Why Lt Gen Muhoozi would resign from UPDF in 2020

Saturday September 21 2019


By Asuman Bisiika

After a lengthy reign, succession comes with challenges even in monarchies where the field of candidature for succession is limited. It can be worse in a republic (particularly in Africa), where a long presidential reign acquires kingly attitudes and tastes (absolutism) of monarchical nature.
In the end, members of the republican president’s family become contenders or power brokers in the succession plans. In Zimbabwe, Libya, Egypt, Zaire, etc, a member of the president’s immediate family (son, brother, wife or daughter) disposed him or herself off as de facto heir-apparent.
Although the heir-apparent thing was unsuccessful in the countries mentioned above (because of the dynamics under which the regimes collapsed), it successfully played out in Gabon and Togo (where the president’s child took over power from his father. Perhaps we should note: The sons took over after the death of their parents).
In Kenya and Botswana, the path was quite different. Gen Ian Khama, the immediate former president of Botswana, was the son of Sir Seretse Khama (the founding president of Botswana). And, of course, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, the current president of Kenya, is the son of Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of Kenya.
Playing to the norm, debates about a post-Museveni Uganda have always had Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba as one of the possible presidents. Lt Gen Muhoozi’s best bet is the Uhuru model. However, it comes with a lot of sacrifices. Using this model, Lt Gen Muhoozi would bid his time, create or make his brand (yet enjoy benefaction from his filial association to Mr Museveni).
When or if he makes his mind, the long-term strategic plan would be committing what political scientists call Class Suicide. This means he would have to decline or drop the tempting royalty attitudes and tastes that come with his proximity to the power of (and filial attachment to) Museveni.
If he were to take the Uhuru route, Lt Gen Muhoozi’s immediate sacrifice would be to demission (French: resign) his UPDF commission and join other Ugandans offering leadership in various public and social spheres.
As a strategic planner, I would advise him to resign his UPDF Commission in 2020. This would give him an opportunity and freedom to play an active role in the 2021 elections (it could just be a clandestine role like that played by Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde in the 2016 election).
In the event that Mr Museveni wins the 2021 elections, Lt Gen Muhoozi should move to Level Two (in the process of committing Class Suicide). At this level, he would create some kind of socio-economic platform on which he would express leadership in areas of public concern (say, the fight against corruption, deforestation, etc). With that platform, he would keep some distance from the negative public perception always associated with shortcomings of the government and the NRM as a political party in power.
According to the Constitution (hmm?), Mr Museveni can only rule up to 2031; by which time public outrage at the NRM (and Museveni himself) would have reached fever pitch that even a ‘lame’ candidate like Viks Kingo would beat an NRM presidential candidate. The Muhoozi candidature would be packaged as ‘Novelty In Continuity’.
The resource Lt Gen Muhoozi needs most is the presence of mind to stay focused on the ball and be ready to make the sacrifices (like the other fellow who decamped to the Luweero bushes in 1981 and returned home with ‘the field and the yield’ five years later.
He has age on his side (he is young enough to contest for as many times as Dr Kizza Besigye has done); and the name recognition.
Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of East African Flagpost.