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Man who treated bush war fighters demands UGX 1Bn compensation

Swizin Mugisa, a retired medical assistant. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A man who treated civilian fighters that were falling sick during the bush war that ushered in President Yoweri Museveni’s government in 1986 is demanding for compensation of 1 billion shillings.

Swizin Mugisa, a retired medical assistant and resident of Bukuuku sub county in Kabarole district says that during the bush war, he supplied drugs and treated all the fighters that would sustain injuries specifically in areas of Kazingo and Rubona but has never been paid for his services.

He adds that on top of giving treatment, he was also involved in intelligence gathering, a job that he says put his life at a high risk and indeed he has since lost his left eye, deaf and generally too weak to sustain himself.

He has about a dozen of documents that confirm the 71-year-old is indeed known by top government officials including President Museveni as a civilian war veteran and one who immensely contributed to the liberation struggle.

For instance, in a letter dated April 15, 2002, Jacob Asiimwe, the special assistant to President Museveni wrote to the Minister for Security in the office of the President confirming that Internal Security Organization – ISO owed him some money.

“After the war, ISO promised to give Mr Mugisa 8 million shillings to enable him rehabilitate himself. However, up to now, this poor man has not yet received anything and he is now a laughing stock before the movement detractors,” reads part of Asiimwe’s letter.

But Mugisa recalls that as he was still chasing for compensation, his health deteriorated and he needed urgent medical attention. He was losing the sense of hearing and a wound he says was caused by a bullet around his left eye was causing a serious eye infection.

It is at that time that Mugisa started roaming around offices looking for more help. After an exchange of several letters between the Ministry of Health, State House and Ministry of Labor, Gender and Social Development, his fears were confirmed.

The Ear, Nose and Throat – ENT Surgeon Dr Byenkya from Mulago, in his letter to then Minister of State for Disability and Elderly, Florence Naiga, noted that Mugisa had a hearing impairment due to acoustic trauma – an injury to the hearing organ due to excessive loud sound.

The surgeon suspected that the deafness could have been from grenade explosions. He then recommended that Mugisa seeks treatment from health facilities abroad.

“In the interest of definitive treatment and follow up of his condition, it is prudent for Mzee Mugisa to get a third/fourth expert opinion of our counterparts in better-equipped centers in Central Europe,” reads part of Byenka’s October 2002 letter to Naiga.

Even though Mugisa actually went to Germany and received some treatment at the expense of State House, he adds that he is now partially blind and has never regained his hearing ability.

In 2004, Mugisa embarked on his chase for compensation. State House asked him to summarize all the relevant documents and claim his money. In his April 2004 letter, he wrote to President Museveni and claimed over 100 million shillings. This partly included 18 million shillings that he says was for his clinic in Kazingo and the drugs he used to administer to the sick bush war fighters.

He also demanded that he gets a pay for his contribution to the liberation struggle since he was a widower after losing his wife who was also a bush war veteran in 2003, leaving him as a single father to seven children. But his demands have never been met.

His daughter, Unit Kwerwanaho narrates that at times her father’s health worsens but they fail to take him to hospital due to financial constraints and is afraid that they may lose him in the near future.

Kweranaho says that she has been contacting different leaders in the district to get her father’s compensation but her efforts have never yielded results.

For instance she says that when she approached the chairperson of Kabarole civilian war veterans John Kinuge, he told her that his father and mother were all compensated in the early 2000’s and they squandered the money.

For his part, Kinuge says that there is no single coin that Mugisa owes by the government. He explains that the civilian veterans in Kabarole are now about 5,000 and 3,366 of these have since been compensated with money between 1.5 million shillings and 5 million shillings depending on their contribution to the liberation struggle.

However, he adds that Mugisa was compensated long time ago and he is not part of the civilian veterans that he heads though he did not produce evidence that the frail man was paid.

But Mugisa now wants to meet Museveni and explain his woes and why he needs the 1 billion shillings insisting that the president has records that he was never paid.

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