Clad in the trade mark Special Forces Command (SFC) uniform, Presidential Advisor on special Operations Maj. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba spoke to UBC TV’s Tony Owana on the much talked about “Muhoozi Project” at the Special Forces Command head offices in Entebbe.
After serving as Commander Special Forces Command (SFC) for close to seven years, Maj. Gen. Muhoozi was recently appointed Presidential Advisor on Special Operations by his father President Museveni, an appointment that was largely seen by many in the public as preparations for him to take over the reins from his father.
However Muhoozi who appeared soft-spoken and kept referring to his father as ‘Mzee’ throughout the entire interview told Tony Owana that he is comfortable in his new role. Muhoozi also took Owana through how the Special Forces Command (SFC) has evolved over the years right from the bush war days when it was the High Command Unit guarding the then NRA Rebel Commander Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Muhoozi explained that after the bush war the high command unit metamorphosed through different stages including the Presidential Protection Unit (PPU) to the Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB), the Special Forces Group (SFG) and now the Special Forces Command (SFC).
On who inspired him to join the military, Muhoozi revealed that his uncle Gen. Salim Saleh, Late Fred Rwigyema and other soldiers who were always around his father in exile in Tanzania played a major role in motivating him to join the military. Muhoozi also disclosed that he finally made the decision to join the army because of the insurgency in Northern Uganda that broke out after his father had captured power. The rebellion was commanded by Joseph Kony.
“I grew up around soldiers. I was inspired by Gen. Saleh, the late Fred Rwigyema and other soldiers who were always around my father in exile in Tanzania. I finally made the decision to join the army because of the insurgency in Northern Uganda that broke out after the NRA had captured power. Fortunately Mzee was very supportive of the idea because the security environment at the time wasn’t ok”, Muhoozi disclosed to Tony Owana.
Asked about his rapid promotions in the army, Muhoozi revealed that promotions in the army depend on the number of courses a soldier has successfully completed and the requisite operational experience attained.
“Once a soldier successfully completes all the courses and has attained all the requisite operational experience, then they a legible for promotion. The courses with a new rank and also prepare the soldier for the next level of command. For instance you cannot have a captain commanding a battalion”, Muhoozi revealed.
Muhoozi also dispelled all the rumors that he has never been in any hazardous situation.
“I’ve been in several hazardous situations. I have taken risks and that’s why I’ve been able to do well in the army”, he stressed.
Asked about the advantages and disadvantages of being a President’s son, Muhoozi revealed that he has been able to learn a lot from his father especially regarding life lessons because he is close to him. On his biggest challenge, he indicated that the public doesn’t separate him from his father’s actions.
On his worst experience in the army, Muhoozi recalled an operation he commanded in Soroti in 2003 where he almost lost his life.
“My worst experience in the army was in 2003 in Soroti when we were ambushed in the night. We lost one soldier but a rumor quickly circulated that I had been killed. My sisters and my family believed the rumor. My best moment in the military is when we drove Al shabaab out of Mogadishu.
Asked whether he is a registered voter, Muhoozi replied in affirmative.
“Yes I do vote but due to our nature of work we vote from our places of work. I vote from Kampala”, he stated.
On his passion for reading, Muhoozi revealed that he is an avid reader of books and mainly reads Military History books.
Muhoozi also added that he has authored one book and asked whether Tony Owana had read the book to which he responded that he has read it the thrice. Owana teased Muhoozi on how much his father contributed to writing the book, Muhoozi smiled and rubbished off the claim that his father could have done the actual writing.
Asked whether he plans to author another book, Muhoozi quickly said nowadays he doesn’t have time to write and this he attributed to his very busy schedule.
Muhoozi also recounted the 1980 Kireka Road block ordeal which together with his father who was the Vice Chairman Military Commission (Uganda’s ruling government at the time), his mum (Janet Museveni), and two other soldiers had a close encounter with death.
That day Mzee, my mum and two other soldiers were leaving home and I pestered Mzee that I wanted to go with him. He accepted and we embarked on the journey to pick a car in a garage. Mzee was driving; Mum sat in the passenger seat while I and the two soldiers (Kasasira and Lawrence now deceased) we sat behind.
I was six years old then and I had a toy pistol which I kept brandishing around. We were held at two road blocks as we headed to Kireka. The first was around Wampewo, it was manned by Tanzanian soldiers and we had no issue, we were allowed to proceed with our journey after Mzee clearly identified himself. The second road block was manned by UNLF soldiers and when the soldiers saw me with the toy pistol that I kept showing off, they became curious and immediately arrested us there and then and we were held by the road side for 5-6 hours.
We were saved by the Late Fred Rwigyema who had been waiting for us and we were nowhere to be seen. Rwigyema always an alert soldier had been waiting for us for several hours and we weren’t arriving. He got concerned and began searching for us every where around Kampala. He drove to Nile Mansions (present day Serena Hotel) where Mzee had an office but unfortunately we were not there but while he was leaving a waiter told him that he had heard that Museveni had been arrested in Kireka.
Together with Afande Saleh and two other soldiers they drove to Kireka in a small car (Muhoozi tries to recall the type of car). It was late in the night around 11pm when they saved us. They thought we had been killed but we heard Afande Saleh talk to the soldiers. Within no minute they jumped into the car and drove at break neck speed and in a split- second they turned, drove back to the road block and wanted to open fire immediately but Mzee calmed them down in Kiswahili “Muwache, Muwache”
Unfortunately I can’t remember the date but thereafter Afande Saleh got problems. He was arrested. Back then, you could hardly see people walk at night.
On the much talked about “Muhoozi Project” Muhoozi categorically stated that he is busy with the military and isn’t considering joining politics.
I’m not considering joining politics; I’m busy in the army, serving in the military is a very demanding job and that’s why I rarely do interviews. I’m not thinking of joining politics.
In the course of the interview UBC TV replayed some of the memorable video clips that included Muhoozi and Charlotte’s wedding ceremony that was held in 1999, Muhoozi’s 12th Birthday party that was held in State House and a group of ‘Kadongos’ entertained his friends, several youngsters from affluent families, his sisters and mother with bush war revolutionary songs. UBC also replayed Muhoozi’s pass out ceremony at the elite Royal Military Academy Sand hurst in the United Kingdom where he graduated as a soldier.