Militarism: The real ideology of Museveni

Sunday June 28 2020

Yoga Adhola

Yoga Adhola 

By Yoga Adhola

In 2004, Ms Winnie Byanyima was interviewed by the journal, Feminist Africa. The interview was published under the title Living Feminist Politics: Amina Mama interviews Winnie Byanyima in issue 3 of the 2004 volume.

I recently came across an extract from that interview circulating on social media. In that extract, Ms Byanyima is quoted: “When we took the capital, Kampala--that was a big achievement. But 18 years later. I am at a point where I feel that those who died did so in vain. I feel that dictatorship and militarism are still with us.”

It is shocking that Ms Byanyima only came to discover militarism in Museveni in 2004.
Militarism had always been the ideology guiding Museveni right from his student days.

The earliest one can discern militarism in Museveni is in his undergraduate thesis, Fanon’s Theory of Violence: It’s Verification in Mozambique. His preference for solving problems through military means, a hallmark of militarism comes out very clearly in that thesis.

The next time we discern militarism in Museveni is during Fronasa days. By this time, Museveni had focused his mind on bringing about a Cuban-type of revolution in Uganda. For such a revolution to take place, the situation necessitates a revolutionary situation to have ripened.

For Cuba, whose revolution Museveni was taking as a model, it took about 100 years for the revolutionary situation to ripen.


This is what Fidel Castro himself told us at a commemoration of their revolution at La Demajagua on October 10, 1968: “What does October 10, 1868, signify to our people? What does this glorious date mean for the revolutionaries of our nation? It simply signifies the beginning of 100 years of struggle, the beginning of the revolution in Cuba, because in Cuba there has only been one revolution: that which was begun by Carlos Manuel de Cespedes on October 10, 1868.”

For the militarist Museveni there was no need to carry out the kind of preparatory work that took the Cubans 100 years. To Museveni, all one needed was to wage war.

In his biography, Sowing the Mustard Seed, Museveni recounts a copy-cat imitation of Fidel Castro and his comrades’ landing at the Sierra Maestra.

While militarism during Fronasa days may be a little obscured, it became clear in the so-called liberation or Bush War in which Ms Byanyima was involved. To discern militarism in this war, I will call upon the reader to ponder one question: why did Museveni choose Buganda as his theatre of war?

Buganda was chosen because it was viewed as anti-Obote or UPC. To Museveni the reactionary character of the ideology leading the Baganda did not matter. All Museveni needed was the fighting forces that Buganda would offer.

Beyond this, foco theory was the method of warfare of choice during the Bush War. Foco theory is a war method devised by Regis Debray on the inspiration of Che Guevara and used in Cuba.
According to the theory, a small band of deeply committed armed group can provide a focus (in Spanish foco) for popular discontent against a sitting government and thereby lead to general insurrection.

There is no doubt the foco theory is militarism through and through. Its apparent success in Cuba is a reflection of the work which had been carried out to prepare the situation for almost 100 years. It just could not produce a revolution in the situation obtaining in Uganda at the time.

After the war, Museveni’s militarism has come out in his preference for the military in carrying out tasks which he views as sensitive and requiring great care.

Yoga Adhola is a leading ideologue of UPC