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True, soldiers will deliver without asking questions

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True, soldiers will deliver without asking questions

A while ago, this column predicted that sooner than later, soldiers will take overthe running and management of key civil and public service jobs.

The declaration of President Museveni at the recent Heroes Day Celebrations in Mityana lends credence to this prediction. In his characteristic domineering tone, Museveni announced his plans to have soldiers in the various sectors, beginning with agricultural extension services under the NAADS programme.

Under the command of Gen Saleh, the soldiers have planted hundreds of thousands of hectaresin just two seasons as compared to NAADS which swallows a whopping Shs 302billion a year with little results.

After sorting out the agriculture sector, Gen Museveni will then post his soldiersto other sectors like health, education, transport and works, housing, environment, energy, and among others. This posture is already sending tongues wagging with outcries from various quarters of “militarization of civil and public service”.

Methinks if Gen Museveni had long appointed a soldier to head KCC, even before ‘ Auntie Jenny’ was appointed three years ago, State House Nakasero would have been sparedthe reeking stench from rotten garbage and broken sewers conveying human waste not forgetting the flies that would buzz around Museveni’s visitors! (Museveni would complain of these menacing flies during the reign of John SsebanaKizito as Kampala Mayor.)

Soldiers take orders without asking questions. When s/he is ordered on any assignment, they hit the ground running.They don’t engage in things like “cost-benefit analysis”, “facilitation”, “allowances”, “fuel”, “holiday packages”, “study allowances”, etc, that would characterisegovernment officials.

Already, the soldiers have demonstrated capacity and competence in given projects. The National Information Security Systems, or commonly called the ID Project under Gen ArondaNyakairimais one such project that won’t disappoint tax payers. In just months that Gen Aronda has been Minister for Internal Affairs, the ID project has moved with considerable speed and nearing finality.

The ID project had already swallowed billions of shillings- Shs 300bn- wasted on a German firm which got the contact in the middle of the night in complete disregard of procurement procedures. At the end of it all, the Germans could only give us 400 defective plastic IDs at a cost of Shs 300bn! Gen Aronda has vowed that come floods or hippos, Ugandans MUST get their IDs by 2015. He has hit the ground running on this. The General- still a serving army officer- has reportedly ‘spoilt’ things for the guys at Immigration Department who used to mint billions from the issuance of passports and dubious work permits to whoever is concerned. I gather he has installed spies at each and every desk and corner, including gatekeepers,to keep an eye on individuals who have since thrived on selling questionable passports.

Museveni is also turning to the Army to construct the proposed dual-carriage railway system that will run from Mombasa to Kigali through Kampala and finally South Sudan. There are also rumours that the proposed oil refinery in Hoima will be spearheaded by soldiers.

What if we had a full military general as Minister of Works and Transport? Methinks we would be having fewer roads with potholes and the cowboy contractors would be in trouble. We would need a general who does it like Gen Paulo in Kigali. I am told before commissioning a road in Rwanda, Kagame first hits hard into the road with a pickaxe (‘nsururu’), and if the ‘nsururu’ quickly disappears into the ground, then the people in charge of that particular road including the contractors would be in damn trouble. But if the ‘nsururu’ bounces off with sparks, then Gen Paulo would say, ‘good job!’

Gen Tumwine has led a spirited fight against corruption. He has fearlessly named and shamed the corrupt including his fellow historicals. I wonder why the commander-in-chief hasn’t named him minister for ethics and integrity instead of the cowardly Rev Fr Simon Lokodo who has since been bullied into silence over ‘The Anti-Mini Skirt Law’. We need people like Gen Nasur Abudallah (Amin’s deadly governor) who used to unleash mean-looking soldiers onto the mini-skirt wearers!

This isn’t to say that soldiers are angels: a certain General messed up donor funds for immunization and HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. Things have never been the same again!

bwengo@gmail.com

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