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Making sense of Tumukunde’s cryptic mission

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At the age of 22, Henry Tumukunde joined the NRA bush war in 1981, just months after his University studies. For an LLB holder, joining a group that was described as a bandit could never have been the best option without a peculiar agenda.

I am not part of the gullible class to believe Tumukunde just joined the “struggle” only to have Obote dictatorship down and maybe have Museveni enthroned for life. When he was shot at to near death in 1985, that would have been reason enough for any normal human being who had fought a four year unending war to call it quits but The Major (then) surprised his fellow combatants by  rejoining the frontline after treatment.

The Museveni I know couldn’t have permitted a man he knows is fighting him (clandestinely) to rise in the NRA ranks (not anywhere) like it was for Tumukunde probably he didn’t know, otherwise he (HT) wouldn’t have been appointed military attache to the UG-UK embassy and consequently cleared for a Command and Staff course in the military college of Kaduna Nigeria where he emerged among the best students in 1992 that followed his appointment as the NRA director of Planning.

Did Tumukunde hoodwink Tibuhaburwa or Tibu just didn’t know the HT he was dealing with? Not unexpectedly, Sevo was again surprised at TUMUKUNDE’s Rubabu county representative race which his junior won, defeating Prof. Mondo Kagonyera. He wanted to reverse the irreversible, he questioned the source of his permission to stand as a Constituent Assembly (CA) representative/delegate but had no justifiable means to revoke the Bakiga choice.

He was elected army representative, a position that catalyzed the sourness of his relationship with his Commander in Chief  (CIC).

Tumukunde utilized this position to the maximum to distance himself from the atrocities of his 25 year establishment.  I think this is why in 2003 he openly rebuked his boss at a political retreat where the idea of amending the constitution to have term limits scrapped off was birthed.

He is on record to have told his Commander In Chief and the entire cabinet that it was against the same injustices that they (NRA) rebelled against Milton Obote dictatorship and them (HT and friends like Mugisha Muntu, Sserwanga Lwanga etc) joined them, to have a better Uganda.

Much as he was ever opposing (openly and secretly) the warlord during the bush war, this was the sharpest open rebuke Museveni had ever faced from any of his war comrades. This cost him his parliamentary seat as army rep and then detained at the officer’s mess for close to one and a half years. The detention was sparked off by a CBS radio talk-show in 2005 where he again opposed the planned “Kisanja project” (this time in public).

He was out of deployment (katebe) for close to 10 years until June 2015 when John Patrick Amama Mbabazi (JPAM) announced to stand against Mr Kaguta.

Any serviceman will tell you that the worst buoy of the career is when you are not deployed; imagine this for 10 years, one is better off being retired.

As usual, Museveni went panicky at hearing the Mbabazi declaration. He immediately called everyone he thought would find a solution to what he termed as a “situation” only to be saved by Kasule Lumumba and Gen. Salim Saleh his brother, who both suggested it would be Tumukunde and him alone to manage the “situation”.

Now the biggest conundrum for the troika was how to convince the naturally stubborn disgruntled Brigadier General who was dishonorably sent to unofficial retirement.

Kasule Lumumba suggested she could talk to Brigadier’s friend Salaamu Musumba who would later secure her an appointment which happened at a certain hotel in Nakasero a day later.

Kasule, Musumba and Kakurugu talked for about two hours where Kasule apologized on behalf of Museveni for the unfair treatment he exposed him to for philosophical and ideological differences, and that they now wanted to have him back in action.

Tumukunde accepted to meet the president the following day where they discussed at length about his new mission and HT’s conditions to acceptance. A single day wasn’t enough, the following day they had to meet again and it was agreed that he, Tumukunde, would be retired from the army and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General skipping Major General, and even be appointed Minister.

Having sealed the deal, HT embarked on his almost buried big dream.

In one of the meetings, he is remembered to have told his new teammates that then was the time for them to utilize the second chance rendered and have themselves to the top of the castle.  He mobilized countrywide in the fight against JPAM’s Go-Forward until when his boss envied him. Consequently, like always, his influence was tamed by cutting off the ministry funding. His tenure as Security Minister was shone out by his public announcement of the mistakes committed by top ranking government officials, which was interpreted by many as fight against the big man.

Months later, he declared that he was to ‘run as the Capital City Lord Mayor’ which was certainly a decoy.  Months later, he declared the real deal, directly opposing his former boss, Gen Tibu.

Against this background, I was triggered to dig deeper in available facts to find out what Tumukunde was and is about, why in the first place he joined the NRA bush war, why presented a great performance therein and why he bore all the challenges faced.

Is it just coincidental that a 22 year old qualified lawyer decided to join a war whose success wasn’t a sure deal (to not even the chief warlord)?

Was it timely for him at just a rank of Colonel to fallout with his commanders or a mistake?

Was the so called harmful propaganda he spread (as the charge sheet stated in 2005) strategic or just a mere gaffe?

Was bearing all those 18 or so months at the officer’s mess detention and the humiliation attached defensible or indefensible?

How about his 2015 come back? Why would he accept a call on by his tormentors, people that had almost ruined his career?

Okay, all this is about opposing the establishment but why would a senior officer of his rank, intelligence, exposure and respect risk further humiliation from his all-time bully by participating in an election he is sure he can (maybe) win but never declared winner? Why would he use that strategy?

Another million dollar question is why does he seem un-bothered about the low media coverage of his campaign activities preferring more clandestine mobilisation to the usual fanfare of Presidential campaigns designed to impress the TV watching audience?

Again, I am not that gullible to think he is here to just participate in the exercise and just let go, just like that? No way.

I think Tumukunde used the “second chance” given to him by the “merciful dictator” in 2015 to mobilize countrywide for his presidential bid and this isn’t something Museveni can smoothly swallow.  The smooth operator that Tumukunde is used his tormentor’s resources to mobilize against him.

I am inclined to believe that what Tumukunde is doing now is to awaken the already mobilized support for the big office. He is reminding them of their already discussed deal. Remember during his days as the CMI and ISO boss, he was regarded to as the custodian of quality coordination, probably this too was strategic.

He might have joined the bush war with a prime intention of becoming president of Uganda someday. Today, he is to accomplish his cryptic mission and I doubt if he is counting on Byabakama’s predictable announcement.


The writer, Daniel Bright Byansi B. is a Comrade in the struggle and a keen Tumukunde watcher

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