I thank Mr Museveni for the elaborate response to remarks I made; published in the 3rd February Sunday Monitor. I am grateful that he did not threaten to crush or put me 6 feet under, as sometimes happens. Reasoned arguments are, indeed, the rational way to deal with differing views.
I am also grateful because Mr Museveni’s response goes a long way to confirm central themes in my remarks for those who may have had doubt. My remarks covered two central themes; the role of the military in the NRM regime (prompted by recent utterances of coup threats) and the achievements of the NRM regime. In this response, I will only deal with whether the NRM regime is a military dictatorship.
Mr Museveni clearly states in his response that “An NRA/UPDF Military government, provided we had our own financial resources (we did not have to depend on the outside for money) would have moved much, much faster on the transformation of Uganda and Dr Besigye knows that very well”.
He laments that indiscipline by the political actors, saboteurs, or egocentric actors was allowed to cause “needless debates” that delayed progress, including industrialisation. The undisciplined political actors, saboteurs, and egocentric actors from his narrative are people in NRM or opposition parties that question his government’s policies or actions.
He cites (as many times before) the example of MPs who opposed the Bujagali dam project. I intend to comment on Bujagali’s delayed completion when dealing with NRM’s achievements.
For now, what’s important to note is that legitimate, necessary debate on policy and parliamentary oversight is regarded by Mr Museveni as subversive. Having views different from his is indiscipline and egocentric! This underpins how Mr Museveni relates to Parliament (and other institutions of State) up to now.
It is possible to have an efficient Military regime; that espouses good development policies, is disciplined and acts patriotically to spur development. In such a regime, however, citizens have very limited or no power and their rights and freedoms can be abused at will.
This is a Military dictatorship; it’s ability to spur development notwithstanding. In any case, this kind of regime will inevitably degenerate into a corrupt and decadent monster due to the absence of checks on it. This desired path of Mr Museveni could not be pursued because, as he admits, he didn’t have his own financial resources and “had to depend on the outside for money”. This, then, is what compelled him to opt for a civilian cover to the regime.
Even if the NRM military regime had all the money and was not inconvenienced by civilian “saboteurs”, it would not have transformed Uganda. This is because the leaders of the military regime have no ideological clarity and commitment; they are not patriotic or disciplined.
Without the “saboteurs”, Saleh would not have been forced to resign twice due to corruption; what has been witnessed in ghost-soldier scandals, procurement scams in UPDF etc, would have been the centre-stage of government. The privatisation of public companies scandal is well known; “Saboteurs” saved Dairy Corporation from being sold for $1 dollar by Mr Museveni; etc.
Mr Museveni asserts, in his response, that “since 1986, NRA/UPDF ensures peace as well as stability and the civilians manage or mismanage the politics, the administration and the justice”.
He claimed to be answering me “for the young people who do not know our history”.
As part of informing the young people, can Mr Museveni deny the following or accept lying to them:
- From 1986 to 1996, Lt. Gen. Museveni was the President and head of government, Minister of Defence, Speaker of Uganda Parliament, and Operational Commander of the Defence Forces.
- 40% of the NRC Members (MPs) were NRA officers.
- From 1986 – 1996, several serving NRA officers headed government ministries, departments of government, and Local governments.
- NRA was represented in the Constitutional (Odoki) Commission and in the Constituent Assembly.
- NRA Council (chaired by Lt. Gen. Museveni) debated and passed resolutions on restitution of Kingdoms.
- From 1996 – 2013, the UPDF has adversely interfered with elections; more especially, presidential elections. The Supreme Court judgments clearly document this. In 2001, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission wrote to President Museveni desperately stating that the election was being disintegrated by the Military (letter on Court record).
- Mr Museveni was reported to have publicly stated that he went through the furnace to get power and cannot be removed by a mere piece of paper. He didn’t deny the report.
- UPDF MPs sit on the NRM side of Parliament and vote (without exception) with NRM MPs.
- UPDF always surrounds the Parliamentary buildings whenever a controversial matter is to be voted on; eg: the abolition of presidential term limits.
- UPDF (Black Mambas) have made a direct assault on the Judiciary twice.
