Thursday, August 30, 2012
COULD MUSEVENI’S NAME HAVE KILLED OYITE OJOK?
When you read the article below, you wonder whether our leaders ever learn from this type experiences. The article is clear testimony is that no single person in indispensable. Anybody can come up and be so powerful, but time comes, and he/she has to go. This should be a good learning experience for anybody who bothers to learn. William Kituuka Kiwanuka ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Source: The defunct The Crusader Newspaper It will soon be 29 years since on December 3, 1983, when Ugandans woke up to the shocking news on Radio Uganda that the country’s powerful and feared army Chief of Staff, Major General David Oyite Ojok had died. It was the closest to Ugandans experiencing the death of a sitting President. Many shops in Kampala remained closed for days. People discussed in groups wondering what would happen to the country next. Many had not loved Oyite Ojok, but they knew with his death things would never be the same. Indeed, one and a half years later, the Obote II Government was overthrown. The official explanation was that Oyite Ojok’s death was a pure accident. But was it? Brigadier David Oyite Ojok was all smiles at Pece Stadium on April 11, 198. This day, like others since 1980, was celebrated to mark the fall of Idi Amin’s regime on April 11, 1979. The day was special for Oyite Ojok in another way; after the festivities, he walked out of the stadium a Major General, adding laurels to his much coveted job of Army Chief of staff. Oyite Ojok and the Army Commander of Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA), then Major General Tito Okello, who became General, were just among the many army officers who were promoted. The pomp was pulsating as Oyite Ojok took turns in joining the Commander in Chief and President Apollo Milton Obote, in addressing the other with new pips. It was just another moment of glory for Obote and the men with whom he taunted the opposition with his trademark sarcasm: “where are the Ssemogerere commanders?” Witnessing the promotion was the all – powerful Vice President and Minister of Defence, Paul Muwanga. He and Obote had genuine reason to smile because they knew how their post – Amin fortunes had rested on Oyite Ojok’s shoulders – or on the hip of where he kept his pistol. But behind the public smiles lurked the serious fears and doubts by the two men over the soldier they relied on most, but was increasingly running out of control. Down south the guerilla war by Yoweri Museveni’s NRA was taking its toll. Obote and Muwanga counted on Oyite Ojok to be the prince in shining armour racing through the woods of Luweero Traingle putting out the fire. The “Liberation day” promotions in Gulu were part of an effort to boost moral among the UNLA officers, so that they could face the NRA with renewed vigour. When Museveni had just taken to the bush in February 1982, Obote proudly said, “We shall follow them there and leave them there.” But two years down the road in 1983 the NRA rebels were still alive and kicking. Frustration with Oyite Ojok’s leadership of the army offensive had crept into Obote and Muwanga. It was not that the man who dramatically escaped from Parliament in 1971 from Amin’s soldiers, only to turn up on Radio Uganda in 1979 to announce the dictator’s fall, had lost battlefield prowess. The problem was that being Chairman of the then almighty Coffee Marketing Board (CMB), Oyite Ojok increasingly had no time for the war front. He spent much of his time keeping an eye on his swelling balance in a Swiss bank. Moreover, around the same time, differences between Obote and his civilian and military lieutenants on how to end the rebellion heightened. While Obote and Oyite Ojok insisted the ‘bandits,’ as they called them, had to be militarily crashed, Muwanga and some top UNLA officers – mainly Acholi – toyed with the idea of negotiations. Late 1982 while on an eastern Uganda tour, Obote said if Museveni wanted negotiations, he should first identify his third great grand father to prove his Ugandan origins. With purported authentication from his Ankole allies, Obote branded Museveni a Rwandese immigrant and accused the Banyarwanda of fueling the rebellion in Buganda. In the same year, Obote had 25,000 people of Rwandese origin evicted from their homes in western Uganda and put in camps because they posed a security threat.