Exclusive: Exiled UPDF Col. Mande Wants To Reconcile With M7

approved geneva; font-size: small;”>He served in different army positions until 2001 when he fell out with the Commander-in-chief President Gen. Museveni.

He fled to Rwanda where he allegedly formed the People’s Redemption Army (PRA), allegations he denies.

The UPDF considers Mande a rebel. He is an active opposition member living in Sweden. It’s said Mande was nursing presidential ambitions before he fled. Editor Giles Muhame (GM) interviewed the exiled UPDF officer (SM). Excerpts:

GM: Why did you flee Uganda in 2001?

SM: I fled from witch hunt, political persecution, and injustice, physical and mental torture whose climax manifested in 1994 when I was arrested and put in Makindye barracks go-down jail despite the fact that I was a senior officer.

That go-down was built to store grain and maize flour. At one time Red Cross officials visited that prison and declared it unfit to keep human beings.

under normal circumstances I should have been confined in the officers mess.


I was placed under frivolous charges severally (embezzlement, treason, terrorism, and on one occasion when Noble Mayombo (then military intelligence boss) detained me in 2001 I was not even told on what offence.

He only told me that I should not have supported Dr. Kizza Besigye against Yoweri Museveni.

Mayombo stated it as if that was even worse than the capital offences I was yet to be tried for. My NRM/NRA bosses had turned me into a punching bag.

I availed myself for trial but I was not given a speedy, public trial as the Constitution provides.

None of the charges against me proceeded was successfully prosecuted to conclusion. I was in jail conditions for five years, battling these cases.

Remember that “justice delayed is justice denied” so I had to run away to save my life and in search of justice.

GM: How did you flee?

SM: I cannot disclose how I fled because that might put some people who helped me in danger and disclosure of the root is not fair for those that are still fleeing from Uganda for reasons similar to mine.

GM: Don‘t you think your presence in Rwanda affected the relations between Kigali and Kampala? How was life in Rwanda?

SM: As if you don’t know how bad the relationship between Rwanda and Uganda was before I fled to Rwanda. Say it could have perhaps worsened the situation. The two presidents have since reconciled but I am surprised their reconciliation process did not include me!

GM: How do you make ends meet in Sweden?

SM: I work like any other “nkuba kyeyo” and earn my daily bread. I put several years into personal development i.e education. I have graduated in it, project planning and management, business administration, environment studies and international relations and a few certificates in social work, global engagement and human rights.

I have worked with several organizations and I have started a private firm.

GM: A few days ago you said that Kagame killed 1,500 Ugandan soldiers. Can you elaborate?

SM: I was quoted out of context. What I meant is that despite the allegations against me and the divergent views I hold against the ruling party I deserve the medals like any other combatants of the NRA.

I have not done any havoc worse than that killing of 1,500 UPDF soldiers by general Kagame’s RPA when they were provoked into battle by the UPDF in Kisangani severally. If General Kagame could get a medal issued by the UPDF I don’t see reason they can’t give me my medals after all I have not killed anyone.

GM: Is it true that some of Ugandan soldiers who died in the Kisangani clashes were buried there in mass graves?

SM: The UPDF left them to dogs, hyenas, vultures and pigs to enjoy. It took the mercy of the Red Cross to bury them in a mass grave. The mass grave is in a coffee plantation just adjacent to the Lindi bridge in Kisangani. You can go and ask the residents there to show you the mass grave. Don’t forget to put a flower in honour of those sons and daughters of Uganda. This is an open secret.

GM: Will you ever reconcile with Museveni?

SM: I am open for reconciliation because that’s what civilized people do. I can forgive and let bygones be bygones. It works out better if those in power are ready for doing justice and sincere reconciliation.

It’s not me that feels that injustice was done therefore the country should be set for a comprehensive and general reconciliation process covering all conflicts in Uganda and all victims. We have victims in Luweero, Northern Uganda, Eastern Uganda, central Uganda and the Ruwenzori region that are waiting for that.

GM: How is life in exile? They say it’s more horrible than being in jail in one’s country.

