President Yoweri Museveni, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF), said Uganda is more united than ever because of the correct ideology of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Government.
The ideology, according to the President includes the four (4) core principles of; Patriotism, Pan-Africanism, Socio-Economic Transformation, and Democracy.
“The correct principles of the NRM united our people as never before. When we won power, again, the NRM put out a correct strategy which has achieved the following: minimum economic recovery; expansion of the small enclave economy of the 3Cs and 3Ts after it had recovered by 2005; diversifying it; and now, transforming the economy into one of knowledge and skills e.g., the automobile industry,” Museveni said.
He made the remarks on Monday while speaking at the celebrations to mark the 42nd Tarehe-Sita Anniversary at Kakyeka Grounds in Mbarara District under the theme: “Recognising the sacrifice of the founders of the people's revolution for social-economic transformation”.
Museveni, who was flanked by the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni, said the unity and support Ugandans have shown NRM has enabled the party to win elections in the first round “because majority of the people are United.”
On the military side, Museveni said the strategy of the protracted people’s war with the tactical battles of quick decision, enabled the NRA to metamorphose from a small force of a few sections to a powerful force of brigades.
He further informed the gathering that the NRM has achieved building a new economy not only based on agriculture and minerals but also on science.
“I congratulate everybody who has contributed to the struggle but also to the reconstruction of the economy,” Museveni said.
The President outlined nine tasks ahead to fully achieve the NRM’s strategic goals. These are fully monetizing the economy by involving all families in commercial activities, value addition to all agricultural products that are not consumed fresh, irrigation, modernizing and expanding of the economic infrastructure (roads, the railway, electricity, piped water, etc.), and expanding and modernizing the social infrastructure (schools, health centers, stadiums, etc.)
Other tasks mentioned are uncompromisingly implementing free education in government schools and tertiary institutions so that children stop dropping out of school and fighting corruption.
Here, the President warned government schools against charging money.
“I have heard of Headmasters charging children extra money to pay arts teachers. When I get information, you will see what I’ll do,” he warned.
The other task is to uncompromisingly, defend the environment which he said: “was given to us by God and bequeathed to us by our ancestors against parasites who are enemies of our water sources.”
“You have heard that we are going to have massive irrigation. Anybody destroying the environment is an enemy of our future,” the President said.
The 9th task ahead is working with African countries to deepen the regional integration of East Africa and the African continent.
“With these aims, given what we have already achieved, our strategic goals of prosperity for all, strategic security for Africa and African fraternity, will be achieved,” Gen Museveni further noted.
He further saluted Ugandans that have contributed to the heroic efforts, including the people of the Ankole-Kigezi area who he said went through the invasion of 1972; the 1979 war when he was involved in capturing Mbarara Town on the 28th of February 1979; and the protracted battle for Mbarara in 1985, when Mbarara barracks was besieged for three (3) months.
At the same ceremony, Resistance Officer (RO) 00001 Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Tibuhaburwa was the only recipient of the Order of Katonga Star Medal, the highest military decoration awarded to a person who exhibits extraordinary instances of heroism in the army.
Museveni, who was decorated by Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, thanked the awards committee for recognizing him alongside the 28+1 group of FRONASA fighters who helped him liberate Uganda.
“I thank those people who recognized me as a hero,” Museveni said.
Gen Akandwanaho Salim Saleh, Gen Ivan Koreta, Brig Gen Bosco Omure received the Kabalega medal. The three, together with Gen Museveni, are the only surviving 28+1 Front for National Salvation (FRONASA) fighters trained between 1976 and 1978 in Montepuez in Northern Mozambique.
These were among the 66 deserving Ugandans who were awarded medals in different categories during this year’s 42nd Tarehe-Sita celebrations.
The Minister for Defence and Veteran Affairs, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja thanked the President for leading the country well and also ushering in peace which is key to the development Uganda is enjoying now.
According to the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen Wilson Mbasu Mbadi said Tarehe Sita gives them an opportunity to reaffirm the strategic link between UPDF and the population.
He said holding this year’s event in the Greater Mbarara Sub-Region was to trace and link the current peace, security, stability, and development to the earlier efforts in the struggle, particularly, the anti-Amin Front for National Salvation (FRONASA), and document their contributions in the struggle to liberate Uganda.
“We, therefore, salute those who have paid the ultimate price because of the freedom and the environment that we’re enjoying now. We build on these sacrifices therefore to continue professionalizing the army to make it for purpose,” Mbadi said.
This Region is composed of the districts of Mbarara, Isingiro, Rwampara, Ibanda, Kazo, Kiruhura, and Mbarara City where several symbolic projects and programs were carried out during the Defence Forces week, according to Maj Gen. Henry Matsiko, the Chief Political Commissar.
The phrase “Tarehe-Sita” means the 6th day of the month in the Swahili language.
The date 6th February 1981 is symbolic in the Uganda People's Defence Forces' (UPDF) calendar owing to the fact that the National Resistance Army (NRA) launched its first offensive against Kabamba Military Barracks of the then ruling establishment aiming to take over control of the country on that day. The NRA later metamorphosed into the UPDF.
The ceremony was attended by among others the Vice President, Major (Rtd) Jessica Epel Alupo, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, 1st National Vice Chairman of the NRM, Brig Gen (Rtd) Moses Kigongo and the NRM top leadership, the 3rd Deputy Prime Minister Rukia Nakadama, Vice President Emeritus Edward Ssekandi, former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, various ministers, and senior officers and commanders of the UPDF.
Others were foreign visiting delegations of Army officials from sister countries who included, South Africa, Tanzania, Mali Defense Forces, South Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi and Somalia.