Gen Elly Tumwine was a Born Again Christian who Spoke his Mind- Critics.

By E K Benj – Updated at 0715 EAT on Friday 26th August 2022

KAMPALA- On Thursday morning Uganda President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni announced the death of his long time comrade Gen Elly Tumwine. In a statement released Museveni wrote;

“Countrymen and Countrywomen, especially the NRM- NRA- UPDF fraternity.

With deep sorrow, I announce the death of General Elly Tumwiine which occurred at 5:46am this morning in Nairobi, from lung cancer.

According to his widow, with whom I have just talked to on the telephone, Gen. Tumwiine was now 68 years old. I had taught him at Burunga Primary School in 1967, after our A-levels, as a student teacher, before going to university, later that year.

He joined FRONASA with 9000 others in 1979, went to Monduli Military School in Tanzania and was the one who fired the first shot on the 6th February 1981, at Kabamba, at the beginning of the 1981-1986 war of Resistance.

Since that time, Gen. Tumwiine has been part of the leadership of the NRA- UPDF as well as serving the government in various capacities.
Those capacities included being Army- Commander, member of the High Command, Director-General of Intelligence, Minister of Security, etc.

He has been a dedicated and hard-working cadre. More will be said about him later. Condolences to his family, to the NRA-UPDF- NRM fraternity and to all Ugandans.

May his soul rest in eternal peace. ” Museveni signed.

Early life and education

Elly Tumwine was born on 12 April 1954, in Burunga, Mbarara District. He attended Burunga Primary School, Mbarara High School and St. Henry’s College Kitovu, before joining Makerere University, where in 1977, where in 1977, he graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art togetheru with the Diploma in Education; abbreviated:BA (FA)/Dip. Ed. He specialised in the history of art painting.

Tumwine subsequently graduated from the Cadet Officers Course at the Tanzania Military Academy at Monduli. He also attended the Senior Command Course at the Uganda Senior Command and Staff College at Kimaka, in Jinja, Uganda, being a member of the pioneer class that graduated in 2005.[5] Tumwine also held further military qualifications from the military academy in Vystry, in the Soviet Union.

Military career

In 1978, he interrupted his teaching career to join the FRONASA forces led by Yoweri Museveni to fight the Idi Amin regime. In 1981, when Museveni went to the bush to form the National Resistance Army (NRA), Elly Tumwine went with him. He is reported to have fired the first shot in the National Resistance Army War, which propelled the National Resistance Army and National Resistance Movement into power in Uganda in 1986.[6] During the fighting between the NRA and the UNLA, Tumwine sustained facial injuries that led to loss of sight in one eye.[7] In 1984, Tumwine was named Commander of the Army, a post he held until 1987, when he was succeeded by General Salim Saleh. Over the years, he served in various positions, including:

Minister of State for Defence in 1989.
Director General of the External Security Organization (ESO) from 1994 until 1996.
Presidential Adviser from 1996 until 1998
Chairman of the High Command Appeals Committee from 1986 until 1999.
Tumwine also continuously represented the UPDF in the Ugandan Parliament from 1986.

In September 2005, he was promoted to the rank of general in the UPDF and named to chair the UPDF General Court Marshal.[9]

On 16 May 2022, Tumwiine was among 34 generals who were retired from the UPDF.

Human rights

Elly Tumwine was regularly connected to violence against Ugandans. After Bobi Wine was arrested on 18 November 2020 in Luuka, protests broke out which were met with excessive violence. Elly Tumwine told the public that the police have the right “to shoot you and kill you.”


Immediately after graduating from Makerere University in 1977, Elly Tumwine embarked on a teaching career in various schools in Uganda, teaching fine art. After the National Resistance Movement victory in 1986, he resumed his art. While serving as the commander of the NRA, he designed the flag, the emblem and the green and camouflage uniforms of the army. He was appointed the chairman of the board of trustees of the National Cultural Centre. In 1992, he launched his company, The Creations Limited, to promote the arts and crafts industry, encouraging artistic values and creativity. The company is a member of several Ugandan organisations, including:

Uganda Manufacturers Association
Uganda Small Scale Industries Association
Uganda Leather Allied Industries Association
In 2015, Elly Tumwine co-authored a book, The Achievements of the NRM Revolution, with Dr Gilbert Gumoshabe of Makerere University. The book highlighted what had been achieved politically, socio-economically, security and other aspects of life since 1986 when the NRA/M took over power in Uganda. The book was launched by President Yoweri Museveni at a national function in Buikwe, Eastern Uganda.


Those close to Tumwine, knew him as a Born Again Christian who Spoke his mind.

While handing over office to his successor Maj. Gen Jim Muhwezi, Gen Tumwine who was also dropped as an army representative in parliament, a position he occupied since 1986, said Museveni should listen to advice and retire because if he doesn’t, that is a recipe for trouble.

In an exclusive I interview with CBS FM, Tumwine said;


What did you mean when you said let the president retire peacefully?

Who doesn’t know it? Those who want to understand it, understand it, those who don’t want to understand, it’s up to them. Who doesn’t know that anybody who is working at one point must retire? Who doesn’t wish the president well? Who doesn’t want our president to retire peacefully?

When do you want him to retire?

When the right time has come; when God says this is the time to retire so that others take over from him. That time must come and it should be peaceful. That is my prayer.

It becomes your prayer after you have been sacked as minister?

No, I have not started now but the handover was the best occasion for me to put out that message.

So, who are you recommending to replace Museveni?

That is not for me but for Ugandans. It’s them to elect who will replace him. If there is anybody I want to recommend to him, that’s between me and him.

But it seems like many Ugandans didn’t take you seriously…

It’s those who are interested in the negative, but that’s okay. But those interested in the positive think what I said was good. I wasn’t against anyone; I wasn’t attacking anybody because every Ugandan who wants peace would want to see a president handing over to another person peacefully. Who doesn’t want that?

Are there people who appreciated your message?

There are very many…

Your former colleagues who have talked like you before have had it rough…

Their messaging wasn’t good; they used to say, he should step down, he should go; where should he go? Are you the one who brought him? But that’s not what I said.

But you might end up like them…

Why, I have a good record of supporting my government. I can die for this government; so, don’t compare the incomparable.

Some of your former colleagues have mocked you that you only spoke out after having been sacked as a minister…

That word you use, sacking, doesn’t apply to me; it’s part of your negative propaganda. No one sacked me; and I’m not going anywhere. I’m still here. The president knows my position; he knows my principles; he knows my methods of work. He understands me.

I have been and I’m still his friend. He is my teacher, he’s my mentor, he’s my leader, here’s my hero. He has been a good leader and he will continue to lead us, the only thing I pray for, is for him to retire peacefully.

What kind of leader do you want to replace him?

I want a leader like President Museveni; that’s hard anyway.

Some say you guys are thinking of Museveni’s son as his replacement…

I’m not saying that, but you will continue saying whatever you want to say; that will not stop Uganda from moving forward.

But if he brings him, would you support him?

Who is bringing him; it’s not the president to decide, it’s Ugandans. But don’t divert me from what we have been talking about to go into things that are irrelevant.

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