KAMPALA- The ex-commander of Uganda’s AMISOM contingent, Brig Michael Ondoga, has, after three years of not being deployed, been appointed one of two deputy directors at the National Enterprise Corporations (NEC), the UPDF’s business portfolio.
President Museveni in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces also named former General Court Martial chairman, Brig Moses Ddiba Ssentongo, as the corporation’s deputy director in-charge of general duties.
Brig Ondoga, 56, will oversee the sensitive Kyoga Project, the pseudo-name for the military’s Nakasongola-based explosives’ programme, security and family sources confirmed yesterday.
“He [Ondoga] is heading one of the subsidiaries,” Maj Gen James Mugira, appointed as the corporation’s director in April 2015, said.The newly re-assigned brigadiers began work on Monday, last week.
“It’s correct, I can confirm [the appointments],” Defence and militray spokesman Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda said, adding: “It’s a significant development because NEC is now robust…[and] in the wider realm of defence industry and we are developing at the moment.”
In 2009, its former head (rtd) Col Fred Mwesigye, told Parliament that the corporation was deprived of lucrative government contracts and it annually lost an equivalent of Shs1.3 billion in wear and tear of under-utilised machinery.
The deployment of Maj Gen Mugira, a distinguished lawyer and former Chief of Military Intelligence, to replace former prime minister Amama Mbabazi’s wife Jacqueline, was intended to breathe fresh air and rebound the ailing enterprise. “[NEC] had lost direction [but] now that is sorted,” Lt Col Ankunda said yesterday by telephone.
The creation of new two deputy director slots and filling them with one-star generals is part of an ongoing restructuring, expansion and growth strategy, he said.
Brig Ssentongo currently chairs the 68,000-member Wazalendo, the army’s saving and cooperative scheme worth Shs30 billion.
At home, Brig Ondoga’s family praised God for the turnaround in the fortune of their patriarch who spent 18 out of the last 30 months of not being deployed, known in Uganda’s military parlance as katebe, in custody.
“Yes, Gen Michael Ondoga has been called back to work. As a family, we are grateful to God for the grace that his (Ondoga’s) chiefs have considered him again. We shall continue to support and pray for him to excel in his new task,” his wife Lucie said when contacted by this newspaper.
The two-time Uganda AMISOM contingent commander was arrested in September 2013, just days when he was due to take up a diplomatic assignment as the military attaché at Uganda’s Nairobi High Commission, and tried on a string of charges until last May when court withdrew all the charges against him.
He was, among other offences, charged with failing to discharge his duties, underestimating the strength of enemy forces and under-deploying at the frontline in Somalia, leading to death of troops and loss of battle equipment, and lying about juniors to the Chief of Defence Forces.
Denied bail for 18 months during detention at Makindye Military Barracks, the 22 total charges against Brig Ondoga began crumbling one after another due to lack of incriminating evidence until May 2015 when prosecution withdrew the remaining 12 counts against him.