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Article

by
H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda
in response to an Article by
Mzee. Ssemogerere in the Monitor


16
th
October, 2014
In the Sunday Monitor of 28
th
September, 2014, Mzee
Ssemogerere gave an extensive interview covered from page
14 to 15. I agree with some of the contents of the
interview such as the rigged elections of 1962 and 1980.
The rigging was structural and obvious. The multiple
ballot papers, the multiple ballot boxes, the enclosed
polling booths, the failure to count immediately after
polling at the voting points and declaration of results, the
gerrymandering of Constituencies etc, etc.
It is also true that in the 1980 elections, the DP attracted
leaders that had been in UPC and KY in 1962. Mzee
Ssemogerere quoted a number of names and they are well
known. In fact that re-alignment of forces had already
taken place even by 1965-66. I remember the vote in
Parliament for the election of, I think, Kakonge. The DP,
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KY and the Ibingira UPC had put forward Mashaate.
Kakonge won by a narrow margin.
However, there are many points on which I do not agree
with Mzee Ssemogerere – both in the past and now but will
not go into them here. They include the decision by the DP
leadership to join the Parliament of 1980-1985 and his
belief in lobbying Oyite Ojok and Muwanga to “save the
lives” of some Ugandans. The NRM position has always
been to hold accountable all killers if they are identifed.
I confrm to the readers that the Okello Government
released some of the prisoners that had not been killed,
but not all. I did not know that it was Mr. Ssemogerere
that spearheaded that. I congratulate him for that. I am
also pleased that Mr. Ssemogerere confrms that in the 9
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years he was with the NRM, he was “not inhibited” from
carrying out his work as Minister of Internal Afairs or
Minister of Public Service.
However, there are fundamental points in Mr.
Ssemogerere’s interview that I cannot leave unanswered.
Top on the list is Mr. Ssemogerere’s answer to the
interviewer’s question that run as follows: “DP will be 60
next month. Don’t you get a feeling that it is considerably
weakened?” What was Mr. Ssemogerere’s answer? It was
as follows: “you have got to see what has been happening to
other parties. Tell me which political party has stood?
Look at UPC, CP, KY etc, etc”. He goes on: “Where is Kanu
in Kenya? Where is Banda’s party in Malawi? Where is
Nkrumah’s Party?” The point Mzee Ssemogerere was
attempting to make was that all political parties had to
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decline on account of not being encouraged by the People
in power at given times. Unfortunately, that is not true.
Yes, there are those parties which have declined and there
are reasons for that. However, there are those that have
stood the test of time. I may cite four of them: the ANC of
South Africa, Swapo of Namibia, MPLA of Angola and
Frelimo of Mozambique.
I have not added Tanu/CCM because it has been in power
all the time. That notwithstanding, Tanu/CCM/Afro-Shirazi
have had to struggle ideologically and politically against
competitors both before Independence and after
independence when Multi-partyism was re-introduced in
Tanzania. The other four (Frelimo, ANC, Swapo and
MPLA), however, were, for long periods, under-ground and
being persecuted by the People in power (the White racists
in South Africa and SW Africa and the Portuguese
colonialists). They, however, survived and thrived. ANC
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was in opposition and under-ground for most of the time
between 1912 and 1990 – a period of 78 years. When
democracy was introduced, it won with a good majority and
it has continued to win ever since. Why did ANC thrive and
survive while other Parties were emerging and
disappearing? It was on account of a correct ideological
diagnosis of the South African Society.
While other political parties were sectarian (racist, for
instance), through the Freedom Charter of 1955, the ANC
ofered the therapy of multi-racialism. ANC ofered South
Africa the medicine that could treat the sickness of their
society which was racism. The NRM, which Mzee
Ssemogerere seems to detest although it gave him an
opportunity to serve without “inhibition” for 9 years and
separated from it of his own volition, has been winning
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elections even under multi – partyism because it gave the
Ugandans the medicine they needed most – non-
sectarianism and security of person and property.
Mzee Ssemogerere contradicts himself. He says Obote and
Amin established political – military dictatorships where
some people had to be saved, by Mr. Ssemogerere’s
lobbying, from “dangerous go-downs” in Makindye (killing
centres) and where thousands had to be released by
Minister Ssemogerere from detention without trial.
Yet he seems not to approve of the NRM/NRA the political ─
– military force that had to end those dictatorships. He
even fnds it a problem that Serving Army ofcers (just 10
of them) are in a Parliament of 365 MPs – all of them
elected, either by the population or by the Army Council.
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There is, however, something that Mzee Ssemogerere did
not raise at all in his interview. Why did some Ugandan
elites choose to start another Political Party in 1954-56 –
DP, when other Ugandans had already started another
political Party – UNC – to demand for Uganda’s
Independence? If these elite were genuinely interested in
Independence, was it not easier to work together? Or could
it be that these Ugandans did not care about
Independence? What was it that was in DP that was not in
UNC? Why did our brothers and sisters in Tanganyika rally
around TANU but our political elite here could not act
together?
Could this failure be the reason for the turmoil that
followed? Here, I do not have to talk about Kabaka Yekka
(KY) and their chauvinist and opportunistic programme of
involving the Kabaka of Buganda in partisan politics.
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To round of this point, I would like to state that I am not
against Political Parties. If that was so, I would be against
ANC, Frelimo, Swapo, MPLA, Tanu etc. Mr. Ssemogerere
knows that that is not so. He was a member of the cabinet
when I had to struggle to make them agree to Uganda
hosting the ANC fghters in Kaweweta, Ngoma. There was a
strong position in the cabinet that our hosting the ANC
would annoy the South African Whites and the Western
Countries. Fortunately, people like Dr. Rugunda, the late
Eriya Kategaya and others supported my position and we
were able to host the ANC fghters until their country won
freedom.
