Friday, 13 December 2013


Sam Njuba
SAM KALEGA NJUBA,  had an illustrious and eventful life as an academic, lawyer and politician. He lectured at Makerere University, served as president of Uganda Law Society, and after 1986 served as minister for Constitutional Affairs in the NRM Government. Currently he is Member of Parliament for Kyadondo East, Wakiso District.
In our second part of the story about his life, he tells EDRIS KIGGUNDU how bogus intelligence reports once linked him, his boss the late Abu Mayanja, and Mayanja Nkangi, to a plot to overthrow President Museveni. Njuba says the Luwero bush-war that brought President Museveni to power in 1986 was fought by two [groups of people]—the NRM External Wing he was part of, and the actual fighters in the bush. 
There are many people who made tremendous contributions in both spheres but whose contribution has been ignored. If you look at the entire book of President Museveni (Sowing the Mustard Seed), people like [Gen. David] Tinyefuza are not mentioned. Even in the External Wing, there are many people who contributed to the war effort but are not mentioned. People like Prof. Bwogi Kanyerezi, the late Edward Mugalu, and many others.
We were convinced that we would win the war and it was a question of time. When I went into exile [in 1981], I thought the war would end in six months; that is what Museveni told me, but it turned out to be five years. I was never in doubt that we would win because the cause was just. Secondly, people were getting more and more fed up with [President Milton] Obote’s regime.
Another reason why I was restless is that in Nairobi we were not safe. There were attempts to kidnap some of us by Obote and people like Balaki Kirya were arrested. There was an attempt to lure some of us to the [Uganda-Kenya] border so that they could arrest us. There were attempts to poison us and to report us to the Kenya Government so that they could deport us. They tried to frustrate us. At one time they raided my house in Nairobi, took so many documents from me. I was in the house. The raiders identified themselves as policemen. So we lived under constant fear that at one time any of us could be taken.


It is very interesting when you come for peace talks and say so and so is a snake. General Tito Okello referred to us as snakes. There were times when we discussed with some UPC fellows and we thought they were seeing our point of view, then suddenly they would change their minds. Earlier on, we sent messages to people we knew in government about settling the matter through talks but they ignored us. I was not part of the peace talks but we knew that Tito Okello was not serious about peace talks. If you looked at his capacity and age, you could see that he was being driven by other forces.


I was in Nairobi when the NRA took over Kampala. I was very happy. People were very positive, both inside and outside Uganda. But what I sensed immediately after Kampala fell is that there was a rift between those who had fought in the bush and some of us who were in Nairobi. There was suspicion on either side. People from the bush thought that if you lived in Kenya, you lived a free man and some said we had not supplied them with enough weaponry and money in time. Some said we starved them.
I was so shocked by the statements because we had looked after their wives, children, widows, in addition to sending them money. We always used personal money to look after these people. They had even refused to pay for my car [which] they used to start the struggle. Later, when they paid it back, they paid my wife [Gertrude Njuba]. The cheque was made in her names when they knew the car was mine. But I ignored all this.
I was not dying for a position in government myself because as a lawyer, I would go back to my private practice. It is Dr. Samson Kisekka (Prime Minister/Vice President) who forced me to come back and serve in government. I would have picked up my things and gone to office the next day. The broad-based government was formed by Museveni and I think a few people in the [NRA] High Command. But I have a feeling that he has always consulted himself and no body else.
I know there were meetings between some UFM people, some DP members and some UPC members, but I think their bargaining power was very low. Most of the decisions were made by Museveni. I think the first Museveni cabinet was very large. He tried to please all interests. There were many ministers, some did not know their portfolios. Museveni deliberately wanted to demystify the position of a minister as he has often done.
I don’t think he needs 70 ministers even under the current arrangement. He wanted to show people that being a minister was nothing. Ministers used to meet every week but as ministers of state we had problems meeting Museveni. Remember at that time there was no clear demarcation between the roles of a cabinet minister and the ministers of state, so there were clashes. For me I had good relations with my senior minister Abu Mayanja.
We had worked together in Nairobi. When we disagreed, it was on principle not other things. He was a fine chap to work with once you understood him. Sometimes he had dry jokes and he would embarrass you and then he would apologise. But you see Museveni also wants ministers to clash with one another because that is when he gets to know the full picture of what is happening in a ministry. If you are in harmony, he fears that you are plotting against him. I know people who used to blackmail others so that they are sacked. Some of his friends once told him that I am a federalist. 

