Friday, March 11, 2022

KOLOLO CEREMONIAL GROUNDS: President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who is also the Commander in Chief (C-i-C) of the Armed forces has reminded the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs and the UPDF of his advice to improve the welfare of soldier's and their families including providing free education for the children of the soldiers until they finish secondary level. He says this has been his wish since 1986.

“Yes, the soldiers may be getting small salaries but let their children study free in government army schools. Because the government can build army schools, have teachers and pay them. Maybe the parents can only buy uniforms and books. Why should the soldiers have to bear the burden of educational costs for their biological children?” Museveni said.

He said this was earlier sabotaged by acts of indiscipline where soldiers would bring their relatives to flood army schools that were set up in different parts of the country.

The President was today speaking at the 11th Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs - MODFA/UPDF thanksgiving breakfast at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala where he also revealed his intentions of setting up an Armed Forces University to continue offering free education with specialised courses.

“We shall go for the basic courses; medicine, science, chemistry, biology, mathematics and languages. We can educate these children for free as long as they are doing those courses. So that the children of the veterans, whether living or dead, can be supported to have something for their families,” he stressed.

On free healthcare, the President said “there’s no reason why soldiers should be going to private clinics”

About thanksgiving, Museveni whose message rotated around the book of Genesis- “to establish dominion over nature,” urged Ugandans to use God given talents to get good results as has been exhibited by the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces since they took over power in the many battles they have fought and won.

He gave an example of the ongoing operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to flush out the ADF rebels that started in November last year, which he said has gone very well.

“It’s now almost 5 months, total success, we have demolished the terrorists in that area and we have lost only three soldiers in all this time. And that was because of the good training of the soldiers involved and the good commands given to them,” Museveni said, quoting a Luganda saying; “Lubaale mbeera nga n’embiro kwotadde” loosely translated as “Pray as you work”.

Gen Museveni also concurred with the day’s preacher Bishop Joshua Lwere to meet religious leaders about the emerging sentiment of tribalism in the country and the need for National dialogue.

“We want this spirit of nationalism and patriotism to be built. And if you can allow us as religious leaders that we can join together to diffuse that spirit. And we think that a national dialogue will be a very good idea and we can spearhead it as you have always suggested, we still hope and pray that you consider it,” Bishop Lwere said, prompting a positive response from the President

“I will be very happy to meet them (Religious leaders) and we will discuss it,” Museveni assured.

Museveni also commented about the rising prices of commodities, saying some of them are caused by the ongoing conflicts in Europe, specifically the tensions between Russia and Ukraine. He gave an example of wheat whose prices are likely to go up because Russia and Ukraine are the biggest producers.

The Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja acknowledged the protection, wisdom and courage given to the 27 men who launched the liberation struggle on 6th February 1981, paying tribute to the militant veterans who he said are the special stakeholders for this year’s prayer breakfast.

“We recognise the commanders of missions, we recognise the widows of the revolution, we recognise the children of the fallen soldiers, we recognise the soldiers with disability, we recognise the spouses of soldiers, we recognise the serving officers, staff and men of UPDF and the children of our soldiers,” Minister Sempijja said, adding that those who want to understand the great contribution of the veterans should think about where Uganda was before 1986 and where it is now.

This was earlier re-echoed by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs Mrs. Rosettie Byengoma who's speech rotated around the day's theme: “I shall not die, but I shall live and recount the deeds of the Lord” Psalms 118:17.

"Permit me your Excellency on behalf of this great congregation to pay enormous tribute to your statesmanship and wise leadership and also giving special status to our veterans by domiciling them under this Ministry of Défense where we're able to continue taking charge of their welfare and that of their families", Mrs Byengoma said.

The thanksgiving breakfast was attended by the top leadership of the Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs and the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces who included Ministers; Hon. Huda Abason Oleru, the Minister of State for Defence and Veteran Affairs (Veteran Affairs), the State Minister of Defence (General Duties) Jacob Oboth-Oboth and the Deputy Chief of Defence Forces Lt. Gen Peter Elweru.

Others were; Hon Milly Babirye Babalanda, the Minister for Presidency, Hon. Lt. Col (Rtd) Bright Kanyontore Rwamirama, the Minister for Animal Industry, the Minister of State, Gender, Labour and Social Development in charge of Elderly Dominic Gidudu Mafabi, Members of Parliament and the veterans.

The 41st UPDF Tarehe Sita Anniversary and Defence Forces Week activities were held in Bugisu and Sebei subregions of Eastern Uganda in February this year.