When visionary, long-serving heads of state fall from power

Sunday August 18 2019


By Prof George W. Kanyeihamba

The Ethiopian constitution provided that the life and sanctity of Emperor Haile Selassie was scared and inviolable and anyone violating that holly edict would be condemned internally and perish in hell. This did not stop his opponents from arresting and putting him in a dungeon where he died miserably.

Kwame Nkrumah stated that first seek the kingdom of politics and all will be added until he was overthrown shortly thereafter. Saddam Hussein of Iraq bragged that his war with the USA would be the mother of all wars. As that war raged on, he ran and hid in a manhole only to be very grateful to the American army which rescued him from the sewer and cleaned him, only to be tried convicted and hanged by his own people he always thought loved him.

Muammar Gadhafi of Libya who had dreamed of becoming the first king of Africa and was in the habit of driving or flying into any African country territory was found hiding in a manhole and when he cried to his capturers for mercy, the incensed soldiers mercilessly beat him up to death.

Following a general election in Tunisia in which dictator Ben Bella had been elected with more than 98 per cent of the votes cast, the population turned on him as he prepared to celebrate his ‘victory’. He ran for dear life, never to return to Tunisia.

Anwar Sadat of Egypt who was confidently presiding over a public function was shot dead by a security guard he trusted and had carefully selected.
When former Ugandan president Milton Obote was first overthrown in 1971, he had in the same week boasted that in the whole Africa, he was the only president who did not fear a coup d’état because all security personnel were loyal to him.

The army toppled him while he was attending a Commonwealth meeting in Singapore. A similar fate befell all his successors, Yusuf Lule, Godfrey Binaisa, Paulo Muwanga and Tito Okello Lutwa.


Recently, the same scenario in different contexts and degrees of intensity happened in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
In our own country today, we have witnessed raging fights between opposing political parties and functions.

There have been murders, serious injuries and destruction of properties, all in the name of democracy and the popularity of the ruling party. However, we still cling to the hope that it will never again happen in our motherland.

If all goes well according to NRM’s plan, President Museveni may be elected for another term in 2021, and if luck is on the NRM and its supporters, he is on course to ruling this country continuously for more than 40 years.

He will be an octogenarian. His current rivals such as Kizza Besigye, Olara Otunnu, Abed Bwanika, Amama Mbabazi, Mugisha Muntu, Benon Biraaro, Venansius Baryamureeba and Gilbert Bukenya will be in their 70s.

And then young and upcoming politicians such as Robert Kyagulanyi, Jimmy Akena, Gerald Karuhanga and Zaake Francis could be planning to be president.
At the time heavy weights of the NRM such as Kirunda Kivejinja, Elly Tumwine, Moses Ali, Mike Mukula, Janet Museveni and Rebecca Kadaga would have retired and joined the rank of senior citizens or veterans.

This kind of scenario is likely to weaken, if not extinguish the NRM’s plan of a life president.

Prof Kanyeihamba is a retired Supreme Court judge.