Outright theft and diversion of financial and logistical resources in the NRA is as old as the the NRA itself. During preparations to launch the rebellion by attacking Kabamba in 1981, an RPG launcher was stolen under Museveni’s nose. In the bush the fighters would feed on the people’s gardens, chicken and goats without paying. Its only the Balalo who were promised compensation for their cows eaten by the NRA as if the Cassava, beans, Kainja, chicken and goats had no owner! Some Commanders were so greedy that they would grab for themselves too much of the scarse resources at the expense of the suffering ordinary fighters. Museveni defended the practice thus “it is better to maintain a healthy command structure”. In 1985 during the interim administration of the NRA controlled western region, senior commanders embarked on grabbing for themselves government and cooperative society’s property sparking off internal bickering.

Upon taking over government, swindling of cash, food and other supplies became the norm. ‘Supply of air’ for food and non food items by companies registered in the names of relatives and friends of senior commanders enriched the few lucky ones. Private companies like Cristex, Eladam and a few others involved in locally making uniforms for the NRA connived with army officers to steal the national coffers. Elly Rwakakoko the then NYTIL MD connived with the then Defence Secretary, Ben Mbonye to swindle huge amounts of cash through inflated production of Uniforms. The same applied to BATA that was supplying foot wear for the soldiers. NRA’s Phenecas Keitirima looted clean all the equipments that had been imported to boost the NRA’s Production Unit but was left lying in Luzira. He became one of the little known first richest members of the NRA. The NRA Construction Unit presided over by Eng. Sabiiti – brother to Central Bank Governor was another den of thieves. The creation of National Enterprises Corporation (NEC) – a subsidiary of the Defence Minstry created another avenue for wanton theft. Museveni grabbed NEC’s Kisozi ranch, while Amama Mbabazi’s wife, Jacqueline stole from NEC industries in Luwero as Capt. Ssekide and group helped themselves with the NEC Lime mining in Kasese. Inflated and uncontrolled payment of salaries to the NRA the other auxilary forces gave rise to creation of ghost soldiers. Because of NRA’s political indoctrination, those who had crossed to the NRA from other armies had innitially feared to join the stealing. After realising that the NRA was not practicing what it preached, they too joined the looting spree. That is how the likes of Otema Awany managed to accumulate wealth. Some NRA personnel who chose to remain clean like Chihandae, Muntu, Nanyumba, Dr. Ochen, Muntu, Mande, Tinyefuza and a few others were allienated. Museveni knew that the more the wealth his army officers acquired, the more they would not question his leadership.

The introduction of Ration Cash Allowance (RCA) as a direct payment of cash helped to reduce on ‘supply of air’ for food items. As a compensation, Commanders in the war torn areas devised a means of creating war like situations whereby they would continue to locally procure food items for the troops on the frontline. As if this was not enough they went ahead to create ‘ghost soldiers’ inorder to siphon off that extra payment. Expenditure on medical, housing, water and electricity bills were always inflated for the benefit of just a few lucky ones. Maintainance, servicing and repair military transport and procurent and mainainance of military equipments in general was another avenue for outright theft. The departments responsible for checking on these anormalies were Military Intelligence, Army Inspectorate, and the Army Political Commissariat. They too joined the looting especially after experiencing lack of will by the top leadership to fight the vice. A one Charles Tusiime of DMI who headed the Criminal Investigations unit was such a naturally dense fellow that he was only fit to be a motor vehicle mechanic. He headed a team of Lawyers whose efforts he frustrated before finally sending then to the Military Police under the newly created Special Investigation Bureau (SIB) headed by a graduate in Music, Mathew Gureme. Members of SIB were and remain proffessionally corrupt. That marked the end of any semblance of fighting graft in the NRA. Everyone in his position set out to acquire personal wealth at all costs. Those who could not steal from the NRA, turned guns on civilian property.

However, not everyone enjoyed the protection from above. While others were put on Katebe, ISO’s John Kazoora was framed and imprisoned while NRA financial managers, Arthur Musinguzi and Bright Rwamirama were strangely taken to a civilian court to have the charges dropped. Tadeo Kanyankole was humiliated to death while the famous Ghost Soldiers group were suspended to hoodwink Ugandans the donors but instead were later promoted and reassigned.





One Comment so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Pter,

    Abbey, have you ever tried to mobilize people to do what is unlawful? If you have, then you should know that it is a difficult thing to do, you have to lie, you have to promise heaven on earth and you have to ignore any bad thing they do, if they steal chicken or goats, you ignore but punish one or two to sound you are serious. When they come to power, they will want to continue with the same “get-rich-quick” behaviour and then the entire country and world is watching and crying and watching!

    I don’t envy President Museveni, it is not easy to mobilize half the country against the other half but now he has to tell his supporters that it is bad to steal or kill, this not easy.

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