President Museveni marks 31 years in power today with many Ugandans expressing mixed feelings about the success stories under his rule.
Mr Museveni, the longest serving president in Uganda, is the chief guest at Masindi Sports Grounds in Masindi District where the national event is taking place. The theme for the day is: “Uganda’s Success Story Under NRM Leadership is a shared victory.”
The celebrations are in remembrance of the five-year bush war that brought the then National Resistance Army (NRA) rebels, under the command of Mr Museveni, captured power in Kampala on January 26, 1986.
Presidency minister Esther Mbayo Mbulakubuza says the NRM government has managed to revive the country’s economy by building infrastructure, health and education sectors while ensuring security.
As the function in Masindi gets underway, this reporter took to the streets of Kampala to sample views of the public about the 31st anniversary of the NRM government.
Masindi is significant in the history of the Luweero bush war. Top rebel commanders then, who are now senior government and military officers, believe the attack on Masindi on February 20, 1984 tilted the course of the war in their favour.
In this attack commanded by now General Salim Saleh and assisted by other commanders such as Pecos Kutesa, Stephen Kashaka, Peter Kerim, John Mugume and Stanley Muhangi among others, the rebel army captured 765 rifles. This was a big achievement for the rebels, considering the fact that of the 700 NRA soldiers who attacked Masindi Barracks, only 375 were armed.
Major General Pecos Kutesa, in his book Uganda’s Revolution 1979 – 1986: How I saw It, narrates how they walked for days avoiding the check points until they lay siege just outside Masindi Barracks by 2am on February 20, 1984. Kutesa’s battalion had taken position along the Masindi-Hoima Road, facing the main quarter guard of the huge military installation.
Kutesa explains that at around 5:30am, about an hour before the rebels were to launch the attack, a soldier emerged from the barracks and walked straight into the rebel lines. Fearing that the element of surprise had been lost, Kutesa and his colleague, now Major General Stephen Kashaka, engaged him in a conversation. When he asked them who they were, Kutesa told him: “We are rebels and we have come to kill you all.” When the soldier tried to escape and run back into the barracks, he was mowed down as both Kutesa and Kashaka fired at him.
The battle for Masindi had started. After the successful attack, the fighters are said to have retreated through Kalyamusenyi to Ngoma in the present day Nakaseke District.