5 February 2013

Uganda: Ssemujju Nganda - How Museveni Has Personalized the Army


My last two columns have been on the army - tracing the senior bush war commanders and how Gen Museveni has outmanoeuvred them, forcing some to seek involuntary retirement and rendering others almost useless.

Today when you speak about the National Resistance Army (NRA), you are no longer speaking about a group, but an individual. The achievements of the group have all become personal and the whole history of the bush war has become the history of an individual. Last Wednesday was a holiday to mark the postponed January 26, 1986 event when NRA grabbed power.

And as all of you saw and followed in the media, there was no NRA at Kasese. Today, Wednesday February 6, is Tarehe Sita, the day NRA officially launched its armed rebellion by attacking Kabamba army barracks. But again, this will also pass as a Museveni birthday and not a historical episode a particular group made possible.

I have given you the lists in the last two columns; so, it is clear who commanded the war that brought Museveni to power and what has befallen them as a group or individuals. Of course some senior commanders like Generals David Sejusa, Elly Tumwine, and obviously, Salim Saleh, have managed to hang on but are increasingly becoming irrelevant by the day.

And even then they hang on, not because of their historical contributions, but because they have pledged total loyalty to Ssabalwanyi - the arch-warrior. You remember how a tearful Tinyefuza almost embarrassed himself at the giving away of his daughter when he thanked Museveni for everything, almost including his life.

And when Brig Steven Kashaka visited Brig Henry Tumukunde during his incarceration, he advised him to seek an appointment with Mzee. "Go and kneel before him; he will forgive you like he did to me," he advised.

This Kashaka, who together with Col Ahmed Kashilingi, commanded the 5th battalion, once went to Nakasongola, which then acted as a UPDF reception centre for soldiers returning from various deployments, and filled his pockets with their salaries that he found junior officers distributing on the table. He was forgiven because he knelt before Museveni.

I am very sure there will be no table or tent for the so-called 27 who participated in the attack on Kabamba. The 27 were actually 33, but only 27 carried guns. They include Yoweri Museveni, Lt Fred Rubereza, 2nd lieutenants Sam Katabarwa, Sam Magara, Jackson Mule Muwanga, Julius Chihandae, and Ahmed Sseguya.

Others were: Elly Tumwine, Anthony Kyakabale, Paul Kagame, Fred Rwigyema, Col Fred Mwesigye (MP Nyabushozi), Hannington Mugabi, Jack Mucunguzi, Brig Andrew Lutaaya, Col George Mwesigwa and Col Charles Tusiime Rutarago. Many of these people have since died. Those who are living have almost been mistreated. Mr Museveni has taken advantage of the death of many of his colleagues to gain full control of the military.

These officers, together with the Kyaligonzas and Kashilingis who remained in the Namugongo area to act as a decoy should be the ones to deliver speeches at the Tarehe Sita festivities. In their order of seniority, I gave you the first four categories. Let us look at the last three.

In category five, you have officers who joined the NRA at and after the takeover but had been serving in the army before. These ones are not as senior as the Katumba Wamalas. They include Brigadiers George Etiang, Fred Tolit, Bernard Rwehururu, Maj Gen Francis Oketcho and Colonels Oulanyah, Steven Oluka, Steven Othieno, John Mateeka and Fearless Obwoya.

This group also includes graduates who were targeted for recruitment to act as professionals in the army. They include Brig Dr Sam Lwanga, Col Dr Ambrose Musinguzi, Col Dr Kalongo, Col Dr Grace Mugume, Brig Timothy Sabiiti, Maj Gen James Mugira, Maj Guma Gumisiriza and Lt Col Zziwa.

In the sixth group you have officers like Col Diba Ssentongo, Lt Col Bright Rwamirama, Lt Col Nsobya, Lt Col Jeffer Kasirivu, Brig Burundi Nyamunwanisa, Lt Col Vincent Ssesanga and Maj Aruho. Many in the sixth category ordinarily belong to the fifth but because graduates start at a high rank, they pushed them in another category.

And it is in the seventh category that you find officers like Col Felix Kulayigye, Col Mathew Gureme, Col Joseph Balikuddembe, Maj John Nuwagaba, Lt Col John Mugarura, Lt Col Steven Kananura, Lt Col Male, Maj David Kibirige, Col Baguma Mugume and Maj George Kaliisa. Brigadiers Leo Kyanda, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Wilson Mbadi, Dick Olum, Moses Rwakitarate and Paul Loketch belong to the eighth and ninth column.

The Muhoozis, who are in charge of the army, are not in any way connected or associated with the NRA revolution. They are people who joined the army to serve as career soldiers and not revolutionaries.

When Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga claims that UPDF would want to topple the government because as a revolutionary army it doesn't want to see the country messed up, he is telling a lie. When Museveni talks about an army takeover, he is actually completing the overthrowing of his own revolution to begin governing with a new group that he has individually recruited and nurtured.

When Saleh was sent to arrest Matayo Kyaligonza, he changed his mind after listening to him. These two share a common history and suffered together. Today, Andrew Felix Kaweesa of Police tells off Mugisha Muntu that he no longer understands security issues. Muhoozi Kainerugaba sees no problem humiliating Besigye. That is the total transformation UPDF has achieved.

The author is Kyadondo East MP.

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