UPDF wants shs 89 billion for ADF operation in DRC

ADF operation

UPDF Soldiers (Photo by Sébastien KITSA MUSAYI / AFP)

Uganda Peoples Defence Forces ( UPDF) will not leave the Democratic Republic of Congo until the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels are defeated or surrender. This is according to Maj. Gen Leopold Kyanda, the Joint Chief of Staff.

The UPDF launched air and artillery raids against the ADF key bases in the Eastern DRC with the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo-FARDC in November 2021.

Before the operation in the eastern part of the DRC, the government had accused ADF rebels of being behind strings of suicide bombings in Uganda.

Gen. Kyanda and a team from the Ministry of Defence appeared before the Defence and Internal Affairs Committee of Parliament on Monday to defend the shs 89.6 billion budget request to finance the ongoing operation Shujja, alongside other budgetary requirements.

But during the meeting, a section of MPs tasked the officials to explain how long they intended to stay in DRC. Kyanda said that their stay in Congo will depend on how the events unfold, prompting more questions from Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo who asked where the money funding the operation currently is coming from.

Ministry of Defence Under-Secretary Edith Butuuro told MPs that the UPDF entry in DR Congo was an emergency and that they had to use the available stores to venture into the operation.

Jacob Oboth, the Minister of State for Defence said that the required shs89.6 billion will cover the cost of logistics, communication and welfare requirements for the operation, among others. He said that the budget is for only the anticipated 12 months’ operation.

He appealed for parliament’s support saying that very soon, they would address the House on the army deployment in Congo.

The shs 89.6 billion Operation Shujja budget is among the unfunded activities for the Ministry in the coming financial year 2022/2023.

Under the Budget Framework Paper, the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs was allocated shs 3.35 trillion, shs 1.07 trillion short of its current budget of shs 4.42 trillion.

Oboth said that the reduced funding comes amidst increased operations and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that the Ministry’s budget requirement for the coming financial year is shs 6.736 trillion and the current allocation under the budget framework paper leaves a deficit of shs 3.38 billion.

Some of the activities that the Ministry needs to fund include salary enhancement for UPDF personnel shs 493.2 billion, food (shs 76.2 billion ), fuel (shs 46.1 billion), clothing (shs158 billion ), construction of 12,000 units in UPDF Barracks (shs 1.52 trillion ) Land acquisition (shs 191 billion), pension and gratuity (shs 153.8 billion) Operation Shujja (shs 89.7 billion ) arrears (shs275.5 billion) and others.

The others are salaries for newly commissioned officers, requiring shs 3.1 billion , salaries for integrated Local Defence Personnel (shs 69.9 billion), salary enhancement for scientists (shs73.2 billion ), veteran activities (shs 35.6 billion ), and combat service support equipment (shs 23.9 billion).

Butuuro appealed to the committee to support the Ministry of Defence and ensure that these funding gaps are allocated money because they are all critical.

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