SPECIAL PROJECTS
 
8th December 2005
Consistent in telling lies

AUGUSTINE RUZINDANA, 60, MP for Ruhaama County and Deputy Secretary General for Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has known President Museveni for 45 years. He tells SSEMUJJU IBRAHIM NGANDA & EDRIS KIGGUNDU how the President has shifted from fighting for public interest to personal gain:

I went to Ntare School from 1965 to 1966. That is when I met Museveni for the first time and somehow other colleagues like [Eriya] Kategeya and John Kawanga (Masaka Municipality MP).
After Ntare, I went to the University of East Africa in Nairobi. The University of East Africa had three colleges; in Nairobi, Dar-es-Salaam and Makerere.

FACTFILE

Born: November 19, 1945
Primary: Rwera Primary School (1953); Ibanda for P.6 (1958) and Junior School (1959-1960).
Secondary: Kitabi Seminary for O-level (1961-1964), Ntare School (1965-1966).
University: University of East Africa (Nairobi).

In those days certain courses were not [offered].
I did Bachelor of Commerce (Bcom) and it was not there at Makerere or Dar-es-Salaam, and Law was not taught at Makerere except in Dar-es-Salaam, and Engineering in Nairobi.
We were the last group that graduated in 1970 when the University of East Africa came to an end.

So when Idi Amin overthrew Obote in January 1971, those of us [including Museveni] who had been holding political discussions during our university days decided to oppose Amin by armed struggle. Liberation struggles were generally armed struggles at the time. There were many examples to go by; in Mozambique, Angola or South Africa. That is the example we followed. We worked out the tactics, looking at armed struggles in other areas.

The struggle

I was in the first group that left for training. I left here in 1972. There was an individual who trained alone in 1971, that was the late Martin Mwesiga. We were six. Others were Mwesigwa Black, Wuku Mpiima (Kazimoto). I went for another training in early 1973, which included the use of mortars and other artillery arms.
That training came to an end after the Tanzania and Uganda governments entered several agreements.

The 1972 invasion had sparked off international activity and there were several agreements: the Addis Ababa Accord and the Mogadishu Agreement, which required the Tanzanian government to stop assisting Ugandans fighting Amin. We continued in different ways. We formed discussion groups. Others formed new organisations such as the Uganda National Movement (UNM) headed by Prince John Barigye. Museveni started another training programme in 1976 with the help of FRELIMO, which was then in government in Mozambique.

In 1980, the Uganda Advisory Board of Trade employed me. I worked in the export department and ended up being an expert on matters of export.

However, we did keep in contact with the struggle in the bush from the beginning in 1981. I do remember that there was a time in 1981 when we got people to go to the bush and Mr. Kangwagye, [now LC-V chairman of Rukungiri] took them.

From 1986

When the NRA took power in 1986, we immediately connected with the leadership. You may remember when President Museveni wrote a letter about me after I made a statement opposing the third term, which talks of an incident when I took people to see him.

Of course now he (Museveni) twists the issues about me but the people I took were people who had been working internally. They included John Ntimba, Tom Rubale (RIP), Paul Bitarabeho (RIP), John Ndyabagye and Zeridah Rwabushagara (RIP). Maj. Gen. Benon Biraaro was there when we met him at Kololo where he first stayed.

Later, I saw him writing that I went with Ms Victoria Sekitoleko, Aida Mehangye - people I did not know at that time.

Appointment as IGG

I heard a statement on the radio that I had been appointed Inspector General of Government (IGG) and I took it up on September 18, 1986.

I had been appointed as an individual, and not to head an institution. I had been appointed together with Wasswa Lule who was then living in London. He came in 1989.

So, eventually when I met the President and he told me what the job was, I interpreted it to require an institution to accomplish its tasks.
So I went about setting up an institution. In fact I had to remind him one time that he just gave me a job and I created an institution from that job.

At that time there was an anti-corruption commission, which had been created under the Prime Minister’s Office. I went [to then Prime Minister Dr. Samson Kisekka] and told him that the job, which I had been given, required individuals with experience and that since he had a commission with people who had some experience; I wanted to work with some of them. He agreed and gave me some of them. Those are the people that formed the nucleus of the new department. The law formally instituting the department was passed in 1988.

