For veteran journalist Andrew Mwenda, a civilian, to wear a full military uniform and pose to fly a military chopper means nothing and no big deal, according to the Commander Land Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

Mwenda is seen in a video clip making rounds on social media donning the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) uniform and sitting in a cockpit of a military chopper acting like he would fly it.

“I am right in the main Captain’s cockpit for this Mi24 attack helicopter. I am going to bomb the hell out of the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) in Congo and by tomorrow you will see masses of them surrendering at the border. So news media prepare for my assault on the ADF in Congo,” said Mwenda while in the UPDF helicopter.

This however caused a stir among Ugandans who took to social media to express their agitation over what they called selective application of laws that prohibit civilians from wearing and possessing military attires.

Members of the public found in possession of any attire of the army or one that resembles the army uniform are liable on conviction to imprisonment for life under section 160 of the 2005 UPDF Act.

At the end of September 2019, government designated the red beret as official military attire after including it in Uganda’s first-ever gazette of all military clothing.

At the time, the red beret was widely seen as a signature of the opposition pressure group ‘People Power’ of former presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine who would refer to it as a symbol of resistance.

Consequently, dozens of his supporters who were found donning and selling it were arrested on allegations of unauthorized wearing of a uniform that is preserved for the armed forces.

It is from this, that the public including the National Unity Platform wonder why it isn’t an offense for Andrew Mwenda to wear military uniform and later sit in a military chopper pretending he was to fly it yet supported if opposition groups who Don a beret are arrested and prosecuted.

“Here is Andrew Mwenda, posing in a military chopper putting on a full military uniform.On the other hand, hundreds of NUP supporters are still in jails, being tortured simply because the regime accused them of putting on red berets!This sickening abuse in our country will end some day,” the party wrote on twitter.

But according to the Commander Land Forces and first son, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, what Andrew Mwenda did is merely an expression of admiration of the people’s army.

“My bro (brother) Mwenda is part of the massive fan base that UPDF has because of the great work we do. They want to wear our uniforms, hold our guns and even pretend to fly our aircrafts. It means nothing. They are just excited beings. A victorious army like ours is used to such adoration,” Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba wrote on twitter on Sunday.

Charles Rwomushana, a former spy chief says, “when your own brother Muhanga is in charge of operation Nsujju,State military assets like gunships become toys for playing with.”

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