The Commander of Land Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, has threatened to resign his position in the military if the funds he is requesting to improve the welfare of soldiers is not given to Land Forces.
ChimpReports has exclusively learned that Gen Muhoozi, who has been stationed at the General Military headquarters in Bombo since early July, recently asked for Shs 20bn to improve the soldiers’ accommodation facilities and boost security at various military bases but the Ministry of Defence turned a blind eye.
“We (Land Forces) asked for only Shs 20bn to sort out pertinent issues of accommodation, welfare and security at Bombo (General Military headquarters), Makindye barracks and the Motorised Brigade in Nakasongola but the criminal cartel at the Ministry of Defence has been tossing our office around,” Muhoozi confided in his closest friends this week.
“If my soldiers’ problems are not sorted, I will retire from the army by next year,” said the General, adding, “I will have served for 28 years.”
ChimpReports understands that Muhoozi, who previously commanded the elite Special Forces Command (SFC) with headquarters in Entebbe, was shocked to find Bombo in a sorry state with dilapidated structures for offices and soldiers’ accommodation.
“Even Division Commanders are living like paupers,” he told his close associates. .
He also discovered that the general military headquarters, which in other countries, are the most heavily fortified compounds, lacks a security wall fence.
Muhoozi reportedly said he could not continue serving as a Commander of the Land Forces “when my forces are living like cavemen,” emphasising, “Bombo is a real dungeon. It is a real disaster.”
Corruption in the army
An investigation by ChimpReports has established that UPDF Divisional Commanders are not receiving adequate operational funds.
Quite often, these commanders have to request Gen Muhoozi’s office for “some little airtime” to run their operations..
Commanding officers lack vehicles while fuel, lubricants and oils remain in short supply despite the Ministry of Defence taking a huge chunk of the national budget.
In the 2019/20 financial year, the allocation to the security department grew by more than 50% from the previous financial year.
The budget was increased to a record Shs 3.6 Trillion from Shs 1.5Trillion.
The increased spending on defence generated debate among members of parliament and other stakeholders with many questioning the motive.
“We are concerned with the unexplained sharp increase of the country’s security and defense expenditure,” said FDC spokesperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda in 2020.
“Significantly to note is the fact that, classified expenditure has also correspondingly increased from Shs 347 billion in 2017, to Shs 640 billion in 2018 and to2.1 trillion in the new budget of 2019/2020,” he added.
Defence Minister Adolf Mwesige said the money would be “spent on items that are crucial for the Uganda People’s Defence Forces and national security”.
He further said some of the equipment procured or refurbished are helicopters, marine boats, infantry fighting vehicles and artillery guns.
In July, 2021, Gen. Muhoozi visited the UPDF detach in Zombo district which had been attacked by rebels from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
The CLF, who arrived in a helicopter, was welcomed by soldiers in unfitting and tattered uniforms.
Many of the soldiers wore jungle boots and lacked warm and waterproof clothing – not to mention gloves and tents.
Yesterday, I visited our valiant troops in Zombo who successfully repulsed an attack last week from a Congolese rebel group called CODECO. I told them we are the fire that guards Uganda, whoever messes with the land of our ancestors will get burnt! Mungu yuko pamoja na sisi! pic.twitter.com/lnbszC2YMQ
— Muhoozi Kainerugaba (@mkainerugaba) July 20, 2021
In the pictures released by the military, social media enthusiasts were appalled by the accommodation facilities of the soldiers – grass-thatched huts.
This was a strong revelation for Muhoozi who had just assumed the position of CLF and promised to address the issues of soldiers’ welfare.
“We will be building an efficient, modern, and accountable force that can defend the sovereignty of our country at all times,” said Gen Muhoozi in July, 2021.
While assuming office, Muhoozi, who now commands the infantry and artillery divisions; and the armoured and motorised brigades, said soldiers’ welfare included modern accommodation facilities, improved salaries and better clothing.
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Corruption at Mbuya
But his move to change the conditions of the Land Forces has since met stiff resistance from the Defence Ministry.
Muhoozi this week told close associates that he was “appointed as CLF to transform the Land Forces and if this Defence Ministry does not give our office the money we need to cause qualitative change in the Land Forces, I will retire next year.”
Muhoozi also wondered in a meeting why money is “centralised at Mbuya”, saying, “These people (defence ministry) know that if they give us the money we need, they are gone because soldiers will know who has been stealing from them all these years.”
He emphasised to associates that the “biggest criminal cartel in Uganda is at the Ministry of Defence”
Muhoozi warned: “I either do something or I get out. Either I improve the soldiers’ welfare or I get out.”
The development will send shockwaves at the Defence Ministry where funds are centralised.
Sources said Muhoozi remains concerned that while military officials including generals based at Mbuya have amassed a lot of wealth through “unprecedented” and “ historic” corruption, the foot soldiers continue to wallow in destitution.
ChimpReports was yet to receive a response from the Defence Ministry when we posted this article this Saturday morning.
However, dozens of military officials who talked to us on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said Muhoozi could have hit the right button in addressing soldiers’ welfare.
“The Defence Ministry officials are obsessed with primitive accumulation of wealth at the expense of soldiers’ welfare,” said one of the army officers we talked to.
Another source said “previous Chiefs of Land Forces were either toothless or feared to take on the cartel at the Defence Ministry where funds are centralised.”
“But now, as CLF, Muhoozi is well-placed to make the much-needed changes in the army by fighting corruption and addressing the soldiers’ concerns. He has access to the Commander-in chief; he is well protected to be intimidated and is not interested in bribes.”
At SFC, Muhoozi oversaw the construction of modern accommodation facilities and the quipping and training of the elite force using an annual budget of less than Shs 10bn.
Muhoozi, who doubles as Special Presidential advisor in charge of special operations, commands the infantry divisions, artillery division, armoured brigade and motorised brigade.