Inside cabinet

There were some ministers who hardly ever talked to the President however much they wanted. He had no time for them. And there were people who were always on his side. The people on the High Command were close to Museveni but those from other parties had a problem meeting him, apart from people like Paul Ssemogerere who was in a vital ministry (Foreign Affairs).
There are people who had to cry to meet him. At that time you had to go through Sserwanga Lwanga who was Museveni’s PPS (Principal Private Secretary). For me I never begged whenever I wanted to see the President. You see, I never wanted to meet him over petty matters like wedding invitations. Whenever my children were going to marry, I would send him an invitation and I did not care if he came or not. But these ministers who want the President to attend their every function want to show off.
They want to show that they are close [to him]. They want to be noticed that they are hardworking. Whenever I wanted to tell him something, I would write and fortunately he would reply most of the time. Even when I spoke to him on phone I would write down on paper for record purposes. I disagreed with him many times.
One time LCs were trying to impose capital sentences on petty offences and I said this was not right. He was not happy but as minister I said this was wrong. Another time I came back from Malawi where I had gone to observe a referendum on multi-partyism and I said that for us to change from Movement to multi-party we do not need a referendum. He asked why? I told him in Malawi democracy had sunk so low to need a referendum but for us we are still on the path to democracy.


I think intelligence picked up some evidence or they wanted to discredit some of these people because they failed to prove anything. People were anxious to please Museveni. Remember intelligence [personnel were from] NRM and did not like other groups that had come together to form the government. So the intelligence must have worked out some plots.
At one time I was almost arrested because intelligence said we had a group called Kirimuttu with Abu Mayanja and Joash Mayanja Nkangi. It was alleged that we wanted to overthrow the government. First of all, we never had a meeting but [former editor-in-chief of The New Vision, William] Pike published this information, which he could have gotten from intelligence. We challenged him and he did not have evidence. I called a press conference and asked Pike to produce evidence and he was embarrassed. It must have been an inside job to discredit us. It was such a childish thing. They wanted to get rid of us because we were Baganda.

Extending NRM’s term

People talk about extending the term of NRM [by the NRC in 1989] but you see originally Museveni and [Prof. Yusuf] Lule had agreed that the interim government should be there for four months and then elections are held. Some of us told them it was not possible, so it was moved to two years, but even then the country still needed to recover. I supported the extension but if I had my way I would have extended it for two more years, not five as it was decided. I was not around when the extension was done. I was out of the country.

A member of the External Wing of the NRA bush war effort that brought President Museveni to power in 1986, SAM KALEGA NJUBA, has added his voice to the debate about whether or not the NRA rebel leader, Yoweri Museveni, promised a federal status for Buganda once the war was won.

In the first part of a series of articles about his life, the Kyaddondo East MP says in an interview with EDRIS KIGGUNDU that he is aware that the deal to restore federalism for Buganda was sealed between Museveni and the then Prince Ronald Mutebi in London in 1981.         

NJUBA: I don’t regret having gone to the bush just like I would not fear going back to uproot Museveni if I was still 20 years younger. I don’t regret having gone to the bush because of the conditions at that time. If DP had won [the 1980 elections], I don’t think we would have gone to the bush because no one would have supported us.

The people supported us in Luweero because they knew that elections had been rigged. While in the bush, I never fought but recruited people in the External Wing. In the External Wing there were people like [Amama] Mbabazi, [Ruhakana] Rugunda, Sam Katabarwa, Matia Kasaija, Balaki Kirya, Matthew Rukikaire and Prof. Kanyerezi.

At some point Mbabazi and Rugunda ran away after Balaki Kirya was captured. They feared for their lives but we also had lives to lead. They were cowards. They left me with Rukikaire and that is the reason why I and Rukikaire are very close friends. The conditions were hard. Museveni left us in Nairobi stuck without anything.

He would just pass through Nairobi on his way to Sweden or to the bush. But sometimes we would meet with him because we were the ones organising his travel arrangements. I was supposed to get KShs 200 per month, which was not even enough to pay rent for my house. My role was to coordinate and mobilise financial and other support for the fighters in the bush.