But the demands of the public were that we should work instantly and actually even before we could settle down, people were already bringing cases. About three years later, Wasswa Lule joined me.

By the time I left, I think it was the model anti-corruption institution in Africa. I have had to pass on the experience to other offices elsewhere. I have done some work for the anti-corruption institution in Nigeria. The experience gave me a lot of contacts in anti-corruption networks in the world. I participated in the activities that gave birth to Transparency International (TI). I am still on its advisory board.

I am [also] chairman of the African Parliamentarian Network Against Corruption (APNAC) with chapters in 18 African parliaments. I have just been re-elected chairman at the annual general meeting in Accra.

In the Constituent Assembly

The CA did not require one to resign. Those who were in the NRC (National Resistance Council) continued. Those who were ministers continued and I also continued with my work as IGG. Then in the Constitution we gave the IGG, two terms. By the time we completed the Constitution and by the time of the 1996 elections, I had served 10 years as IGG. And since the maximum was eight years, I thought I had served long enough.
I then stood for the parliamentary elections of 1996 and won. I am still in Parliament and I am sure I will be in the next Parliament.

Museveni’s Ntare days

I joined Ntare School in Senior Five. Museveni and I were both in the Arts class so there is something we share. I was good in certain subjects like geography and history. I was usually top in history. At the final A-level exams, I think my grades were the best. So we interacted as classmates. We were not in the same house. I was in the same house with Kategaya.

Museveni as a student

I guess he was interested in politics at that time. I remember him writing an essay about African heads of state and there is something I have never forgotten: he described them as “dignified beggars.” And I can now see him as a “dignified beggar.” I don’t remember whether it (the article) was for a school magazine.

He was [a member of] some society, I don’t remember whether it was the Scripture Union or entertainment society but there is one election he lost and he took it badly. Now when I see how he fears elections, I think it is not new. The arrest of [Kizza] Besigye is consistent with his long held fear of competition.

Did he complain after losing elections?

I think he caused some commotion…

His performance in class?

You see in those days anybody who went to HSC went to university. The number was small. In the whole of the western region there were two schools, which had HSC. He was definitely not an intelligent person but he was average in class. He was not the brightest, though now I see him claiming to be so exceptionally gifted that he thinks he is the only one with a “vision”.

Not a good dresser?

I see him now very particular about dressing and so on. He wouldn’t have been called smart. This current dressing is not something one would have thought would be part of him. But again he already had a political outlook more than other students. In his university education he definitely became political. There is no doubt about that and he became active in political groups.

We used to meet when he was passing through Nairobi. He was a good friend of Mwesigwa Black and Rwaheru. We used to travel by road and train; transport by plane was not very common.

After graduation in 1970, we happened to stay in the same housing area. That was Kireka national housing estate. He was staying there and I was staying there [too]. Richard Kaijuka was staying there [also]. At that time it was not run down. It was one of the most decent housing estates.

Museveni as leader of FRONASA

He was never appointed leader. At that time the leadership issue was never discussed. He sort of assumed leadership. In fact, when FRONASA was formed formally, he didn’t become its leader. We formally launched in early 1973. A number of our people had been killed by Amin so we decided to make an announcement.

Actually I am the one who addressed the press conference with the late Mukombe Mpambara (he was from Kabale). Mukombe actually became our chairman, mainly because of age. At that time we were deemed to be too young. It (leadership in FRONASA) continued in that shape.

I guess the first time any election took place was when the late Prof. [Yusuf] Lule died, Museveni was sort of elected. Otherwise it was always informal and the man was just assumed to be the leader and since it caused no harm, no one bothered to dispute it and it went on that way.

His role

Museveni’s role was crucial because of the contacts he made with Mwalimu Julius Nyerere (RIP) and FRELIMO. The contacts he made gave us facilities, gave us support. Eventually, he secured arms for us. We got several arms through Kenya, through Tanzania, using his contacts. This is what conferred upon him the leadership role.

It is said that you and Kategaya at one time had ideological differences with Museveni. When you disagreed, he went his own way with Amama Mbabazi and Kahinda Otafiire?

