President Museveni who is also the Commander-in- Chief of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has said army officers retiring from active service should use the opportunity to create wealth for themselves now that government is able to send them off with some good remuneration.
“You have done army work, now go and do something in the economy in these last years,” Mr Museveni said.
Mr Museveni was speaking at a ceremony to retire 48 general officers of the UPDF at State House Entebbe. These were meant to be 49 before the death of Gen Elly Tumwine who breathed his last on August 25 at the age of 68, according to the UPDF chief of personnel and administration, Maj Gen George Igumba.
The President thanked the officers for accepting to work under difficult situations with no or low pay to a stage when the system is able to support them unlike in the previous armies where officers retired upon death.
“The Army of 1971, many Acholi and Langis officers were killed by the Idi Amin group which was coming in. That was their retirement. Now when you’re beginning to retire, the country you supported is now a bit more able to also support you,” Museveni said.
He cautioned the officers not to listen to opportunists giving them advice on how they should spend their savings but rather invest wisely in commercial agriculture.
“So, my advice to generals, please, buy yourselves land and practice four acres model of agriculture and venture into coffee, fruits, pasture for animals (zero grazing), food, chicken and pigs in the backyard, fishing near the swamps etc,” he said.
Among the notable retirees most of whom were part of the 1986 National Resistance Army liberation war that brought the current government into power include Gen David Sejusa who is a former director general of military intelligence and Lt Gen Andrew Gutti, the formerly chairman of the General Court Martial.
Maj Gen Igumba informed the President that 267 senior officers at the rank of Major to Colonel who are part of batch 12 were seen off yesterday. 11 batches have been seen off since 2014 making a total of 9026 officers who have been retired since then.
Maj Gen Igumba said this time around for batch 12, the plan was to retire 2,539 personnel, including 75 General officers, 429 senior officers, 275 junior officers and 1,760 militants but the number was reduced tremendously to only 316 officers due to budgetary limitations.
“The category of captain all the way to private, were pushed to batch 13 in the financial year 2023/2024 when their salaries will have been enhanced as we were reassured by you, your Excellency. Therefore, the current batch 12 retiring yesterday and today is an unprecedented one in the history of Uganda since independence and indeed since Uganda became a member of the United Nations, reaffirming Your Excellency’s resolve to professionalise the Force in all aspects of military and defence development,” said Maj Gen Igumba.
The most senior retiring general, Gen Sejusa, on behalf of retiring officers paid tribute to the President for providing leadership during the struggle, the army leadership and the people of Uganda without which there wouldn’t be peace.
“I’m proud to belong to NRA/UPDF, which has made incredible strides. I thank the people of Uganda from all regions for their sacrifices. We all know there was a phase in our struggle when our civilian population was the vanguard. They were our eyes, the ears, our protectors, they fed us and this phase took a bigger part of 1981. They gathered intelligence, they carried out reconnaissance missions for us to acquire small arms and so on. If we did not have the population on our side, then there would be no NRA/UPDF and certainly NRM,” Gen Sejusa said, adding that it’s not easy to keep a country peaceful for 40 years.
Gen Sejusa, noted that however much a lot has been done, alot is yet to be achieved to consolidate the victories and the mission to liberate Africa.
“Therefore, continue training, take advantage of the opportunities being provided, make sure that you deepen your ideological horizons but above all, love your nation and honour the people of Uganda always. They’re special people for there’s no greater honour than serving the people,” Gen Sejusa added.
He saluted the President for the opportunity to serve the people of Uganda and for the victories and achievements registered.
“We have shared a lot but we have served Uganda and I’m sure Uganda will prosper,” he added
The Chief of Defence Forces Gen Wilson Mbasu Mbadi, thanked the President for allowing the retiring officers to serve in various capacities and asked them to continue using their experience wherever they go.
The ceremony was attended by among others the State minister for Defence, Mr Jacob Oboth Oboth, and the State minister for Veteran Affairs, Mr Huda Oleru.