"If you are desperate for a job and you give Col. Nambale Shs 500,000, 200,000, 100,000 you are killing the army, you are killing the country. You are not coming to do anything. I can't take that money. If you can give me shs 100,000, shs 500,000 to recruit you because you are brother, one will give me shs 1bn and I will kill my President. So here, its about commitment to your country, its about guarding others as they sleep. I am telling you, the money you are looking for is not in the army, you can go to Parliament, you will get the money, but here its about working, its about commitment to your country."
Col. James Nambale - the head of the Army Recruitment Team addressing candidates at Kololo on 17th October 2017.
Video clips from major media houses clearly showed 'agents' of army recruitment candidates negotiating deals, sneaking disqualified candidates back into the queues, money exchanging hands and chest stamping after succeeding. Despite the overwhelming evidence, the army spokesman dismissed the open secret irregularities. He assured the country that they had put in place enough "safeguards against infiltration" by incorporating army Political Commissars (PCs) and Intelligence Officers (I.Os) on the team. However, the following day it was reported that the army had arrested its own, Col. Sam Mboona who had been captured live on camera receiving bribes during the recruitment exercise.
PCs and I.Os are military cadres presumed to be the incorruptible vanguards of the revolution. Unfortunately gone are the days when the two were regarded as the eyes and ears of the revolution. The good old days when they were respected and feared by ordinary soldiers and commanders alike. When these I.Os and PCs joined in the theft, robberies, corruption and abuse of office in the army, they lost the trust. Therefore, their presence on the recruitment team is not meant to deter but to facilitate and legitimize the irregularities. Both the army Spokesman and Col. Nambale are fully aware of this historical fact.
Col. Nambale is among the few army officers who joined the NRA from other armies after capture of power and picked the courage to steal army resources as early as the late 1980s. Initially, non-original NRA army officers used to fear getting involved in stealing and abuse of office. As a Captain under the Resistance Air force (RAF) in the late 1980s, Nambale embezzled hundreds of millions of cash meant for fuel. He was investigated by DMI but was let of the hook after he bribed Col. Charles Tusiime who had been heading the Criminal Investigations Department. He is among the earliest army officers to accumulate a lot of wealth. Therefore, Col. Nambale is not being sincere when he says that there is no money in the army. He also lacks the moral authority to condemn corruption in the recruitment exercise.
Irregularities in the army recruitment are as old as Museveni's struggle to acquire and retain the presidency. The vice is responsible for much of the political trouble that have characterised the post Iddi Amin Uganda. During the armed struggle against the Iddi Amin regime in the 1970s, Museveni frustrated and disbanded the pioneer majority recruits from eastern Uganda who had been mostly recruited from Nairobi and taken to Tanzania. That is how at the time of the invasion from Tanzania in late 1978, his FRONASA was only comprised of a few boys from his home area like Koreta, Saleh, Chef Ali and Rwigyema. It was not until the invading force had crossed the border that Museveni embarked on boosting his FRONASA with recruits from Rwandese refugee camps. He systematically rejected specific classes of Banyankole Bairu in preference for the Hima and Banyarwanda Tutsi. That is how he personally turned away Maj. John Kazoora when he presented himself for recruitment at Kamukuzi in Mbarara in 1979. Two years later the same John Kazoora successfully joined Museveni's bush war because he had gone in the company of the likes of Aronda, Biraro and a few others.
During the formation of the post Iddi Amin national army, Museveni initiated the practice of tribal rising armies by rising turning his FRONASA faction into a Bantu army against what he termed as "northern dominated army". Consequently, this is what prompted the mainstream UNLA to make counter moves by indiscriminately recruiting substandard personnel from mainly Acholiland and Teso. Museveni retained some of the identifiable Rwandese refugees who had been eliminated from the UNLA and a year later, they were to form the nucleus of his Bush War.
During his Bush War (1981 - 1986), he systematically ensured the qualitative numerical domination by his " home boys" through controlled recruitment. He repeatedly shifted goal posts in as far as recruitment in the bush was concerned. He would repeatedly use flimsy security excuses to order his recruiting agents to halt bringing in of fresh recruits. He would at the same time send the same agents to pick some recruits from his preferred areas like Ntungamo, Kebisoni, Nyabushozi and Kazo. That is how these areas came to dominate his Bush War top brass.
He initially opposed suggestions of opening up a western front away from the Luwero Triangle for fear that it would open the floodgates for recruits from the undesirable regions. When in his absence in 1985 the NRA set up bases in the Rwenzori Mountains and established an interim government in western Uganda, he rushed back from Sweden only to find the Bakonjo, Bamba, Banyankole Bairu and Bakiga massively joining the NRA. The Chief of Training and Recruitment, Tadeo Kanyankole was accused of rejecting Hima and Tutsi recruits in preference for the Bairu and working for the Democratic Party by recruiting predominantly Catholics. Tadeo Kanyankole was condemned to a disgraceful end of life.
Upon taking over power he embarked on a more personal army out of the NRA. He set out to create the elite Presidential Protection Unit (PPU) that has evolved into the PGB, SFC, and now the 10,000+ strong SFG. It is comprised of the predominantly home boys and at one time the then Army Commander, Gen. Kaziini exclusively recruited Hima and Basongora for BGP. He is on record for at one time thanking the people of Nyabushozi for "providing a whole Division of soldiers." What about the 2001 Officer Cadet intake that was accused of having been infiltrated by Rwanda and the opposition? What about the then Vice President, Gilbert Bukenya whose son mysteriously died shortly before completing the Officer Cadet training? Recently Museveni declared that a special slot in the recruitment of soldiers was to be reserved for children of fallen Bush War combatants.
Therefore, recruitment is a crucial stage in building a personal army that is the custodian of Museveni's life presidency. It is not every Tom and Dick in the army that can poke his nose in the pushing for preferential consideration of particular candidates or else he/she risks being branded as having subversive plans. Its only the trusted ones who are assigned to ensure that specific people are recruited. May be Col. Nambale ought to get time and visit a fellow Mugisu at Bugema in Mbale, Col. Lawrence Kitts as ask him what befell him when he pushed his son through back doors into the Officer Cadet at Jinja in the late 1980s. Can the army Spokesman tell Ugandans how recruitment into the SFG is carried out?
INFORMATION IS POWER AND DEFIANCE IS THE WAY TO GO.
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