President Yoweri Museveni has written to Red Pepper Columnist and Director for Digital Media, Arinaitwe Rugyendo, criticising him for writing that his rebel force, The National Resistance Army (NRA) partly succeeded because of luck.
Rugyendo wrote a lengthy analysis titled: ‘9 Tricks that have made Museveni stay for 28 years’ on January 26, for a Red Pepper special supplement to mark 28 years since Museveni’s rebel army shot to power in 1986.
Museveni says the NRA now UPDF has a historical tendency to win wars and luck is not one of them..
Below is his ten page letter in full..
One time I told Ugandans of a bitter step-mother. Her husband had a daughter with her co-wife (mukaiba) and that daughter was very beautiful. She then, had her own daughter who was ugly. On account of reasons the mythology does not reveal, the co-wife was not on the scene (either she died or divorced the husband).
The bitter step-mother, therefore, became the custodian of the two girls; her step-daughter and her own daughter. On account of her prejudice and bitterness, she could not accept the fact that her step-daughter was more beautiful than her own daughter. One day, she oiled her daughter very well (kusiiga) but smeared the step-daughter with cow-dung. She stood with the two children by the major path (omuhanda). She, then, asked the travellers (abagyeenzi) which of the two children was more beautiful.
The travellers then said that the one smeared with the cow-dung was more beautiful if it was not for smearing her with cow-dung. She was very disappointed. Next time, she changed tactics and smeared her own daughter with cow-dung and oiled the step-daughter with the perfumed oils (obutahe).
When the travellers (abagyeenzi) came by, she asked them as to which of the two children was more beautiful. ‘The travellers, then, said: “obviously the well-oiled child was more beautiful and to make matters worse the uglier child” had been smeared with cow-dung (amasha).
Thereafter, the bitter and jealous step-mother got more frustrated and started cursing everybody. There are certain writers, in especially, the Monitor newspaper, who always try to denigrate the NRM, its achievements, etc.
One of them is called Allan Tacca. When the 28th Anniversary of the NRM was approaching, this group started writing articles in their usual vein. The NRM and Museveni have no vision, etc, etc”. “How can you say the NRM has vision when the other day Allan Tacca accidentally switched on the radio or TV and heard Museveni talking of the 4 sectors: Agriculture, Industry, Services and ICT? These are obvious and they do not need to be talked about’’. “Also talking about commercializing agriculture is no point. etc, etc”.
Well, 1 am going to do some research on people like Allan Tacca.. Which part of Uganda does he come from and what are the people there doing? Are they still in subsistence farming, which is the main cause of poverty in such a rich country like Uganda, or have they, transitioned to commercial agriculture? If they have transitioned to commercial agriculture, are they doing so according to the “kibalo” or “cura” (the profitability economics) we have recommended to them through enterprise selection given, the fact that many of them have fragmented the land on account of irrational inheritance practices? Communities that have listened to this “non-visionary” advice have prospered. Those that have not are still in poverty.
Only a few months ago, 1 think it was the same Monitor that was forced to admit that there was “gold” in milk — in other words, the people that have taken to dairy farming in a commercial way, away from beef farming because they did not have enough land for that, have prospered. Those that have taken to fruits are also beginning to prosper. The ones of clonal coffee are similarly beginning to earn good, incomes. Those that have taken to tea growing, provided the minimum acreage is right, are earning good money. All these success stories are in Uganda and Uganda is peaceful from corner to corner.
Therefore, Allan Tacca can check on any of them if he is interested in the truth — whether the truth is “vision” or not.
We insist on the 10 strategic bottlenecks that Uganda faced by the time NRM came to power. These are:
(i) Ideological disorientation;
(ii) a weak state, especially the army, that needed restructuring,
(iii) the suppression of the private sector:
(iv) the underdevelopment of the human resource;
(v) the underdevelopment of the infrastructure (the railways, the roads, the electricity, the telephones, piped water, etc):
(vi) a small market;
(vii) lack of industrialisation;
(viii) the underdevelopment of the services sector (hotels, banking, transport, insurance, etc.):
(ix) the underdevelopment ol agncuiture; and
(x) the attack on democracy.
The above bottlenecks must be removed for Uganda to become First World country in the next 50 years. Uganda has achieved the minimum recovery we set out to achieve in 1986. That, is why Taccas of Monitor paper has got all the forex it needs to import its raw-materials. There are even people, in the private sector, who are very rich. This is, however, only the beginning.
Therefore, the serious Ugandans that want to progress should not listen to the Taccas. Some of these journalists are like the jealous woman who cannot accept that her step-daughter is more beautiful than her own daughter.