That is his new story and I have seen that he has identified himself as the only actor. I did not know Otafiire and Mbabazi until after 1979. I have seen a story where Mbabazi said that he had an appointment with me in 1972. I never met Mbabazi until 1979 when we came back.
Museveni continues to lie that after 1972 we disagreed and we never met again until 1986.

After the Mogadishu Agreement (between Tanzania and Uganda) and Addis Accord, Museveni went to teach at a Co-operative College in Moshi until 1976. We continued to meet whenever he came to Dar es Salaam. There are many witnesses.

In 1978 when the war started, we held a meeting, before the Moshi Conference, at Prof. Dani Nabudere’s house at Dar-es-Salaam University. It was chaired by Omwony Ojwok and attended by Prof. Edward Rugumayo, Prof. Mahmood Mamdani, among others, on co-operation with Obote’s forces.
When we came back in 1979, I was taken care of by the Ministry of Defence as a FRONASA cadre.

Maj. Augustine Karugaba who was SD can confirm paying my hotel bills at Imperial Hotel throughout 1979-80. The meetings with Museveni were numerous.

I was involved in the formation of UPM and interaction with Museveni was frequent. We toured Mbarara district together. Prof. Musa Mushanga and others can confirm. But Museveni keeps on lying about everyone who now does not support his life presidency project.

There is a lot of misinformation now. What is true and which has appeared in the press, at some stage in the recruitment we had more people from the Bugisu area arising out of the nearness to the Kenya border.

One time Maumbe Mukwana claimed, and again because of lack of clarity in leadership, that since most recruits were his, then he must be the leader of the group, but we resolved it. We never had any ideological differences. I have even seen him (Museveni) write that we disagreed in a Mombasa meeting but I have never attended any meeting with him in Mombasa. This was a lie.

It is a question of trying to rewrite history and we shall correct it when we write our own books. Telling lies is part of his character and this is one of the most consistent parts of him.

He held the group together?

No, he couldn’t have been the one holding the group together because he is not a team worker, and you have seen now that he is trying to rewrite history. That is not true because there were actually many players at that time and all of them were crucial.

I can tell you that in the initial stages, a person like Zubairi Bakari was very crucial. Virtually everybody that came from here passed through him. Zubairi was an ordinary person. There was another one called Haruna Kibuye and Robinson Kasozi. There were quite a number of people who were very crucial. At that time we were also working with Akena P’ojok. There were other people in Nairobi like Prof. Sherura, Sam Kwesiga, Bintu Byakatonda, George Sekasi and Mr. Kasadha.

Now he paints a picture that he was the lone actor but actually it was quite a network of activists, some in deployment, some full time. In Dar-es-Salaam there was Yoga Adhola, Maumbe Mukwana, Victor Bwera (not Bwana, a former SDA) ... This group was later enlarged by Wafula Oguttu, Charles Besa, Prof. Mahmood Mamdani …

From FRONASA to UNLA

When the war [against Amin] started in 1978, Tanzania allowed Ugandan groups to come out and that’s when FRONASA and other groups in Dar-es-Salaam started activities again.

There were other groups such as Akena P’ojok with Save Uganda Movement (SUM) that I talked about. The capture of Kampala did not mark the end of the war.

Museveni of the 1970s, 80s, 90s and 2000s

In the 1970s and 1980s, you could see that this was a person whose aim was to work for the public interest, for the public good. Then there were times, which could be an indicator of his future behaviour like when Kategaya and I were in the Nichingwea FRELIMO camp, he took off without telling anybody and went to Europe and got married to Janet Kataha.

Later, I have seen that he writes about getting £50,000 from Rashid Kawawa [former Tanzanian vice president]. I suspect this is part of the money he used for that type of thing. I remember also that when we got female recruits at the time we had a camp in Bukoba, he took one, a Mutoro, as a sort of wife. His weakness for women and money could be seen at that time.

But then, you could still see that the man was not working for mainly selfish interests but public interest. In the earlier times (early 80s), he was modest - he was not spending a lot of money on himself and the family.

I remember there is a time he got visitors at Rwakitura and State House did not have enough provisions, and he slaughtered a bull from his own herd and wanted payment from government for the bull. He wrote to me as IGG seeking permission to do so. Later, also in the early 90s, there was a time he called me and James Kahooza who was the Auditor General then, to seek our advice because the government ranch in Ngoma was being restocked and he had 300 cows to sell.

