By Katurebe Obed
For some weeks now, parliament of Uganda has been treated not so cool drama where Uganda’s amiable five stars general has been slandered by a section of fellow members of parliament with selfish intentions. The man is Gen. Elly Tumwine representing the UPDF and so far the longest serving member of the August House. This is because he has been in that house since 1986 uninterrupted.
The whole brouhaha was begun by a couple in the August House to wit Hon Atkins Katusabe ( Bukonjo West) and Tororo woman MP Hon. Sarah Opendi. Two accusations were made i.e that Gen Elly Tumwine threatened to assault Dokolo woman MP Hon.Cecilia Ogwal and the second offense was contempt of parliament where Hon. Katusabe accused Tumwine for having demeaned the character of the speaker and parliament during a private conversation.
The disciplinary committee which was constituted and cleared Tumwine on the first accusation of contempt of parliament but found him guilty for having bullied Hon Cecilia Ogwal. Gen. Tumwine has denied the two offences insisting that he is innocent but being flamed for other ulterior motives. As we speak the matter is before the Rt Hon Speaker of parliament pending her further guidance. The matter even debated it on the floor of parliament where members expressed their views on the matter.
The most sincere submission was by Hon. Mwesigwa Rukutana (Rushenyi) when “These things were blown out of proportion. They could have been addressed in a simple manner. This report which I oppose is faulty both in shape and substance….Gen. Tumwine could have used heated words which do not amount to assault…”, Rukutana correctly observed.
These accusations surprised most Ugandans but more so to those of us who know Gen. Tumwine in more ways than one. Tumwine is the most peaceful, sober and exudes humility all the time. He is a decent old man who is now a counselor to most young people especially those that are aspiring to occupy public offices.
Tumwine is known to be a very calm and collected officer whose career as a soldier is so clean and indeed impeacable. No wonder he has represented the UPDF in parliament for this long uninterrupted. Even when tempers go up on the floor of parliament like in 2018 when the debate on the lifting of the age limit, Tumwine stayed calm and was never mentioned among those that became physical during deliberations. One wonders how this man whose clean record span this far can degenerate to do these charges he is being accused.
He has his unique way of calming down people when they get emotional. In his soft but clear voice he will sing either military morale boosting song or a religious hymn with relevant healing message and before he ends everyone will be smiling and probably singing along with him. Surely Tumwine is a peaceful man.
Gen. Elly Tumwine, was among those that greatly contributed to the creation and building of an army that is accountable to the people and committed to the people’s defense. He has not only commanded units which dealt a decisive blow to those who were bent on usurping the rights of our people, but has since the capture of State Power by Yoweri Museveni in 1986 been participating in the consolidation of these achievements.
Gen. Tumwine is a democrat. After the rigging of the 1980 elections which defranchised the people of Uganda and brought instability; Elly Tumwine did not only fight for the return of stability, but also for constitutional rule in Uganda.
At the inception of our people’s struggle, Gen Elly Tumwine participated actively in the formation of the Resistance Councils and Committees which brought the people at the centre of the politics of their country. Resistance Councils and Committees are the foundation of our present democratic practice. Gen Elly Tumwine was part of the Constituency Assembly that promulgated the 1995 constitution. Elly Tumwine devoted most of his time during this period, to the making of the Constitution and as a result of his efforts; Uganda has now been firmly set on a democratic direction.
Elly Tumwine is totally immersed in his duties as a public servant. He never rests unless he has accomplished the duties assigned to him. Tumwine is an indefatigable worker and a disciplinarian. His passion and desire for the unity of Uganda is unquestionable. He is an exemplary public servant whose truck record is all clean in the various offices he has held.
Finally, it is indeed not believable that anybody can allege that this seasoned Born Again soldier can act in a manner as alleged by Hon. Cecila Ogwal and Hon. Atkins Katusabe. Even at the height of his career as Army Commander an office he occupied in his prime, we never heard stories of abusing his office like is always the case at such age. He kept calm and disciplined even when his peers would be involved some excesses like binge drinking and physical fights especially after excessive drinking. It is only few of his ilk like Gen. Ivan Koreta, Mugisha Muntu, Aronda Nyakairima (RIP) that much his humility and discipline. True, much as he can get annoyed if insulting statements are thrown in his face, the fact he has been restrained this long, it is very hard to believe these frivolous allegations against the good general.
The author works with Uganda Media Centre