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Apologetic Sejusa pours his heart  out: I’m for real

Gen David Sejusa

On April 24, Meddie Nsereko hosted GENERAL DAVID SEJUSA on his Kkiriza oba gaana [Take it or leave it] show on CBS radio.  

Among other things, Gen Sejusa chronicled his history of rebellion, reiterated his opposition to President Museveni, apologized for earlier ‘sins’, and sought to firmly place himself in Uganda’s political opposition.  Siraje Lubwama transcribed and translated the stations’ recording and below are abridged excerpts.

Nsereko: Today’s guest is Gen David Sejusa Munungu alias Seera, a man with many names. He was born to the late Canon Simon Petero Bwajoojo and Tabisa Bwajoojo at Keibona, Nambirizi, and Mawogola. A lawyer by profession, Sejusa was formerly in police at the rank of ASP [Assistant Superintendent of Police] before joining a five-year liberation war in 1981.

Sejusa: I greet you all. I am glad that this is the first radio I have been hosted to since I came back from a two-year exile last year.

What are your real names?

I heard Meddie saying I have many names. All my documents have three names. I am Daudi but when I was born, there was a big born-again Christian convention at Nambirizi, Mawogola. My mother used to lose children that time.

So, when I was born, they called my father who said ‘I don’t regret being a born again; my son is Daudi Sejusa Kulokoka’. Later, I changed from Sejusa to Tinyefuza. Sejusa is a Luganda name and Tinyefuza a Runyankore name but they mean the same thing.

So, you changed your name in a guerilla style.

Not only me: We all changed. There was Chefe Ali, Salim Saleh and others. My other name is Munungu, a clan name. At home, my people call me Seeju not Sejusa.

Am I talking to Sejusa who retired from the army, a serving officer or a politician?

I am a retired Sejusa who is waiting for documents giving me my pension. Leaving the army, I had about three missions. Gen [Wamala] Katumba [the chief of defence forces] at one time said they can’t retire me without getting consent from the Commander-in –Chief.

When I later told them that the Commander-in-Chief had ordered my retirement, I heard them say that the Commander-in-Chief does not order. I have no time for that kind of drama.

When you apply to retire, the Promotions and Retirement Board is supposed to give you information in 90 days whether your application is accepted or denied. All the time the Commander-in-Chief moves with his presidential office which makes him fountain of honour.

Whoever defies his order should be asked. This is the side of the law. There is also another side of a Ugandan who wants his freedom. A man like me who has fought for 34 years, when I apply to retire, I should be retired. Nobody has eight wounds like me. 

If Tanzania did not come in, Amin would have died in power. Amin arrested me three times. I was chairman Mitchell hall and a Makerere University students’ leader. I went with Prof [Ssenteza] Kajubi, the former vice chancellor, to Cardinal Nsubuga at Lubaga after suspecting that Amin could kill us. We had just had a strike. Amin arrested us and I have three bullet wounds on my head. 

Apart from the two degrees in law, I have a degree in the army. I am a computer expert. By the time I went to the bush, I was rich, had a job and capacity. I left my vehicle at Mbale with keys and walked.

On February 15, 1981 Mr Museveni, asked me for my vehicle to travel with Magala, Joy Mirembe and another person and I did not give it to him. Museveni told me not to go to the bush and instead ordered me to join Saleh and Rubereza in the east where we tried to work with UFM [Uganda Freedom Movement] and opened a second front which did not work.

We carried guns and brought them to Kampala and they arrested me together with other people. I escaped from Obote’s cells where they killed our colleagues. We also fought and killed them. I escaped and went to Kenya, came back and fought from Busia and Kakira sugar plantations.

Hajij [Moses] Kigongo drove us through Buwambo. In the fights there, I was fired at three times near my heart and leg. It is only me who never went to hospital. In 1981 when they fired at [Elly] Tumwine, my hand was in a sling. I walked and went to bury another commander. I am not an ordinary person looking for a job.  Though I am a lawyer and rich, I had political reasons for joining the liberation war.

What made you leave police?

