Pardon me, but I know Mugisha Muntu better than some of you. His father was a strong supporter of the UPC and was very close to President Obote while in exile in Tanzania. His sister was married to a UPC Lango man. But Muntu himself was not a member of the UPC. In fact he was a very fierce opponent of the UPC.

Why do I say this? Muntu was one of my subjects at Livingstone Hall where I was the Chairman of the Hall. He lived immediately below me on the ground floor so I saw him every day and observed all the going ons in his room, just as he did the same with me. The two of us operated our rooms as offices-mine was open 24 hours.

Muntu was my fierce political opponent through-out my three years at Makerere University- our paths crossed almost every day. Just like me, he was opposed to the fascist dictatorship of Idi Amin and welcomed Amin’s overthrow, but he never recognised the role that the UPC played in removing Idi Amin from power.

From 1979-1980, he was a very strong opponent of the UPC and did not hide his sympathies for Yoweri Museveni. I had numerous battles with him on the question of what Museveni actually stood for in terms of transition of Ugandan society- I told him what Museveni was espousing was not a concept of new democracy as I understood it- it was a bastardisation of the national democratic aspirations of the people of Uganda as I saw it. Muntu claimed to be a “progressive” at the time, espousing what was in fact a confused mish-mash of social democracy, a policy which in his view could be achieved through militaristic means which by-passed the masses. I pointed out to him then that such a polity would lead to a restoration of fascism. As a marxist intellectual, I tried my best to make Muntu open his eyes to the teachings of dialectical materialism and to see all of the rhetoric being spewed by Museveni lacked not only intellectual content but was also very dangerous in that, so far, Ugandan peasants had been largely untouched by the violent changes of power amongst the petty bougeoisie ruling classes that characterised that phase of our development. The talk of “going to the bush”, I told him was infantile- it is not what Uganda needed at that time. Both the objective the objective factors for ARMED STRUGGLE as a strategy for NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CHANGE did not exist in Uganda. I debated this question with Mugisha Muntu for more than one year and later on with Professor Mahmood Mamdani. He must now be asking himself who was right in that debate, and the fact that by choosing the militaristic route, he helped set back by so many years the struggle for socialist transformation in Uganda.

But even then, alongside myself and people like Ndamuranyi Ateenyi , Herbert Wamala and Werikwe Watuwa, we dominated Makerere University student politics at the time. Mugisha Muntu played a huge role but he was always in opposition to me. From when I stood as Chairman for Livingstone, he supported and sponsored another candidate from western Uganda to stand against me, but I won with a landslide with the support of the Baganda students. Later on, I was responsible for putting the coalition that brought Werikhe Watuwa in as Guild President with Muntu himself as Vice-President. I was the one who put together that coalition, a task for which the Baganda have never forgiven me because they felt I betrayed them as they had put me in power in Livingstone.

But it is strange that Muntu now claims there were spies put on him by Museveni- he himself put a spy on me when I was the main student organiser for the UPC during the 1980’s elections. My room had become a mini-headquarters for the UPC- Muntu himself was by then a very strong supporter of the UPM and of Yoweri Museveni. I was so surprised that a lot of our campaign materials would go missing until I discovered that a Rwandan student that I had even helped was the one spying on me. He had been planted by Muntu

I saw Muntu when I returned to Uganda in 1989 and he took me to see some of his fellow “revolutionaries”. I had arranged to see him again, but I was soon arrested by his spies and locked up in Lubiri barracks. Up to now, I still don’t know who got me released from Lubiri barracks but I suspect it is either Muntu himself or Henry Tumukunde because the two of them were the only people high enough in the NRA to have the authority to have me released.

George Okello
UAH member in London


One Comment so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Konvickt G,

    What is the point of this piece. As the Rtd Col has always said, it is intellectuals that are letting this country down.
    So why do you have to conclude by saying a ‘Rwandan’, it suggests deep rooted tribalism which in this case makes you no different from all those mishandling the Uganda I love

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