President Museveni, who is also the Commander-in-Chief, has banned giving allowances and renting for the soldiers on guard duties following the killing of the State Minister of Labour Col Charles Okello Engola by his bodyguard last week.
Gen Museveni, while eulogising Col Engola at Kololo Independence Grounds, said military guards should only be supplied with food and tents from the guard battalion.
“If you make the cost of each soldier so high, how will you get manpower to defend the country? We said get a small pay in the barracks which we share with our families. When you get out, you get food not money,” Gen Museveni said yesterday.
Col Engola was shot dead 28 times by his bodyguard Pte Wilson Sabiiti at the principal’s home at Kyanja, a city suburb on May 2.
Pte Sabiiti also shot and injured the minister’s aide Lt Ronald Otim. Before Pte Sabiiti turned the gun on himself, he made a dying declaration that he hadn’t been paid by his employers yet he had a pregnant wife and children of schoolgoing age, who were seated at home due to lack of fees. The army denied the claims.
Soldiers on guard duties get an allowance ranging from Shs300,000 to Shs500,000 per month. Col Engola had more than five guards which meant the government was spending more than Shs1.5m per month on allowances for the security personnel.
President Museveni said the country hasn’t gained the financial muscle to handle such benefits and that giving allowances to military guards is turning them into mercenaries.
“That mentality of allowances and what have you is a wrong mentality because if you talk about allowance for bodyguards, what about those fighting in [Democratic Republic of] Congo now? Do you mean when a soldier goes on patrol he get allowances. How will you sustain that? It isn’t right for people to distort our doctrine with things of money,” Mr Museveni added.
He said the National Resistance Army/Movement doctrine was to work as volunteers and patriots, adding that both the political class and the Uganda People’s Defence Forces should return to the NRA/M doctrine.
The number of military personnel guarding private individuals, civil servants, and military personnel has increased following the assassination of senior government workers. The President ordered the deployment of soldiers, whom he described as sharpshooters, to guard people considered vulnerable to attacks.
Some of the principals didn’t have the means to give their guards allowances and accommodation, which caused complaints and indiscipline issues.
Mr Museveni also said the killing of Col Engola by a UPDF guard angered him and it was an embarrassment to the army.
“This is a big embarrassment for the army. That someone from you whom you deployed to guard a useful cadre ended up killing him. That isn’t good for you. You cannit cover it up, No,” he said.
He ordered the army whose employee killed Col Engola to compensate the deceased through the Lango ritual, Kayo Cuk.
Mr Museveni also said there are internal weaknesses in the army that need to be sorted out, but an investigation into how the guards are facilitated during out of station operations is ongoing.
It is not clear whether the President’s new orders will affect the police guard services allowances, which are mandated within the Police Act. Police guard services outside their normal duties to private individuals are supposed to be paid for. Each guard gets an allowance of Shs20,000 per day, which is eight hours.
The widow of Col Engola, Ms Joyce Engola, described the late as a hardworking and developmental officer.
Ms Engola said Col Engola extended financial support to many needy people to get an education.
The family of the Late Engola said they have forgiven Pte Sabiiti, who killed their loved one. The body of the deceased will be airlifted today to Oyam District in preparation for the burial on Saturday.