- Lt. Gen. Museveni has made public ominous threats against the Judiciary that he refused to withdraw even when the entire Judiciary went on strike.
- Presently, there is threat of a military coup. In Mr Museveni’s response, he declined to clarify what he said in Kyankwanzi. What Gen. Aronda said was public.
The above cannot amount to civilians managing the politics, administration and justice since 1986. As I pointed out, what’s causing discomfort now is that the thin veil of civilian participation has started challenging the Ssabagabi (King of Kings); thereby turning into saboteurs, egocentrics, opinionated, and undisciplined actors!
UPDF is not a professional state institution:
Again, Mr Museveni’s response to “Petty Issues” I raised helped to confirm that UPDF is not run as a professional state institution, but primarily a tool for regime protection. The following is noteworthy:
1. Mr Museveni says the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen. Aronda, salutes Gen. Saleh and Tumwine “because they are senior to Aronda in serving the country”. If the two are Serving Officers of the UPDF, what are the criteria of Seniority within the force? Sec 8 (2) of UPDF Act provides that CDF shall be responsible for Command, Control and Administration of the Defence Forces.
It means that all serving officers of UPDF are placed under the command and control of the CDF.
Saleh and Tumwine are not the only officers senior to Aronda in “serving the country”; is he therefore supposed to salute all of them. Can seniority be measured by the number of guns captured in battle or “firing the first (errant) shot at Kabamba”.
In professional military institutions, seniority is determined only by rank and appointment. Meritorious or exceptional service can be rewarded with medals or other decorations that do not affect the command structure in the Force.
Mr Museveni says he retired Gen. Saleh in 1989 for drunkenness and called him back in 1996 “when he corrected his ways”. Were the procedures for Discharge and Re-engagement provided for under the law followed? Only officers/men who did not offend the Code of Conduct can be re-engaged!
The only purpose for the clumsy, irregular seniority standard is to perpetuate Saleh’s control of UPDF as a regime force.
2. Muhoozi’s illegal recruitment, meteoric rise and preferential appointments:
Recruitment, training, deployment, and promotions of UPDF officers are regulated by the UPDF Act and Regulations- Conditions of Service for officers (CS-O).
All these are available at the Government Printers for anyone interested. These determine what’s lawful or illegal. Sec 51(1) of UPDF Act states that “Authority to recruit persons into the Defence Forces is vested in the Defence Forces Council”.
Regulation 7 of CS-O provides the procedure for Application for Commission. A person shall not be enrolled into the UPDF unless he/she fills a prescribed form and has been selected by a committee.
After enrollment, one must undergo the prescribed basic military training; during which, he/she is graded and reported upon by the officer in charge of training. After the training, one must appear before the Commissions Board for a decision of the Board whether that person shall be commissioned to the UPDF and whether he should go for an officer training in a military academy.
This is the legal process that Muhoozi did not submit himself to before getting enrolled and training as a Cadet Officer. How was he selected to attend the course at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, UK?
Regulation 25 of CS-O provides for the promotions of officers. It states: (1) The promotion of an officer shall be recommended by the commanding officer, and the recommendations shall be considered by the Board on three different occasions and shall be within the following service brackets—
(a) after 12 months’ commissioned service, to Lieutenant;
(b) after five to six years’ commissioned service, to Captain;
(c) after 11 to 13 years’ commissioned service, to Major;
(d) after 18 to 20 years’ commissioned service, to Lieutenant Colonel; and
(e) after 21 to 23 years’ commissioned service, to Colonel.
(2) Notwithstanding subregulation (1) of this regulation, exceptional circumstances may be considered in addition to commissioned service.
(3) Promotions of officers above the rank of colonel shall be made by the commander in chief on the advice of the High Command.
(4) The High Command may vary the service brackets for promotions under this regulation.
Muhoozi illegally joined the UPDF in 1999 as a Cadet Officer; he was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in 2000. He became a Major in 2003; Lt. Col in 2008; and attained his current rank of Brigadier General in 2012, after 12 years of commissioned service.
He ought to have been considered for promotion to rank of Colonel after 21 years of commissioned service. Why hasn’t the “clogging on ranks” caused by lack of money to retire other officers affected Muhoozi? What exceptional circumstances advised his meteoric rise to his current rank in less than half the required time?