Sometimes when fighters or their wives ran away from the bush, we had to shelter them. But it was not easy finding financial support for the fighters, let alone their dependants. We had to look for money. The worst part was when we had to look after 70 fighters who had been in Libya for training.

They included Amanya Mushega, Tom Butime, Kale Kayihura, Fred Bogere and others. We had to find a way of sneaking them into the country without being noticed; it was tough.

Soft life in Nairobi?

What does soft life mean? Even people who say we were just eating sausages should know that sausages were not free. We had no income. Okay, you cannot compare someone who dodged bullets with the kind of work we were doing, but it is wrong for someone to say we did not contribute anything. Everyday we were at risk of being arrested because [late President] Obote had a lot of intelligence people in Kenya.

We had to look after Museveni’s mother, Esteri Kokundeka (RIP). The father stayed in Uganda and I think Obote did not bother with the father. We also looked after so many injured soldiers. When [Julius] Chihandae was shot, he had to come to Nairobi. We even accommodated [Gen.] Elly Tumwine at some point. I had to sell everything I had in Uganda to sustain myself. There was no money and we left debts in Nairobi. It was very challenging working in Nairobi.

You did not know when the war would end yet there was no sign that things would get better. The Kenyan government was very unpredictable. There were people who were sympathetic to us but some were Obote’s friends. So we operated in an environment of fear. There was a man working in the Kenyan intelligence who knew what we were up to. So whenever I met him, I would buy him a few beers.

Connecting NRA to Libya

Sam Male [former Managing Director of Coffee Marketing Board] provided the contacts between Libya and the NRA. After the contacts were made, three of us [Museveni, Male and I] went to Libya and met [Col. Muammar] Gadhafi. He told us he was sending guns to the UFM (Uganda Freedom Movement of Andrew Kayiira) and that we should share the weapons.

But Museveni does not even acknowledge this, when some of us know it is the truth. You know, me and my wife appear only once in his book, (Sowing the Mustard Seed). Even Moses Ali signed an agreement with Museveni about power-sharing. I am going to write about this issue in my new book. But you know many of us did not know about this agreement.

Federo agreement

In August 1981, Rugunda, Rukikaire and I escorted Museveni to London to meet [Prince Ronald Mutebi then] the Kabaka. He met him with Prof. Yusuf Lule, but the three of us (I, Rugunda and Rukikaire) did not attend the meeting. After the meeting, Prof. Lule told me they had agreed to restore Buganda’s status like it was before the 1966 crisis.

This means giving Buganda the federal status and the 9,000 square miles of land. Of course we knew it would not be easy after we took power, but we had anticipated that it would take some time. That is why we made a law [to restore traditional institutions]. I am not surprised that Museveni now says there was no agreement because he changes his positions.

About Museveni

In a newspaper recently, I read that President Museveni had said he would retire and look after his cows, but if someone creates chaos he would pick up his gun again. This is wrong. My problem with Museveni started a long time ago. When I was Minister [of Constitutional Affairs] we clashed on the issue of Resistance Councils (RCs).

He wanted to give them powers to decide cases, and I remember people like Wafula Oguttu even used to run headlines [in The Weekly Topic] that “Njuba who does not like Museveni is the father of the girl who is standing in Makerere [guild elections]”. (Njuba’s daughter Nora was later to become the first female Guild President of Makerere University –Editor).

Because I complained about the RC committees, it meant I did not like him. I was speaking as a lawyer, as minister in charge of Constitutional Affairs. I said look, the committees have no powers to try people until the law is changed—it is unconstitutional. Museveni did not like my statement because his view was different.
Museveni was two years behind me [at the University of Dar-es-Salaam]. He was active in politics. He was always in town [Dar-es-Salaam] talking to people. Julius Nyerere did not like Museveni, he just tolerated him and he stuck.

Sometimes when you look at people like [Idi] Amin and what they did, and you look at people like Dr. Kamuzu Banda (former President of Malawi) and how he ran down the country; if you put Amin on one side and Museveni on the other, you think there is much difference?

Sometimes I am harsh on him [Amin] but other times I sympathise with him. When I complain about Museveni some people say I am the one who brought him. I have always suspected Museveni, he might not have changed but it could be a cover up. Those people who would have an influence do not tell him the truth about what is happening. These people have their own agenda and they know what they want.

