A letter written by the Spokesperson of Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Lt. Col Paddy Ankunda calling on media houses to refrain from dragging serving army officers into partisan political debates. In the letter, the author cites examples of Major General Jim Muhwezi, a retired officer of the UPDF, General Kale Kayihura, Brigadier Ronnie Barya and James Mugira, Hon. Jim Muhwezi who is also a member of the ninth Parliament of Uganda and a member of Central Executive Committee of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party. On that note, I think it was unfair for the UPDF Spokesperson to have quoted a retired officer as a serving.
I would also think that it is improper to castigate the media on certain individuals that have made it their business to do partisan work for President Museveni. Case in point is the recent recorded conversation between the IGP and the Deputy Lord Mayor of Kampala Sulaiman Kidandala. I would like to believe that was purely partisan work done for the person of Mr. Museveni. What our national army should have done, if at all it has the capacity, is to discipline such officers who are operating outside their code of conduct.
I would not like to see our serving men in uniform dragged in any partisan political debates, however this discussion is too late. Our army is in the middle of partisan political debates, and this is something that we cannot close our eyes to. The day we decided that UPDF should have representatives in the Parliament of Uganda was the day the army sat in the middle of the partisan political debates. We have seen some of the representatives degenerate and take sides in the discussions in parliament something that should have not happened if they were not in Parliament.
Writing a letter calling on media houses to refrain from dragging serving army officers into partisan political debates is intellectually being dishonest to Ugandans. UPDF did drag itself in the middle of a partisan political debate arena that they were not supposed to be part of. I believe that the only way we can undo this is by removing our men in uniform from Parliament and that will be the first step in giving them a levelled ground to serve all Ugandans without fear and favour. This is one of the most sought after amendments that our Parliament should consider in the short term. I have been across this beautiful country and Ugandans are calling for the removal of our men in uniform from Parliament. In the Kigezi Regional Consultative Forum on the Free and Fair Elections Campaign a delegate called on the rest of Uganda to advocate for the removal of army representatives from Parliament because he believed that was beginning of involving our men in uniform in discussing partisan matters.
The army leaders should accept the calls that are being made by the citizens to have our army concentrate on serving all Ugandans by ensuring our security rather than engaging in partisan politics that would later sway their support or influence to some interest groupings in the country. Their sole duty is to provide undivided loyalty to the people of Uganda as mandated by the constitution of Uganda. The debate that we should be holding is what is the role of the army in building a democratic and peaceful Uganda? I do not want to be drawn in the narrative of them being listening posts, in any case on whose behalf are they listening posts? Who are they going to report to about what they have heard and seen in Parliament? I want to believe that this was done deliberately to get the military involved in the political affairs of our country.
Now my brother Lt. Col Paddy Ankunda, we should be discussing getting the army out of partisan political debates rather than pretending that they are not in the middle of it. This letter is a diversionary means to deter the citizens from discussing the current status of our men in uniform involving themselves in partisan debates and their role in our electoral politics democracy.