Uganda's Political Maze: Bridging the Generational Gap Through Mentorship?

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Uganda's Political Maze: Bridging the Generational Gap Through Mentorship?
Gen David Sejusa met President Museveni after his return from exile in London, with the two bush war comrades putting Muhoozi Project expose behind them | Courtesy

Uganda's political landscape faces a conundrum. Experienced leaders lament the decline of a mentorship system that nurtures capable successors. The rise of "political rookies" in leadership positions, bypassing established hierarchies, raises concerns about preparedness and effectiveness. This article explores the potential merits and challenges of reviving past mentorship practices.

Benefits of the Old System:

Veteran politicians like Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki advocate for a return to a structured ascent. Her own career trajectory, progressing from local government to national parliament, exemplifies the value of experience gained through lower rungs of the political ladder. Similarly, Emmanuel Dombo emphasizes the inspirational role senior figures played in the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party's early days. These mentors instilled values, strategies, and leadership qualities in the next generation.

The Erosion of Mentorship:

However, both Nyakaisiki and Dombo acknowledge the significant hurdles to reviving this approach. Nyakaisiki decries the prevalence of "jumping the queue," suggesting financial clout or influence may be propelling inexperienced individuals into leadership roles. Dombo highlights the demographic shift – a surging youth population ("Youth Bulge") – and the rise of "commercial politics" as factors disrupting the traditional system.

Challenges and Considerations:

Even if a revival were possible, questions remain. Nyakaisiki expresses doubt about the current generation's receptiveness to mentorship from "alumni" – experienced leaders who may be perceived as out of touch. Dombo proposes revising leadership criteria. He questions the continued use of a basic education certificate (S6) as a qualification, suggesting it may be inadequate for the complexities of contemporary politics.

The Path Forward:

Uganda stands at a crossroads. The potential benefits of a structured mentorship system are undeniable. However, a return to the past may not be straightforward. The current political climate, demographic changes, and the perceived value of experienced leaders require careful consideration.

Unanswered Questions:

The true cost of "jumping the queue" in terms of leadership effectiveness remains unclear. Whether reviving the old system is feasible or even desirable requires further debate. Ultimately, Uganda must determine the best path to cultivate a new generation of capable leaders, ensuring a stable and prosperous future.

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