KAMPALA – Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu’s reign as Army Commander is a “mistake we regret,” the Commander of the Land Forces, Gen Muhoozi Keinerugaba, has said.
Gen Muntu was appointed Commander of the NRA in 1989 replacing Gen Salim Saleh and served until 1997 when was he was replaced with Gen Jeje Odongo (now foreign affairs minister).
While Muntu commands a lot of respect for his largely scandal-free reign at the helm of what has now become UPDF headed by chief of defence forces, First Son Muhoozi feels the near decade-long reign of the man who challenged his former commander-in-chief during the 2021 presidential election was a failure.
“Late Afande Jet should have been Army Commander!” Muhoozi tweeted on Friday in reference to Lt Col Jet Mwebaze, one of the fiercest and bravest commanders of the NRA during the protracted guerilla war that brought Muhoozi’s father Yoweri Museveni to power in 1986.
“Our great Army would have been much greater. We spent almost nine years under [the] so-called ‘Sober’ non-performers! They were better qualified for seminaries and church choirs than the army,” Muhoozi added.
Mistakes we regret. Late Afande Jet should have been Army Commander! Our great Army would have been much greater. We spent almost 9 years under so called ‘Sober’ non-performers! They were better qualified for seminaries and church choirs than the army. pic.twitter.com/3vpWHWTWq1
— Muhoozi Kainerugaba (@mkainerugaba) May 13, 2022
Gen Muhoozi has lately been very vocal on social media and openly spelling out his political intentions, including last month tweeting that he would certainly take over power in coming years.
Most of his utterances, however, have openly contravened the UPDF Code of Conduct that bars serving army officers from politics or making political statements since the Constitution stipulates that the UPDF are nonpartisan in character.
Gen Muntu, alongside Col Kizza Besigye, is among the public figures who have openly attempted to put Muhoozi in line by asking that he uses the correct forum to channel his political intentions, with both advising that the first step would be to retire from the military.
Muhoozi last month shocked the UPDF by announcing on Twitter that he had retired from the army. The military refuted the allegations but did not explain how it came about.
Rubbed the wrong way
On Monday, May 9, Muhoozi tweeted a picture of him with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, saying there was a terrible conspiracy among “some people in the security services that wanted us to go to war with our brothers in Rwanda.”
“Their biggest catastrophe is that President Museveni appointed me CLF. Once I discovered this conspiracy, I reported to the President,” he added.
Gen Muntu responded: “Great. Use the same insight to ask the CIC to retire you from the Army as you pursue your political Agenda. It is legitimate. However, respect the officers & men in Uniform. NRA/ UPDF has been built through many sacrifices. Welcome to politics but GET OUT of uniform first.”
Muhoozi had first appeared in a jovial mood and responded to Gen Muntu casually.
“General Greg, first of all, habari ya siku mingi sana? (literally translated as “it has been long”). I hope you are well? Secondly, me, my father and practically everybody else in UPDF does not require your ‘Insight’ into anything. Please keep it for yourself and your small collapsing political party.”
He would later add: “I wish my father had made Colonel Jet Mwebaze, Army Commander after Afande Saleh in 1989. He was a great commander for sure!”
Col Mwebaze, younger brother of former Army Commander Maj Gen James Kazini, was one of the fiercest and bravest commanders of the NRA during the guerilla warfare. He perished in a chopper crash in September 1998 while flying to DR Congo where the NRA were engaged in combat.
Muntu, born Gregor Muntuyera Mugisha in October 1958, joined the NRA in the bush in 1981 and was shot and badly wounded in the early years of the struggle. Collaborators of the NRA had to save the young Muntu’s life by treating him from a facility near the present Kisekka Market right on the noses of the same government he had gone to the bush to fight.
After he retired from the army, Muntu joined the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change and was in 2012 elected the party president. He quit FDC in 2018 and formed the Alliance for National Transformation, the party on whose banner he unsuccessfully challenged Gen Museveni’s 36-year stranglehold on power in 2021.