Ugandan online media journalists who these days sleep with one eye open last night got a scoop on what appears the most historic and extensive military brass shake-up in the aftermath of a decisive election exercise.
The removal of Gen Katumba Wamala from the much-coveted position of Chief of Defence Forces to the position of State Minister for Works caught many by surprise.
Why would Museveni remove one of the most disciplined, successful and clean officer from the helm of the armed forces to what appears an insignificant post of State Minister?
Insiders say Katumba will occupy one of the most strategic positions in Museveni’s government as the country prepares for the Standard Gauge Railway project.
The position of Minister of State for Works had been given to Hon Ismael Orot only for Parliament to realise he was weak on academic papers.
For some time, multi-billion shilling infrastructural projects have been marred by allegations of corruption leading to wastage and abuse of public resources.
But Museveni believes such projects need disciplined leadership hence bringing on board distinguished military officers to take charge.
This started with former Army Commander Gen Aronda Nyakairima taking over the national identity card project as Internal Affairs Minister.
The ministry had turned into a den of thieves only for Aronda to turn it around in a matter of months – people got passports on time and sanity was restored.
On October 19, 2016, Kenya launched phase 2A of the Nairobi- Naivasha leg which will take the line through large chunks of the rift valley.
The civil works of Mombasa- Nairobi SGR section is substantially completed and this segment of the railway is due for commissioning in June 2017.
The SGR Uganda project coordinator Kasingye Kyamugambi recently said Uganda’s land acquisition is nearing completion with sections of the compensated railway corridor already demarcated.
Currently, close to 80 percent of Uganda’s goods pass through Mombasa with the majority of cargo going through road.
It is expected that with a functional and efficient railway line, most of the cargo will shift to the road network thus increasing the size of cargo and speed of delivery which will ultimately impact on the speed and efficiency of doing business in Uganda.
This is considered Museveni’s legacy project and the president would not risk putting it into the hands of greedy civil servants hence tapping Katumba’s discipline and talent.
Army spokesperson Lt Col Paddy Ankunda praised Katumba, saying, “He has demonstrated that he can reach out to the lowest soldier and listen to them.”
He added: “We were together in Somalia and he went to the extent of sharing lunch with the soldiers and understanding their problems”.
Many describe Katumba as pragmatic, intelligent, honest and hardworking. He still is a Rotarian, mingling with civilians without fear.
However, like any other human being, Katumba had his own weaknesses which could have encouraged Museveni to remove him from the highest position in Uganda’s armed forces.
Having received training from Russia, United States Army War College, Tanzania Military Academy, Nigerian Command and Staff College and United States Army Command and General Staff College, Katumba served in DRC and also as Inspector General of Police.
Katumba would later serve as Commander Land Forces before being elevated to CDF following the exit of Gen Aronda Nyakairima.
One of Katumba’s biggest failures was intelligence. It was during his reign that intelligence lapses threatened national security.
Corruption increased in military procurements including the widely-publicized ghost Russian pilot, sell of foodstuffs and arms in Somalia and the arms deal scandal broken by this investigative website.
It also was during Katumba’s time that cases of subversion increased.
“We were crushing attempted coups almost every 6 months. There was one planned by Gen David Sejusa then the planned attack on the presidential jet. There was another foiled attempted attack of Kabamba barracks and the recent one in the aftermath of the presidential elections,” said a source.
Many blamed this on military spies’ failure to preempt these plots.
Just recently IGP General Kale Kayihura said a mafia group had developed in the armed forces, perpetrating a reign of terror in the country.
Soldiers were arrested in connection with murder of businessmen and robbery of commercial banks.
When Museveni summoned the High Command late last year, he clearly told officers he would not tolerate impunity.
Kayihura’s public statement about the mafia in the army left no shed of doubt that Katumba was no longer actively in charge or had failed to do his job.
Another reason that explains Katumba’s downfall was the infiltration of the army by enemy forces.
Highly placed sources told ChimpReports that many officers were recruited by external forces to cause regime change, pushing national security to the edge.
The 2016 voting patterns showing opposition winning in areas surrounding the barracks also alarmed president Museveni and his strategists.
“Katumba was a nice man but the army is not supposed to be a place for nice men. It’s a killing machine with lethal force which must be tamed,” said a source.
Asked whether Museveni was infuriated by media reports that Katumba had distanced himself from the UPDF raid on the Rwenzururu palace, the source responded: “That’s not true. He didn’t deny. He actually defended Elwelu. It’s the media which intentionally misquoted him.”
Katumba who recently clocked 60 years of age will be succeeded by former Commander Land Forces, Gen David Muhoozi, 46.