Thought and Ideas
Is Bogere, Tumukunde returning to government?
Posted Sunday, September 29 2013 at 01:00
Back? Two weeks ago, there were reports in sections of the media that Brig Henry Tumukunde and Col Fred Bogere had been approached and were in talks to have them “rehabilitated” and appointed to Cabinet, Sunday Monitor’s Richard Wanambwa looks at their chances of bouncing back and who it would benefit most.
Both Tumukunde and Bogere served as army representative in the 7th Parliament and openly opposed the amendment of the Constitution to give way for President Museveni to get a third term.
Although Bogere abstained from voting in the “partisan” affair, Tumukunde on his part went beyond and opposed the project on a local radio station on May 5, 2005 in what was later termed as harmful propaganda and constituted unconstructive criticism.
Tumukunde was later, under the instruction of the Commander-in-Chief, ordered to resign his seat in Parliament and was court-martialed for allegedly spreading harmful propaganda. He would spend 10 years in court.
At the end of it all, Tumukunde was sentenced to “severe reprimand” provided for under the UPDF Act by the General Court Martial, implying that he has no option but to remain loyal to the institution of the UPDF. Tumukunde has in the past been barred from retiring from the army.
On his side, Bogere, after serving the 7th Parliament, requested not to be nominated by the army again as their representative in Parliament and since then he has been on “Katebe” (redundant) as he practices law at his law firm.
Talking or not?
Considering that many have in the past fallen out with the regime and returned to the fold, this is not altogether inconceivable.
Indeed, according to our investigations, the government has been trying to extend an olive branch to the two, especially since in-and-out ex-cordinator of intelligence Gen David Sejusa jumped ship in May and has remained in exile in London.
This writer understands that the “project” to have the two to return “home” did not start this year but rather the need to have them back was accelerated by the fear that they could join Gen Sejusa’s camp.
There is a growing concern within the establishment that senior officers – many of whom have long applied for retirement but have been held back – for one reason or the other could join active politics on retirement and muddle the politics.
This is fear was confirmed by Maj Gen Fred Biraaro’s declaration shortly after retirement that he was considering running for president in 2016.
The presidential press secretary, Mr Tamale Mirundi, fell short of confirming; only saying there is a list of senior people both from within and without [NRM] who are on the way to joining government.
“What I know is that many of those people who left or were disgruntled are coming back. Museveni is still a stabilising factor in East Africa and very soon people are going to be surprised with those who have been fighting Museveni,” Mr Mirundi said.
Mr Mirundi said President Museveni has since met some of the disgruntled colleagues and their issues are being solved.
National Resistance Movement (NRM) Deputy Spokesperson Ofwono Opondo dismissed talk of wooing the two as a rumour and said the duo is not members of the ruling party but rather serving officers of the army. He, however, said engaging them is good for democracy.
“Somebody is spreading that rumour that they are going to be appointed ministers; appointment to Cabinet is not for appeasement! But it is good to engage them and anybody else and I am not going to be surprised that there are engagements with people like the Ssekikubos,” Mr Opondo said.
Whether it is true or not, President Museveni would be the biggest beneficiary of a comeback for the two as it would demonstrate to his internal detractors that whether they disagree with him or not there is limited room for such people to progress politically, let alone threaten his government.
Besides to talking (or appearing to be talking) to Tumukunde and company also creates suspicion around them; that they can never be trusted since they have no stand. This also makes anybody who challenges the regime from within not to be trusted and is instead treated as another spy for the regime amongst the opposition.
So will Tumukunde and Bogere jump or not?
Two views hold out on this. The first view is that for Tumukunde and group to be relevant, they need to re-join government, while the second view is that having been in the cold for the last 10 years, the two lose nothing and therefore there is no need to re-join government and which government they aren’t sure of its continuity.