War! They were hitting us. I was leading Mbale operations in a guerilla war at Bufumbo mountain. I wanted to join those going to Tanzania but one commander told my colleagues I was to go with that: ‘we don’t trust Sejusa whom you are going with’. Paul Muwanga took us for training in Tanzania, not Museveni. This was after confusion at LDC, after people had been killed at Katambwa and women raped in a neighbouring village.

I worked with [Francis] Bwengye and the late [Sam] Njuba group during the [1979] ‘Twagala Lule demonstrations. I was a research assistant at LDC from where I hatched the demonstration plan together with Prof Philip Ian, now in South Africa.  Jim Muhwezi and Ntambirweki referred to me as a rationalist.

Nsereko: Even now some people refer to you as such.

Yes, meaning I am not a revolutionary. When Kampala was captured on 26th January 1986, I continued fighting till 26th March 1986 the day I called Museveni who came in a helicopter with his young son Muhoozi and met me at Oraba at the Sudan border where bodies of fallen enemies still lay. I fought Joseph Kony and Alice Lakwena and later carried out other tasks.

Time came and I said I wanted to retire. Museveni has retired himself, retired his young brother and others. I was an MP, minister and CA delegate. During the [2013] confusion, I went to London where I spent two years, came back, I am not employed, I’m not paid salary and seated. Now I am not about law, because it has a limit. The law is blind, it takes you the way you come. The problem we have is disrespecting the law.

Paddy Ankunda warned you to stop politicking.

What will he do to me? Just like Otafiire said, ‘leave General issues to the Generals’. Mishandling army issues has led to the downfall of some countries. Ankunda is a young army officer and he is a good man – don’t put him into this, because I don’t know who sends him to say what he says.

Does he defy the president? If not, it means he is on mugomo [loose talk]. Between him and the Commander-in-Chief, whom should we take. 

When you ran to UK, you said a lot of things and formed a party called Freedom and Union Front. You said government rigged elections. What made you flee?

I did not flee. I left here around 29th April 2013 on a routine trip with a return ticket for 9th May 2013. While there, I heard that on 5th May 2013 my assistant, Capt Ssemujju, and civilian youths working in my office were arrested because of the letter I had written to Brig Ronnie Balya [ISO director] telling him to investigate issues concerning the president’s son.

This confusion led to some media houses being closed. On 8th May 2013, while at Heathrow airport trying to come back, I learnt that they deployed police along Entebbe road with APCs and helicopter gunships. After this incident the romours went on that I wanted to overthrow the government. But majority of people who were arrested were civilians.

And you have not helped them. They are in the dock, you are at large.

One way to help them is to come to CBS and talk about them. You want me to wrestle? I hired for them lawyers even when I was still in exile; I look after their families. I even asked the president when I met him why these youths were arrested, because if they were accused of joining me, I am now around.

Why are you not arrested?

(Laughs) It is not easy. You can only arrest a person with evidence and you must be able to prove his alleged offence.

Other people are arrested unlike you.

Who are those? Those who fought the government are here. Gen Bamuze is here, we fought him in Sudan. Amin’s son is here, he is second deputy director ISO. He beat us in DR Congo.

Banya, Kony’s commander, was here. Who among these was arrested? Col Kizza Besigye went to South Africa and came back. Isn’t he out and others in jail? Though he was first arrested, why is he not in exile like Col Mande?

Just like they arrested Besigye, they should have arrested you. Besigye had retired and you are a serving officer.

The way some issues are handled concerning the country must be different and the situation is at times different.  In a country that does not respect the law, it does not matter whether you retired or not.

There is a law that a civilian who is found with anything supposed to be used by only the army is tried in army courts. They can throw army boots at Nsereko’s house and take him to the court martial.

Are such things done?

Yes, they are done! What do you think made us fight? We shall discuss that later. While in UK, I formed a party to oppose Museveni and find my way back forcefully because coming back peacefully had failed.

