President Yoweri Museveni, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Uganda Armed Forces, has urged the Uganda People’s Defence Forces to always remain highly disciplined and respect citizens because the population forms the pillars of the army’s existence.
“You must respect the people and live in harmony with wananchi. These are your parents, your mothers and fathers whom you should give full respect. If you respect the people, they will also respect you,” he counseled.
Museveni was yesterday delivering a lecture to 344 trainees on the transition of the colonial Army to the People’s Forces whom are in the final phase of concluding their 6 months’ Young Officers’ Course at the Uganda Military Academy, Kabamba in Mubende District.
The President stressed that the Army’s responsibility entails protection of the sovereignty of the State, the people and their property and must, therefore, be disciplined contrary to the Kingdom Armies that served the interest of their masters. He explained that Kingdom Armies were mainly pre-occupied with tribal attachments and raiding livestock from their neighbours and had no capacity, technologically, to defend the people from any external aggression and occupation.
Museveni observed that by 1900 the whole of the African continent had been colonized by Europeans except for Ethiopia. He added that on attaining independence from the colonial powers, African countries made mistakes such as retaining the colonial armies.
“After independence, people tried to put new wine in old bags. So, the colonial armies had to be disbanded and a new Army with a mission was built,” he said. He said that the mission of the new Army was to ensure that the needs of the people that include security, prosperity, development and health, were met.
He observed that for people to benefit and prosper, there is need to ensure that the army completely shuns bad habits like sectarianism and move along the lines of patriotism and pan-Africanism. He pointed out that whoever is promoting sectarian tendencies in the country is an enemy of the people and their prosperity.
“The prosperity of a Munyankole is based on other Ugandans who buy his milk just like the Langi whose sim-sim is bought by people from other parts of Uganda or other countries,” he observed.
President Museveni illustrated his point by citing the proposed buying of Ugandan maize by Zimbabwe noting that our Ugandan market alone is not enough necessitating a bigger market of Africa and beyond. “We need the whole of Africa for our prosperity,” he asserted.
On social and economic transformation, President Museveni informed the trainees of the urgent need for societal change adding that the strategy can be effectively achieved through education, modern agriculture, industries, services, ICT and democracy.
Responding to some of the concerns raised by the young Officer Cadets, the President assured them that a new team of Legal Officers has been put in place to handle issues affecting them with regard to land and property grabbed by some greedy people.
“I am aware of some crooked people who take advantage of soldiers being away from home for a long time serving their nation and beyond and so grab soldiers’ property including land, We have set up a legal team that will defend and protect the property of soldiers as well as carrying out the surveying of soldiers’ land,” he said.
On the role of the Army in the Operation Wealth Creation programme, President Museveni observed that soldiers are more disciplined and patriotic and have so far done a commendable job of distributing seedlings to wananchi, curbed illegal fishing on the country’s water bodies and are currently helping in fighting the locusts’ invasion.
Trainee Officer Cadet Kagoya Juliet, on behalf of the Commandant of Uganda Military Academy Kabamba Brig. Gen. Charles Byarugaba, commended President Museveni for the lecture that she said was a turning point for them in their army career.