Col Shaban Bantariza, a former war veteran was pronounce dead this morning from Mulago National Referral Hospital where he had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit since Sunday. It was later confirmed that the late succumbed to covid-19 by the government spokes person Ofono Opondo.
“The UPDF family with great sadness have learnt of the passing on of the deputy Executive Director of the Uganda Media Centre and deputy government spokesperson, rtd.Col.Shaban Bantriza at Mulago national referral hospital. May his soul rest in peace,” Brig. Gen Byekwaso said.
His direct supervisor at Uganda Media Centre Ofwono Opondo tweeted, ” I hereby with deep sorrow regret to announce the death of my Deputy @ShabanBantariza that occurred early this morning at Mulago Hospital where he had been in admission since Sunday with hypertension.”
However, It has not been a bed of roses for the former war veteran. On 2 July, 2013, at the rank of colonel, Shaban Bantariza, while serving as Deputy Executive Director Uganda Media Centre was arrested and remanded to Makindye Military prison by the General Court Martial on fraud charges over mismanagement at the National Leadership Institute (NALI), Kyankwanzi where he was the director between 2007 and 2009.
He had been accused of defrauding government of 67 million shillings while Director at NALI, by falsely claiming that he purchased a tractor for the Institute yet it was a donation.
Fortunately,on April 14 2015, after proceedings that lasted nearly three years, the Army court in Makindye led by court Martial Chairman Major Gen. Levi Karuhanga acquitted Col. Shaban Bantariza of the charges on account that prosecution had failed to prove the allegation it had levied against him beyond reasonable doubt.
Following his acquittal by the general court martial Interdicted Bantariza welcomed the court ruling and asked to be reinstated since he had been proved innocent. He resumed work at the Uganda Media Centre after the president of Uganda having directed in writing that he resumes work
On 28 September 2015, Bantariza retired from the UPDF. He continued to serve as the deputy government spokesperson until the time of his death
Earlier this year, Bantariza expressed his interests in joining elective politics as the NRM Vice-chairperson for Western Uganda.
“In my humble contribution to Uganda and NRA, I have been a political leader almost all my life. Right from 1985 in the bush, I have been political commissar for National Resistance Army and the UPDF,” Bantariza said during one of the interviews with NBS.
“I was the spokesperson of the UPDF for a decade. I definitely think the way I contributed to the ideology of the UPDF, I can ably mobilize the Western region to the betterment of Uganda for ideological, political and socio-economic transformation,” – He added.
However, his dream was short lived after being dropped from the list over unkonwn reasons.
Bantariza was born in Mitooma district, in 1963. He attended St. Leo’s College, Kyegobe, in Fort Portal, Kabarole District for his O-Level studies before later joining Catholic brotherhood where he trained as an elementary school teacher.
He joined Makerere University in 1985 but later abandoned his studies and joined the National Resistance Army, led by president Yoweri Museveni. Bantariza attended guerrilla bootcamp in the Kabarore area, in foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains. He also attended and graduated from the Uganda Senior Command and Staff College, having studied the senior command course offered annually at the college.
Bantariza served as the UPDF spokesperson from 2000 to 2002 and from 2003 to 2006. For a period of time, prior to February 2009, Batanzira, at the rank of lieutenant colonel, served as the commander of the Oliver Tambo Leadership School, in Kaweweta, Nakaseke District, in Uganda’s Central Region.
On 26 February 2009, he was appointed commandant of the National Leadership Institute (NALI), in Kyankwanzi, Kyankwanzi District serving in that capacity until he was relieved of his duties on 7 October 2011.