SPECIAL PROJECTS
 
27th October 2005
Museveni egoistic, liar, sadist

MAJ. (RTD) RUBARAMIRA RURANGA, 57, worked with President Museveni as a guerilla in the NRA between 1981-1986, and later as District Internal Security Officer (DISO) between 1986-1989. He told EDRIS KIGGUNDU why he fell out with the President:

Bush days

When I first went to the bush in early 1981, I did not see Museveni but I saw the then bush commander, the late [Sam] Magara, at Matugga in Luwero. Then I was sent back to do some work in Kampala because having already been trained in Cuba, Magara thought I would do better coordinating between the bush and Kampala. Many times I kept coming around and doing work in Kampala. But finally I started getting problems as people I had trained with in Cuba started suspecting that I was involved in subversive activities. Eventually I had to go back to the bush towards the end of 1981and was taken to meet Museveni who was the chairman of NRA. He then interviewed me. This is the first time I sat with him for quite some time and I started seeing which kind of person he was. I found him a very persuasive person.

He would talk calmly. He normally would not look at you directly but at the end of the day he could make judgment about the kind of personality he thought you were. We used to call him mzee because he was more experienced than all of us. He had been at a level of vice president in the commission, a minister of defence. He was also clever that he recruited very young and inexperienced people; the kind that would obey him. Many of them were either coming from university or those who had not even been to school.

So there was a big gap between him and people he recruited to work with. He could virtually decide your death because there were no judges. For instance, if you committed a big crime and people concluded that it was a crime, he would say that you die and that would be it. There was good reason to fear this man (Museveni).

The way I saw Museveni, he was a complicated person and many times he might not [have been] an honest person. And this always kept in my mind. He was also fairly tribalistic. But because of the experience he had over the people he led, people tended to respect him and he appeared to be a wonderful person. But he was very persuasive.

Different people at my age were selected to be political leaders. Like Moses Kigongo [NRM vice chairman] and Abdul Nadduli [Luwero LC-V]. For me I had done military training and my preference was to participate in the war, to be a combatant.

After the bush

When the NRA took power in 1986, I was at the rank of junior army officer. I was not on the high command and many things that were discussed, I would not know. I would only be given an order.
The takeover happened when I was in Kanungu. At that time I did not have closer contact with Museveni because the army had expanded and we were [taking] commands from different officers, according to the command structure.

I moved into the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) until 1989 when I discovered I was HIV positive. I decided I wanted to do more work around HIV/AIDS but in the army.

While still in ISO, there were a number of times I talked to Museveni. There was a time when he came to Mbarara in 1986 where I was DISO and we cracked jokes in Rukiga not Runyankore because he knew me personally. I also met him a couple of times between 1987 and 1988 when I was working as DISO in Arua. So I had many occasions to talk to him.

But the relationship between him and I was that of the boss-servant kind. This tendency was created already within the army that people looked at President Museveni as some kind of special human being and you had to be very cautious about whatever you wanted to talk to him about. He gained this status because he had a lot of experience in leadership.

Almost arrested

There was one time when I got into problems with him and his bodyguards almost arrested me. This was in Mbarara in 1987 and we disagreed with him on an issue of religion. I was in his house at Rwakitura. You know he is a person who doesn’t want to be opposed. Even when you come to see him in his office, he positions himself far away from you and makes himself a kind of an unreachable, untouchable individual. When you go there, it is as if you have to prostrate.

A sadist

He has a kind of sadism; trying to create a situation that in any case, he will do what he wants and he will create some kind of hard condition so that you are eventually broken.

Liar

He is a great liar. Museveni tells a lot of fairly tales and he knows how to narrate them very well such that people think they are true. If you remember the things he said when he took over. He said this was going to be a transitional government and that he does not see why he should rule for more than 10 years. He broke this promise. And when you look at what he is saying about term limits, he is twisting the whole idea to make a fiction that he is being asked by people. Even the large crowds he draws do not mean he is popular, it simply means people are eager to see him. If you brought a monster at the same place where Museveni is holding a rally, people will leave Museveni and look at the monster. So curiosity in human beings does not mean popularity.

Good mobiliser…

Museveni is however a good mobiliser because of his capacity to persuade people. Sometimes he can hoodwink people because he knows the kind of class he wants to work with. You will realise that in many cases he does not want to work with intellectuals because he doesn’t want to know that there is someone who is better than him. When he comes to work with people at the grassroots, he is extremely down to earth. He comes to their level and makes them happy, and that’s how he thrives. He chooses to use people who are much lower in terms of knowledge and perception and is able to put them together and get them to do things.
He is also intelligent because if you are not intelligent you cannot do some of the things he has done.

Falling out

I started having a lot of suspicion when he started demanding [more] time. You know in 1989 Museveni had asked for an extension and it was given, then in 1996 you could tell that he would manipulate [things] and have another extension.

In 2001, I went out openly and supported Reform Agenda [led by Col. Kizza Besigye]. But I also got a little bit unhappy when I started listening to his presentations about HIV/AIDS. In 2001 he said the person who was challenging him had AIDS and yet he was someone who had won awards in the AIDS cause. But because I am HIV positive, I knew that most of the things he was saying were not from his heart.

When he was introducing the HIV problem, he told people to be careful about the ‘anthill holes’, meaning women. How does a man compare human beings to anthill holes?

In 2003, he was in Nairobi and they asked him why he was not caring about buying drugs for people who are HIV positive and he said he is not bothered because the population of Uganda will not stop growing because of the HIV/AIDS problem. Why does a leader make such a statement? That’s when I started having a low opinion of him as a leader and from that time I did not think I would continue to support whatever he came up with.

No development agenda

I think Museveni is very egoistic. When you hear him speak to the international community, you will realise he is a man who is not going to co-operate. There is no human being who has got absolute knowledge about everything from culture to politics. Museveni portrays himself as the alpha and omega of knowledge.
Industrialising a country cannot come from one man. I do not think he has enough ideas to be able to do it alone.

I think a country needs a planning authority to plan for it, not an individual. I have been questioning so many things, including the war in the north. The international community has actually pleaded to help us but Museveni has always said that the war is a small matter that shall be handled. He is actually a stumbling block in ending the war in the north. If we had involved the international community, we would have finished this war a long time ago.

Museveni is a self-centred person who wants to [take credit] for everything that happens. That is why he uses statements such as, “I am the only one with a vision.”

Army MPs…

The army does not belong to an individual. It belongs to a nation. It is an institution that is supposed to be independent. The army that we have goes into parliament and votes for or against certain things or against certain people. Yet they do not know that some of the people they vote against could be their leaders tomorrow. When you put the army into parliament, you are creating a situation were it is being subjugated to the whims of whoever is in power. At the end of the day they cease to be independent.

UNLA better…

The UNLA was very professional. Milton Obote did not have so much power over the army because he was a civilian. I do not think he even knew how to shoot a gun. Museveni has been so much involved. He wants to always have the army on his side because he knows it is an oppressive weapon he can use to keep himself in power. The army under Obote had a specialised structure and there were notices at the entrance of army establishments that said, “Politics is out of bounds.”

My epitaph

I would like my epitaph to read thus: “I believed in things I thought were right and I always spoke the truth no matter what it cost.”

ekiggundu@ugandaobserver.com