He wanted to find out from us whether he could do so but we told him unless he had won a tender, he could not do so because the government procedures required that to supply government you had to win a tender.

Now, I don’t think anybody can see him doing a thing like that. Now he just takes money and goes distributing all over the place in envelopes. I don’t think he asks the Auditor General or the IGG whether he can put money in envelopes.

You hear now that his daughter went to Germany for delivery. The latest one went to Spain, Mabella. This is not something he would have done in the earlier years. He has now moved from the time when he was actually working for the public interest. Now he is working for personal interest to maintain power.
Major disagreement

In fact, our major disagreement about the amendment of the Constitution is because it was done for personal interest, to hold power indefinitely.

So there is that major change and basically that has made us disagree with him because we went into politics to promote the public interest and now his actions are just for his personal interest.

How did he take criticism?

At the beginning he would take your point. If your point of view won, he would accept it. At the beginning, also, his appointments were not exactly personal. Before, there was an instituted appointments committee, there were also some groups which he consulted on appointments.

In meetings, decisions were [made] as a result of consultation.
But later, I started hearing people complaining that if they were giving opinions contrary to his then he would shout, “are you now trying to defy me?” And so the transformation perhaps is now complete, from being a leader who was consulting to a leader who no longer consults and who no longer discusses.

That’s really the problem. And this comes from being a leader for too long. There are people who think he has just been a leader for 20 years. Actually he has been a leader for more than 35 years. That is a very long time. You get habits that become part of you. So he moved from somebody who consulted to someone who takes decisions alone - who thinks he knows everything.

Ever disagreed with him?

No, I think…when he disagreed with something he would find how to criticise it. Let us say a report or findings…he would say maybe investigations were carried out by young and inexperienced people or something like that.

That, I noticed, was his mode of disagreeing but he would not come out and say, I disagree with this and that. By the time we made reports, they would be thoroughly investigated. When I was IGG, I was also in charge of human rights and there are situations were they did not take my advice. There was a time in this operation [Operation North], which was led by Gen. David Tinyefuza, when I did not think it was right to suspend people’s rights without declaring an emergency.

[The operation] cut off the North from communication and yet there was no declaration of an emergency, which could have legal cover for the operations. We later saw that he refused to declare the North a disaster area even after a resolution of Parliament.

Falling out

Falling out with him is difficult to talk about.
There is no falling out or disagreeing in the right [sense of the word].
In the 6th Parliament I was not a member of the Young Parliamentarians Association (YPA) but they grouped me [with them]. In 2001 I was among the Members of Parliament who were on the hit list and when the Ankole Parliamentary Group met him, I told him about the hit list and that, I knew I was on it. I told him he was also involved. Before that, we had had discussions with him as senior people in the Movement. We had met him several times and talked about things like corruption, and favouritism and informal methods of work, and how we were not utilising the structures of the Movement.

The issues, which the document of Dr. Kizza Besigye raised, many of us had been thinking about them and we had also discussed them with him. We could notice things changing. In 1996 he had supported some candidates against others, so it was gradual. The tolerance of corruption; we could see that he was not doing anything about it and then we started noticing that he had a preference either for corrupt individuals or for people who are prone to violation of human rights in the army, and so on.

My decision not to agree with the amendment of the Constitution to give him a life presidency is what marked the point in time that I cannot work with him. Even at that time one would not think it would lead to getting out of the Movement. One thought it was a disagreement that would be handled within the Movement. But for him, he thought that was an important matter that whoever cannot agree with him, he cannot work with.
This marked the final break with him because you could see that there was a complete diversion from what we originally set out to struggle for to a situation where his tenure of absolute power for life became his paramount interest and that is not acceptable.

Epitaph

Well, I guess…but I think I would like to be remembered as a person who tried his best to serve the country and without putting personal interest first. And I think really that is what I have tried to do.But then, you could still see that the man was not working for mainly selfish interests but public interest. In the earlier times (early 80s), he was modest - he was not spending a lot of money on himself and the family.