I don’t keep quiet about this: Museveni, Europeans and the entire world knows it. I will not go beyond this over the issue. I formed Freedom for Unity [FU] with men in exile and others from here. Later FU joined with three other parties like CDF, and we formed Freedom and Unity Front (FUF). Later, we had disagreements on the formula on three issues. Some people thought that the enemy to be fought was UPDF and to me this was not understandable.  

When I came back, I went ahead with FU missions up to the time when we formed Platform to Rescue Uganda (PRU) with nine registered political parties with an intention of building capacity for each party. FU is still around. Recently, we visited DP; today we were at JEEMA headquarters. We were going to FDC but the leadership there advised us to talk to individual party members because they understand the retirement issue differently.

It surprises me to see people claiming to be liberating themselves, accusing Museveni of being a dictator, asking me for a retirement certificate before we can talk. Did I first apply to be discharged from police by Obote when I went to the bush?

Was Museveni discharged from the army when he led us [to the bush]? A politician who wants Museveni removed and at the same time asks one who joins him to present a retirement certificate is a joker. He should instead be asking for capacity and aims. Will this certificate remove Museveni?

So, Sejusa and group want to remove Museveni?

When the Tanzania army came here, their aim was to overthrow the revolutionary defence council led by Amin; would Europeans say ‘let’s remove the Nazi fascists’ without mentioning Hitler? If you want to bring a fundamental change, you must dress everything in the same cover.

I wrote to UPC; we shall finally visit FDC and other parties. I wrote to Besigye, Prof Gilbert Bukenya and others. Removing a government led by Museveni is not a big issue because we commanders brought him to power.

We were 34 people with 27 guns. When Obote’s army was passing, we used to cover ourselves with dry banana leaves and people were laughing at us. Museveni used to be called ekirare, a Runyankore word meaning vagabond, when he had just lost the 1980 elections.

Andrew Kayiira was the first in the bush. He tried to hit Luzira on December 27, 1980 and failed. He had guns some of them came from Dambwe - Masuliita where you come from. 

Have you built capacity now?

You can’t tell me that 35 million Ugandans can fail to build capacity unless they don’t know what they want or when their aims are false.

Is your problem Museveni or government?

When we went to the bush, there was a way we wanted Uganda to be governed. I personally went there for political reasons, not to be an army careerist. When we captured power, we had the ten-point program just like Christians have the Ten Commandments.

Museveni has betrayed us by replacing the ten-point program with things similar to security lights. This is not the first time I have disagreed with him, the disagreement began from the bush [commercial break].

The views you hear are views of Sejusa, not CBS.

When we were fighting, many people died, and some of their orphans are not studying. We have spent 34 years fighting. Some people think war ended in Uganda but we are still at war.

After five years in the bush, we fought insurgency in the county. The war moved from Acholi, went to DR Congo, Sudan and our boys have been dying. Our aim was to bring fundamental change which is no longer visible. We wanted to build an army that would not be misused by dictators and change the country’s economy for the better. But now, we’re being governed by European armies. America is the one helping us fight Kony.

Don’t reveal government secrets!

We didn’t shed blood to joke, or to look on as our people are being infested with jiggers. The first issue in our ten-point program was democracy. After 2006 presidential race, you heard the Supreme court confirmed, that there was rigging which involved even police, the army and other security agencies.  

There was lack of obwerufu which Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga emphasizes. Recently, I heard the president placing soldiers in Naads because civilians had failed to deliver. Unfortunately, Museveni ordered these soldiers to first serve NRM supporters.

This kills the army foundation because you are indicating that there is a difference amongst Ugandans yet Naads is supposed to create wealth for all. We have no sustainable economy. In our budget, we injected only Shs 400bn into agriculture compared to the army’s Shs 1.8 trillion.

 

APPLOGY TO BUGANDA  

When I was still on that side, we refused Kabaka to visit his subjects in Kayunga district. Such an incident also happened in Acholi.

It is you who refused the Kabaka to visit his subjects at Kayunga.

I didn’t refuse. If you were organized then, you can imagine what would have happened. But those lousy talks might divert you. People make mistakes. If I annoyed Mengo, I apologize.

