It is now the news. Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni; the Chairman of the ruling NRM-O feels uncomfortable. He is acting on allegations called ‘intelligence reports’ that the Prime Minister and Secretary General of the party; Amama Mbabazi is working clandestinely to take over leadership of the party.
If there is any serious lesson to learn from the current goings-on in the ruling party, it is about the status of Museveni as an unshakable colossus.
Whenever someone comes up with real, rumored or perceived interest in leadership of NRM-O, Museveni becomes agitated and belligerent.
He dons his military fatigues complete with the stars of a General and pulls out his rifle. He delves into the history (sprinkled with embellishments,) of how he fought from a disadvantaged position and defeated his enemies. He sounds warnings and threats. He translates the issues at stake into military matters and makes it sound like there is an impending war. He then assures his audience and enemies that he is still young enough to fight in the bush.
This mode of operation is that of a man with self confidence and esteem issues. It starts here. Museveni is smart enough to know that people who are paid be it with jobs, or hard cash before they confess their support are not genuine and are unreliable. Rent seekers will definitely hire out their support to anyone who is willing to pay and withdraw it when the taps run dry.
Many of the people calling upon him to rule Uganda ‘until he gets tired’ do it more out of fear than love. Theirs is about opportunity. He has knowledge of the history of Mobutu’s Zaire (now D.R. Congo,) that of Muammar Gadaffi’s Libya and Daniel Arap Moi’s Kenya. He knows that in situations of fear like it was during the French Revolution of 1789, ‘the people who cheer you while you are on the pedestal, will be the same lining along the road and rejoicing as you take your final journey to the guillotine!’
Thoughts about people turning against him at some point in time could be visiting Museveni’s mind, for he is mortal. The trouble with the coming-up of people like Mbabazi, is that they remind Museveni of this position.
They give him a run for his money. He has to bark, slap the table and do push ups to prove that he is worthy. His all powerful aura is punctured. It is even worse when he has to rely on cheer leaders like the Evelyn Anite’s to ask him to stand as the sole candidate of the party in an NRM Parliamentary Caucus meeting; which is a ‘wrong forum.’ The import of their request is that he is a man who is not confident of competing and, therefore, a smooth road must be paved for him to maintain his vanguard position.
The arrest of Mbabazi’s supporters countrywide is not a show of strength. Rather it is one of fearful weakness.
Look at it this way, Museveni has been in power for more than 28 years. He controls the army and the financial resources of the country. He has the power to hire and fire at all levels. He can make you prosper or die in dire desperate poverty. So how come he gets jittery when he hears of competition?
That is why it does not matter if Mbabazi is ‘finished’ or not. What matters is that Mbabazi has exposed Museveni and like a master, given him work to do. For starters he has to send out his teams of mobilisers to assure citizens that he is still worthy.
Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues. firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @NICHOLASSENGOBA