I am, therefore, never against political parties. I am always
against sectarian parties – using religion and tribes. See
the chaos that is generated in the Middle East by this
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mistake; and even in North Africa. Parties that
opportunistically try to manipulate the identities of people
rather than crystallizing the legitimate interests of the
people are a disaster for any country that has the
misfortune to go through that experience. More, if
necessary, will be said on this later.
In his interview, Mzee Ssemogerere blames the NRM. He
says: “unfortunately, the Musevenis continued with their
fghting”. Here, Mzee Ssemogerere was saying that we did
not implement the Nairobi Agreement of power sharing
with the Military Government of my friend, Gen. Okello;
and that it would have been in the best interests of Uganda
to continue with that agreement. We were, therefore, in the
wrong to continue fghting. Of course, we did not want to
continue fghting. We preferred peace.
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However, we had made it categorically clear to the Okello
side, which at that time included Ssemogerere, that the
NRM/NRA would not tolerate any massacres any more.
Remember there are 33 mass graves in the Luwero
Triangle, each containing about 2,000 skulls. These people
were not killed in combat or cross-fre; they were killed in
cold-blood by the criminal soldiers. Why kill non-
combatants, prisoners of war, children, women, etc? These
were following the massacres of 1966 and the killings
throughout Amin’s rule. Extra-judicial killings by
deliberate action by Government agents had to stop. It was
compromise enough that we sat down and negotiated with
elements of the same Army that committed these
massacres with impunity. It was part of the agreement
that not only were the massacres to stop but the ones who
had committed them had to be held accountable. The
massacres did not stop. Massacres were carried out at
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Kibibi in Butambala and massacres were carried out at
Kasaala in Luwero. That was the end of that agreement.
We moved in to create a totally new situation for Uganda.
That is what we did and Ugandans can judge whether we
created a better situation or not. Certainly, the
Ssemogereres and other multi-partyists could walk out of
the Constituent Assembly (CA), over constitutional
arguments using their democratic right to do so, while they
stayed in the 1981-85 Parliament when Ugandans were
being massacred.
Then there is another statement by Mzee Ssemogerere that
is not correct. He says: “Ah, no. Museveni was on the
retreat at the time. He was feeing to the Rwenzoris. He
only bounced back after the coup by the Okellos”. That is
a falsehood. We did not fee to the Rwenzoris. We opened
the 2
nd
Front after we had successfully carried out gun-
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raising operations in Masindi (20
th
of February, 1984) and
Kabamba (1
st
January, 1985). We deployed the 11
th
battalion, under Chefe Ali, along with the sick, the political
wing and the civilian workers to the more easily defendable
Rwenzori Mountains; but kept the mailed fst of the NRA,
the mobile Brigade under Saleh (1
st
battalion, 3
rd
battalion
and 5
th
battalion) in the Luwero triangle. The 7
th
battalion,
under Kyaligonza, was in the Wabusana areas and 9
th
battalion, under Kihanda, was in the Nkrumah area
(Kiboga-Kyenkwanzi). It is the Mobile Brigade that, fnally,
defeated Ogole and Erica Odwar at the battle of Kembogo,
along River Mayanja, on the 21
st
of June, 1985. It is those
defeated troops that came back to Kampala and made the
Coup of July. Therefore, Ssemogerere’s statement is false.
On the Western Front, the late Fred Rwigyemera and the
late Chefe Ali ambushed and killed Lt. Col. Obot,
commander of the UNLA forces in the West and overrun
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Rubona Stock Farm where the UNLA had made a big camp,
killing many soldiers of the Government. It was also in
those days that the late Muammer Gadaf dropped for us,
by air 800 rifes and 1 million rounds of ammunition.
Where did the Libyan planes drop the cargo, Mzee
Ssemogerere? In the late Ruharo’s farm, in Nakaseke.
Where is Nakaseke? Certainly, not in the Rwenzori but in
Luwero area.
Finally, Ssemogerere continues to misunderstand the role
of the Army in national afairs. Countries have diferent
histories. It is correct to say that the army and public
servants should not be partisan in politics. They should
not, however, be barred from taking part in national afairs
– patriotism, unity, stability, development, etc.
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Ideologically, our army is patriotic and Pan-Africanist.
Other armies are guided by diferent ideologies.
The main problem of the Obote and Amin Armies were not
even partisanship. It was extra-judicial killings, looting of
people’s properties, raping women, sectarianism, etc.
Countries with a history of Resistance, always have and
should have the Army playing some role in the national –
not partisan – afairs of the country.
In countries like China, the Soviet Union, South Africa,
Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, etc. you have former
freedom fghters – some of them with a military
background playing leading roles even in politics. Even ─
in Western countries such as the USA, you get Generals
being elected as Presidents or Ministers: Eisenhower,
Kennedy, Carter, Bush the elder, George Marshal, John
Kerry, etc. In fact, for a long time, service in the US
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military was a sine qua non, of being elected to high
political ofce. If Ssemogerere could not see retired Army
ofcers in the past, he has got a chance now; even Mzee
Pangarasio Onek, retired peacefully after many years.
When the economy improves and we are able to look after
the welfare of soldiers and retired soldiers better, their life
will be good.
Yoweri K. Museveni (Gen. Rtd)
P R E S I D E N T
16
th
October, 2014.
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