By Patrick Matsiko wa Mucoori
After the Buganda riots that paralysed the city in September for several days, President Museveni said: Gwowonya eggele yalikusambya. (One whom you cure of a cancerous wound on the leg will use that same healed leg to kick you). Last month when Maj. Gen. James Kazini was killed in a woman friend’s house in Namuwongo, Iremembered Museveni’s statement. The regime that Kazini fought so hard to bring to power and which he fought various battles and wars to sustain, is the one that kicked him out like a dog and eventually led to his demise.
Critics may say it was because of Kazini’s reckless social behavior. It is true Lydia Draru’s house is not the place a major general of Kazini’s status should have been killed at.
Kazini has been in military service for more than half of his entire lifetime, but he died like a delinquent. The regime he fought so hard to bring to and sustain in power is the same regime that caused, directly or indirectly, his tragic death. If Kazini was still in the good books of the regime, nobody would have dared touch him. He would still have a coterie of armed escorts and would therefore not have been so vulnerable to the likes of Draru in the Namuwongo slums. Furthermore, everybody would fear the wrath of the army if they touched a major general. The day he was cast out of the army is the day the journey to his tragic end began.
Don’t be blinded by the accusations of creating ‘ghost soldiers’ on the army payroll. Many of us who have read the report of the inquiry into the ‘ghost soldiers’ know better. Kazini is not the only culprit in this scam. He is guilty but so are more than 100 battalion, brigade and division commanders and many other officers and officials in the Ministry of Defence headquarters.
So why Kazini? How on earth could Kazini alone cause ‘ghost soldiers’ in all army units and when several testimonies before the Mbabazi-Tinyefuza committee show that the practice was widespread and a means through which commanders lived? Was the Shs61m loss he caused to the army the worst loss the UPDF has ever suffered? What is Shs61m compared to about Shs10 billion a UPDF general caused in the purchase of junk military helicopters when the supplying private company, Consolidated Sales Corporation, promised him a ‘commission’ on each helicopter to expedite the contract?
The four helicopters and their auxiliary artillery were never supplied. Even the two choppers that were delivered were of no military value and the air force pilots refused to fly them until they were overhauled. The army not only lost billions of shillings in that single transaction, but the general’s action exposed the country to LRA wrath because the choppers had been ordered to increase the UPDF fire power to finish off the rebels. As a result hundreds and probably thousands died, were abducted or maimed by the rebels because the general preferred an inducement to people’s lives and the country’s security.
We were later told that the general went and confessed ‘his sins’ before the commander-in-chief turned high priest. That upon the general’s repentance, the commander in chief forgave him. If the army could forgive an officer for causing them such an astronomical loss, why did Kazini’s Shs 61m warrant casting him out of the army as ignominiously as he was?
I would excuse the army if Kazini’s punishment was an across the board move to rid the institution of corruption. But it does not appear so. Every time a big scam in the army or security is exposed, we are reminded how they participated in the liberation struggle. Didn’t Kazini participate in the same struggle?
If one looks at the way the military and other security organs handled Kazini’s self-confessed killer at the time of arrest and after, it is apparent that the army was never disturbed by his death. Where else in Uganda have we seen a civilian killing an army officer, moreover a major general, moreover one that has the audacity to call villagers to brag about her prowess, and stay in her house unbothered without fearing the wrath of the military?
Where on earth does a person who has killed another in a scuffle, as we are made to believe, get the luxury of having make-up on her face, doing her hair and arresting officers holding her arm like they were escorting her to a VIP lounge?
A few days after Kazini’s death I had a chat with some NRM friends. Although they agreed that the way Draru was handled was not how suspects of such high profile crimes are usually treated in Uganda, they insisted that despite the confession, she still has a right to fair treatment under the constitution.
I was rather amused (not impressed) by this simplistic reasoning. If the UPDF can beat up every passerby and paralyse the whole city just because Ken Lukyamuzi, Ssebaana Kizito or Kizza Besigye is going to hold a rally at Constitution Square, what about a person who has killed a former army commander in cold blood? You mean Besigye, Lukyamuzi or Ssebaana do not have similar rights of fair treatment under the constitution? I put it to my NRM friends. They fell silent. The Banyankole say ‘Nowabyamire nanyina nyekiro bukasheesha bamumanya (even one who had an illicit affair with his mother under cover of darkness, became known when the day broke).
When the day breaks, Kazini’s killers and their masters will be known.
First there was a theory that Kazini suspected Draru of sleeping with another man in the house and came back to catch her. If that was the case, why would he have left his revolver/gun in his car outside the gate if he was preparing for a fight? It does not make sense. Then people suggested that Draru killed Kazini in self-defence using a hollow iron bar. If indeed the two were involved in a scuffle, where did Draru get the latitude to free herself from Kazini, collect the iron bar, come back and hit him without him raising his arms in defence? Did Kazini see Draru approaching with the iron bar and remained standing motionless as if in parade posture and waited for her to hit him until he fell down? Even if that were true, such an iron bar can only cause a blunt injury and internal bleeding, not deep injury with external bleeding as in the Kazini case. This theory too must collapse.
Kazini’s killers must be in shock and panic at how the truth travels faster than lies. Like the Banyankole saying, the one who slept with his mother at night will be known during the day.