Yoweri Kaguta Museveni recently won presidential elections in Uganda against former allies Dr Kiza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi. The social media was busy with both Ugandans and Kenyans doing their best to put their points across. Kenyans were laughing at Ugandans while Ugandans tried to make head or tail out of a choreographed election. Very few people expected Museveni to lose, but that did not take away the action.
One of the attractions was the sexual imagery poetic prose by Makerere University Lecturer Dr Stella Nyanzi in support of Besigye. To borrow her line of thought, the unromantic Museveni managed to lay Uganda and the election results showed that Uganda is pregnant.
The people came out in numbers to show support for Kiza Besigye. They gave him support in money and gifts, and parents raised up children to hand over notes to the FDC flag bearer. Peasants gave their farm produce; they were telling Museveni that they are happy Uganda has conceived.
The high-handedness of the police and military against the opposition can be classified as the creepy morning sickness that comes in the early stages of pregnancy. Ugandans may appear timid and docile as the government tries to humiliate Kiza Besigye all over Kampala, but a pregnancy takes nine months to mature. I can bet Mt Elgon that Museveni will not midwife this delivery when the delivery date comes.
It is good Museveni realised this from the concluded elections, so he thought a miscarriage of justice will extend to a miscarriage of the Ugandan pregnancy. The police kept Besigye under house arrest until a fourteen-day window to file an election petition elapsed. The Go Forward candidate Amama Mbabazi whose candidature was a non-starter managed to file a petition that won’t attract much attention. The government thinks a protracted court battle with FDC might expose their underhand deals and increase discontent among Ugandans.
The problem with Uganda
Once upon a time, the National Resistance Army marched to Kampala with a contingent of poorly dressed but armed to the heart rebel force. There was little resistance as the government forces had split up within Kampala, which made the NRA’s work easier. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, then a 42-year-old former intelligence officer with a moustache, led the NRA and its political arm, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) to victory.
The NRM High Command, which was headed by Museveni as The Chief of High Command, included people like Kahinda Otafirre among others. Kahinda exemplifies the bush mentality that NRM carried from Luwero Triangle to Nakasero Hill. He recently told Amama Mbabazi that he will only be president after they (the original NRM High Command) are all dead. The sharp tongued former army officer was fond of asking civil servants in the early years of NRM to hold onto power where they were when he was fighting in the bush.
Museveni has also been reported saying that a revolutionary regime that swept to power by the barrel of the gun can never hand over power in an election. That is typical of bush mentality.
FDC official Mugisha Muntu has harsh memories of his tenure as Army Commander. He has never shied away from exposing how to maintain loyalty – Museveni condoned stealing by army officers. He calls it a kind of warlord mentality that emerged where those who fought for power insisted on recognition and grabbing. According to Muntu, Museveni could not deal with corruption in the army and eventually he became the king of the mentality.
Museveni has often said he killed his animal and cannot let other people eat it as he watches.
This is the same mentality that has gripped SPLM in South Sudan. If you did not participate or actively support the movement in their insurgency against the Khartoum government, then you have no right to speak. This mentality has led to militarisation of every arm of the government. Former rebel leaders are given posts in government regardless of their capacity to deliver. The SPLM top brass all own properties stashed in Nairobi and managed by their families while they can afford to fight over power in their country as their people suffer.
Among the NRM/A rebel forces was a four thousand-strong bunch of young Rwandese Tutsi fighters led by Alfred Gisa, aka Fred Rwigyema. They later formed the Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army and “deserted” the Ugandan army to launch an offensive against the Hutu regime in Kigali. The charismatic Rwigyema was killed on the second day of the assault which gave way for the conniving Paul Kagame to take over RPF leadership; the rest is history.
Looking at RPF in Rwanda, one sees the difference between them and their South Sudan and Ugandan counterparts. RPF shed off the bush mentality once in power. Paul Kagame makes deliberate attempts to avoid military fatigue and his rank in the army as a title like his former comrades in Uganda. This clearly spells Kagame’s departure from the bush mentality, though there are strains of it in his rule which he cannot just wish away.
There was also a group of child soldiers’ code named “kadogos” within the ranks of NRA. These are children who ran away to escape government forces-instigated abuses during operations to stamp out the rebels and their collaborators. Children as young as five years old like a UPDF logistics officer Frank Kiconco were conscripted into the rebel forces, first to protect them then later deployed.
These kadogos were later taken to school and rehabilitated. Some of these boys were shocked when they were paid a salary after the Kampala take over; they bought pan cake and soda with their first pay. They are now adults in their late thirties and early forties still serving in the UPDF. In a feature in a Ugandan daily newspaper, Frank Kiconco narrates how Museveni told them Uganda history during the bush war.
It is the kadogo dream that Museveni has forgotten. He has forgotten that kadogos grew into men yet all he is obsessed with in the army is the rise of his son Muhoozi Kainerubaga. The main aim of rehabilitating Kadogos was to keep them away from joining anti-NRM movements but not to raise them into full army officers. Their growth in the army is curtailed if all the top UPDF leadership is still composed of old bush war veterans. Even top government ministries and agencies are headed by former soldiers who have since left the UPDF. Typical bush mentality.
Museveni has cited the recently discovered oil wealth as a reason why he cannot hand over power and leave “his oil”. He even asked Ugandan’s during campaigns if they want him to go back to the bush. This clearly shows that the cattle loving man from Mbarara cannot midwife the delivery of the Ugandan pregnancy.
When Ugandan’s begin to crave crazy things at crazy hours, Museveni will recommend eating stones and herbs from the bush. For him, there is nothing like trimesters… just one full gestation period to which he is happy to ignore like an irresponsible teenager.
Expecting him to read the times is expecting too much from a group that got a permanent high in 1986.
In 2021 when Uganda holds its next general election, from the response the people had this year, I can bet Museveni will not influence the outcome. If he tries to pull what Kibaki and his cronies did with Kenya’s 2007 elections, Ugandan’s will come out in numbers to object.
Museveni recently said in one of his last rallies that Uganda is not Kenya or Ivory Coast where people rejected presidential results. He is right; Uganda is Uganda. But when a pregnant woman is in the last stages of labour, dignity is never part of the deal. Let us wait and see.