DAILY MONITOR 08 MAR 2020
Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde has divided opinion by making it public this week that he intends to consult over a possible bid for the presidency come 2021.
The former spymaster becomes the latest ex-Bush War fighter to dare President Museveni, the man who led them into the improbable mission through the jungles of Luweero Triangle in the early 1980s.
Gen Tumukunde treads a well-travelled path, which many of his former co-fighters have taken, with differing levels of success.
None of them has tasted the ultimate success to date, and President Museveni is still up and running, readying himself for a sixth defence of the presidency at the polls slated for next year.
Dr Kizza Besigye, who treated many of the elite fighters during the Bush War, including Gen Tumukunde himself, is still standing, with his fight against his former boss well into its third decade, and has welcomed Gen Tumukunde to the battlefield.
Gen Tumukunde first dared President Museveni in the lead up to the 2005 removal of term limits for the presidency, which earned him confinement and a seven-year battle in the military court.
He acquiesced to the system, and in particular his former commander-in-chief, and was ‘rehabilitated’, reabsorbed, and helping to flatten former prime minister Amama Mbabazi’s bid for the presidency in 2016.
President Museveni, happy with Gen Tumukunde’s performance, appointed him Security minister after the 2016 General Election, and the ex-spy master set his sights on criminal gangs in Kampala, commonly known as kifeesi, and often conflicted with former police chief Gen Kale Kayihura.
President Museveni sacked the two men from their respective positions on the same day, in March 2018.
Gen Tumukunde did not seem so distraught at the sacking, continuing to work underground and campaigning for the ruling party, especially during the Rukungiri Woman MP by-election, which came two months after his sacking.
He then outlined ambitions of his own, sending indications around Kampala that he intended to challenge Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago in the coming election. That now looks like a red herring Gen Tumukunde used to cover up a bigger ambition from exploding into the public domain before he intended it to.
Sam Kalega Njuba, the pioneer
The first major fallout was between Mr Museveni and the late Sam Kalega Njuba, who had joined politics in 1980, at the prompting of Mr Museveni.
Njuba, who had taught law at Makerere University in the 1970s, became a member of the external wing of the NRM/A in Nairobi, Kenya, and was instrumental in recruiting fighters, most notably Dr Kizza Besigye.
After the war, he was appointed minister for Constitutional Affairs and charged with setting the stage for the drafting of a new Constitution, but soon afterwards he fell out with Mr Museveni, who sacked him in 1993.
“I had served as a minister for long and I knew I could not be a minister forever. My only regret is that the struggle has been derailed,” Njuba told the media in a 1999 interview.
He did not personally challenge President Museveni, but he was one of Dr Besigye’s most trusted confidants as the former Bush War physician to President Museveni challenged for the top office. Njuba and Dr Besigye co-founded the Forum for Democratic Change and Njuba was its chairman at the time of his death in December 2013.
An attempt had been made to force Mr Museveni not to overstay in power by sneaking a clause in his 2001 manifesto that he would not contest again after 2006, but by 2003, it had become clear that he was not about to quit.
Mr Ruzindana, a former Ombudsman, then tried to use the Parliamentary Advocacy Forum (PAFO) to fight against lifting of presidential term limits, but that failed, compelling Mr Ruzindana, who was then the MP for Ruhaama County, to become one of the founders of FDC, where he became the secretary general. He lost the Ruhaama seat and Mr Museveni has since accused the former Fronasa member of having a history of fleeing from liberation struggles.