Then there were writers in several papers including the Red Pepper who cannot explain why the NRM has succeeded where the others have failed. One of the writers, by the names of Arinaitwe Rugyendo, surmised that Museveni was ‘”lucky because the Okellos turned against Obote etc. He also talked of the death of Oyite Ojok. If Oyite Ojok had not died, the NKM would not have achieved victory, according to Rugyendo.
Unfortunately, Col. Walter Ochora, who was one of the people directly fighting us at Karege, Kyanjinja etc, is dead. 1 had encouraged him to write a book about his experiences. The Okellos rightly rebelled against Obote because he was pushing them to their death by sending them to fight the NRA.
Of course, we were also loosing fighters and commanders. Our losses, however, were much less and, on account of the repression by UPC, we had no way out but to resist.
I have written before that by the time I left for Sweden on the 12th of March, 1985, I was sure that we were going to defeat Obote. That is why I chose to go outside that time so as to get more arms to prevent chaos in the country once Obote fell.
That is what I told our commanders before
I left, at Kawumu, Makulubita. By that time we had 2,100 rifles – having got 760 from Masindi (20th of February, 1985) and 650 from Kabamba (January 1, 1985) plus what we had been getting from smaller battles and the little we had got from Libya in 1981.
Prior to Masindi, we had held at bay the whole of the UN LA (about 60,000 strength) with our only 600 rifles. With these added rifles, given our superior ideology, discipline, organisation, tactics and strategy, it was clear that we were winning the war.
That is what I wrote in the letter entitled: “Who is winning the War?” It was written on the 11th March, 1985 (My letter to Members of NRM from NRA Headquarters in Luwero Triangle) Apart from the victories at Masindi and Kabamba, there were a series of pitched battles at Karege,Kyajinja, Mataba swamp, etc. It was the UNLA on the offensive. These, however, did nothing to shift advantage to the UNLA.
While that was going on, I decided to effect a geo-strategic re-organisation by creating the Western Front. I sent the 1st battalion, under Chefe Ali, with all the non-combatants (medical, civilians that we could not infiltrate back into the population, political mobilisers etc.) to the more favourable terrain of the Rwenzori.
I only kept the Mobile brigade, under Saleh, in the Luwero Triangle (Luwero, Nakaseke, Kiboga. Wakiso). Three of these battalions (1st. 3rd and 5th) together as a striking force and the other two as zonal forces 7th in the Kiwanguzi area and 9th in the Nkrumah area. By the time, a battalion had 300 rifles with the other 400 unarmed. Therefore, the whole Mobile brigade was 1,500 rifles which could operate together or the 900 rifles could operate alone.
Fred Rwigyema moved the huge group of non-combatants, escorted by the 11th battalion and the 5th battalion, all the way from Luwero (Makulubita) up to the Rwenzori Mountains. Why couldn’t the UNLA stop this movement? The answer is simple: they had no capacity to stop it.
With the opening of the Western front, the UPC’s fate was sealed. It did not take long before Lt. Col Obot who had been sent to fight that force was killed. The decisive blow against the UNLA and UPC was affected by two battles: Runona and Kembogo.
After the killing of Obot, the 11th battalion, under Fred Rwigyema and Chefe Ali, attacked the UN LA that had camped at Rubona Stock Farm and wiped it out. That is when we captured the first Katyusha (107mm rocket launcher).
The second battle was at Kembogo, Kibogo district, where Sal eh defeated the cream of Ogole’s Special Brigade. These two defeats were so thorough and so severe that the UN LA lost hope of winning a military victory. That is when the elements of UN LA mutinied against Obote. This was not luck. It was the dynamics of the war.
Even if the Okellos had not mutinied against Obote the whole Government would have been defeated. Indeed, just before the mutiny against Obote, Muammar Gadaffi had parachuted for us 8OO new rifles and 1 million rounds in Ruharo’s farm, Nakaseke district.
This boosted our rifles to 2,800 with enough ammunition to fight pitched battles that were needed to conclude the war. That is why I had left for the external trip in March, 1985. With these rifles, 1 created the 13th battalion under Ivan Koreta.
I, Later on, added 15th battalion, 17th battalion, 19th battalion and 21st battalion. Here I used the 5,000 riffles I got from Mwalimu.
Therefore, the story that NRA (Museveni) were lucky for the Okellos to rebel against Obote is not correct.
In the end, the UPC would have lost whatever the scenario. The obscurantists could as well have added that, the NRA/UPDF were lucky to defeat Lakwena, defeat Kony, defeat Al-Shabaab, defeat ADF etc. etc. If that is the case, then NRA/UPDF must have abundant luck. That is good enough when luck becomes a tendency.
CLR James said: “one is an incident; two is a coincidence: three is a tendency”. It seems NRA/UPDF winning is a tendency and not merely a co-incidence.
I thank you.