President Yoweri Museveni, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Uganda armed forces, has embarked on a nation-wide on-spot working visits to UPDF barracks. The President is interacting with officers and men over their welfare issues, including housing, education for their children, health facilities at stations and income-generating activities for the wives of soldiers.
The President on Friday visited the First Infantry Division at Kakiri Barracks in Wakiso district, where he called on the UPDF to fight for the people of Uganda to be prosperous. He said this can be achieved by providing a security service based on the four principles of patriotism, pan Africanism, socio-economic transformation and democracy.
“To be an officer in the UPDF, you must know our ideology. You must know the interests of your people. Prosperity means security for the people of Uganda. We cannot guarantee our prosperity if we go by identity. Patriotism can help our people much better than parochialism and sectarianism,” he said.
The President, who first met platoon commanders, company commanders, battalion commanders and brigade commanders separately, later held a combined meeting with other officers and men, said the UPDF must know its historical mission and the ideology of the revolution.
“I have come to check on the units and the service they extend to our people in terms of security. We want politics of patriotism. It will help give us a bigger market than regional groups. Without African integration, the common market of East Africa and Africa, there cannot be prosperity. We are lagging behind in science and technology and we must push for political and economic integration. Uganda cannot survive alone in a modern age,” he said.
On education, the President said the Government’s policy is to ensure free education for the children of the poor. The President, however, blamed some individuals who are trying to frustrate the efforts by charging parents fees. On housing, Museveni urged the defense administration to consider using their own labor as opposed to contracting building services.
He said the Special Forces Command (SFC) hospital was constructed at about sh400m, compared to the sh1.5b earlier quoted by the private contractor. He, therefore, said by using the UPDF construction brigade, the Government would be able to meet the housing needs for the forces. He added that the Government has been spending close to sh96b on renting offices, he said must stop.
The commander of the engineering brigade, Maj. Gen. Timothy Sabiiti Mutebile, said the force needs 60,000 housing units, but it currently has only 7,000. He said the UPDF engineering brigade has about 2,500 well-trained human resource personnel who they can use to bridge the gap without using contractors.
Museveni urged the force to strengthen their confidence through knowledge, saying without knowledge, they can easily be deflated. He said the development of science and technology is the primer of social change alongside patriotism, pan-Africanism, socioeconomic transformation and democracy.
Using a gun, the President demonstrated how a soldier can improvise, when he runs out of bullets to keep fighting. He urged the force to live healthy lives, by avoiding alcohol, prostitution and malaria. Museveni later announced a donation of sh100m to the SACCOS of wives of soldiers who are involved in income-generating activities.