What you need to know:
- It is now clear that President Museveni’s strategic plan for governing Uganda is militarisation: mainstream the army into just about everything.
Sometimes all you need to ask questions is a balcony, a nice folding chair and a cup of porridge. Don’t drink; just sip. That’s how I’ve been to perceive a plane, flying erratically in perfectly clear skies.
Half of me wonders, who exactly is in the cockpit? The other half ponders, what will happen when the aircraft hits turbulence?
It is now clear that President Museveni’s strategic plan for governing Uganda is militarisation: mainstream the army into just about everything.
At his command, the army has taken over tenders for building schools and health centres, refurbishing the only sports complex in a country of more than 40 million people (Namboole), and running the most essential of government departments.
The Uganda Police Force is in military hands. It is not far-fetched to extrapolate that in a year or two, the Uganda Prisons Service may follow suit and that medical services and even the Judiciary, will be run by the military. Just a matter of time.
But the real problem is much bigger: the military has every appearance of an aircraft being flown erratically, in perfectly clear skies, you wonder who the captain is. There is a Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) – Gen Wilson Mbadi. He has a Deputy CDF – Lt Gen Charles Elwelu. There is a Joint Chief of Staff (JCOS), Maj Gen Leopold Kyanda. These are the top three, but you’ll never hear a word from them.
Quite paradoxically, the only sounds from the army are coming from lower down the ranks, from the Commander Land Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, son of the President, who is adept at using Twitter. In professional armies, things are done in an orderly manner and hierarchy is unfailingly respected. That does not seem to be the case in Uganda. Gen Muhoozi’s Twitter account appears to be the de facto communication arm of the military, seeing that major announcements like national recruitment of young people to the army have lately come through it.
So while the incorrigible, sardonic, good-for-nothing Patrick Kanyomozi maybe “Uganda’s Finest Tweeter”, Gen Muhoozi is the most rampant and really must be crowned “Uganda’s Chief Tweeter”.
One day the General is calling Nakawa West Member of Parliament Joel Ssenyonyi an imbecile; on another day he is announcing recruitment of soldiers, or a triumphant hit in the ongoing war in Congo. No formula; just erratic and unpredictable.
Porridge on the balcony inevitably makes you ask questions. Does the military have a communication strategy? If so, does the current communication output reflect alertness to strategic communication worthy of a national army?
And who exactly is running the military? Why is the CDF so quiet? How can he be quiet when his soldiers are beating up and shooting police officers and abducting and torturing civilians? How can he remain silent when soldiers are busy grabbing properties and defying court orders?
How can the CDF sit quietly when the entire nation is in an uproar about the abduction and gruesome torture of writer Kakwenza Rukirabashaija by the military? Did the army even bother to investigate the incident and report to the people it purports to defend? Do we see an army of the people and for the people, or a military bent on acting with impunity and being used to settle personal scores?
How do we calibrate these unpleasant contradictions against the preferred narrative of a “disciplined, professional army”, “political but non-partisan” that the President peddles? Why’s the CDF holding back from showing leadership?
And if the army is like this in peace time, what are the permutations to ponder should we enter stormy times?
Mr Tegulle is an advocate of the High Court of Uganda