The Commander of Land Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, has threatened to resign his position in the military if the funds he is requesting to improve the welfare of soldiers is not given to Land Forces.
Our News desk has exclusively learnt that Gen Muhoozi, who has been stationed at the General Military headquarters in Bombo since early July, recently asked for Shs 20bn to improve the soldiers’ accommodation facilities and boost security at various military bases but the Ministry of Defence turned a blind eye.
“𝐖𝐞 (𝐋𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐅𝐨𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐬) 𝐚𝐬𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐒𝐡𝐬 𝟐𝟎𝐛𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐨𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐮𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐟𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐞𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐭 𝐁𝐨𝐦𝐛𝐨 (𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐌𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐪𝐮𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬), 𝐌𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐲𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐤𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐌𝐨𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐁𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐚𝐝𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐍𝐚𝐤𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐠𝐨𝐥𝐚 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐫𝐢𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐥 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐌𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐃𝐞𝐟𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐨𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝,” Gen Muhoozi confided in his closest friends this week.
“𝐈𝐟 𝐦𝐲 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐝𝐢𝐞𝐫𝐬’ 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐥𝐞𝐦𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐬𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐝, 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐫𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐦𝐲 𝐛𝐲 𝐧𝐞𝐱𝐭 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫,” 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥, 𝐚𝐝𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠, “𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝟐𝟖 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬.”
We understand that Muhoozi, who previously commanded the elite Special Forces Command (SFC) with headquarters in Entebbe, was shocked to find Bombo in a sorry state with dilapidated structures for offices and soldiers’ accommodation.
“𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐃𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐮𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬,” he told his close associates. .
He also discovered that the general military headquarters, which in other countries, are the most heavily fortified compounds, lacks a security wall fence.
Muhoozi reportedly said he could not continue serving as a Commander of the Land Forces “𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐦𝐲 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧,” 𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠, “𝐁𝐨𝐦𝐛𝐨 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥 𝐝𝐮𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐨𝐧. 𝐈𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫.”
Corruption in the army
An investigation has established that UPDF Divisional Commanders are not receiving adequate operational funds.
Quite often, these commanders have to request Gen Muhoozi’s office for “some little airtime” to run their operations..
Commanding officers lack vehicles while fuel, lubricants and oils remain in short supply despite the Ministry of Defence taking a huge chunk of the national budget.
In the 2019/20 financial year, the allocation to the security department grew by more than 50% from the previous financial year.
The budget was increased to a record Shs 3.6 Trillion from Shs 1.5Trillion.
The increased spending on defence generated debate among members of parliament and other stakeholders with many questioning the motive.
“We are concerned with the unexplained sharp increase of the country’s security and defence expenditure,” said FDC spokesperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda in 2020.
“Significantly to note is the fact that, classified expenditure has also correspondingly increased from Shs 347 billion in 2017, to Shs 640 billion in 2018 and to2.1 trillion in the new budget of 2019/2020,” he added.
Defence Minister Adolf Mwesige said the money would be “spent on items that are crucial for the Uganda People’s Defence Forces and national security”.
He further said some of the equipment procured or refurbished are helicopters, marine boats, infantry fighting vehicles and artillery guns.
In July, 2021, Gen. Muhoozi visited the UPDF detach in Zombo district which had been attacked by rebels from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
The CLF, who arrived in a helicopter, was welcomed by soldiers in unfitting and tattered uniforms.
Many of the soldiers wore jungle boots and lacked warm and waterproof clothing – not to mention gloves and tents.
We will be building an efficient, modern, and accountable force that can defend the sovereignty of our country at all times,” said Gen Muhoozi in July 2021.
While assuming office, Muhoozi, who now commands the infantry and artillery divisions; and the armoured and motorised brigades, said soldiers’ welfare included modern accommodation facilities, improved salaries and better clothing.
Corruption at Mbuya
But his move to change the conditions of the Land Forces has since met stiff resistance from the Defence Ministry.
Muhoozi this week told close associates that he was “appointed as CLF to transform the Land Forces and if this Defence Ministry does not give our office the money we need to cause a qualitative change in the Land Forces, I will retire next year.”
Muhoozi also wondered in a meeting why money is “centralised at Mbuya”, saying, “These people (defence ministry) know that if they give us the money we need, they are gone because soldiers will know who has been stealing from them all these years.”
He emphasised to associates that the “biggest criminal cartel in Uganda is at the Ministry of Defence”
Muhoozi warned: “I either do something or I get out. Either I improve the soldiers’ welfare or I get out.”
The development will send shockwaves at the Defence Ministry where funds are centralised.
Sources said Muhoozi remains concerned that while military officials including generals based at Mbuya have amassed a lot of wealth through “unprecedented” and “ historic” corruption, the foot soldiers continue to wallow in destitution.
Our desk was yet to receive a response from the Defence Ministry when we posted this article this Saturday morning.
However, dozens of military officials who talked to us on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said Muhoozi could have hit the right button in addressing soldiers’ welfare.
“The Defence Ministry officials are obsessed with primitive accumulation of wealth at the expense of soldiers’ welfare,” said one of the army officers we talked to.
Another source said, “previous Chiefs of Land Forces were either toothless or feared to take on the cartel at the Defence Ministry where funds are centralized.”
“But now, as CLF, Muhoozi is well-placed to make the much-needed changes in the army by fighting corruption and addressing the soldiers’ concerns. He has access to the Commander-in-chief; he is well protected to be intimidated and is not interested in bribes.”
At SFC, Muhoozi oversaw the construction of modern accommodation facilities and the equipping and training of the elite force using an annual budget of less than Shs 10bn.
Muhoozi, who doubles as Special Presidential advisor in charge of special operations, commands the infantry division