BY AHMED KATEREGGA MUSAAZI
On Thursday April 11th 2019, we shall be marking 40 years after the fall of Idi Amin regime to “Tanzanian Forces, mercenaries and Ugandan traitors,” as Idi Amin used to call them at the height of the Uganda-Tanzania war. Kampala fell on Wednesday April 11th 1979.Yet the truth was Tanzanian People’s Defense Forces (TPDF) and Ugandan exiles who later formed Uganda National Liberation Front/Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLF/UNLA).
Unconfirmed reports claim the involvement of some battalions from Mozambique and Zambia.As the war intensified in Masaka and Mbarara and local people, who had rejected Ugandan exiles who invaded in September of 1972, have decided to remain neutral or siding with Tanzanians, Amin claimed that the intention of the invaders was to kill Muslims and Baganda. He later warned of people of Mmengo District (now Greater Mpigi) and Ankole, if they continue supporting the invaders.
According to War in Uganda, The Legacy
of Idi Amin (1982), that partly contributed to Tanzania to advance to Kampala
as some people are said to have left leaflets at wells calling upon Tanzanians
to totally liberate Uganda as Amin would avenge to defenseless civilians in case
he won the war.However the honey moon was short lived when Amin’s successor,
Lule, ruled for only 68 days, succeeded by Godfrey Binaisa, who also ruled for ll months before a Military Commission chaired by Paulo Muwanga came in to hold general elections won by DP under Dr.Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, but were rigged in favor of UPC under Milton Obote.
This sparked off a five year National Resistance Movement/Army NRM/NRA) protracted people’swar in Luwero Triangle from 1981 to 1986,spearheaded by now President Yoweri Museveni.The Wakombozi liberation, as Tanzanian and Ugandan liberators were called in Kiswahili, had lost meaning.l cannot forget a night in late 1995 l narrowly survived from some Tanzanian journalists who wanted to eat me up for telling them that the 1979 war was not a liberation war but was a war of conquest when dictator Idi Amin was replaced with dictator Milton Obote.
Little did l know, that one of the journalists l was exchanging words with was a Mkombozi (liberator) from Tanzanian People’s Defence Forces, that fought side by side with Ugandan exiles and he had fought even in my home district of Ssembabule. Worse still, he had lost a brother in the war.Another journalist of Masaai origins, said “But you, Ugandans are very ungrateful. We shed blood so that you would be free and now you are saying that we conquered you to replace Idi Amin with MiltonObote!” Fortunately, they were all drunk and l was sober. One Tanzanian friend, who had become very close to me, whisked me away back to the hotel.
From that incident, l remembered a Baganda saying, “Entasiima ebula agiwa,” literally meaning that if one is ever ungrateful, s/he may fail to get any donor. Yes, Tanzania may have been with its own regional agenda, but at least it removed Idi Amin’s one man dictatorship and probably if Ugandan exiles were more organized and united, Obote would have been with no alternative but to come back as an ex-president and enjoy his retirement benefits. One of the untold reasons for Tanzania to support removal of Prof. Yusuf Lule after succeeding Idi Amin President for only 68 days, was because, he was making a secret alliance with soldiers of defunct Uganda Army, who had surrendered and were under detention at Makindye, Military Police barracks, to get rid of Tanzanians, who had then liberated the whole country from Mutukula to Nimule. No wonder after the Saturday July 27th UNLA coup that brought Gen.Tito Okello to power in 1985, he flew to Dar Es Salaam to explain to the outgoing President Julius Nyerere the justification for the coup more especially since, it had been a joint plot of UNLA mutineers and ex Uganda Army exiles from now South Sudan and DR Congo.
There is no doubt that Tanzanians shed blood for the liberation of Uganda and have political, strategic, economic and other interests in Uganda. No wonder, a Uganda’s mid-seventies dream for an alternative route to Mombasa, after the late Jomo Kenyatta regime blocked our imports and exports in 1976, have become true now with an oil pipeline and road from Dar Es Salaam to Lake Albertine Region in Midwestern Uganda, which construction is soon kicking off, to be followed with a railway to portal town of Mwanza.
Fortunately, the mustard seed that was planted by TPDF and FRELIMO of Mozambique in FRONASA in particular, and UNLA in general, germinated, grew and bore fruits and as a result other seeds were sown in Rwandese Patriotic Front that liberated Rwanda from 1994 genocide, then DR Congo in 1997, SPLA/SPLM that led South Sudan to independence in 2011, etc. So, Uganda has legitimate political, strategic, economic and other interests in Rwanda, DR Congo, South Sudan and elsewhere in Eastern Africa or Great Lakes Region. Additionally, Ugandan solders have shed blood for people of Somalia and Central African Republic so that the region is peaceful and so that trade and investments can flourish more especially since most of the neighbors are in East Africa Community which is already a common market and ultimately a political confederation or federation.
So when Government of South Sudan was almost collapsing, Uganda sacrificed and unilaterally sent there a force to protect strategic installations until a peace deal was made by President Salva Kiir and his first deputy Dr. Riek Machar. They have now gone to Vatican for Pope Francis’s blessings.
President Yoweri Museveni and President Omar Hassan El Bashir have gone extra mile to ensure that peace returns to South Sudan. Before the outbreak of the civil war, Uganda was the main trading partner with South Sudan and if peace is consolidated, it will remain so.
The Sudan is also the
biggest consumer of Uganda’s coffee, buying nearly a million bags according to Daily
Monitor columnist Onyango Obbo, and if it destabilizes, Ugandan
farmers will suffer. Yet riots are continuing in the Sudan’s twin cities of Khartoum and Omdurman where both Bule and While Niles meet. Therefore as we mark 40 years of the fall of Idi Amin regime, we should be grateful to Mwalimu Nyerere and Tanzania for single handedly
taking the mantle of the war. Tanzania wanted to jointly mark the day with Uganda but the latter seems not to have done so because of what happened later and for national reconciliation as Amin’s supporters especially in his home West Nile region were not happy with it.
However every June 2nd, mass is cerebrated at Uganda Martyrs Day at Namugongo for beatification of Nyerere as a martyr. Even those who disagreed with him and his policies, there is unanimity that Nyerere was not personally corrupt compared to his contemporaries and successors in the region. Likewise, the people of Rwanda should be grateful to us for not only
hosting them as refuges and later integrated them as citizens, but also for helping them in a liberation war from 1990 to 1994 when RPF/RPA stopped genocide by Intarehamwe. We jointly helped Banyamulenge and Congolese rebels under the late Laurent Desure Kabila to oust the most corrpt regime in post-independence Africa, of Mobitu Sese Seko in 1997. The South Sudan should also be grateful to us for supporting their cause right from Anyanya days of the sixties.
Fortunately most of these countries are in East Africa Community which is now a common market and which is growing slowly but steadily into a political federation or at least, confederation.
Haji Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi,
Communications Assitant and Regional
Cordinator, Central Region at Government Citizen Interaction Centre
(GCIC), Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Call Center Toll Free