise to celebrate the overthrowing of governments as some, even in the UPDF, have done it more than once. UPDF must think of a national army day which accommodates everybody. The second point is that if you must celebrate history, don't personalize it and don't be selective.

If the overthrowing of governments is worth celebrating, then the efforts of everybody must be recognized. Unfortunately, the history and achievements of NRA have been personalized by its commander-in-chief. Battles won during the war were won because of his ingenuity and efforts.

That is why it is him who is "Ssabalwanyi" and not Maj Herbert Itongwa or Col Fred Mugisha who was baptized "Kalampenge" for his heroic fights and being fearless.

When I left school, Phillip Wafula Oguttu gave me a job at The [Daily] Monitor. For all my time there, the bosses (Oguttu, Obbo, Ouma, Aliro and Sserugo) never benefited from any promotion or awarded themselves any medals.

Instead, it is us the staff who benefited from promotions and gifts for exemplary performance. With NRA, it is the boss who benefits from the highest rank, title and medals. Instead of promoting his staff, the boss is promoting and rewarding himself. That, by the way, explains why he has built himself a new State House, bought himself a new jet, a new state-of-the-art chopper, state-of-the-art Mercedes Benz, etc. Everything is about himself.

People he commanded to fight, those who did the actual fighting, have either been neglected to die humiliating deaths, unfairly sacked, incarcerated or framed with fictitious charges. If Museveni belonged to the first category of NRA and Mugume, Muntu and Kutesa to the second, there are officers who belonged to the third, fourth, fifth, etc.

Let us look at a representative sample of officers in the third and fourth categories. These should have been the ones commanding the army and not an LDU recruit of 1997.

In the third category, you have officers like Colonels Frank Kaka, Amanya Mushega, Tom Butime; Lieutenant Colonels Anthony Kyakabale, Ronald Kawuma (RIP), Edward Bunihizi, Kazoora (not John Kazoora); and Majors Victor Bwana (RIP), Nyansio Bamwanga, Peter Rwamukaga, Dodovic Rwangira, Magala Proof, Magala Enkuba-ejja, Jero Bwende (RIP) and Herbert Itongwa. In this category you also have officers like Maj Gen Paul Kagame and Maj Gen Levy Karuhanga.

In the fourth category you have Major Generals Nathan Mugisha, Robert Rusoke, Benon Biraro, James Kazini (RIP); Brigadiers Henry Tumukunde, Sam Kawagga, Geoffrey Muheesi, Sam Wasswa, Gavas Mugyenyi, Prossy Nalweyiso; Colonels Steven Rwabantu, John Baptist Mulindwa, Dick Bugingo, David Kaboyo, Moses Lukyamuzi, Sula Ssemakula (RIP), Jackson Bell, John Kasaija, Edson Muzoora (RIP), Fred Bogere, Elly Kayanja, Yowasi Kiiza; Lieutenant Colonels Jet Mwebaze (RIP), Michael Dradiga, Bruce Muwanga, Drago Nyanzi (RIP), Kizito Kyamufumba (RIP), Kiwanuka, Sonko Lutaaya, and Sikajje.

Others would be Majors Moses Kanabi, Kalanzi, Byemalo Mijumbi, Mufumba; Lt Gen Kale Kayihura, Gen Aronda Nyakairima and Commander Kateregga Kyenvangugula.

Celebrating NRA's history means recognizing the efforts of the above officers and their other colleagues. The commander-in-chief operates a State House scholarship scheme ostensibly to take care of the children of fallen comrades like the above; but in truth, it has also benefited other people.

You heard him while in Kyankwanzi when he claimed my friend Theodore Ssekikubo was a beneficiary of his scholarship, and I know other people like Rose Namayanja. Children of many "fallen colleagues" have dropped out of school. Any well-meaning person would have prepared packages for the families and rested this NRA affair.

Can you imagine that Tumukunde and Nalweyiso are of the same rank with Muhoozi? Remember it is Col Gaddafi who promoted Muhoozi to the rank of major. The key point here is that the history of NRA is now being selectively quoted to blackmail the population. Next week I will give you the remaining category, including where to place Col Felix Kulayigye and Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

The author is Kyadondo East MP.

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