By Robert Atuhairwe
RDC Bushenyi District….
I take this opportunity to receive the national address on National Security issued by
President Yoweri Museveni delivered on Friday, July 14, 2023, in which he enumerated the
history of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) from when they first attacked Uganda in
1996 through Mpondwe, Kasese (where over 400 of them were decimated), through the
infamous Kicwamba massacre of June 8, 1998, to the 2007 routing by Uganda People’s
Defence Forces (UPDF) in the River Semliki Valley, to Operation Shujaa and then last
month’s attack on school children at Lhubiriha Secondary School, still in Kasese.
It’s unfortunate that the people of Kasese have borne the brunt of these acts of terror for
this long despite Government’s efforts to strengthen security in that region, including
deploying in the DRC jungles where ADF has it’s bases after failing to hold territory on
Ugandan soil. The President declared the attack on Lhubiriha as a smoke signal of a
weakened outfit which cannot afford to launch direct attacks on armed forces, only
going for soft targets. Opting for soft targets should really bring out the rage in
Ugandans to condemn such acts and work together to eradicate such plotting from the
motherland. We need to see sane people holding placards and marching in
condemnation of such acts and saying “Stop the senseless killings of our children!” If
there are Ugandans sympathetic to the cause of insurgents, blood is on their hands,
but, by all means, those can only be very few and inconsequential.
Looking at the distressing photos of victims massacred in the Congo jungles, including
babies, you wonder if in fact, we are dealing with human beings or some kind of
vampirical beings out on a blood-sucking ritual. Kill a baby to achieve what?
As you, the reader, reflects on your own inclinations towards the lives of others and if
and under what circumstances you would sit down and plot to attack, mutilate and
squeeze life of a toddler, I want to say that we have another form of “ADF” on the prowl.
These are “regular people”, not part of the Congo-bound outfit but who have also killed
our people. Anybody who has unlawfully taken the life of another qualifies to be
categorised with ADF and other groups like Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram; and not just in
Uganda or this part of the world but the whole world. The terror web is not limited to
active, organised armed groups but also individuals, acting in ones or twos or small
groups which kill people for reasons other than in pursuance of a political programme.
When I am instituting security measures in my area of jurisdiction, it doesn’t matter who
has taken the life of a resident and why. It may be to settle scores, to deprive them of
money or property, it may be a love or job triangle gone wrong or plain sadism. The
killer is ADF and that’s how I call them in Bushenyi. For the time I have been here, in a
month or two, we register a murder. Luckily, but also because of a policy of not sitting
until every drop of blood of a resident is avenged, we have always managed to resolve
these murders by arresting suspects (or culprits, from the security angle). A case in
point is of a UPDF veteran, Mawanda of Kigoma in Kizinda Town Council, who was
murdered in March.
Someone apparently sneaked into his house when he was away in the night and when
he returned, the assailant used a machete to finish him off, leaving residents wondering
if some with a military background could be finished off just like that, how about
civilians. Nevertheless, there were clues indicating that the killer was known to the
deceased and knew the house structure quite well. As I talk, we have a “reliable”
suspect in custody and he was always a close ally of the deceased. In the case of the
KIU Western campus student, Ddumba, we are reliably informed he was killed by
people he had employed on his small “campus level” business, who then ransacked his
hostel room and made away with valuables which were to be recovered when they were
Usually, it doesn’t take someone from very far to kill another. People around us are
much of a danger as are jungle-bound criminals. There only need to be an intent and
someone you consider a friend could turn against you or “sell” you off for peanuts.
Even without looking at official crime statistics in any given period, it’s safe to conclude
that ordinary people who do not belong in organised criminal gangs have killed more
people than ADF over the years. We, therefore, have to devise means to defeat both
ADF-the regular fighting group-and the small “ADFs” in our communities, who use
machetes, blunt objects, iron bars and even guns, to destroy the lives of other people of
all age groups. As we point fingers towards Congo, we must pinpoint the other “ADFs”
among us and deal with them. And the penalties applicable should be uniform and
stringent enough to avenge our people and to deter more such bloodletting.
The author is the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Bushenyi