Monday, October 14, 2013
In a bid to get to the root of the
reported theft of UPDF food rations in Somalia, President Museveni on
Thursday staged a surprise inquiry, questioning soldiers fresh from the
After hours of listening to personal testimonies from low- cadre
soldiers, the commander in chief was dumbfounded, sources at the meeting
Among other shocking things Museveni learnt that his commanders
demanded money to influence the award of army contracts. It is said that
at least one commander earned $50,000 (Shs 130m) to deliver a contract.
The money was reportedly found stashed in his bed.
Museveni was reportedly surprised to
hear that even some of the senior officers he wanted to investigate the
scam, were implicated.
The Observer has learnt that after
presiding at the Independence day celebrations in Rukungiri last
Wednesday, Museveni moved to Singo army training school, in Nakaseke
district on Thursday. When he reached the training camp, he called a
meeting with the fresh returnees.
All the rank and file turned up but
Museveni reportedly asked all commanders, right from corporals to leave.
After the commanders left, the president asked the soldiers to speak
Every soldier handpicked to speak read
out his number and name, which Museveni’s aides wrote down. Every single
statement was recorded. In that meeting, sources say, soldiers pulled
the veil off the widespread corruption in Somalia, involving
high-ranking UPDF officers. Soldiers confirmed they ate one meal a day,
which was of very poor quality.
They further said the dry rations given
couldn’t last a week, yet they were continuously in harm’s way. Because
of the poor welfare, the soldiers’ morale to fight the al-Shabab
militants was hugely dampened, they said.
The president, our source said, was very
disturbed by the firsthand accounts of the soldiers. In the meeting,
Museveni was also told that some senior army officers were cutting deals
with contractors. They claimed that one captain was found with $50,000
stashed under his bed.
Interviewed for this story, Army
Spokesman Lt Col Paddy Ankunda confirmed that the meeting took place. He
said Museveni met the soldiers to welcome them back home and to thank
them for their role in Somalia. He said the president held two meetings
“Yes, the president ordered the
commanders out of the meeting and told them to wait for their meeting.
He met soldiers, first and then separately met with their commanders,”
Ankunda said the president had been
deeply concerned by the alleged theft of army logistics in Somalia. He,
however, declined to comment on the specifics of what transpired in the
“It would be speculative if I tell you what transpired in a meeting that I didn’t attend,” he said.
But our source said Ankunda attended the meeting.
Last month, Daily Monitor reported that
the president ordered an investigation. Uganda has more than 6,000
troops in Somalia, making it the biggest contributor of troops to the
African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).
The presidential order for an
investigation followed revelations by US officials that the UPDF are
good fighters but some of their commanders are “thieves”. In the story,
Museveni is reported to have warned his army chiefs that he was itching
to sack anyone found culpable.
While flagging off a contingent of UPDF
soldiers to Somalia, the president said: “These white people called me
that your army is very good but they are also thieves. I don’t want
thieves in this army; any commander who will condone corruption, I will
Ankunda said that indeed the army was
investigating the claims, particularly the theft of army logistics like
fuel and food in Somalia and the Central African Republic. Last month,
the president replaced the UPDF, Amisom command.
Ugandan soldiers in Somalia who made up Battlegroup 9+ early this year. Photo: Amison
Museveni recalled 22 UPDF officers
including the Amisom contingent commander Brig Michael Ondoga, who was
replaced by Brig Dick Olum. Last week, the president also recalled Col
“We shall leave no stone unturned,”
Ankunda said, stressing that anyone found culpable would face the court
martial. Other senior army officers being investigated include Col
Johnson Muhanguzi, Lt Col Sam Kirya, the Logistic Officer, Capt Joy
Atugonza and the Operations Officer, Lt Col Chris Ogwal.
In August, the commander of the Land
Forces, Maj Gen David Muhoozi, flew to Somalia. Though he was meant to
inspect and morale-boost the troops, sources within the army say, he was
there to investigate the corruption. Detectives from the Chieftaincy of
Military Intelligence (CMI) have been in Somalia several times
investigating the food theft allegations.
Ankunda said the army’s Special
Investigations Bureau (SIB) was also investigating the allegations
alongside CMI. The SIB team includes Capt Michael Kanyamunyu, Maj Kakuru
and Maj Edmond Agaba.
Sources say, Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba
has also dispatched an investigative team, while the deputy Chief of
Defence Forces (CDF) Lt Gen Charles Angina, has also instituted an
anti-theft crack unit, to clean up the force.