Why UPDF soldiers steal
Ugandan soldiers steal on missions abroad because they are businessmen back home, the presidential advisor on Security for the Central region, Brig Kasirye Gwanga, has said.
In an interview on Monday, Gwanga told The Observer that Uganda could only redeem its tainted image abroad if Parliament enacted a law barring serving UPDF soldiers from engaging in business so as to reduce corruption within the army ranks.
At least six UPDF officers, formerly with the African Union mission in Somalia, (Amisom) have been charged in the General Army Court Martial on corruption-related charges. They include Brig Michael Ondoga, former overall commander of the UPDF contingent in Somalia, Lt Col Eugene Ssebugwawo, Maj. Nasuru Namara, and Lt Col Sam Kiirya.
“Many serving soldiers, save for professional soldiers like me, who engage in business, are tempted to steal and this is one of the reasons why many officers in Amisom, Somalia, are in the General Court Martial for stealing fuel, money and other things. This is not the same case with Burundi (soldiers) and other countries,” said Gwanga at his Makindye residence.
He said on top of enacting the law, the government needed to pay soldiers handsomely and even re-introduce army shops where soldiers buy essential goods cheaply.
“Senior army officers must stop drinking from public bars but in senior officers mess so that even when they fight, that business ends there but now some undisciplined soldiers storm bars and kill people randomly, which is bad,” Gwanga added.
Interviewed for comment on Tuesday, the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Katumba Wamala, said Gwanga was entitled to his opinions.
“He should however not contradict himself because when he was still a serving army officer, he used to do business,” said Katumba.
Commenting on Makindye East MP John Ssimbwa’s recent 20-point letter to President Museveni, Gwanga said though most of the contents of the letter were not new to Ugandans, the forum the legislator used to channel his advice may be detrimental to his political career.
“In Buganda, it is regarded as bad manners to scratch your father’s beard in public and though I campaigned for Ssimbwa, he should be ready to explain himself to the party,” Gwanga said.
Ssimbwa, however, told The Observer he had been frustrated by the party’s non-response to the issues he raised which included in-fighting, corruption, land grabbing and poverty. He said he was ready to defend himself when called upon. Meanwhile, Gwanga also revealed that apart from rearing cows, goats and farming, on his two farms in Mukono and Mubende
Districts, he would soon begin manufacturing mineral water called Gwanga water.
By Brig. Gwanga