Generals leave, once more playing up burdensome UPDF retirement law

Thursday August 1 2019


By Karoli Ssemogerere

The Uganda Peoples Defence Force retired 19 General officers on Monday. The generals retreated into retirement with a lot of fanfare. A few high profile ones, Gen Joram Mugume, Maj Gen Sabiiti Mutebile and so were many other one-star generals completing a lifetime of service, including former head of Legal Services Brig Ramathan Kyamulesire.

Army officers may only retire with permission of the Army Commissions Board rather than a simple resignation as is the case in the rest of government. As the force grows (both in age and size), retirement is also a major cost to the Treasury as standing orders require payment of substantial gratuity at 30 per cent of total emoluments payable computed on the three highest earning years in service.

The first ceremony last year carried a much higher profile. There were officers who had served from Independence Day in 1962 or soon thereafter like General Musanyusa, Ali Kiiza, former presidential pilot, and others. It carried the voluble, Maj Gen Kasirye Ggwanga who provides a lot of printable material for the media, including a recent incident where he shot tyres of a car belonging to “rude boy” flat for blocking access for his children.

This retirement ceremony highlighted the problems with the system. A few officers have not been able to collect the lifetime parachute this time. For obvious reasons, former IGP Gen Kale Kayihura, 63, did not make it to the list as he is still facing charges related to his former job at the General Court Martial. Neither did Gen David Sejusa (formerly Tinyefuza) 66, former State minister for Defence, whose last official posting was Coordinator of Security Services before 2010.

Tinyefuza has a court ruling under his belt challenging his current status “pending deployment”. After giving government a lot of trouble, he is resigned to a semi-official house arrest after a short stint in exile.

Lucky ones like Maj Gen Henry Tumukunde and Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi seem to have adjusted well to civilian life having nursed and lost ambitions to become president.


Interestingly, Gen Tumukunde and Gen Muhwezi, both successfully completed their training as attorneys after their service and while they don’t appear in court, they are active in the profession.
Gen Tumukunde has a raised a few eyebrows by starting a listening campaign to run for Lord Mayor. People who read tea leaves well think this is a sinister move to run for something else.
He is running, but probably as an independent.

In the recent batch, one of the generals, Mutebile Sabiiti, was quoted as interested in running for Parliament from his Kabale District. But most of his peers are way beyond the age to be bothered or physically able to engage in such levels of physical exertion.

It may be useful in the future to cap service at 20 years for field grade officers and 26 to 32 years for general officers to avoid a situation where these people have little energy left when they pick their terminal benefits and exchange their arms for symbolic regalia.

In memoriam George Kkaaya
Kavuma (GKK) 1936-2019.
A great son of Uganda has breathed his last. Born in Jjungo, Busiro County, Kkaaya Kavuma rose to prominence after the restoration of the Buganda monarchy in 1993. A successful businessman, and coffee exporter, he was behind the success story that CBS became, the leading radio station in Uganda.
Kavuma’s had many gifts, cosmopolitan in outlook, affable manners, charisma and a connection to young people. Kavuma was genuinely interested in the raw ambition and talent of young people from all walks of life and backgrounds.

He also had little appetite for mediocrity. Ten years ago, CBS was a target for total annihilation for annoying the government. GKK, the managing director did much to devolve CBS into a détente with the government. RIP!

Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-at-Law and an Advocate.