SM: There is nothing bad like exile especially if you are a political refugee. In prison your people can visit you because you are within reach. Very few can visit you in exile because of the costs and the difficulty in obtaining visas. You are in different cultures, different economies, you don’t access your favorite food, you can’t bury relatives and your economic infrastructure collapses. All that sickens.

GM: How many kids do you have? Do you stay with your family?

SM: I am blessed with 8 children and five grand children. I only stay with my wife and the youngest two kids. The rest are have graduated and living in their homes. Some are here with me and the rest are in different countries.

GM: During a function organized by FDC UK Chapeter in London last year, you said you had fought so many dictators and would soon fight someone. Were you referring to Museveni?

SM: I would like you to listen to my speech yourself lucky enough it’s on the youtube here:

GM: There are reports you started the People’s Redemption Army (PRA). Some of its members were picked by Uganda military in Eastern Congo. Why did you indulge in subversive activities?

SM: That’s not true. Those that were arrested were tried and the state could not convict any. Do not mistake CIM, ESO, ISO intelligence operatives paraded to tell lies to be rebels. There were also some people who were arrested, tortured and forced to sign false confessions and amnesty under duress. At one time the head of state had stated categorically that none of them shall see sunshine again if they didn’t sign amnesty.

GM: Would you at one time think of removing Museveni from power using guns?

SM: It is not my duty to remove Museveni by or not by force. That is the duty of all Ugandans and President Museveni himself. I cannot hide my desire to see him out of power but I will only support all constitutional means necessary to effect change of administration.

GM: Do you think Museveni will seek another term in office?

SM: Definitely he is seeking another term in office. He still wants to rule. “He has just discovered his oil,” how can he get out of power?

GM: Is it true you do lucrative businesses with Ugandan army generals? Who are they?

SM: I have business with several UPDF generals. It’s legal business that we started well before I left Uganda and even the government knows and monitors what they do.

They are doing well. I do not get any cash from them because the state will accuse them to be supporting PRA financially. I will get my dividends when I come back.

GM: Constitutional Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire says NRM’s support is fading. Do you think so?

SM: I said the same in 1993 and in 1994 in a paper I wrote to all NRA historicals whose title I called “dear comrade. I see cracks in the NRM”.

GM: Could you please give us an inside story of Col. Edison Muzoora’s death? Information available indicates he died of meningitis.

SM: I wish I could. It took me by surprise and I am in the process of trying to establish the truth. I also await the investigations being done by government for comparison.

GM: Mugisha Muntu recently said UPDF generals are like flies on a dead body. Do you really believe this is a true assessment of the military’s leadership?

SM: A professional army, a national army should not be partisan. The UPDF has some officers who cannot imagine the difference between them and the party. Those are behaving like the flies General Muntu is referring to.

GM: Why did you fall out with Museveni?

SM: There is nothing personal. Ideologically, he became a revisionist-he did not implement the 10 point programme. Favoritism and double standards in treating us as Brigadier Kasirye Gwanga stated recently, he has a soft heart for corrupt comrades and disguised enemies of NRM killing the revolution softly.

GM: When NRA captured power, Museveni promised a fundamental change. Have you seen this change?

SM: I am yet to see the fundamental change because the country is now in the reverse gear. The economy is hurting the common man because of fiscal indiscipline, inflation is already back to double digits, HIV rate of infection is back to double digits, unemployment is highest in Uganda’s history, panda gari and road blocks are back, police and army brutality is worsening and people are insecure. He has revised his book “what is Africa’s problem?” and overstayed in power.

GM: Give us an insight into the book you are now writing. When are you publishing it?

I am doing final touches on “no more tears of justice.” I was inspired by a Ugandan doctor who saved my life, constant cries for justice in Africa and Uganda in particular has been subjected to, my personal account of the Ugandan conflicts since the struggle for independence, tears in the fight against Idi Amin, Milton Obote II regime, the Northern Uganda war, NRM administration and tears in my own life experience. The book will be published soon.

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