The leader of the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), Gen Mugisha Muntu has said that there is need to rethink the structuring of the army in order to complete the transition to a professionalised force under the command of civilian leadership.
Muntu who served as army commander from 1989 to 1998 made the remarks during an “Ask Muntu” session that took place online where he was asked why he declined a ministerial appointment and instead chose to retire after his time as army commander.
In his response, Muntu said, there were a number of reasons including political reasons, but largely, it was a value-based decision adding that from both a practical and conceptual point of view, there was no reason to remain in the forces.
He explained that having served as army commander, any position he would take after that would actually be a step down.
“While I personally didn’t mind that, it would have raised several problems. First, my successor would have been put in the very uncomfortable position of recognising me as his predecessor while also establishing his authority. Both senior and junior officers would also struggle with the chain of command raising the possibilities of indiscipline or lack of cohesion,” he explained.
Given our history and fractured loyalties as a nation, he noted that the last thing we need is an army with various, competing centres of power.
“Politically, I wasn’t particularly keen on taking up a political appointment while also serving in the army. I had earlier argued (both as army commander and army MP) against the continued presence of the army in parliament. A ministerial appointment contradicted this position,” he highlighted.
He said he had grown increasingly sceptical of President Museveni’s commitment to the ideals they fought for but more than that, he was intent on ensuring he did not make the mistakes he was calling him out for.
He explained that the UPDF has many well trained and disciplined officers yet the reality remains that it can only be as disciplined as its (civilian) leadership.
He stated that the task of building the institutionalised army and indeed country we all desire falls on all citizens of good will both within the forces and among civilians.
“Until those in favour of such changes form the majority of Ugandans, our transition from a military state remains precarious,” he noted.