I am a human being who was under instructions. And it is not me alone, but I take the blame of my part as an individual. But I really tried to fight for Buganda issues. When we brought the 1995 Constitution, it was only me from the government side who voted for federo together with Dr Paul Ssemogerere and other 63 opposition politicians.

Nobody from NRM supported it. I argued then that when we don’t share power, Africa will never be stable.

The way you talk, if we were on TV, one would be seeing a Sejusa who loves his country. But people fear you, you are a spy. In 1996 you said you were getting out of government but you went back. Recently, we saw you going to DP offices and today you visited JEEMA headquarters. People fear that you are bound to repeat what you did in 1996.

People are right to fear (laughter) but those calling me a spy should know that I was the first to oppose Museveni. In 1996, I went to court alone challenging Museveni, pointing out evils like corruption.

The current leaders I will not reveal were the ones trying me. I won a case in Court of Appeal, which doubles as the  Constitutional court. Government appealed to the Supreme court and the lower court’s decision was overturned.

I warned those who were sleeping then that by the time they wake up, they would not be able to remove Museveni. He has not only abrogated the Constitution, but also killed the economy, and tribalism and hatred are on the increase. I sold my cows to pay my lawyers in this two-year legal battle. No one among those who cry for change helped me, apart from Godfrey Lule and [Mike] Sebalu who paid part of my legal fees.

 

SSEMOGERERE

Still in 1996, I went to the army High command and told Museveni that ‘I will not support you’. I  told him that since we had spent ten years in government,  there was need to bring a civilian and see how he leads  when the wananchi still loved us. Museveni refused my proposal. I went to Ssemogerere and in the meeting we had, I can reveal everything.

Because you are now a civilian?

Go and ask Maria Mutagamba. We used to meet at her Nabbingo residence. It is me who took the late Abu Mayanja’s vehicle and drove Ssemogerere and convinced him to resign from the post of second deputy prime minister when Museveni was going to sack him the following day.

He resigned and declared his presidential candidature later. Museveni called me and seated next to Saleh, asked me why I was fighting them. I told him that ‘I don’t want to go back to war’.

Those who want to talk to a retired officer should know that I did all these things while a serving officer. I have done even worse things before because I fought Obote when still a serving police officer. 

 People fear your 1996 U-turns.

That is wolokoso. When I was still a young boy, there was a man called Mukaagwe and two other brothers at Mawogola. Each of them had one eye. I asked my father how this happened and he told me that they had killed many lions and leopards in the area.

He told me of a Runyankore saying that when you fight a leopard, you must be ready to get blind. Those who don’t want to die should not join my struggle. Mugabe spent 11 years in prison, Jomo Kenyatta seven, Mandela 27 and Gandhi countless years.

The preachings of Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad were understood properly after the duo’s death. Those who want change must be ready to face the risks involved. Those who don’t want change should not waste our time.

In 1996 after the judgment, Museveni forced me to re-join the army. I had two options: to either fight or apologize to Museveni. Because people were sleeping and not ready to defend themselves, I chose to apologize. A struggle that involves strategies and tactics requires proper planning.

In 1996, you put on a white kanzu [tunic] and people saw you as their liberator.

Those people in kanzu did not pay my legal fees. I was forced to go back to Museveni not because he trusted me. But people feared my position of being coordinator of intelligence services. Dictators put you in a strong position to make everybody think you are powerful.

We used to fear you as coordinator.

But I was not attending the periodical meetings (laughter) with my boss. I spent eight years as coordinator but saw Museveni only three times. My juniors used to come and tell me ‘we were at Rwakitura; we want to come and brief you’. 

That is where your hatred against Kayihura and Muhoozi stems from?

That is not important; don’t divert me. They said I went to UK to spy. What capacity can take a coordinator to spy on the nkuba kyeyos who wash old people for two years? I came back here with a lot of difficulties; my father had died, I didn’t bury him.

Sorry.

I appreciate your sympathy and I thank all people who gave my father a decent burial. My sisters, my brother and my mother-in-law, mother of my wife Juliet all died.  

