Gen. Tumukunde maybe Dressed but without a Destination

Saturday, March 7, 2020

The political resurrection of the ebullient, cunning and yet aggressive Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Henry Tumukunde is almost complete, but only. We can now wait and see the influential endorsements that will line behind him as he brags of having one thousand underground tricks, although I guess none that big or credible will pop up any time soon. Ugandans may not be itching for another big revolution as Tumukunde seem to believe, the consideration of which, he should ask those from the same backyard, and ahead of him in political rebellion, Col. Kizza Besigye, Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, Benon Biraaro (RIP), and Amama Mbabazi. 

Ugandans want to settle for steady continuity in peace, stability and prosperity. Knowing Tumukunde, I see him simply as a distraction and teaser-bull to attract various forms of attention, and not an operation by President Yoweri Museveni as some people claim. Some even think he saw a gap to occupy because the media was too consumed with the news of desert locusts.

After almost two years of playing pseudo businessman, hide and seek, political sable-rattling, and see-sawing with running for Kampala Lord Mayorship, Tumukunde this week finally announced that he is seeking nationwide consultations to help him decide if he should run for president in 2021. It’s good Tumukunde has concluded that Kampala Lord Mayorship is too high for him to try, only if he hadn’t been disguising his real intentions, which may still be the case, for which no one begrudges him.

It will be seven months from today before anyone tells what is really under Tumukunde’s belly. But pundits across the political divide, based on Tumukunde’s long troubled record are writing him off as not representing the much desired civilian, accountable and democratic change in Uganda. Even within the opposition that seeks to end President Museveni’s reign, Tumukunde is unlikely to emerge in the glorious sunshine of frontrunners. For that reason, many would say no, not Tumukunde for president of Uganda, and whatever is under his wings is dead on arrival. In fact, some skeptics say that Tumukunde maybe dressed but with no destination. It is time for Tumukunde, like everyone else seeking a high office through democratic means to have spotlight shone on his record.

The announcement which had been long anticipated by watchers of Uganda’s political terrain, has nevertheless set tongues wagging on why and the possible ramifications of Tumukunde’s new political journey. While many say that fortune favours the brave, running for a competitive political office especially Uganda’s presidency isn’t like fortune hunting, more so, if you have been part of the national train wagon for the last thirty-four years playing active roles.

For the uninitiated, Tumukunde was an NRA (UPDF) army Major when he first entered national politics as the Constituent Assembly Delegate {CAD) for Rubabo county in Rukungiri district after defeating then NRC member and minister, Prof. Mondo Kagonyera. After the CA, he was deployed as UPDF Director of Personnel and Administration, Commander 4th Infantry Division based in Gulu, Chief of Military Intelligence and Director General Internal Security Orgainisation, most of the time leaving those deployments under controversial circumstances.

But perhaps as Chinua Achebe says in his book, Things Fall Apart, “those born with a silver spoon in their mouth” always have luck. Tumukunde has fallen out of favour with his mentors a few times, but also bounced back to the surprise of many including when he returned as an election mobiliser for candidate Museveni in 2016, and subsequently earning a promotion from brigadier to Lt. General in the UPDF even though he had served ostracization and long house arrest between 2005-11. Even more surprising was his appointment as minister for security after the 2016 elections from where he fell so fast with a thud. In that short stint, he is said to have slashed the 800,000 monthly from each district’s security budget and returned it to his office.

In his announcement Tumukunde claims he wants to ‘complete’ the “fundamental change”, ‘they’ (NRM) promised in 1986, doubting if that change has indeed happened. To this extent, Tumukunde is not much different from Kizza Besigye, Mugisha Muntu, Amama Mbabazi, and Benon Biraaro (RIP) among others who perhaps nurse the unpleasant sense of entitlement to lead Uganda.  And having bolted from the stead, they continue croaking old songs. The fundamental change has and continues countrywide, unless of course, Tumukunde has recently suffered sudden amnesia that he cannot remember. Disagreement with Museveni isn’t more important than what they claim is agenda for Ugandans.

Secondly, Tumukunde claims that his bid is ostensibly to transfer leadership to new a “generation” when he is in fact, part of the Museveni generation from 1982 and in leadership until two years ago when he was dismissed as security minister due to many unpleasant controversies. Since that time, Tumukunde has tried to build networks of supposedly disgruntled former and serving government officials among them RDCs, DRDCs, security personnel, MPs, civil servants and local groups without much success. Putting energy and money behind Tumukunde, tantamount to what Americans liken to dumping money into a waste water drain.