Former security minister, Lt.Gen. Henry Tumukunde on Tuesday stunned the political establishment when he declared his presidential bid to change the status quo and unseat President Museveni.
“My consultations will, therefore, target various groups in the country with a view of facilitating my decisions ahead of nominations of presidential candidates slated for October 2020. I will communicate those decisions to the EC as soon as possible, in case, during the time frame prescribed in the relevant laws,” Tumukunde said in a letter received by the Electoral Commission on March 3, 2020 in which he wants to consult voters on his presidential bid.
“My consultations will extend to the currently existing political groupings or political parties, security agencies ,law enforcement agencies, farmers, urban dwellers, youths, women, entrepreneurs, elderly, civil society and government institutions among other groups.”
The spymaster’s move to stand against Museveni comes five years after; he was among the chief campaigners for the ruling NRM party chairman and presidential candidate in the 2016 elections.
Ahead of the last polls, Tumukunde was part of the team that worked hard to dismantle former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi’s perceived countrywide political mobilisation network.
In 2015, during Mbabazi’s consultative meetings, Tumukunde always moved ahead in a bid to dissuade voters, especially NRM party members from supporting the former Prime Minister.
In November 2015, there was an incident in which Mbabazi’s rally in Fort Portal town was disrupted.
At around 1:30pm, a chopper painted with posters of NRM flag bearer, Museveni landed at Booma grounds where Mbabazi’s rally had been organized.
Inside the chopper were four occupants and among them was Lt.Gen. Henry Tumukunde.
Dressed in a pair of jeans, a casual grey shirt and a baseball cap, Tumukunde addressed the gathering before leaving shortly.
Mbabazi would later decry what he termed as persistent intimidation and provocation by supporters of the ruling NRM.
Because of the background work he did for President Museveni during the 2016 elections that he won, the former spymaster was later rewarded with a ministerial position in the resultant cabinet reshuffle.
Tumukunde was appointed the new Minister for Security. His elevation was also regarded as an attempt to curtail the influence of then powerful Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura with whom Tumukunde was said not to see eye to eye.
Kayihura would subsequently be dropped and replaced by the current IGP John Martin Okoth Ochoa.
Tumukunde served as Security Minister for two years until he was relieved of his duties in 2018 and replaced by Gen.Elly Tumwine.
Man of controversy
Despite being a close relative to First Lady Janet Museveni, Lt. Gen.Henry Tumukunde has been a controversial man for a long time and has challenged the status quo, even when he was still in active service of the army.
In 2003, during a political retreat, Tumukunde, in the presence of president Museveni and his cabinet, argued against the impending removal of term limits to allow him (Museveni) stand for re-election.
He said this would be in direct contravention of the virtues they had fought to establish and noted he would not be part of the same.
In 2005, Tumukunde was arraigned before the General Court Martial in Makindye and charged with abuse of office and spreading harmful propaganda stemming from his comments while appearing on various political shows on radio during which he purportedly said it was time for Museveni to retire.
Consequently, Tumukunde was subjected to house arrest as his trial dragged on for nine years and in 2013, he was convicted and sentenced to a severe reprimand.
Last year, Tumukunde launched a bid to stand for Kampala Lord Mayor but this was quickly seen as a veiled ploy to stand for the highest office in the land.
When asked about the same, the former spymaster insisted it was his right to stand for any position he deemed fit.
“There is nothing wrong with being a president but I’m also not sure if anybody can be a president,” Tumukunde said while appearing on a local political show last year.
“The political space is open. Should you feel like you want a political job, the road is wide open, you shouldn’t wait to be appointed.”
Last month, all the UPDF guards at Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde’s Kampala, Kiruhura and Rukungiri homes were withdrawn by the army.
The army has been tight-lipped over the matter.
Together with Gen. David Sejusa, Tumukunde has been one of the most “troublesome” serving officers from way back and both have faced house arrest several times.
Born in 1959 in Rukungiri district, Tumukunde attended Bishop Stuart College Demonstration School for his primary, before joining Kigezi College Butogere and Kibuli Secondary School for his O and A level education respectively.
He later graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Law from Makerere University in 1981 but obtained a diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre in 2010.
Tumukunde also holds an Executive Masters in Oil and Gas Management from the Graduate Institute of Geneva in 2013.
During his time at Makerere, Tumukunde was part of the group involved in anti-government politics and this subsequently saw him join National Resistance Army rebels led by Museveni.
When NRA rebels captured power, Tumukunde was promoted to the rank of major and appointed first secretary and military attaché at the Ugandan High Commission in the United Kingdom from where he was sent for a Command and Staff Course in Nigeria.
He later returned to Uganda to become the army’s director of planning and in 1994, he joined the Constituent Assembly.
Tumukunde was later promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and appointed the Chief of Personnel and Administration and in 1998; he was promoted to the rank to Colonel and also appointed the chief of military intelligence and security.
He was later promoted to the rank of Brigadier and taken to Gulu as the UPDF fourth division commander during the time of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels led by Joseph Kony.
He was later appointed the Internal Security Organisation(ISO) Director-General.
In 2015, Tumukunde was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and later retired from the active service of the army.
What they say:
Lt.Gen.Tumukunde: My consultations will, therefore, target various groups in the country with a view of facilitating my decisions ahead of nominations of presidential candidates slated for October 2020. I will communicate those decisions to the EC as soon as possible, in case, during the time frame prescribed in the relevant laws. I pray that the statutory mandate of the EC shall be respected by other organs of the state and that there will be harmony throughout this important constitutional exercise.
Ofwono Opondo: It’s his right but I think doing it more because of arrogance, false self-actualization, and perhaps as a possible business transaction. Generals are appointed to lead armies, so, some of them falsely believe that they can lead under whatever circumstances. Let’s see this one but I doubt, basing on available public record and opinion, that he has what it takes to lead civilians and Uganda.