Gen. Henry Tumukunde has said it took smartness, and strategy to have him released from the army and consequently regaining the freedom of expression that he enjoys today.
Gen. Tumukunde says if it was’nt for his boldness, he would be still under “suppression” many other serving UPDF officers are enduring.
Rtd. Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde, who recently declared intentions to contest for presidency in the forthcoming 2021 general elections, made the remarks during a popular political talk-show on Saturday, on Capital Gang aired on Capital FM. Hosted by Ssemweya Musoke, the show featured other politicians including Hon. Semujju Nganda, Hon. Abdu Katuntu and President Museveni’s Senior Advisor Moses Byaruhanga.
In reaction to a question on why Ugandans should take his presidential bid seriously following his history of falling in and out with the establishment, Tumukunde said he has held presidential ambitions for many years, but his aspirations have always been suppressed by a dictatorial leadership of UPDF.
Tumukunde said may UPDF officers harbour similar ambitions, and the same are the reason why he was arrested and incarcerated for close to two years in 2005 for abuse of office, and spreading malicious propaganda after he made political statements on air. He said however, it was until 2016 when he developed a smart strategy that granted him the freedom he enjoys.
“I noticed President Museveni had a bit of a rattle of panic with Hon. Amamba Mbabazi, and I said why can’t I exploit this opportunity I told Mr. Museveni ‘for me to campaign for you, give me Karatas (permit) because I don’t want to go into this, and be mistaken for a serving army officer”’ Tumukunde said.
“I got the Caratas…ceremonial, etc! Relieved, and actually saluted out of the army” he said he couldn’t be speaking if he was still a serving officer.
He said serving army officers live under “imprisonment under non-existent laws” citing gullibility in army officers with majority unwilling to express themselves fearing reprisal from the Commander in Chief (CIC).
Tumukunde also narrated how he in 1994 (still in army service) outsmarted the establishment to contest and become an MP for Rubabo County an act that fetched reprisal from the CIC despite absence of a law barring an army officer from contesting for political positions. He says his move led to introduction of an amendment that currently prohibits serving army officers from political participation.
He says the UPDF Act 2005, is not clear especially the provision that compels army officers who intend to join active politics to first seek clearance (read retirement) from the CIC citing a case of Gen. David Sejjusa who he says must seek the consent of President Museveni in order to challenge him. He says much as President Museveni remains his commander, he is a completely different individual, and free from the clutches of the army dogma. He said the law is irregular in regard to serving army officers.
“Imagine you went to the bush voluntarily, did all the contributions, some of us lost legs but all that is suppressed by some laws?” He said.
In a recent interview with NBS, Tumukunde was heard saying he was intrigued by the CIC’s decision to withdraw security from him (a General) while his juniors he referred to as “grandsons” in the army enjoy the privilege of having more than five security escorts.
He challenged the generals and NRM historicals who differed with President Museveni to start asserting themselves by openly and aggressively campaigning against him during elections instead of folding hands which he said is bound to change.