BY AHMED KATEREGGA MUSAAZI
One of the reasons for the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere to fall out with the late Dr. Apollo Milton Obote was that the latter failed to pay the former “war indemnity.”
Why “war indemnity?” Tanzania had defeated Uganda in 1979 and a defeated country has to be war indemnity to the victor.
However, the 1978=1979 Uganda-Tanzania war was not seen that way. It was a liberation war where Tanzanian People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) side by side with Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) removed Idi Amin regime. But the liberation was short lived as all Amin’s successors; Yusuf Lule, Godfrey Binaisa and Paulo Muwanga, were seen as warming up the presidential chair for Milton Obote, whom Amin had toppled on January 25th 1971.
According to some of the Wakombozi “liberators), Mwalimu Nyerere was not committed to physically toppling Idi Amin regime, it was not only violating the OAU principle of non-interference in internal affairs of a member state, but also very costly. However, those in UNLF leadership assured him that they will pay back after the war.
When Obote ll failed to pay back because his government almost had nothing and had run to International Monetary Fund and World Bank for relief, Nyerere became angry and encouraged the then Vice President Paulo Muwanga to take over from Obote the way he did on Binaisa in 1980, and invited the Opposition led by Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere and the rebels led by Yoweri Museveni for power sharing.
The meeting indeed was held in Cologne, Germany and is well documented in sowing the mustard Seed.
The climax was the Saturday July 27th coup in 1985 by Tito Okello and Bazilio Okello.
However, Nyerere was angered when the Okellos brought in ex-Uganda Army soldiers led by Amin Amin Onzi and Isaac Lumago and he decided to fully side with National Resistance Movement/Army (NRM/NRA) and hence the 5,000 rifles the President talked about at State House Entebbe last Sunday.
In the words of the President, Tanzania under Mwalimu Nyerere, had contributed greatly in the liberation of Southern Africa (Tanzania was the chairperson of OAU Liberation Committee) including Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, then the liberation of Uganda in 1979 and 1986 and the only pay back Uganda could do was the construction of oil pi0pe line from Hoima to Tanga.
The President was right because ever since NRM came to power in 1986, Tanzania has never been a fertile ground for Ugandan rebels, yet many political exiles remained there.
Yet Kenya, the Sudan, DR Congo and even Rwanda, have been safe havens for Ugandan criminals and political and military exiles with dreams of forcing themselves back to power in Uganda.
Uganda, has also, to an extent, did the same to some neighboring countries and people like Rwanda, DR Congo, South Sudan, Somalia. Criticism is that it has no strong middle class to do business in those countries the way Kenya does. But Uganda seems to do a similar service Tanzania did.
Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are the leading member states of East Africa Community, and since Tanzania doubles it by being also a member of South Africa Development Cooperation which replaced that one of Frontline States in the days of Apartheid, Uganda has committed it to remain in the EAC with the pipeline project, which, according to President Museveni, will not only take oil from Uganda to Tanga, but will also bring gas from Tanzania and Mozambique to Uganda.
The President said that even neighbors like South Sudan and DR Congo may use the same pipeline in exporting their crude oil.
Baganda say: omukwano guva mu ngabo (Friendship comes from a fight). The 1979 war however much it became a loss on the side of Uganda, which justified a second liberation war in the Luwero triangle, bonded Ugandans and Tanzanians not only as neighbors, but also as one people and the oil pipeline has consolidated the relationship.
Obote failed to keep the alliance he had made with Kabaka Edward Muteesa ll. He also failed to keep the fraternity he had built with Nyerere and others like Dr. Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia under Mulungushi Club.
President Museveni has not only kept the fraternity between Uganda and Tanzania, but has also ensured that there is regional integration under the East Africa Community which will, God willing, become a confederation and later a political federation.
Haji Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi is a veteran journalist and a Communications Assistant with the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.