Gen. Ivan Koreta was the first to be decorated yesterday. The man’s military pedigree dates back to the 1970s, when he was enlisted by President Yoweri Museveni under the Front for National Salvation (FRONASA) to fight former president Idi Amin’s regime. Yesterday, Koreta, whose Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) number is R00018, spoke on behalf of the over 2,000 officers that were promoted last Friday.
“I thank the President for being my mentor and teacher throughout my military and political career. I also thank him for entrusting us with higher authority. Trust is dear but also very delicate. Authority is responsibility. Exercise your new authority responsibly,” Koreta said, thanking the spouses of the decorated officers for what he described as “superb” support towards soldiers.
Gen. Koreta, a UPDF MP and Gen. Joram Mugume, the chairperson of the UPDF’s land board, were the only two four-star generals that were decorated yesterday, during a ceremony where 10 lieutenant generals, 18 major generals, 38 brigadier generals and 94 colonels were dressed with pips at the headquarters of the UPDF, also home for the defence ministry, in Mbuya, Kampala.
The day’s master of ceremonies, Brig. George Igumba, the UPDF’s chief of personnel and administration, said the rest of the promoted officers would be decorated at their various headquarters at a later stage. In company of their spouses, children and some with parents, the newly promoted officers looked upbeat. Some, such as Maj. Gen. John Lorot, drew cheers from colleagues when they tried on three different military hats (ceremonial) before finding their size.
When Lt Gen. Joseph Musanyufu was called to decorate Maj. Gen. Samuel Kawagga, the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen. David Muhoozi, brought a chair in an attempt to enable a short Musanyufu to match the overwhelming height of Kawagga. However, Musanyufu declined the CDF’s offer, causing wild cheers from the guests. The drama continued with the deputy CDF, Lt Gen. Wilson Mbadi, signalling to Igumba that he could not also match the height of Maj. Gen. Lorot. However, Igumba, who declined Mbadi’s pleas, said that the deputy CDF should stay put and wait for people of his height.
The decoration exercise, which lasted for four hours, was also graced by three former army commanders, Gen. Elly Tumwine, the security minister, Gen. Jeje Odongo, the internal affairs minister and Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, the state minister for works. Tumwine said that among the 2,000 promoted officers, some have been already cleared for retirement.
To enable both the serving and retiring generals to keep financially afloat, Tumwine said the top leadership of the army had agreed that a Generals’ investment club be formed.
“The greatest family in Uganda is that of the UPDF. Therefore, we should find a way of keeping together. We need to plan properly for our retirement. We have been discussing and we have agreed that an investment club for generals and spouses be formed,” he said.
“If it works so well, then all the others will follow. The future belongs to the organised.”
The security minister explained that the investment club would be run in conjunction with the UPDF’s Wazalendo saving and credit cooperative society. The CDF urged the decorated officers to use their ranks to advance the UPDF institutional values, especially discipline. The chief guest, Bright Rwamirama, the state minister for veteran affairs, said the promotion and decoration of the officers were a sign that,
“the establishment is recognizing your work”