Retired Col. Steven Basaliza has paid a glowing tribute to fallen Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) comrade Rtd. Col. Shaban Batanriza, who passed away on Tuesday this week, after succumbing to the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Col. Bantariza, who was the Deputy Government Spokesperson and Deputy Executive Director of the Uganda Media Centre, was laid to rest on Thursday at his ancestral home in Mitooma District, Greater Bushenyi, at a scientific burial that was attended by a few UPDF officers, family members, some government officials and health experts.
He was revered by very many senior Ugandans, especially National Resistance Army (NRA) bush war heroes, among them comrade Basaliza, the former Member of Parliament for Burahya County, who sent a condolence message to his family and relatives stating thus;
“My condolences to the Chairman NRM/CIC, Entire UPDF fraternity, upon the demise of Comrade Sebastian whom I met in 1974, when he joined me at St. Leo’s College when I was in S. 2 and he was in Senior One.
Since that time to date, in liberation struggles, deployments like Political Commiserate, Anti-Smuggling Unit, Chieftaincy of Political Education Courses, the recent one being the most prestigious Senior Command and Staff College Kimaka 2nd intake 2006, and by the time of his death the Think Tank under the office of National Resistance Movement (NRM) National Chairman.
We have lost a gallant officer and gentleman, who aired out what was on his mind without fear or favour and may be that is why some people, both Seniors and Juniors could not understand him and subjected him to unfair judgement and treatment.
He also loved Tooro and St. Leo’s college; his pet name is Smooth and he married in Tooro.
How many years since 1974 childhood friend, combatant and Political comrade?
Thank all those who gave encouraging messages and let us not judge, it is only God to Judge and pray for him for what never went on well. He was a respectable Elder in Greater Bushenyi. Col Sebastian Shaban Bantariza rest in Peace.”
Col. Basaliza aka Omudumizi, was contesting for the Western Region Elderly Member of Parliament seat but opted to step out of the race after reaching an agreement with elders in western Uganda to allow the retired Archbishop Bishop of South Rwenzori, the Rt. Rev. Zabedee Masereka to contest for the position.
Basaliza, who is also a former Commissioner Uganda Human Rights Commission, is highly qualified economist and teacher, who holds a Masters degree in Human Rights, a Bachelors degree in Management, a professional lawyer and above all, a retired senior officer of the mighty Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF).
He also revealed that; “My back ground stems during UNLF /Fronasa, Uganda Patriotic Movement as founder member, NRA/NRM liberation struggle, although prior to that I was professional teacher and later joined Parliament to represent Burahya County, Kabarole. But I voluntarily opted out of politics after consultation with H.E President and Commander in Chief.
During my days in the army I attended the prestigious Kimaka Senior Command and Staff College in the 2nd intake after UPDF Generals like Elly Tumwine, Salim Saleh, Noble Mayombo, etc.
I was among the first contingent AMISOM Troops deployed to Somalia in 2007, under the Command of Gen. Levi Karuhanga, (RIP). After my tour of duty in Somalia I returned to Uganda and was appointed Chief of Pensions, Gratuity & Survivor Benefits in the UPDF.
One of my last assignments was documenting all Ex- service men ranging. Currently I’m a farmer in fields of tea and coffee growing, although I’m also involved in dairy farming, which I do on a four acre model farm.”