They murdered my brother Dan Mutungi and threw him in a dam. This post-mortem did not find water in his lungs, or stomach; they found air. After strangling him, they threw him in the dam.  With all these, what do I gain by spying?

But when you returned from your UK exile, Balya escorted you up to your home.

That is government propaganda. I left Entebbe airport with one vehicle which my sister brought. A young man hired a jeep from someone in Mukono which took me to  Mawogola and journalists who came found it there. I had no soldier.

President Museveni explained to journalists that he sent Balya because he had not told anybody that I was coming back. Because he had a lot of pressure, he decided to keep my return a secret. He was in Abu Dhabi and his intelligence officers he had  sent to UK told him that I had boarded a British Airways flight coming back to Uganda.

He ordered Balya to hurry and come to the airport so that those he had not informed should not disturb me. Those speaking don’t know what is happening and what faces us. I don’t want to be a leader.

Museveni has never given me money since I came back. The person feared as a spy can’t fail to make money. I don’t want Museveni’s money. If I was a thief, I would use my position, to make money for myself, say, by going to a border post and demanding, say, Shs 10b in a day from a businessman. They don’t pay me salary; he doesn’t give me a vehicle, he does not employ me, and I am here.

If you left the army, why pay you salary?

I want my pension. People should understand that those who overstay in power like Museveni, Gaddafi, have the same formula of killing formal institutions. In politics, there is no vacuum.

If you kill a good government system, there emerges something else. The dictator’s family and a clique of friends, called oligarchies, support his overstay. I fight for myself and my children.

Your problem is now clear: you want money.

That is not my problem alone; it is for you who still think that Uganda is okay. You don’t look at countries like DR Congo, Libya, Central African Republic and Egypt. There is no strong opposition here.

I know there are things which Museveni cannot decide by himself because he no longer has capacity. The problems of overstaying in power are not only here, but even in Europe.  Now thousands of Africans are perishing in Mediterranean Sea seeking for jobs in Europe and Africans leaders and are mum about this.

When I hear people say that they cannot accept war to come back to Uganda, I laugh. War does not require permission to come; it is caused by a situation. Who gave us permission to wage one in 1981? When people get sufficiently angry, war is inevitable.

 

ELECTIONS

In 2016, the country is going into general elections. You claim you helped rigging the 2011 elections. Do you still stand by that?

Was that a secret? What did Supreme court say? There was rigging (laughs).

Will you put up your name for elections?

Voting is not a slogan. The foundation for voting is that it must be free and fair with good intentions; an election not intended to cause problems. What will take place in 2016 is not an election.

As your homework, find another name for it. I am not against election but what I don’t support is something else dressed in the skin of an election. You organize an election, rig it, tally the ballots yourself, declare yourself, swear yourself in and call that a free and fair election?

What massage are you delivering to party leaders you meet?

I tell them that any election outside the law is rigging. We shall not boycott them because if you do, a dictator will handpick and support parties that will legitimize it.

If you deny us true elections, we shall not allow any elections to take place, and you will not have something to rig. Alternatively, we also need to build capacity to deny elections to be rigged.

People are getting more annoyed over poverty, hatred; about 90 per cent of youths are jobless. They had started arresting youths using Obote panda gaali style. I have six albums to prove that. I am happy that after my intervention, the arresting speed has reduced. Recently, they arrested 61 girls accusing them of being commercial sex workers. Do they sell themselves in a group?

[Speaking of Buganda…] you are not seen in Buganda issues.

I tried to give Buganda federo and Ssabalangira [Besweri Mulondo] killed it. This is not a joking issue because federo would have helped cultural institutions to develop. The East African Community has failed because it has no strong foundation.  

Katikkiro Peter Mayiga is bringing something new but some people only see ettoffaali; there is a foundation underneath. If people can pay money willingly, can’t they develop their kingdoms through self-help projects when granted federo? Ettoffaali to rebuild Masengere should remind Buganda to ask themselves what led Amin to begin constructing it after confiscating Bulange. When the Bulange was gutted...

By Kashilingi. 

