President Museveni hid sensitive information from Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu during the latter’s days as army commander, it emerged on Friday morning.
Muntu was appointed as army chief after Museveni sacked his brother Gen Salim Saleh in 1989.
At the time, Museveni accused Gen Saleh of “lack of seriousness” and “drunkenness”.
The entry of the youthful Muntu, who many knew as Mr Clean due to his incorruptible nature, was welcomed with mixed reactions.
Many saw him as an inexperienced battlefield commander who was too reserved to command major operations in the country especially in times of war.
For example, the National Resistance Army (NRA) was battling several wars including the West Nile Bank Front and Lords’ Resistance Army.
Having served diligently as Director of Military Intelligence, Muntu was in good position to provide direction to the NRA.
But officials say he was weak on command and rarely visited soldiers on the battlefield.
“He was more of an office commander. You would never see him on ground to have a firsthand account of what we were going through in the wars of the time,” said a retired army officer.
The veteran, who chose to speak on condition of anonymity citing privacy concerns, gave an example of the Kichwamba incident.
On Monday, June 8, 1998, rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), raided Uganda Technical College Kichwamba in Kabarole District and burnt 80 students alive in three dormitories and abducted 100 others.
“But Muntu did not even bother to visit this school. The problem at the time was we didn’t have fuel for the army trucks to rush to the scene. Somehow, Muntu should have visited this school to express his sympathies but this never happened,” said the veteran.
ChimpReports understands that during the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), Mbarara Town was turned into the ‘operations base’ of the rebels led by now President Paul Kagame.
Food for the rebels was stored in Mbarara before being transported to their bases across the border. The trucks used to supply logistics and recruits were also repaired from Mbarara.
“Mbarara was the RPF guerillas’ rear base. But Muntu was kept out of this. He had limited knowledge about RPF operations,” said the veteran.
An investigation by ChimpReports indicates former ISO chief Brig Ronnie Balya, who was a low ranking security officer in the 1990s, helped coordinate the RPF war from western Uganda.
Retired Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi and Kale Kayihura were equally influential in helping the Rwandan rebels return home.
“Muntu was an army commander but he really didn’t fully appreciate what was going on because he was never a man of action. He was laid back and no one wished to see him in this operation,” another veteran confided in us.
Interestingly, Kagame had served as Muntu’s Deputy at the Directorate of Military Intelligence in Kampala.
In 1988, Museveni fronted the idea of appointing Gen Muntu as Minister of State for Defence. It will be recalled that Museveni used to hold the title of President and Minister of Defence.
Since Museveni was always busy with State Duties, Muntu would have been the ‘real’ Defence Minister.
But Muntu chose to quit, citing Museveni’s decision to stay in power.
He would later join PAFO which later merged with Reform Agenda to form FDC, Uganda’s main opposition party.
The revelations come against the backdrop of reports that Dr Kizza Besigye managed to collect all the declaration forms for the 2016 elections, something that was unknown to Muntu.
In his statement this week, Muntu said FDC’s efforts to challenge the 2016 election outcome were hindered by the party’s failure to trace 9,000 Declaration forms.
But insiders say the forms were secured and kept at Besigye’s residence in Kasangati.
Former army officers who worked with Muntu say he is principled, disciplined and cherishes honesty.
“The problem is he never gets the job done. That’s why Museveni always had his juniors do the job. Museveni had to reappoint Gen Saleh as the overseer of the military’s operations across the country even after dismissing him as army commander,” an army veteran revealed.
Nevertheless, Muntu still has a chance to prove his potential considering he has now formed a new party which he is expected to lead in the next presidential election.
He has since promised to work with parties and individuals seeking to deliver the change he says the country is craving for.