They have continued grabbing everything. They will continue to grab and grab until a doctor advises that stealing is too bad. There is a common term they use nowadays. It is counseling. They must be counseled. They are from poor backgrounds and everything they see they want to steal it. They grab land, they build hostels, they have hospitals, they have hotels, they have banks.

But they also have boda boda (motorcycles) and that is why they are untouchable. I don’t know whether they will ever get contented. I remember in the Sixth Parliament, we fought against the sale of Uganda Commercial Bank but they eventually sold it to their cronies.

There was a point when he (Museveni) used to seek advice, then a time came when he would not take advice. In Cabinet he could come with an extreme view about something, and then people would rush to his side only for him to change. There was a time when you would tell him X and Y are doing this. Then he would call them and say so and so is telling me that you are doing this.

Then you would be embarrassed. Now I hear there is no open discussion. In our time, he was very busy trying to keep us together. For a long time I had a problem sitting near [Lt. Gen.] Moses Ali. I told Museveni quietly that when I sit next to him, I feel as if he is going to spear me. One time he came in a Cabinet meeting dressed like Idi Amin. For a moment I thought Idi Amin had come back. But Ali came to know about it.

Museveni is a total stranger to me - Njuba

AFTER RETIRING: Mr Njuba says he is retiring to tend to his farm. COURTESY PHOTO 

Posted  Sunday, June 13  2010 at  00:00
In Summary
When not in politics...
I play golf, I visit elders and I also attend to my cows. I also do Church work when I get extra time.

I was born in Nsambya Hospital on the night of February 22 1941. My parents, the late Canon Marachi Njuba and his wife were in charge of Gayaza Anglican Church Parish. My birth is recorded in the bifa magazine of Church of Uganda as having been on February 23 but I believe in my mother who tells me it was on the night of February 22.

My father passed on when I was about two and a half years and my only brother was six months old. We were brought up by my mother who was a primary school teacher.
My brother lives across the street in this same village of Nangabo- he is called John Kyeyune Njuba.

Father and husband
I got married fairly early between high school and university in September 14, 1964 to Gertrude Nanyonjo Mukasa, the daughter of the late Rt. Rev. Yokana Mukasa of Mityana. He was then the chaplain of the Mukono theological college. Between us we have 6 children. In total I have 11 children. My daughter Norah Njuba was the first female Guild President at Makerere University. Soon after marriage I went back to university in Dar-es-salaam where I obtained my bachelor of laws degree and I returned briefly and failed to get a job.
Obote didn’t give me a job so I decided to go to the East African Community as she (Gertrude) worked in the income tax department in Kampala. 

I eventually organised for her to join me as I did my masters at Queens University of Belfast with my friend now Prof. Fredrick Ssempebwa and her Lordship Justice Christine Kitumba. I came back and was offered to teach at Makerere after doing interviews from London. I taught from 1969-1975 when I took up private practice full time.

Marriage blues
Gertrude and I didn’t agree in many areas especially in politics. But we are still very good friends- never enemies; we both took our different ways as I joined opposition and she kept working with Museveni. 

I just hope that one day she will realise that she is supporting wrong elements; that she is being abused, misused, if she is not regretting already. But I know she is a very proud woman who would want to be convinced beyond doubt in order to change direction.
I also have many friends of mine who are still working with Museveni but deep inside their hearts they have reservations.

Mr Sam Kalega Njuba was secretary of the external wing that provided funds and other logistical support to National Resistance Army bush war fighters between 1981-1986. He later fell out with President Yoweri Museveni, choosing to join the opposition and becoming one of the founders of Forum for Democratic Change. Sheila Naturinda found him at his Nangabo-Kasangati home and had a chat with him.
“Museveni met me at the University of Dar es Salaam although I was ahead of him by two years (am senior than him in both age and education). He came with (Eriya) Kategaya and John Kawanga when we were about to finish. We stayed together for one year. He was much interested in political work and I was interested in academics. 

I am by intention a lawyer and by accident a politician. I have never cut out myself to be a politician. I belong to a poor small family and I was anxious to see that I live well and support my family and my ailing mother then. 

But because of the circumstances of discrimination, the exploitation, the corruption, the state inspired violence, I had no choice but to find myself in politics which I joined after my second time in Prison.

September arrest
I was arrested and taken to prison in September 1979 because as chairman, I had complained on behalf of the law society that our people had been treated like they had no rights. Lawyers were not allowed to access their clients in prisons, and Amin’s men used to blow peoples’ homes. I was considered a saboteur and jailed.

