Former security minister Gen Elly Tumwine is gone but his final message to his former teacher and boss President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni will remain a great material of reference for political scientists and historians studying Uganda post-1986.
Sounding as a warning and a outburst from a heartbroken heart, the final message that Tumwine delivered to Museveni before his death would save Uganda from chaos and would give Museveni an opportunity to oversee the first peaceful transition of power in post-independent Uganda.
But this will depend on whether the general from Rwakitura heeds the advice of a man who fired the first shot in the National Resistance Army (NRA) war that propelled Kaguta’s son to power in 1986 or if he will sweep this clear warning and message under the carpet.
Gen Tumwine is now dead and his most publicized statement following a decision by Gen Museveni to remove him from cabinet might be considered his last — unless his family provides any written or recorded statement that beats this in term of the gravity of the issues raised as well as the seriousness with which they were put across.
His failures, mistakes and errors aside, Gen Tumwine’s final words — coming after he was dropped from cabinet — were a direct appeal to Museveni to remember that Uganda is bigger than him; to work on a peaceful transition; to avoid the temptation to become a frowned upon dictator; and to seize the opportunity to retire peacefully, while that chance lasted.
This message to Museveni, special in a way, came on the heels of a violent and chaotic 2021 election. In the build-up to that election, Gen Tumwine had even told Ugandans that security officers had a right to shoot protesters if they were provocative and posed a danger to the men and women in uniform.
The following was Gen Elly Tumwine’s final public message to Museveni before the general died:
I hope he knows that I am not after these positions that people clamor for and perhaps that’s why he would rather take care of his political interests of balancing here and there and I remain a freedom fighter and I admire him and that him as my teacher, my mentor, my leader and my hero. I will continue to give him my genuine support and advice.
And to me now I think the best advice we can give him is to prepare for a smooth transition so that we ensure stability and long term peace for the long future.
You know it should be our duty to save him from being ngamba-nyenka. The Banyankore have a proverb ngu [that] ngamba-nyenka aheisa amaarwa mabi, that the one who does not take advice brews some bad beer. But we should save the president that problem. We should save him.
There is a disease diagnosed by political scientists and psychologists called hubris syndrome.
It’s our duty to help him not to have that problem because it is the advice that we give him that will help him to do his work with everybody else and better than he would otherwise have done if he was alone.
He has given this country his best and he deserves an honorable retirement. He was talking of recruiting fishermen and following the path of Christ, and I really on this one want to say that if I made my observation, to me, the president has always been on the path of Christ: he has followed the path of Christ and he recruited fishermen long ago.
The Simon Peters, the other disciples are us. We are the disciples. We are the ones who can carry his message. We are the ones who know him very well and in the process we welcome the ones like Zacchaeus, the one who was a tax collector.”
Apart from this public statement to Museveni, Gen Tumwine also warned Museveni that he risked plunging Uganda into chaos and violence similar to what happened in Libya before and after Muammar Gaddafi was removed. (Read Story Here).
But Gen Tumwine’s fellow bush war generals blasted him for his statements in which he told Museveni to retire, telling him it was too late and that he should prepare for more tears and humiliation. (Read Stories Here and There).