‘Only patriots, revolutionaries can build an army like UPDF’

In response to our special report “In Somalia UPDF finally found its peace and freedom” published in Daily Monitor on May 3, President Museveni has responded saying the author, Charles Onyango-Obbo, is an enemy of NRM. Here is a slightly edited version of his statement issued to media houses on Sunday evening.

Tuesday May 8 2012

Gen. Museveni says UPDF is good at both urban and bush warfare.

Gen. Museveni says UPDF is good at both urban and bush warfare. 


One of the greatest enemies of NRM is (Charles Onyango Obbo). When he was at the Daily Monitor newspaper and, more recently, while at the East African newspaper, all belonging to H.H. Aga Khan, he always pours venom on the work of NRM that it is corrupt, led by greedy people who cling to power, etc, etc.

The NRM, however, ignores such charlatans and continues with its historic mission of liberating Uganda, liberating Africa and modernising Uganda. In spite of internal treachery that sometimes delays our work, Uganda is growing and is unstoppable.

With the oil, which NRM, single-handedly, discovered for Uganda, the Obbos are going to hang themselves because we will, finally, easily get the $13 billion we need to invest in infrastructure to turn Uganda into a middle income country. All the aid (in form of loans and grants) we have got from outside, ever since 1986, amounts to only $18.9 billion.

This aid is, of course, not always used for core areas. Quite a bit of it is used for non-core and arrogant areas such as the so-called ‘governance’ issues, ‘capacity’ building, etc. I call these non-core and arrogant because the people of Uganda do not need assistance in governance because we liberated ourselves from dictatorship, with only some help from our African brothers like the late Mwalimu Nyerere, Samora Machel, Kenneth Kaunda and the late Muammar Gaddafi (some little help of 96 rifles initially).
The core areas where Uganda needs assistance is electricity, roads, railways, water works, irrigation, ICT, education and health.

In spite of the obvious achievements by NRM, the Obbos are always maligning this great NRM and its leaders. The NRM, however, unbothered and supported by Ugandans, continues to execute its historical mission.

Obbo, having run out of lies to tell from Nairobi, has now become “a war correspondent” writing from Mogadishu about the work of UPDF defeating al-Shabaab. This time, neither him nor his foreign masters in the form of the “the foreign diplomat he had coffee with before he went to Mogadishu”, can hide the great and unique work of UPDF in the very difficult situation of Somalia.

The foreign diplomat was struck by “how different” the UPDF was from other Third World armies. That is what the Obbos should have realised long ago because NRA/UPDF is a revolutionary army founded on the principles of nationalism, patriotism and pan-Africanism.

It is very “professional”. What did our previous manifestos say? Was it not to professionalise the previously guerrilla army? However, professionalism is not the only point that distinguishes UPDF from other armies, even the First World ones. It is the ideology that makes it unique.

That is why we supported the restoration of monarchy, although we are not monarchists ourselves. Regarding the quality of our military leaders and cadres, does Obbo remember that we deliberately recruited educated people (“A” level and degree-holders) into the army? What was the practice of Obbo’s political group?

Obbo’s foreign diplomat also observed that Chief of Defence Forces Aronda Nyakairima “displayed a level of political astuteness that is rare among these African Generals”. Isn’t Obbo part of the groups that have been agitating that UPDF leaves Parliament (the 10 seats that are our listening post in the Parliament of our civilian members)? It is precisely because we know that NRA/UPDF is among the most ideologically advanced elements of the Ugandan society that we insist that a few of them should be in Parliament.

Neutral institution
Hasn’t Obbo ever heard that the whole of NRM/UPDF were armed political revolutionaries? We are always fighting for ideology and not pay. It is not a career for us, it is a cause. The only thing we avoid, especially those in uniform still, is partisanship. Even NRM, although a political party, we are not really partisan.

Then, Obbo correctly compares the work of the 9,500 Amisom troops with the 38,000 US troops that were defeated by the Somalis in 1992. The US is our friend and it is not my job to make those comparisons. That job is for journalists like Obbo if only they were honest, were non-partisan and bothered to get informed instead of operating on prejudices.

I can only talk about the discipline of NRA/UPDF right from the bush days. We followed Mao Tse Tung’s exhortation: “Never take a needle or thread from the people without paying for it”. If a UPDF soldier killed a mwananchi in Mogadishu, we would not bring him for trial in Kampala. He/she would be tried and shot in Mogadishu in front of the relatives of the victims. This is what we did with Zabuloni and his friend in Mulule near Semuto in 1982. Has Obbo read that history of the NRA?

Besides, NRA/UPDF only fights just wars. In the case of Somalia, we only went to guard the airport and the sea port. It was the al-Shabaab who foolishly, intoxicated by their bankrupt foreign ideology picked from the Middle East and Asia of Islamic chauvinism, that attacked us that they wanted to drive out “infidels”. “Infidels” are their own African brothers and sisters. Who, then, are their brothers and sisters Arabs, Asians?
Somalis are part of the Kushitic people like the Oromos, the Nubians of ancient Egypt and many other African people who live in East Africa. The Somali word for cow is: “sa”.
In many of the Bantu dialects cow-dung is called “sa” “busa”, “amasha”, etc. The Somali word for water is “pio”. What is the Luo word for water? “pii”! Yet these confused al-Shabaab were calling us “infidels” just because many (not all) Ugandans are not Moslems. Besides, our military plans were not adventurist, trying to do too much at ago. Then, there is the question of handling civilians, which Obbo has, for a change, described well.

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