Lt. Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the First Son, has for the first time spoken out publicly about his decision to join the army, saying it informed by the quest to take over from the old guard of liberators and ensure sustained peace in the country.
Lt. Col. Kainerugaba, who now commands the elite Special Forces Group (SFG), told his former school mates at St. Mary’s College, Kisubi on Saturday that the decision was also influenced by the insecurity that prevailed in the country, especially by 1994 when he completed high school.
“Joseph Kony (LRA rebel leader) was in the north, ADF was strong in the western part of the country and later on bombs were being thrown all over in Kampala. So we decided to join the UPDF because we could not just sit and watch,” he said.
The function, organised by school’s old boys association, was meant to honour Lt. Col. Kainerugaba for “executing and serving his country with a rare humility”. The old boys said he “was the first UPDF trained and commissioned officer since 1976 and had gone on to establish a paratroopers unit”.
Besides hoping the honour would encourage other young people to emulate the First Son’s “selfless service”, the old boys also said Lt. Col. Muhoozi deserved recognition for supporting welfare improvement initiatives, citing the “Mama Kazi” scheme championed by his wife, Charlotte, and Capt. Edith Nakalema to enhance income of SFG soldiers.
While he remained silent on future political ambitions, Lt. Col. Kainerugaba gave credit to efforts of young generation of military officers that joined the UPDF from the 1990s in dealing with insecurity in the country. “With the young people in the army, all the criminals were defeated and now we have unprecedented peace,” he said, adding that the young “should begin to determine the destiny of the country’s affairs”.
Notable among the soldiers that Lt. Col. Kainerugaba recruited into the army in the 1990s are Maj. Sabiiti Magyenyi, deputy commander of SFG and Maj. Johnson Namanya, who was until recently the commander of the Presidential Guard Brigade. “In the past we would say that all the faults were made by the old people, but now the young people are the majority and the future is in their hands,” Lt. Col. Kainerugaba said.
Call for duty
Whereas the old students were celebrating one of their own’s achievements, Lt. Col. Kainerugaba’s military career has attracted its fair share of criticism, with some saying he has enjoyed an accelerated growth—and question the notion of father, son, mother (Janet Museveni) and uncle (Gen. Salim Saleh) all holding senior government positions.
President Museveni has in the past said his family, besides having a right to hold the positions, does so mainly as a sacrifice. On Saturday, Lt. Col. Kainerugaba also urged young people to join the army, saying they have the obligation to create a better country and guarantee a better life for the future generation.
Speaking about his school days at Kisubi, he said he was greatly shaped by the words of one of his teachers, Bro. Peter, who emphasized punctuality and paying attention to detail.
The headmaster, Bro. Edward Joseph Bukenya, said the Kisubi fraternity encourages its old students to join politics.
Lt. Col. Kainerugaba joined St. Mary’s College Kisubi in 1989, and left to attend university in the UK after completing high school in 1994.