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It is a success story for Museveni and Uganda as 49 UPDF Generals retire

PHOTO SHOOT: CIC Museveni after retiring several Generals

COMMENT | Samson Tinka | On 30th Aug 2022, the UPDF family was all smiles when President Yoweri Museveni, the Commander In Chief of the armed forces retired 49 generals of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) at a ceremony held at State House Entebbe. General Elly Tumwine, who died last week and was buried on Tuesday 1st Sept was the 49th of the retiring generals.

Similarly, 267 senior officers at the rank of Major to Colonel, who were part of batch 12, were seen off Tuesday. A total of 11 batches have been seen off since 2014, making 9026 officers who have been retired since then.

Most of these retirees joined the army at very young age some escaped from school, others had just finished university or colleges. The armies before NRA/UPDF had a bad reputation, and the young lads of the 80s had no examples to look up to.

Even within the region, apart from Kenya, the rest of the countries were struggling. Tanzania had at the end of the 70s, sent troops to Uganda in the overthrow of Idi Amin, and many Ugandans did not have good memories of the ‘bakombozi’. Most Ugandans especially from west lost lots of wealth in form of cows, goats, buildings, houses, lives in the war between Amin and Tanzanians. Therefore, the young boys trying to join the army after, simply chose death before life by joining Museveni in the struggle against bad leadership of that time.

An army that started from scratch, has clearly now evolved into a very strong army not only in East Africa but also in Africa in general.

The bush times

The 27 men who started the war against tyranny in the early 80s, grew slowly into 1000s of men and women. This group had no informs, guns, bullets, food, medication, cellular phones, clothing’s etc. The only things with them were revolutionary songs, strategic leaders, a will for ‘mission possible’ and some civilian supporters. The mission from on set was turned into mission possible, and these young chaps engaged government forces with both zeal, courage and every effort available. This was the biggest asset available. The morale was at 100%. Within 5 years, the war was over, thanks to team effort with fantastic leadership of Gen Museveni. The bush war stories are hard to comprehend. They were of hunger, rain, diseases, uncertainties, wild animals, snakes, ambushes, no weapons. A few things though kept the teams together – discipline, a resolute plan and agenda to rescue Uganda from bad politics and provide superb leadership.

The Museveni factor

The Museveni factor was key from the begining. It was evident that from Museven’si school days that he was determined to oppose bad politics. He carried along his beliefs wherever he went. He discussed his ideology to every individual and group around him. He convinced his age mates, the elderly, and the young of the Uganda he wanted. He engaged power brokers of the time like President Julius Nyerere to believe in his version of democracy. He risked his life, family and the little assets he had, to keep his Ugandan dream alive.

In his book ‘Sowing the Mustered Seed, Museveni narrates how on one early morning in January 1971 as he left his house in Kireka to Kampala town center, he passed by a house where Sir Richard Kaijuka stayed. From a distance, Kaijuka asked Museveni in Runyankore “Iwe Nozahi” meaning you, where are you going?

It was the day Amin had overthrown Obote’s government, and the news had not yet reached a youngly Museveni. Without any delay, that same day, Mzee through proxies begun his journey that took him to Tanzania in protest at what had happened, and the rest is history.

From 1971 onwards, the Museveni factor was a huge agenda. He exhibited a number of strong qualities like mobilization, leadership, engagements, risk taking, risk mitigations, ability to rally behind tired militants. Museveni grew small un equipped, not well trained militants into big numbers.

Subsequent meetings between Nyerere and other Ugandan leaders so a decision to fight the government that started with the 1981 bush war that ended in 1986.

The retired Generals

Through president Museveni’s leadership, the now retired Generals grew through ranks to become generals. These officers commanded or fought without formal ranks. The ranks were regularized much later I think in 1987 or so. This means, clearly the boss and subject relationship was non-existent. What was witnessed and practiced was comradeship. In fact, after the war, militants and officers used to address themselves as comrades’. These were purely Mzees tactics. To him it is the results not the titles, the age, the tribe, the color, the ethnicity but the objective. To me this has been the most accolade on Mzees head. The ability to pull his team together and make them believe.  The ability to groom the young officers through adulthood to retirement age is not a simple victory. Whereas some died either on battlefield or sickness, accident like Comrade Aine Julius, the retirees have left when still held Mzee in high esteem. This is a plus for Mzee.

Both the retired and still the serving but aged Generals resurrected Uganda from the dead. No doubt between 1971 to mid 1980 Uganda was a country literally in ICU in every sector. These retired generals even after the bush war continued with fighting rebels in every axis of this country – Lakwena, ADF, LRA, urban terrorism, cattle wrestling etc. These officers moved from front to front often with success, and the the few drawbacks were drowned by the motto ‘no retreat no surrender’. They fought, won, celebrated but largely remained disciplined.    Some will disagree with me, as many have either witnessed or heard about other generals who have not only committed crimes but have commissioned them under their file and ranks. Even those Ugandan Generals that have fallen short in some instances, its been on individual basis.

Retired Generals, thank you for the sacrifice, the effort, dedication and the millage covered for bettering Uganda. Your wounds, blood, pain, time was not in vain.

The still serving young Generals

The mantle has been passed to you, the ball is in your court, and the task to carry on progress has been handed over to you. You have a chance to shine even better because, you have much more resources and examples to look at. Ugandans will share your scorecard and it’s up to you to break the pot on the door step. Gen Nalweyiso, Gen Kashaka, and team will seat back and watch, give them a last smile as they crawl to their final resting places. Don’t remind them of Kabamba, Katonga, Masulita, Lubiri battles. Its very possible to hurt their scars. Comrade Angina, Leopold Kyanda, Gen MK, CDF and the rest, find time and check on these afandes in their retirement for consultations but also for a cup of tea and a shot of whisky so that you tap on blessings.  Always engage politicians. Engage them offline to ensure that harmony prevails between politicians and the army. Resist confrontational engagements because at the end of the day, it’s a peasant of Ayivu, Kalangala, Kisoro, Kasese, Kazo, Kyanamukaka that will suffer. Young Generals, listen to Mzee, seek appointment with him, because he is the master card in this game. Avoid a culture of grabbing land, accumulating wealth at the expense of the mwanaichi as this will cause friction within the communities.  On 8th Sep1944,  Mao Zedong said “serve the people” it’s still Chinese communist party motto. Young generals, please serve the people.

To Gen Museveni, you did your part. To the retired Generals, you scored above average. To the serving young Generals the public eyes are on you either to harness the achievements or crucify Ugandans on the cross. The choice is yours. When you leave office in the evening as you are being driven home, play two or three revolutionary songs to remind you of the bloodshed of kazimoto, Fred Gisa Rwigyema, black, suicide and the rest. If not satisfied with the songs, drive to Luwero and look at those mass graves. Maybe, you will be reminded that Uganda deserves better generals than those that retired.

Aluta continua!


 Samson Tinka is a safety and security consultant | Director Matts Secure Solutions Ltd Frequent flyer of Uganda Airlines | tindsam@yahoo




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