Mathew Rukikaire has described as “very sad”, claims that Amama Mbabazi was living a flashy lifestyle in Nairobi, Kenya as the war to remove Milton Obote and later the Okellos, raged on in Uganda.
Rukikaire, who headed National Resistance Army’s (NRA) External Committee which was charged with mobilisation of arms and funds for the war, said Mbabazi never had the wherewithal to enjoy a comfortable life.
“Unlike all other External Committee members, and non-members for that matter, Sam Katabarwa and Mbabazi were full-time workers of the struggle and did not have time to make a living for themselves,” said in his recently-published autobiography, “70 Years a Witness.”
ChimpReports understands Rukikaire intended to counter the widely-publicized reports of Mbabazi wining and dining as his comrades lived miserable lives during the struggle.
During a visit to Nairobi in June 1981 by Museveni and his security detail commanded by Lt Gen Pecos Kutesa, Mbabazi angered the fighters when he reportedly asked Kutesa to wash his car in exchange for money to buy cigarettes.
“If I were a civilian, I would have lost my cool and told him that, after all, the car he was driving and the money he wanted to give me was from the civilian sympathizers,” narrates Kutesa in his book, “Uganda’s Revolution 1979–1986: How I Saw It.”
“Even my comrade privates, Kasasira and ‘Suicide’, felt bad when they saw their commander being humiliated. However, I checked my temper and laughingly told the gentleman that since I was from the bush, I could not trust myself to wash his car to his expectation.”
In response, Rukikaire said in his book that contrary to claims of living a flamboyant lifestyle, Mbabazi was struggling to survive.
“It is ironic, and very sad indeed, that some of these allegations actually originated from the bush and were disseminated in Nairobi,” said Rukikaire.
“Mbabazi who had assumed the pseudonym ‘Karyaburo’ (millet eater) was, in a derogatory manner, renamed by some bush fighters back home as ‘Karyasosegi’ (sausage eater) to reflect his supposed opulent lifestyle,” he added.
“Mbabazi on arrival in Nairobi, stayed with me for a couple of months. Sam Katabarwa, I was to discover, was living on the generosity of people like John Bageire, Chris Mboijana and other movement friends and supporters. I also know that Amos Nzeyi, a childhood friend of Mbabazi’s and a reasonably well off man, helped to support Mbabazi with his rent and other expenses. In time, Jacqueline Mbabazi took up a job as a school teacher to help with home expenses,” he added.
“I therefore totally reject the claim that Mbabazi and Katabarwa were living in flamboyant lives in Nairobi.”
Rukikaire, an entrepreneur, fled Uganda to Nairobi in fear of his life during Idi Amin’s reign.
A successful businessman, Rukikaire was later persuaded by Museveni to support the war against Idi Amin and later Obote.
He helped in transporting arms donated by former Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi from Burundi to the bushes in Luwero.
Rukikaire’s son, Phillip, is married to Mbabazi’s daughter, Nina.
In his book, Rukikaire says between 1981 and 1983 when NRM asylum seekers started leaving Nairobi in droves, Katabarwa and Mbabazi worked as a team of two- their work was clandestine in nature, most of it not known even to him unless he was involved.
“I later learnt found out that some of Mbabazi’s work had to do with maintaining links with the Tanzanian intelligence and security organs,” he recalled, underscoring Mbabazi’s secretive character.
“Mbabazi and Katabarwa were the first to know, before even myself, when Museveni was due to travel out of Uganda and what his plans were and what he was likely to be doing,” he added.
“Mbabazi and Katabarwa had no way of sharing information about the work they were doing – not even with Rugunda or me; they were enforcing, religiously, the principle of “need-to-know”. Unlike all other external committee members, and non-members for that matter, Katabarwa and Mbabazi were full-time workers of the struggle and did not have time to make a living for themselves.”
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