I remember there is a time he got visitors at Rwakitura and State House did not have enough provisions, and he slaughtered a bull from his own herd and wanted payment from government for the bull. He wrote to me as IGG seeking permission to do so. Later, also in the early 90s, there was a time he called me and James Kahooza who was the Auditor General then, to seek our advice because the government ranch in Ngoma was being restocked and he had 300 cows to sell.

He wanted to find out from us whether he could do so but we told him unless he had won a tender, he could not do so because the government procedures required that to supply government you had to win a tender.

Now, I don’t think anybody can see him doing a thing like that. Now he just takes money and goes distributing all over the place in envelopes. I don’t think he asks the Auditor General or the IGG whether he can put money in envelopes.

You hear now that his daughter went to Germany for delivery. The latest one went to Spain, Mabella. This is not something he would have done in the earlier years. He has now moved from the time when he was actually working for the public interest. Now he is working for personal interest to maintain power.
Major disagreement

In fact, our major disagreement about the amendment of the Constitution is because it was done for personal interest, to hold power indefinitely.
So there is that major change and basically that has made us disagree with him because we went into politics to promote the public interest and now his actions are just for his personal interest.

How did he take criticism?

At the beginning he would take your point. If your point of view won, he would accept it. At the beginning, also, his appointments were not exactly personal. Before, there was an instituted appointments committee, there were also some groups which he consulted on appointments.

In meetings, decisions were [made] as a result of consultation.
But later, I started hearing people complaining that if they were giving opinions contrary to his then he would shout, “are you now trying to defy me?” And so the transformation perhaps is now complete, from being a leader who was consulting to a leader who no longer consults and who no longer discusses.

That’s really the problem. And this comes from being a leader for too long. There are people who think he has just been a leader for 20 years. Actually he has been a leader for more than 35 years. That is a very long time. You get habits that become part of you. So he moved from somebody who consulted to someone who takes decisions alone - who thinks he knows everything.

Ever disagreed with him?

No, I think…when he disagreed with something he would find how to criticise it. Let us say a report or findings…he would say maybe investigations were carried out by young and inexperienced people or something like that.

That, I noticed, was his mode of disagreeing but he would not come out and say, I disagree with this and that. By the time we made reports, they would be thoroughly investigated. When I was IGG, I was also in charge of human rights and there are situations were they did not take my advice. There was a time in this operation [Operation North], which was led by Gen. David Tinyefuza, when I did not think it was right to suspend people’s rights without declaring an emergency. [The operation] cut off the North from communication and yet there was no declaration of an emergency, which could have legal cover for the operations. We later saw that he refused to declare the North a disaster area even after a resolution of Parliament.

Falling out

Falling out with him is difficult to talk about.
There is no falling out or disagreeing in the right [sense of the word].
In the 6th Parliament I was not a member of the Young Parliamentarians Association (YPA) but they grouped me [with them]. In 2001 I was among the Members of Parliament who were on the hit list and when the Ankole Parliamentary Group met him, I told him about the hit list and that, I knew I was on it. I told him he was also involved. Before that, we had had discussions with him as senior people in the Movement. We had met him several times and talked about things like corruption, and favouritism and informal methods of work, and how we were not utilising the structures of the Movement.

The issues, which the document of Dr. Kizza Besigye raised, many of us had been thinking about them and we had also discussed them with him. We could notice things changing. In 1996 he had supported some candidates against others, so it was gradual. The tolerance of corruption; we could see that he was not doing anything about it and then we started noticing that he had a preference either for corrupt individuals or for people who are prone to violation of human rights in the army, and so on.

My decision not to agree with the amendment of the Constitution to give him a life presidency is what marked the point in time that I cannot work with him. Even at that time one would not think it would lead to getting out of the Movement. One thought it was a disagreement that would be handled within the Movement. But for him, he thought that was an important matter that whoever cannot agree with him, he cannot work with.
This marked the final break with him because you could see that there was a complete diversion from what we originally set out to struggle for to a situation where his tenure of absolute power for life became his paramount interest and that is not acceptable.

Epitaph

Well, I guess…but I think I would like to be remembered as a person who tried his best to serve the country and without putting personal interest first. And I think really that is what I have tried to do.