Col Sebastian (Shaban) Bantariza’s Candle Burns out

Uganda woke up to the news of the passing of the deputy executive director of the Uganda Media Centre, Col. Shaban Bantariza.

Bantariza died at Mulago Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where he was admitted on Sunday.

According to a tweet by the state minister of ICT and National Guidance, Peter Ogwang, Bantariza died of low blood pressure.

WHO IS BANTARIZA?

Many know him as Shaban but his real name is Sebastian Batanzira. He was born in 1963 in the present day Mitooma district, western Uganda.

He adopted the Shaban name after joining the National Resistance Army (NRA) rebels in 1985 after abandoning his studies at Makerere University.

A number of the NRA fighters at the time took on pseudo names to disguise their identity. That is how the likes of Gen Caleb Akandwanaho came to be known as Salim Saleh, Amama Mbabazi was Ahmed Mbayo and President Yoweri Museveni was Kassim among others.

Bantariza was one of the founders of the army magazine – Tarehe Sita, where he used to write under the name, Shaban Seban.

Bantariza twice served as the UPDF spokesperson from 2000 to 2002 and from 2003 to 2006 before his deployment to Oliver Tambo Leadership School, Kaweweta in Nakaseke district as commander.

In 2009,  he was appointed commandant of the National Leadership Institute (NALI) Kyankwanzi a docket he held until October 2011.

Two years later, he was appointed to the Uganda Media Centre as deputy executive director but a month later,  on July 2, 2013, he was arrested, charged with embezzlement and remanded to Makindye Military prison by the General Court Martial.

Some viewed his prosecution as politically motivated since he had been linked to the then Prime Minister, John Patrick Amama Mbabazi’s presidential bid.

In April 2015, the Court Martial dismissed the charges due to lack of evidence. Two months later, President Museveni allowed him to resume his duties at the media centre.

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