I must thank a friend who reminded me in time that it was my expected turn to make my submissions in this worthwhile forum.
In my submission, I shall argue and distinguish the essentiality of having a Uganda Federo army on the axis of federo. However, although it is easily said, the practicality needs us to look at Uganda's complex ethnicity, history and politics.
For instance, when Museveni talks of a professional army, he forgets that ethnic loyalty and personal loyalty to him places greater weight on UPDF than professionalism. That is why Museveni sees no harm in using the term "My army". In the most recent interview with the New Vision Newspaper, he placed more focus on himself as being the only one who knows what he called "the intestine" of the army. Kiiza Besigye on the other hand tends to depict the UPDF as belonging to the Ugandan nation and should not be associated with just one individual.
Let us now see how this background can shed light on how a federo army ought to be structured. Uganda being a plural ethnic society must have a federo identity formation along non-ethnic lines. First, the Ugandan nation must propagate internally for non-ethnic nationalism and advance it for a period over a whole generation as this aspect of having a standing army matured with colonialism. Militarism was found by colonialists to exist of Buganda as was true of Bunyoro too. In the 19th century, there was no standing army in Buganda or elsewhere in Uganda. So, armies were drummed up as and when they were needed for defensive or offensive purposes.To depict the army as above ethnic groups, a constitutional framework needs to be created where by the central government's relationship with other organic entities of Uganda, cultural or otherwise ought to be defined. We have to be very careful here because the hearty of Uganda politics has always been Buganda right from colonial times. Ironically and frankly speaking, Buganda's interests right from the Legco days in 1958 had been suffocated by the British and this trend continued even after independence. For instance, would Buganda satisfactorily adhere to a Uganda constitutional army guidance by having the Kabaka sitting on a Federo Army Supreme Board with a block veto right? On the other hand, would the other Ugandan cultural institutions plus minorities accept the role of Buganda with a veto right in federo army appointments? Remember, the Munster Commission in the days of the Legco in 1959 recommended that Buganda should not be allowed to control an armed police in the following terms:
"As we have made clear, Buganda's present government is tribally minded and politically backward. It would be most dangerous to place a powerful police force in her hands”
One can clearly see a typical colonial hostile campaign to deter Buganda from advancing its rights in a post independence Uganda. Further, before he concluded his term of office, Sir Andrew Cohen, the then governor of colonial Uganda, had announced that following on the elections of 1958, a constitutional committee would be set up to draw up plans for a general election on a common role in 1961 and that Committee would be drawn largely from Legco itself. On 4th February 1959, Sir Fredrick Crawford, who had succeeded Cohen towards the end of 1956, announced the composition of the Constitutional Committee, the majority of whose members were African representatives. Before this announcement, however, another ominous development had taken place and this was the split of the Uganda Congress in January 1959. The original Uganda Congress split into two Congresses, each of which claimed to be the ”true Congress”. One wing was under Musazi and the other under the leadership of Obote. For me, this development was the first step in the polarisation between Buganda and the rest of Uganda.
The reason why I have dug deep into history is the need to exhaust all issues that can recreate quarrels with Buganda in essence of forming a federal army. For example, one can still see Museveni running around without giving Buganda the capacities that can restore its leverage without the Kabaka necessarily having to become the head of state of Uganda. Why would Museveni not promote either Col. Wasswa or Lt. Col. Wamala Katumba to the rank major General and appoint any one of them as chief of staff or commander of UPDF? This is a case where a true coherent national army is still eluding Uganda. Let us give Buganda a chance as I believe truth and realism has caught up with the current generation. In any case, this is one of the requirements in a federal system that floats the basic policies to be made and implemented through negotiation in some form so that all members can share in making and executing decisions.
My vision therefore is of a triangular supreme board whereby the appointing machinery of the Commander of a federo army, chief of staff, and regimental commanders must be composed of constitutional monarchies, traditional leaders, religious leaders on one side and a parliamentary team of experts on defence plus the army high command on one side. The organisational strength here is to make appointments on merit by secret ballot and the altar of block veto may also be included to protect the consequences of respective interests from being threatened or undermined by other regional blocks. At the end of it, still problems and conflicts could be avoided by rotating the office of the Commander of the federo army and those of the chief of staff, director of military intelligence and regimental commanders so that no ethnic category holds one post repeatedly which in turn leads to ethnic dominance as we seen in the past and currently under Museveni.
In other words, the federo army shall then be truly professional as it shall then give its loyalty, obedience, dedication and merited service to the state of Uganda. The army would be placed under the broad based army supreme board under a constitutional act and amendments to it has to have a parliamentary endorsement or approval. The army shall have been removed from the control of one military individual and placed under a civilian dominated body. The President shall be a symbolic commander in chief as the army high command shall be a very neutral military department in the ministry of defence which reports directly to the army supreme board. The army high command shall be composed by army technocrats who will provide insights about professional qualifications of all army officers and routine functions of various army organs to the supreme army board.
The army high command shall be divided in about ten major operational commands. They can for instance be responsible for Logistics, research and training, Military Intelligence, Communications and transport command, Health services command, Army procurements command, Air force command etc….
In conclusion, Uganda has seen an unspeakable amount of pain, arrogance, harshness, entrenchment, poverty corruption, nepotism and the habit of not being mindful of the countrymen by the leadership. All these have deeply entered the human feelings of Ugandans and let us therefore integrate opinions to build a distinctive nation. Let us be tools to generate new understanding for the future generation in Uganda.