COMMENT | AHMED KATEREGGA MUSAAZI | The mass promotion of over 2,000 officers recently, is still the talk of the country. The promotions ranged from the most junior ranks all through to Colonels, Brigadiers, Major Generals, Lieutenant Generals to Generals.
Outstanding veteran Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) officers were promoted to the rank of full General, in preparation for retirement. These are Ivan Koreta and Joram Mugume.
Koreta is one of the surviving Front for National Salvation (FRONASA) veterans that joined the struggle in 1977 and trained by Front for Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) in Mozambique. The other survivors include Gen.Salim Saleh.
So, for a man who saw service since 1977, participated in 1979 liberation war, five-year bush war from 1981 to 1986, Commanding Officer of First Battalion, leading a Uganda contingent to Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Liberia, Division Commander of First Division, Internal Security Organisation (ISO) Director General, Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, among others, being promoted to a full General was overdue.
Then when it comes to Joram Mugume, he is remembered for having been Chief of Combat Operation in 1989 replacing Gen. David Sejusa, who was appointed Minister of State for Defence. Then in 1998, he became Deputy Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), deputizing Gen.Abubaker Jeje Odong. He is a very disciplined officer.
These have joined other Generals, some in active service and others already retired. Those in active service include Gen. Elly Tumwine, former Army Commander, former Director General of External Security Organization (ESO), former Chairperson of UPDF Court Martial and now Minister for Security, the controversial David Sejusa the former Coordinator of Security Services who is about to retire, Edward Katumba Wamala the former Inspector General of Police (IGP), CDF and now Minister of State for Works, Kale Kayihura the former IGP, who is on “katebe” and charged in Court Martial.
The retired ones are President Yoweri Museveni who is Commander in Chief, Salim Saleh who is Senior Presidential Advisor and Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation, Moses Ali who is First Deputy Prime Minister, and Jeje Odong, who is former Army Commander and now Minister for Internal Affairs.
While these promotions were overdue and cut across, critiques have not rested, they have tried to bastardize the promotions by claiming that National Resistance Army (NRA) now UPDF is president Museveni’s personal army.
Whereas the role of President Museveni in recruiting a national people’s army for Uganda cannot be downplayed, it is wrong, unfortunate and unfair to call it a personal army yet by all means and standards UPDF is a national army, a people’s force.
During a ‘Face the Press’ program which used to be on Uganda Television (UTV) now Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC TV) in 1993, produced by Drake Sekeba now working for Delta TV, Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) leaders Cecilia Ogwal, James Rwanyarare and Sam Odaka claimed that NRA was a personal army of Museveni.
The President invited them for a rebuttle which they feared and declined to attend. He however went ahead to explain how all the fighting groups that fought side by side with NRA in the liberation struggle were integrated into one army.
These were Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM) under the late Dr. Lutakome Kayiira, Federal Democratic Movement (FEDEMU) under the late Lt.Col.George Nkwanga and Maj.Gen.Kasirye Gwanga, Uganda National rescue Front (UNRF) under Gen.Moses Ali and Former Uganda National Army (FUNA) under the late Maj.Gen.Isaac Lumago, were integrated.
Then the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) under Tito Okello and Lt.Gen.Bazilio Olara Okello, was also integrated and its Army Chief of Staff the late Maj.Gen.Zeddy Maruru and his Aide De Camp, Katumba Wamala (who was a collaborator through Salim Saleh), were captured in Kampala and surrendered. This shows that the current UPDF is historically nothing less of a national army and whoever makes claims to the contrary has simply not read our history.
Since 1988, advertisements were published in local dailies for national recruitment depending on district quotas.
Even those that belonged to rebel groups like Uganda Peoples Democratic Army (UPDA) under Otema Alimadi and Angela Okello, Holy Spirit Movement under Alice Lakwena, Force Obote Back Again (FOBA) and Bring Obote Back Urgently (BOBU) under Aggrey Awori, Uganda Peoples Army (UPA) under Peter Otai and William Omaria, Ninth October Movement under (NOM) under David Anyoti, Uganda National Rescue Front (UNRF) II under Ali Bamuze, West Nile Bank Front under Col.Juma Oris, Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) under Joseph Kony, Allied democratic Forces (ADF) under Jamil Mukulu, National Army for Liberation of Uganda (NALU) under Amon Kabunga Bazira, and many others were all rehabilitated and integrated into NRA now UPDF.
All in all, the promoted UPDF officers from Private to General who made it to the coveted list of promotion in rank on Friday 08th February 2019 deserved the promotions and should be congratulated. But above all, the Commander in Chief should be congratulated the most for nurturing and presiding over a disciplined army that all Ugandans are proud to be associated with.
May God Almighty continue to lless our dear sisters and brothers in Uniform.
Haji Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi is a Communications Assistant at Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC), Ministry of ICT & National Guidance.