Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE | Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde, 61, has made himself very busy in recent weeks. Since March 03, when he declared his intention to stand for the highest political office – the presidency – he has been moving from one media house to another talking about Uganda’s contemporary problems and how he intends to solve them if elected President.
But the more he talks, it appears, the more questions and theories pop up. Is he playing cheap politics to remain relevant in the public domain? Is the former spy chief just posturing or angling for another big appointment from Museveni.
Tumukunde has worked with President Yoweri Museveni since 1982, but has had to leave his [Museveni’s] administration several times only to get back in. His last appointment in Museveni’s administration was Minister of National Security in the Cabinet. He was appointed to that position on June 6, 2016 and was later sacked on March 4, 2018.
In his Feb. 28 letter to the Independent Electoral Commission seeking permission to consult Ugandans on his new move, Tumukunde appeared to summarize what would form his political campaign agenda.
Tumukunde said he intends to consult widely. Among the groups he wants to talk to are existing political parties and formations, security and law enforcement agencies, the rural folk especially farmers, urban dwellers, the youth, women, entrepreneurs, the elderly, public servants, at both national and local government levels, regulatory government institutions, CSOs, and religious leaders among others. But as Tumukunde continues to test Uganda’s murky political waters, more pundits have been querying his move.
“How special is Tumukunde compared with the past and present opposition leaders that have attempted to unseat Museveni?” They point to Museveni’s comrade, Amama Mbabazi, who stood against him [Museveni] in 2016 and only managed to get 136, 159 votes compared to Museveni’s 5, 971, 872 votes and Kizza Besigye’s 3, 508, 687 votes.
Dr. Besigye, Museveni’s bush war physician has attempted to remove him four times and failed. Museveni’s other comrades in the bush war that have fought hard to unseat him are; Gen. Mugisha Muntu, the former army commander who currently serves as the national coordinator for the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) and retired Maj. Gen. Benon Biraro (RIP) and the former coordinator of intelligence services, Gen. David Sejusa, among others.
Tumukunde’s profile weighs big and political experts have suggested that if he is serious about, he will give Museveni sleepless nights. He is a lawyer and has served as the army’s chief of personnel and administration, chief of military intelligence as well as commander of the UPDF Fourth Division, in Gulu in northern Uganda. Tumukunde also served as the Director-General of the Internal Security Organisation and MP representing the Army in the Sixth and Seventh Parliament (1996 to 2005).
Since his sacking as Security Minister in 2018, Tumukunde had kept a low profile until recently when he first declared that he was eying the Kampala Mayoral seat that is currently being held by Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago. Tumukunde has told the media that he first wanted to test his popularity in Kampala before declaring his intention to stand for presidency. He elaborated further his plan in an interview with Daily Monitor on March 06.