We once asked in our article for the New Vision, ‘Has president Museveni tamed the ungovernable Ugandans or Ugandans have tamed him?’, 25th January 2015.https://www.newvision.co.ug/news/664036-has-museveni-tamed-the-ungovernable-ugandans-or-ugandans-have-tamed-museveni.html
As if to validate our point, Museveni recently wrote on his twitter feed that, ‘ruling Uganda is like driving a trailer on a village road’. Milton Obote and all his successors would agree on that one.
The recent Nile Post report, Museveni to Kadaga: “I did not need your help to retain presidency” (30th March 2021) evoked our memory of former President Milton Obote, who was a hostage president, so abused by the ungovernable Ugandans that they used and violently discarded him twice in fourteen years, costing his family, relatives and supporters dearly.
Aware of Obote’s total dependency on hired gunmen, crafty politicians had demanded and got appointed to specific cabinet posts of their choice. For example, my favourite former teacher Professor Adonia Tiberondwa (RIP) got Industry, Dr John Magoola Luwuliza-Kirunda of the Kirunda dynasty got Internal Affairs and Paul Muwanga got the plumpiest posts of all, Vice president and Minister of Defence!
It was such a scenario, complicated by the rivalry between Acholi and Langi army officers, which brought to the open the existence of several autonomous and competing centres of power, leaving Obote a hostage president.
It came as no surprise to many when a section of the hired gunmen withdrew to their villages in the north, reorganised and marched to Kampala, intent on taking Obote dead or alive in July 1985.
Curiously, and we shall discuss one day, Vice President Paul Muwanga had once again demanded and was given a specific post – the “executive” Prime Minister in the Okellos’ junta, which had violently replaced Mr Muwanga’s own UPC government!
Only one former cabinet minister, Chris Rwakasisi, who had been freely appointed on trust and love, remained loyal to Obote to the end. He paid for his loyalty with a death sentence, committed to life.
Fast forward 36 years to 2021, and you find Ugandans as ungovernable as ever.
Consider the extraordinary behaviour of Rebecca Kadaga, who seems to have assumed that Museveni is a hostage president Obote Mark 2.
Like Obote’s ministers and officials before her, she has been going around, publicly making incendiary comments, which amount to political blackmail, claiming that she had “paved the way for him to stand again by ensuring the smooth passage of the age-limit removal bill.”
Also like Obote’s ministers and officials before her, she is reportedly demanding and expecting to be remain in a specific office of her choice – the speaker of Parliament, because it has ‘decision making powers and a budget.’
Unfortunately, unlike the hostage president Obote was, the self-assured Museveni does not fear to confront and embarrass his ministers and officials involved in intrigue.
That was why Museveni is reported to have called a meeting at which he asked Speaker Kagada, her deputy Oulanyah, Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa and government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo to confirm or deny allegations made against them.
To his credit, Ofwono Opondo has reportedly admitted to not liking Kadaga, not for personal reasons, rather because of the way she handles issues and undermines the party.
We hope the Museveni has killed two birds with one stone: demonstrated to Kagada and those who think like her that he is not a hostage president Obote Mark Two; and sent a clear message to the merchants of intrigue, who use his name in vain pursuit of self interests, that they will be called to account for their actions.
But Museveni must take one final step to prove beyond any scintilla of doubt that he is not another hostage president. He must confront the corrupt syndicate, which is more dangerous to the NRM government than the Kadagas of Uganda.
The corrupt syndicate is systematically destroying Museveni’s plans to provide quality and adequate public services, especially health, education, employment and food security. Either he destroys the syndicate, or the syndicate will destroy Uganda along with Museveni’s legacy.
Otherwise the corrupt syndicate Uganda’s fate and Museveni’s legacy are hostages to the corrupt.
Meanwhile, we hope that should Ms Kadaga lose the Speaker’s position, she will have the humility to emulate former British Prime Minister Theresa May, now sitting in Parliament as a Backbencher after losing power in 2019. In the event, the Backbencher Ms Kadaga would have set a precedent for Ugandans to serve the country in any position.
The author Sam Akaki is a sort of Ugandansologist cum Museveioloist