By Moses Balyeku
DURING his days as Zambian President, Kenneth Kaunda had his son Panji join the army. Through the years, he rose to the rank of Colonel with Zambian nationals generally comfortable with it.
Even after Kaunda left power, his predecessors like President Michael Sata have continued to work cordially with Col. Panji. For instance, last year, Sata appointed Col. Panji as Deputy Minister for Defence.
Now, this brings us to a question why some Ugandans are losing sleep over Muhoozi’s recent promotion to the rank of Brigadier (one star General).
The major challenge that has prevented local opposition political parties to metamorphose into credible and stronger groupings capable of getting to power is their over reliance on short term strategies. In all circumstances, where they have applied these strategies, they have backfired at the benefit of NRM government.
Take the case of opposition comments over the Government’s relentless initiatives towards maintaining security of person and property which is the second point under the Ten Points Programme.
In mid 1990s, at the time when ADF rebels exploited the sanctuary of eastern DRC as a launching pad of its attacks against Mpondwe in Kasese District, the UPDF had to follow and encircle the rebels from their DRC hideouts in a bid to annihilate them to solve the problem once and for all.
However, in their characteristic approach, opposition members, without putting national security concerns at focus, accused President Museveni of being a ‘warmonger’.
They infamously asserted ‘Museveni finds such wars sweeter, he will continue to incite more because he has no son in UPDF he is scared of losing at the battle field’.
Luckily, those allegations came at the backdrop of Muhoozi’s resolve to join UPDF. Obviously, it came as a bombshell to the opposition. In face of that unexpected result, they adopted a reverse psychology technique as a basis of frustrating Muhoozi’s career.
They prophesied doom towards his trainings. In so doing, they hoped Museveni would block Muhoozi for fear of his life. The First Son went for the hardest trainings, any tested military General can attest to.
On completion, he was deployed in the fiercest war fields. Talk of ‘Operation Lightening Thunder’ and fighting urban terrorism in Somalia.
Having attained the mandatory trainings and experience, the UPDF leadership, through the Commander-in-Chief, promoted Muhoozi to the rank of Brigadier in addition to appointing him the Commander of Special Forces.
Of course, the opposition was again heard arguing Muhoozi is too young for the new rank. Honestly, that argument does not hold because gone were the days when ranks were primarily awarded basing on the number of a soldier’s grey hair and bundle of muscles he or she had.
In this era, military promotions are chiefly based on total number of credible courses one has attained owing to the fact that military warfare is now technically planned. Indeed, Muhoozi explains it noticeably in his book, ‘Battles of the Ugandan Resistance: A Tradition of Manoeuver’.
Additionally, in every military college or institution, where a soldier trains from, a recommendation is made as to what new position or rank their graduate is capable of holding at the discretion of the Commander-in-Chief. Just like Muhoozi, evidently, all UPDF soldiers that trained in United States Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and South African National Defence College (SANDC) have ended up being promoted.
These include Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala, Land Forces Commander, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, Chief of Defence Forces, Brigadier Paul Lokech, the commander of Uganda’s contingent in Somalia, and Colonel Apollo Kasita Gowa, the commandant of Senior Command and Staff College Kimaka.
Other countries have similarly elevated Fort Leavenworth alumni. Gen. Lloyd James Austin III, is now the current Vice Chief of Staff of US Army, Gen. Collin Powell and President Paul Kagame.
Therefore, just like one pundit stated, discussing Muhoozi’s promotion while imputing his blood relationship to President Museveni is unfair.
We should appreciate that when someone joins the army, he or she is a potential candidate to become a General, just like every ordained priest is in line of becoming a Bishop, Cardinal or Pope.