Wednesday, November 11, 2009

KAZINI'S LIFE: AN OFFICER WITH EXTRA ORDINARY SKILLS

KAZINI'S LIFE: An officer with extra ordinary skills
Moses Sserwanga

Kampala

Afande Kazini, as he was fondly referred to by his charges and friends, was a brave and no-nonsense commander who together with his late brother, Lt. Col Johnson Jet Mwebaze were some of the Luweero bush war veterans that were deployed by President Museveni to end the Allied Democratic Forces, (ADF) rebellion in western Uganda, in the mid 90s.

Unlike many other senior military officers, Gen. Kazini was never afraid of being in the company of journalists, taking them to the war frontline to have first hand information and later dining and wining with them as he looked forward to another day of battle field work. He took his security and that of his troops and civilians (including journalists) under his care seriously to the extent that he would arm “the Mchaka Mchaka graduates” as he routinely referred to some of us –in case things went out of hand.

Passionate soldier
His passion for good journalism was unrivalled- that on one occasion, when a landslide blocked the Fort Portal –Bundibugyo Road, he gave up his seat on a military helicopter to allow a journalist fly to the remote district to get the ‘real feel’ about the progress of the war. Such are the sad twists and turns of life that the man who survived countless enemy bullets and bombs in the bitter cold Rwenzori Mountains and the inhabited jungles of DR Congo, yesterday morning succumbed to death in such a bizarre non-combat situation.

I SWEAR: Gen. Kazini takes oath during his trial in the General Court Martial. His military career stumbled when he was charged in November 2005 with creating ghost soldiers.

A soldier with extra-ordinary military skills but short on academic credentials, Kazini was still very articulate in explaining his military strategies. He always found time to talk to journalists- to let the general public know about what went on in the war zone. “We in the military should be accountable to the people who pay our salaries and they need to know what we are doing,” he once stated.

One of the post bush war popular Generals, Kazini’s presence at the frontline was such a morale booster to the UPDF troops- that they would walk long distances- at times on empty stomachs to secure the Rwenzori region. And his high military rank and achievements notwithstanding, at the battle field, Kazini joined his troops to sing army victory songs and would share a plate of posh and beans with privates. These are some of the fine attributes of the fallen war hero that will perhaps mark his place in history. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Mr Sserwanga covered the ADF war for three years and is Saturday Monitor Editor.

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