The newly appointed Chief of Defence Forces in the UPDF, Gen Wilson Mbadi has rubbished claims of tribalism in the Ugandan army saying they are unfounded.
“I am a man from the mountains(Kasese), Ogiki( Chief of staff land forces) is from the land of eating odi(Kitgum district) , Okiding(deputy commander Land Forces) come from the other side of eating atapa(Teso subregion), the other one(Lt Gen Muhoozi) is from the land of milk. That is the national character we are looking,” Gen Mbadi said on Thursday.
He was presiding over the function to hand over the office of the commander of the Land Forces in the UPDF by Maj Gen Leopold Kyanda to Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba at Bombo.
Gen Mbadi said all the commanders in the Ugandan army are in the respective positions not because they are favoured but because of merit.
“We don’t want to know how many Balukus(people from Kasese) but it is merit that we want. No one is here because they lobbied. May be some people lobbied for us but we are here because of merit. This is the fundamental change we fought for unlike in other armies where soldiers were killing each other because of positions,” he said.
The newly appointed Chief of Defence Forces also blamed the media for “exaggerating” while reporting issues about UPDF.
“The media likes touching one small issue and make it big. UPDF is a structured force whose first value is discipline. We have measures in place to handle those who deviate. If an officer makes a mistake, that is him and not the entire UPDF,”Mbadi said.
He insisted that any officer accused of indiscipline will always be worked upon in accordance with their UPDF code but noted individual actions should never be blamed on the army.
“Discipline is the reason behind peace and stability here in the country. It is reason we allow you(media) in barracks because we are not hiding anything.”
The Chief of Defence Forces in the UPDF however urged the newly appointed commanders to ensure they leave behind a mark in their service to the country.
“The appointments are a clear testimony of the trust that the commander in chief has in us. Your good works will always be rewarded by appointments like these,” he said.
President Museveni has in the past warned against involving the UPDF in the tribalism talk.
“Coming to the armed forces, especially the army, my advice to all of you, is that leave your army out of that nonsense. The NRA, the UPDF are armies of sacrifice, all the time for no pay or low pay. They (we) put their lives on the line,” Museveni said last year.
“Therefore, leave UPDF out of the circus of sectarianism. Fighters, real fighters, never have interests in tribes or religious sectarianism; but in comrade-in-arms.”
The president was responding to social media comments in which it was said that a certain group of people was taking up big positions in the army.
“If you are not working for the enemy, you cannot go on the social-media and demand that we publish the names of the personnel of UPDF, their ranks and their jobs. The only thing we can say and what you know is that recruitment into the Police and UPDF is by quota. Beyond that, leave our Army alone and I mean, leave our army alone.”