By William Kituuka Kiwanuka
General Saleh is not qualified to head the Commission of Inquiry into the 3 crushed helicopters in Kenya. Uganda is not short of people with technical abilities to handle such matters. Some of us last heard about Saleh when he joined some secondary school for Higher School Certificate. We are yet to know whether he pursued any further studies. Where is the credibility of such a commission? Uganda has engineers, pilots and other credentials, and surely Saleh cannot feature professionally among those knowledgeable in the matter.
I can only equate the scenario to the following story (which was a real life story). It is an extract from an interview of Justice John Bosco Katutsi.
MY LORD YOU HAVE HAD AN ILLUSTROUS CAREER IN THE JUDICIARY SPANNING 38 YEARS. WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS?
You are right, 38 years is a long time and many memorable events have happened. It is not possible to remember all of them. One event however stands out very vividly in my memory. It was in 1977/78. I was serving in Mbarara as a Grade One Magistrate. The Chief Magistrate was his Lordship De Mello. We were all summoned to Kampala to meet the then Vice President (VP) Mustafa Adrisi. When I say “we” I mean all judicial officers in Uganda from the Chief Justice to the lowest judicial officer. The courts shut down for the duration of the meeting. At the commencement of the meeting, the VP addressed us in Kiswahili as follows: “Kazi yenu kuvaa siti (suit) peke yake. Mimi yiko na siti mingi kabisa lakini mimi nafanya kazi muzuri. The VP blamed the judiciary for ignoring their work and thereby having many suspects overstay in cells in Mbarara. The then Chief Magistrate (CM) his worship De Mello – a very soft spoken lawyer got the microphone to explain the problem whereupon the VP ordered him in Kiswahili “Ongea Kama ndume.” This forced the Chief Justice (CJ) His Lordship Saed to try to get the microphone from the Chief Magistrate (CM). The CJ complained to the VP regarding the irregular manner in which he had raised his complaint without first contacting him. The CJ complained to the VP about the harassment of the Judiciary.
The VP grabbed the microphone from His worship De Mello before he could hand the microphone to the CJ. In the ensuing melee, the ADC of the CJ took off his coat ready to defend the CJ. The VP said “mimi bado kuja ku gombana” (I did not come for a quarrel). On that note, the meeting ended prematurely. The judicial officers returned to their stations without ever knowing the agenda of the meeting.
CREDIBLE PROBE TEAM NEEDED FOR CHOPPER CRASHES
Thursday, 16 August 2012 22:37
Written by Observer Media Ltd
From the joyful return of our Olympic hero Stephen Kiprotich to the sad demise of at least three Ugandan soldiers in helicopter crashes in Kenya, this week has been a mixed bag of joy and sorrow. Having had our say on Kiprotich’s victory in our last issue, today we turn to the tragic events on Mount Kenya that have not only cost us lives of dedicated soldiers but also very expensive military equipment.
It must be said that the full extent of the loss is still unclear as rescue and recovery efforts continue. What is clearer, though, is that at least three soldiers are dead, another three are unaccounted for, and three military attack helicopters that were headed for African Union (Amisom) duty in Somalia have been destroyed.
To be fair, Ugandans can only expect to draw informed conclusions once investigations have been completed. However, that assumes that there will be a credible investigation in the first place.
The history of probes involving the Ugandan army (UPDF) has not been good, to mention just two: the probe into the helicopter crash that claimed the life of SPLM leader John Garang in 2005, and the inquest into the mysterious death of the former Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Defence, Brig Noble Mayombo in 2007.
Both inquiries were led by army officers, and both reports have not seen the light of day (read public domain). It is therefore not surprising that some members of Parliament’s Defence and Internal Affairs committee are skeptical about the probe committee named by the commander in chief, President Museveni, to investigate this incident.
As some MPs rightly pointed out, Gen Salim Saleh, the chairman of the inquiry, is not known to be an expert on aircrafts. Besides, he carries some baggage having been named in the procurement of junk helicopters in the past.
Also, it’s wrong for the probe committee to have only army officers because the crashes are not an army but rather a Ugandan affair. Thus the team ought to include independent minded civilians with expertise in aircrafts. In a nutshell, if the probe is going to produce a credible report, its composition must be credible.
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