Is it also a coincidence that the “school friends he asked to bring along for elementary training during his “A” level holiday” have all had meteoric rise in rank and appointments of UPDF? I am not questioning their “patriotic ideological interest in the Army” or whether they are “Godsend to the Army” as characterized by Mr. Museveni. What I question is whether they follow the laws and regulations that govern UPDF.
When Muhoozi was, in 2007, admitted to the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA, he had to be given a temporary rank of a Major to enable him access to the course because he was still too junior for it. Were there no qualified officers with an appropriate rank to do the course?
Muhoozi’s spokesman Capt Edson Kwesiga while responding to my interview remarks in the New Vision of 5th February, wrote that “of course Besigye never attended any course, not even cadet”.
Let it be known that I was at a rank of Senior Officer in January 1986 (though now omitted in the official list contained in UPDF Act); was commissioned to the rank of Lt. Colonel, when formal NRA ranks were awarded in 1987; attended the Officers’ Basic Course (OBC) 2nd in-take in 1990 with, among others, the current CDF Gen Aronda (Captain at the time) and was presented a trophy by President Museveni for being the best in theory and in the field. I was never offered another chance for other courses till I retired in 2000.
Another matter of curiosity is that since Muhoozi was “commissioned” to rank of 2nd Lt., he has been attached to the unit that protects the president up to now. It was one unit (PPU), then a Brigade (PGB), and now Special Forces.
One would be justified in wondering whether he joined UPDF because of “ideological interest in the Army” as claimed by his father or simply to protect the regime.
Muhoozi is illegally in UPDF. The parliamentary Committee on Defence and Security should take interest in this matter. His commission should be nullified for it was illegally obtained.
3. Mr Museveni’s military combat dress: The reasons he advances for his actions are (a) he is the Commander-in-Chief (CIC), (b) he likes the uniform he has used while in previous wars, (c) he was sworn-in as president in the Army green uniform and (d) the World war veterans are a beautiful sight in their uniforms and a visual lesson in our history.
Military dress is supposed to be gazetted and regulated by law to protect the security of military installations, work and operations. Mr Museveni conveniently doesn’t refer to rules. Military attire cannot be determined by the likes of a person or by historic sentiments. The CIC of the Defence Forces must be a civilian according to our Constitution. That’s how the UPDF is supposed to be subordinate to civilian authority. It cannot be the license for donning combat uniforms. If the law provides for civilians putting on ceremonial military dress, they can do so.
Worse still Mr Museveni’s use of the UPDF combat uniforms is not restricted to official ceremonies. He has been prominently seen recently wearing combat dress for civilian burials, weddings, commissioning a small dam, addressing Makerere students etc. He even personally carries an assault machinegun, as he did while inspecting the Bududa mudslide disaster!
The timing of wearing military attire betrays the intention. It is brought out when there are political challenges (from the “saboteurs, undisciplined political actors etc); for which he needs to remind all concerned where the power lies.
All the above confirm that the NRM regime is essentially a Military dictatorship. Mr Museveni’s response also exposes his claim to being the NRM struggle; monopoly of the right/ correct information; micromanaging of the government and contempt for institutions.
Mr Museveni claimed in his response that I attacked the “achievements of NRM over the last 43 years of struggle for liberation”. NRM as an organisation was formed at the end of 1981.
NRM’s entire life before and after 1986 is 31 years. Museveni, however claims to have started struggling for Uganda’s “liberation” in 1969/70 as a student. His struggle is the NRM struggle! Replying or clarifying matters of government does not have to take the personal time of the president; forcing him to “abandon more useful work”.
Mr John Nagenda, Senior Presidential Advisor on Media, who would be well informed and responding to the “lies and malice” of the Monitor and its collaborators, is among those who, according to his boss, “appear to have been genuinely duped by this subterfuge manufactured by the Daily Monitor”!!
In conclusion, Uganda is presently run, essentially, as a military dictatorship; the UPDF is not run as a professional national institution envisaged under the law and Constitution, but as a regime-protection force; and Mr Museveni is the common factor in mismanaging the politics and the military.