Uganda: Government Says Col Bantariza Died of Covid-19

27 October 2020

The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Tuesday said the death of Col Shaban Bantariza is a big blow to the party, given his loyalty and the fact that he had been appointed by President Museveni to help reconcile party members ahead of 2021.

The deputy executive director of Uganda Media Centre (UMC) died Tuesday morning at Mulago National Referral Hospital where he had been admitted since Sunday.

Government spokesperson, Mr Ofwono Opondo, who doubles as the UMC executive director told journalists that the former army spokesperson had died of Covid-19.

"He died at about 2am this morning from Mulago hospital where he had been admitted in the Intensive Care Unit since Sunday," Mr Opondo said.

Bantariza had been complaining of chest pain, low blood pressure, low blood sugar and cough before he was admitted to hospital.

"He was first admitted in Mbuya Military Hospital on Friday from where he was taken to Victoria and then eventually transferred to Mulago after they had suspected he could have contracted Covid-19," Mr Opondo added.

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"His samples were tested and it was confirmed that he had contracted Covid-19.The postmortem has been done and it confirmed that he died of Covid-19," Mr Opondo told journalists.

The NRM Secretary General, Justine Kasule Lumumba, in a statement issued by the party senior communications manager, Mr Roger Mulindwa said "Col. Bantariza has been a loyal member of the NRM government and the party which he has served till his death. On Thursday last week, he was part of the 47 eminent Ugandans appointed by the Party National Chairman to carry out the reconciliation programs among our members. His area of operation was Butaleja, Busia and Kibuku districts. His commitment on duty and the honesty will highly be valued even after his departure."

After picking the necessary facilitation for the exercise, Bantariza later felt unwell to travel and sent back the resources, according to Mr Mulindwa.

"A few days later, we received the sad news. We feel, Col Bantariza has gone too early and at a time we needed him most. May God give him eternal rest and the family the strength to bear this great pain," Mr Mulindwa," statement adds.

Mr Thomas Tayebwa, the MP Ruhinda North said his District (Mitooma) and Uganda as a country had a son and a mentor.

"Personally he was my mentor, chief advisor and personal friend. He guided me as his MP on many issues of national importance. I want to thank the UPDF fraternity and President's office, Media Centre boss Ofwono Opondo, NRM Chairman's office represented by Hon. Saleh Kamba who joined us to condole with the family at Mulago hospital today morning. Burial arrangements will be announced later by the family and government/UPDF team who are in charge of the programme," Mr Tayebwa said.

Bantariza's death occurred just hours after the Ministry of Health Monday said they had registered 114 new virus infections as the confirmed cases rose to 11,557.

The virus has claimed 101 Ugandans since March this year when the outbreak was confirmed in the country.

At least 7,351 have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals across the country, according to an October 26 update by the Ministry of Health.

UPDF spokesperson

Bantariza served as the UPDF spokesperson from 2000 to 2002 and from 2003 to 2006. Prior to February 2009, Batanzira, at the rank of lieutenant colonel, served as the commander of the Oliver Tambo Leadership School, in Kaweweta, Nakaseke District. On February 26, 2009, he was appointed commandant of the National Leadership Institute (NALI), in Kyankwanzi, Kyankwanzi District.

He served in that capacity until he was relieved of his duties on October 7, 2011.

In June 2013, he was appointed deputy executive director of the National Media Centre.

Fraud charges

On July 2, 2013, at the rank of colonel, he was arrested, charged with embezzlement and remanded to Makindye Military prison by the General Court Martial on charges of alleged fraud.

After proceedings that lasted nearly three years, the Court Martial, then chaired by Major General Levi Karuhanga, on April 14, 2015 acquitted Colonel Bantariza on grounds of lack of evidence against him.

Batanzira was born in Mitooma District in Western Uganda.

He attended St. Leo's College, Kyegobe, in Fort Portal, Kabarole District for his O-Level studies before joining the Catholic brotherhood, where he trained as an elementary school teacher.

Joining Museveni's NRA

While pursuing a course at Makerere University in 1985, he abandoned his studies and joined the National Resistance Army (NRA) then led by Yoweri Museveni.

He attended guerrilla bootcamp in the Kabarore area, in foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains.

He also attended and graduated from the Uganda Senior Command and Staff College, having studied the senior command course offered annually at the college.

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