Yes, I Sejusa while minister of state roofed it with tiles I imported from Nairobi. I am the one who signed an agreement with Roko Construction not only to roof it, but also re-design its offices. 

What else should people do if they can’t participate in elections?

We need to build capacity to block rigged elections which waste taxpayers’ money if favourable electoral reforms are not made. We are poor because we have nothing to sell outside. I heard Museveni saying slavery ended 500 years back.  

It is still here but only changed its colour. Instead of taking us to the Caribbean and US, we take ourselves there and those who stay behind are made to grow products which are bought in raw material form and cheaply. Agoa, which Museveni used to boast of, that guy [investor ] used to steal money by bringing Sri Lankan clothes and labeled them ‘made in Uganda’.

 

REPENTANT 

Surely the 30 years Museveni has been in power, he knows how past leaders left their offices. Now the opposition parties are going to get Shs [2bn], NRM is to take Shs [8bn].

I hear some saying that they should not take this money or donate their share. This money when put together is a lot and can be used to open up offices at each parish and use them to mobilize people resist elections.

You are not the first person to try to remove this government. Many like Cecelia Ogwal, Ssemogerere and Kizza Besigye have tried. By the way, do you talk with Besigye?

Yes we talk; he is my fellow combatant whom we are going to meet.  We talked with him in UK. I apologized to him for what happened. It is not me alone who built this system; he did the same things like me before he crossed to the opposition. The Bible says that when a sinner repents and does useful things, he will save his soul from dying.

Why are you moving with Hajji Nasser Sebaggala?

I have come a long way with Sebaggala.

He has his own problems.

Sebaggala’s problems are problems of Uganda. Where there is a wrong system, other people can be bad. Hajji has not done anything wrong which somebody else hasn’t done. He is not the only person to move from one party to the other. Museveni was in UPC, leave alone DP.

Has Museveni ever been in UPC?

Yes, read Eriya Kategaya’s book. In fact he was working in Obote’s office in 1971 before his first overthrow.

Where were you then?

I was a young child in school. I hear some people say that unlike Museveni forgiving me, Amin would have killed me. This is unfortunate. It means Museveni must be killing people.

Secondly comparing him with Amin is bad enough. Kajubiri, a sister to Museveni, was roommate to my sister in Mary Stuart hall when Museveni fled to Tanzania. Amin saw her. Commanders who went to the bush met our parents and relatives because Obote did not kill them.

What changes are you promising?

If you meet a lion in a vehicle, what you do is different from meeting a lion on foot. This is a struggle for survival. The fighting trend has changed. When Uganda sinks, people’s property will be destroyed, because the 30 years Museveni has stayed in power, the country has broken into pieces and what was holding it is no more and NRM has since died.

Are you an NRM member?

My power is to tell NRM that you have abrogated the Constitution.  For instance, Kony cannot now come and stand on a party ticket. We refuse him. If Museveni abrogates the presidential age limit of 75, we can deny him as Ugandans because NRM is not above the law.

Weak people will not attain the presidency. I heard people suggesting that Uganda now needs a transitional government. This can only come after fighting for it. Before you think of being president, first think of removing Museveni. I will not reveal my entire strategies here.

Please don’t.

 I won’t.

Detectives might arrest you. 

What is important is that those who don’t want to be arrested, will sink with their Uganda which is full of corruption and killings. [Four listeners call in].

Muslims from Kyengera are angry with you over refusing them to make the morning call to prayers on loud speakers.

Let them forgive me.

Your last word.

 I conclude on three issues. Besigye has played his role despite the fact that he has failed to remove Museveni. We need to add capacity on his efforts. I have no reason why I should not work with him except that my working procedure is not easily understood, because every struggle has a different package.

Secondly, I mean what I say. People tried to kill me from London streets three times and were arrested. Whoever thinks that I am in drama should be told that my children and my wife are in exile. I cook for myself. I am a bachelor with only a housemaid. 

Thirdly, I thank you for hosting me at the Kabaka’s radio station because I have tried to clean up myself, because many people misunderstood me. I have made some mistakes. I thank whoever has accepted my apologies.

 

slubwama@observer.ug

 

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