We Are Excluded From Liberation Day Events - NRA Veterans

2281 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
The veterans, some of them operating from the Veterans Market in Wandegeya, Kampala, say they are part of the 6,000 soldiers that fought alongside President Museveni to liberate the country. They however note that most of them have have been forgotten by the government that marks 31 years in power today. Instead, they say, those who did not fight are the ones being favoured.

Some of the veterans who fought in the war that brought the National Resistance Movement (NRM) into power say actual fighters are left out in the annual celebrations..

The veterans, operating from the Veterans' Market in Wandegeya, Kampala, say they are part of the 6,000 soldiers that fought alongside President Museveni to liberate the country. They however note that most of them have have been forgotten by the government that marks 31 years in power today. Instead, they say, those who did not fight are the ones being favoured.

Stephen Sekyanzi says he joined the struggle in 1981 from Migadde in Bombo and left the army in 1995 as a sergeant. He says looking at the sacrifices and suffering they underwent, the NRM Government should have considered them first.He says now Government is about lobbying and power, kicking away the weak veterans.

Sekyanzi states that they are not attending the Liberation Day celebrations since it is expensive. He laments that he has no money to go for such events although he would have loved to meet his colleagues he has never seen since retirement.

//Cue in: "Ntunulira olunaku nga…
Cue out: ba veteran Bwaatuma."//

Sekyanzi asks President Museveni to organise the remaining veterans and support them but also keep them as a family. He says as it stands now, the veterans have distanced themselves from the celebrations of NRM because they are blocked.

He says ideally, the Liberation Day should be a day for veterans.

Ahmed Kamya who retired from the army as a captain says the liberation has been highly politicised and veterans ignored. He says veterans should have been given invitation cards and medals awarded rightfully. 

Kamya says despite loosing his wife and children as a result of his joining the rebellion,they have been forgotten about and fresh claimants and new players are being treated well.

//Cue in: "Naye kati nga…
Cue out: mu nyoo naye."//

Lieutenant Edward Nsubuga, who joined the army in 1981 and retired in 1994, says it was bravery that made them fight for the country. He however says many veterans still have no pension, have never been appreciated during the liberation day.

He says the veterans are redundant and helpless even when the Government they brought to power is still in charge. He says to them it's a normal day except they only remember their efforts.

//Cue in: "Ayinza okubera ku…
Cue out:… ffe ba combatant."//

Major General Charles Otema Awany, the new Commanding Officer of the Reserves, states that he is aware of the problems as he has interacted with the veterans on some of the issues. He says as a new entrant in working with veterans, his focus will be on visibility of the veterans and actually ensuring that they are supported.

President Yoweri Museveni is among the guests at Masindi Sports Ground today as his government marks 31 years in power.  The theme for the day is "Uganda's Success Story under NRM's Leadership, A Shared Victory."

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.