In April 1980, Paul Muwanga and his friends did not like it that I had been freed then and I was locked up again for about three months at the Luzira Maximum Prison. When I left prison I chose not to join politics but I was advised that if I didn’t, no- body would believe it and that I would be haunted and persecuted. That’s how I ended up in politics.

I came out after three months and in the 1980 elections I joined Museveni with his Uganda Peoples’ Movement Party and I stood as an MP for Kyaddondo. I didn’t see any future in Democratic Party though and perhaps that explains why I joined the Museveni UPM ticket . I lost the elections and I ended up in exile.

I was exiled in Nairobi and eventually when we formed the NRA, I became secretary for external committee under the leadership of Mathew Rukikaire. 

The team then
I may forget some people we served with but I know Zac Kaheeru, (Amama) Mbabazi, the late Sam Katabarwa, the late sir John Bageire, Shem Bageine, Yosel Mayengo, Joseph Kimbowa, the late Dr Samson Kissekka, Prof. Richard Kanyerezi, and the late Eng. Dan Kigozi. 

We had our individual support from home. I used to transfer my funds from home to Kenya. We didn’t have any support from the movement because it was a very poor organisation. Whatever we collected even from donations went to the bush.
We had to support ourselves, support the families of those who had gone to fight, support the men who were finding medicines, find rent for everybody, including the widows and wives of our fighting men.

In fact, I get surprised when I hear people talk about sausages. In my house I don’t remember people eating sausages because I couldn’t serve sausage and bacon in exile to about 25 people. 
Every day I would wake up to find many people in my sitting room. At lunch time I would find probably 30 people at the dining table. In fact at one time, my house maid served me lunch at 10:00am otherwise I wouldn’t be able to eat.
Bush encounters
Some people used to come in and out of the bush. People like Andrew Lutaya (Mulefu) used to move up and down together with a number of other NRM fighters. Some time in August 1985 I travelled with Shem Bageine to some of the liberated areas in Fort portal. We travelled to those areas through Rwanda. 

That’s the time when I first met Fred Rwigyema (RIP) whom we met at Fort Portal and although very tired, he was very happy to see us. I didn’t meet Museveni then because he was out of the country.

He (Museveni) at one time came to Kenya to mobilise for army supplies. 

Begging for cash
He (Museveni) together with Mathew Rukikaire, Ndugu Ruhakana Rugunda and I, were the first team that went to Libya to negotiate for some assistance. 

Although in his (President Yoweri Museveni)’s book, (Sowing the Mustard Seed), he conveniently forgets me and names only three people. I know he chose to edit me out.
It is always easier to remember a team of less than 10. If we had been many like 30, he would be forgiven for forgetting but only four people who travelled, you surely cannot forget any of them. But that is his practice. He chooses to conveniently forget people.

To be honest now, the Museveni I knew isn’t the man I see today and people should forgive me because I didn’t know much of his early years but the 25 years we shared together in the struggle, the man has totally changed and I can now say I don’t know him. The man I knew in the 80’s is different. 
Museveni a stranger?
He is a total stranger yet a leader should be the same from the beginning to the end. A leader worth his name must be able to take faults and correct his mistakes but not pay back in the same currency a person who annoys him.

After the bush, we kept in touch as a team especially the nine years I worked with him (Museveni). Some of my friends like (Matayo) Kyaligonza are still there. 

Since I left government and the NRM party, I have had many approaches from different people to lure me back but they have failed. I don’t know if they have been sent by Museveni. 

His own brother Salim Saleh has tried to talk me back, IGP Gen. Kale Kayihura, but I have told them my reasons and we have agreed to disagree. I don’t expect Museveni who sacked me to invite me back and besides, I have told them that I have another job.
There are some of my former exile colleagues that I’m totally disappointed in because of their behaviours – people like Mbabazi. 

From what we used to talk, I was made to believe he is a sincere man but now that he has chosen a course of evil, by diverting democracy, I’m very disappointed with him.
He gave me the impression that he was religious, but now I doubt and I know I was fooled by his appearances then.

Some of these people are behaving like lumpens (bayaye) and I get frightened. There is a big contrast now between Rukikaire and Mbabazi. They were both very committed but now at least Rukikaire has the guts to keep quiet but Mbabazi just follows sheepishly.

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