This Monday 6th February was yet another historic day for the UPDF, as it commemorated 36 years since president Museveni and 27 others launched an attack on Kabamba military garrison.
The Kabamba attack is romanticized mostly because, the attackers led by a 38 year old rebel leader Yoweri Museveni, only had 27 guns at their disposal!
There is contradicting information available about how successful it (the Kabamba attack) was, but the attackers still insist that it was a success in its own right.
But the truth is that in 1981, a group of not so well prepared rebels attacked a military installation comprising mostly of recruits, and managed to kill a few men at the quarter guard a few others who were on morning parade and also took off with some few weapons scattered around the barracks.
The attackers are honest enough to admit that they failed to break into the armory, which was tightly guarded by a Tanzanian soldier.
But nevertheless, the rebels managed to grow into a very formidable group that later liberated the country in 1986.
But it’s also important to note that by the time of the attack in 1981, Museveni and his group had not even reached a consensus about the name of the rebel outfit, but preferred to give it an interim name called popular people’s army.
This clearly shows the degree of disorganization that characterized president Museveni’s group.
Museveni’s group later merged forces with another equally disorganized rebel outfit of former Ugandan president Yusuf Lule called Uganda freedom fighters movement, culminating into what later came to be known as the National Resistance Movement.
Under the NRA armed wing, they managed to generate a ten point program on which they anchored the program to liberate Uganda.
It’s fair to say that the architects of this metamorphosis of the NRA from a guerrilla outfit to a national army, now referred to as the UPDF, deserve respect and recognition.
But there is sufficient evidence to show that instead, the system has become hostile to the bush war heroes.
Many of them are either in opposition while those who remained in the system are facing open discrimination.
The only ones who are getting some degree of recognition -in form of medals-, have earned them by engaging in blind loyalty and sycophancy.
The rest of the bush war fighters have either been purged or given light weight appointments.
And President Museveni has not shied away from showing his disgust at the bush war fighters.
During the celebrations to mark the 31st anniversary of the NRM, president Museveni curtly said that he was disgusted with people who blackmail him simply because they fought!
He went on to qualify his point by saying that since 1996, the NRM has subjected itself to elections, a record number five times-1996,2001,2006,2011, and 2016.
So Museveni says that of all those five times, the people of Uganda have been voting him and the NRM in power without any hullabaloo.
He therefore reasoned that the bush war fighters are not the only ones responsible for his continued stay in power, but it’s more to do with the contribution made by Ugandans who vote for him in every election.
With such a catchy but heart-splitting statement, president Museveni had sent a strong message to the bush war fighters that their contribution is NOT necessarily the decisive factor in the long reign of the NRM, but a collective effort of his supporters.
This begs an inquisitive question;, why would the president speak like that?
Has he got disgusted with his bush war colleagues?
The Departure From The Past
Let’s look at the trends in the bush war class specifically among the serving officers within the government, where they are posted.
Over the years, president Museveni has made deliberate efforts of departing from the past by entrusting junior officers with sensitive assignments. He has used this method to sweep out the entire bush war class from the army.
Even the few bush men who diverted to the civil service have been given light weight appointments.
One good example is the deployment of gen Wamala Katumba from chief of defense forces to a junior ministry.
Another example can be drawn from the recent reshuffle that was made among the officers to serve in the diplomatic service. All the soldiers were deployed in war-torn countries.
One bush war hero called Maj Gen Matayo Kyaligonza was dumped in unstable Burundi!
Let’s briefly talk about Gen Kyaligonza to make the point clear for you dear reader; he is one of the most senior fighters of the bush war who carried out suicide missions on behalf of the NRA. He fought more battles than the commander in chief and many of the officers in the high command.
Yet he has never been entrusted with a deployment that fits his efforts in the war.
Even his promotion from brigadier (he spent twenty years on this rank) to major general came after a lot of hustle and bustle.
There is an argument that Matayo Kyaligonza is not deployable because, he is not very well educated.
But how then did an illiterate become NRM vice chairman for western Uganda?. Obviously, those who elected him in that position saw potential in him. It means he could all the way to bigger positions.
But it’s amazing that Kyaligonza was dumped in war-torn Burundi while the Johnny-come-latelies were posted in Washington, London etc.
Another bush war officer who reflects the negative attitude president Museveni has for his bush war colleagues is Major James Kinobe.
Major Kinobe was at one time stuck to the rank of lieutenant until a general outcry emerged for him to at least get promoted to a respectable rank.
He was made a major and then deployed to Congo and later to Khartoum!
The weirdness of this deployment comes in the form incompatibility between his beliefs and the country where he has been deployed.
Even a pedestrian clearly sees that the deployment of a Christian like James Kinobe to an Islamic country like Sudan that espouses sharia law is an abomination in itself.
Like any Christian, Mr. Kinobe will certainly want to eat some pork, drink some liquor or even engage in some hanky-panky! But where do you find those three in Khartoum?.
For us we see it as a form of derision and disparagement to the bush war fighter.
Another example worth mentioning here is the deployment of brigadier Ronnie Barya to war-torn juba!
All the three deployments show the negative attitude president Museveni has for his bush war colleagues.
And by the way, when you look around the number of bush war heroes still alive and make a roll call, you will be shocked to find that the highest percentage of them deserted Museveni a long time ago.
He is still keeping a very small percentage of them like Hajji Moses Kigongo and Kahinda Ottaffire, who are following the unwritten script of ‘seeing but not talking’ about the state of affairs in the country.
And when you connect this phenomenon to the statements president Museveni made in Masindi denouncing the role of the bush fighters, and exalting the role of his voters, you see some degree of disgust and apprehension with his bush war colleagues 36 years since they took arms and attacked Kabamba in the early 80s.
Could Museveni be living in fear that his bush war colleagues can stage a coup against him if he posted them in juicy positions?
Fred Daka Kamwada Is A Journalist A Blogger