Uganda’s history is littered with a number of unfortunate occurrences. These occurrences have in one way or the other affected the future of our country either negatively or positively.
One such occurrence is what came to be known as the 1966 Crisis. This was when the then prime minister, Apollo Milton Obote ordered units of the Uganda Army to attack the Kabaka’s palace at Mengo on May 22, 1966.
The other occurrence was the launching of a guerrilla war by some 40 young men in the bushes of Luweero in the early 1980s. Their heroic actions, as many Uganda’s would attest, have been the trigger of the socio-political and economic transformation that we see in Uganda today. The Commander-in-Chief and the President called it “not a mere change of guards but a fundamental change.”
The 1966 Crisis was partly a result of political manipulation of the military by sectarian leaders for selfish ends. However, as Peter Mulira would later state, what started as a settlement of scores within the ruling party UPC, ended up in the desecration of the citadel of the 700- year-old Buganda Kingdom. The Kabaka of Buganda, the then president, would end up in exile only to return motionless several years later.
The English have a saying that once bitten, twice shy. Ideally, this means only a fool would commit the same mistake again and again. A bad mistake is that from which you never learn anything we ought to learn from our history.
About a week ago, I wrote a piece for the media appealing to political actors not to drag the UPDF into partisan politics. Some people in this country chose to brush away my statement, reiterating that the army has never been neutral in Uganda. Assuming that were to be true, is that the army we want for Uganda going forward?
In that article, I cautioned that it was not proper for sections of the media to drag names of some UPDF officers into partisan political debates that are on-going in the country.
I warned then that such reporting could polarise our security institutions and create potentially dangerous divisions in the forces that have come a long way, in addressing past armies’ mistakes to build a professional, disciplined, united, pro-people UPDF meant for the impartial defence of all the people in Uganda.
I appealed that this had to stop immediately in the interests of national security.
As an institution, we have been consistent in fighting sectarian tendencies, building professional platforms and ensuring that we remain focused on our constitutional mandate. Indeed, we will continue to implement our constitutional mandate of preserving, defending and protecting the people, their property, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Uganda.
However, and under all circumstances, UPDF will not lose focus of the oath of allegiance to the President. All officers and men under oath “swear by the almighty God to solemnly and sincerely affirm that they will be faithful to and bear true allegiance to the President and the Republic of Uganda and that they will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend him or her and the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda against all enemies, and will observe and obey all lawful orders from him or her.”
This is what the disciplined forces will do in order to demonstrate the difference we bring into the future of this country. This is a requirement placed on all officers and men by the UPDF Act, and this we will protect until the last man.
Lt Col Paddy Ankunda is the Defence and UPDF spokesman
SOURCE: Daily Monitor