Thursday, 17 January 2019

UGANDA: Why Museveni is closly monitoring Gen. Mugisha Muntu's new party - @MugishaMuntu


At age 23, a young university student after writing his last paper opted to head to the bush to join Museveni's guerrilla war in 1981. Though he had been the Vice President of the Students Guild on the Museveni's UPM ticket, as a son of a prominent veteran UPC founding member, Muntu was the least expected to fight the same UPC government.  No wonder in the bush he was initially treated as a spy and placed under surveillance.

After being smuggled to Kampala for treatment following a fatal shooting at battle and defiantly rejoining the bush, Muntu had dealt a heavy blow to the spy suspicion and by the time Museveni captured power in 1986 Muntu was the Director of Military Intelligence (DMI).  Under his direct command were other spies like Aronda, Fred Bogere and Paul Kagame (current President of Rwanda).

By the time Museveni appointed Muntu as overall army chief, Muntu had long left intelligence services and had held command positions notably at Chief Political Commissar and 5th Division Commander.  As Army Commander, Muntu replaced Museveni's young brother Gen. Saleh who was accused of plotting a coup with the "uneducated and disgruntled" Bush War army officers. Gen. Saleh had replaced Elly Tumwine who had been sacked because of incompetence.

Museveni's choice of Gen. Muntu was dictated by the latter's not being power hungry and he was to command the army for the next nine years (1989  - 1998).  His tenure of office witnessed the worst of Museveni's purge of his Bush War army  officers that he suspected were not loyal enough thus the Katebe (rendering redundant) syndrome.

While Muntu wanted to form a professional national army, Museveni was hell bent on creating a personal army.  In August 2012, during a rally in Kamuli district Muntu broke down and shed tears mid the sentence thus; “When I recall the times I was forced to arrest my friends and relatives……..” Who was forcing him and who were those friends and relatives?

Muntu was sacked after he openly opposed Museveni's manoeuvres to hold on power.  His subsequent retirement from the army and outright rejection of Museveni's offer of the position of Minister of Defence was a defiant show of how resolute, incorruptible and principled Muntu is.

Museveni saw no threat in allowing Gen. Muntu to retire because in his estimates Muntu had no following in the army.  This estimate was premised on the fact that the army had been infested by thieves and nepotists whose loyalty could not be aligned to the incorruptible and non sectarian Gen. Muntu.

Since then, Gen. Muntu has been an active opposition political actor.  Last year he announced a departure from the biggest opposition party, the FDC citing lack of internal cohesion.  He is in advanced stages of registering and launching his new political party,  National Alliance for Transformation (NAT).


While Museveni's lieutenants are excited that the emergence of Gen. Muntu helps neutralize Dr.  Besigye's "FDC militancy", Museveni is personally concerned that Gen. Muntu might prove to be the worst.  While the common rhetoric of " those who know Museveni's secrets" has over time been watered down by the past candidatures of Dr. Besigye and Amama Mbabazi, Gen.  Muntu comes with the background of a former top spy - an attribute Museveni takes more seriously.  While Mbabazi also had a strong spy background, his candidature was driven by power thirst, opportunism and revenge for being sacked.

While for reasons outlined earlier, it would on the surface look like Gen. Muntu lost following within the security forces, it takes just a second for a prudent spy to penetrate and rejuvenate the network.

Moreover, the Joint Chief of Staff, Gen.  Musanyufu was a spy under Muntu's DMI before be went on to become his ADC during his tenure as army chief.  The army Spokesman, Brig. Karemire was a spy under Muntu's DMI.  Then Lt. Katumba Wamala was Muntu's ADC.

Muntu's brother in-law, Brig. Leo Kyanda is the Chief of Staff of the Land Forces.  There are a couple of former army cadres who though they succumbed to thefts, they still believe in Gen. Muntu's leadership but moreso are opposed to the Muhoozi project.

At the time when Muntu was the army chief, the Museveni army did not have external engagements save for the peace mission in Liberia thus Gen. Muntu did not have a lot of interactions with foreign armies and the region in particular.

However, in neighboring Rwanda the core of the security forces originated from the army that was being commanded by Gen. Muntu in 1990.  The President and Commander In-Chief, Paul Kagame served under Muntu in DMI while then Sgt. Patrick Karegeya was his ADC.  The four years (1990 - 1994) war in Rwanda was fully backed by the Museveni army under the command of Gen. Muntu.  However, typical of his character, Gen. Muntu has never prided in his close association with the Kigali establishment.

While Museveni is enjoying the monopoly of supporting the dissident Rwandese groups like RNC, Kigali on the other hand has not been associated with any formidable opposition in Uganda.  The alleged links with the recently sacked Museveni's Police Chief, He . Kalekyezi remains speculative.

In 2001 amidst souring relations, Kampala accused Kigali of financially supporting Dr. Besigye's candidature.  Rwanda was declared an enemy state before the matter escalated to allegations of a "Kigali backed" PRA rebel group.

Gen.  Muntu's current chief mobiliser, Alice Alaso had his own brother, Lawyer Sam Okiring allegedly captured and incarcerated on allegations of being a member of PRA.  It was alleged that he was captured by Gen. Kalekyezi while brandishing a Light Machine Gun (LMG) in Mongulalo, Ituri, DRC.  Okiring was released on Amnesty before he fled to Canada where he later died.

Will Kigali jump into supporting Gen. Muntu's new political organisation??? That is the question that is giving Museveni sleepless nights.


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