Museveni is autocratic - Nagenda

What you need to know:

The President captured power in 1986 and is now serving his fourth term.

The Senior Presidential Adviser on Media Affairs, Mr John Nagenda, has described President Museveni, his boss for close to 25 years, as a “mischievous” and “autocratic” leader.

Mr Nagenda, a respected media personality and one of Uganda’s best spin doctors, said Mr Museveni no longer listens to wise counsel and is surrounded by opportunists and sycophants.

“I don’t think he has remained exactly the same though, in fact, I would say that he is more autocratic than he was when he first came,” Mr Nagenda said in an exclusive interview with Sunday Monitor, at his Muyenga home.

He candidly noted that the President has changed over the last 25 years, become “all powerful” and has since lost the courageous and independent minded advisors and ministers he previously had around him.

“… But when you get somebody who is now all powerful, it really hurts me when there are meetings or press conferences and whenever, the President says something and you ask yourself “what did he mean?” but the others laugh and cheer him on,” he said in reference to Cabinet, which according to him lacks the spine to stand up to the President whenever there is a contentious issue.

Mr Nagenda’s observation comes hot on the heels on the proposal by the President to give more than 7,000 hectares of land of Mabira Forest to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda to grow sugarcane. The proposal has caused public outcry to stop the move yet there seems to be an ill-omened silence from his Cabinet.

The provocative but humorous presidential adviser disagrees with his boss over the proposal calling it “unwise” and called on Ugandans to resist it. Mr Museveni argues that the decision would increase sugar production and help solve the current sugar shortage in the country.

He called on Ugandans to stand up and speak out on issues affecting the country’s development.

“But unless everyone of us takes the opportunity to say what we think is right, then we are going to find ourselves in a completely different time because there will be one person deciding, surrounded by his acolyte and may that day never come and may Ugandans come out and with respect say to their leader; “You have been a very good leader to us and don’t ruin it.”

According to Mr Nagenda, recent opposition within Cabinet has surprisingly been led by none other than the President’s wife, Janet Museveni, who he prays should convince the President not to give away part of Mabira Forest.

In this interview, Mr Nagenda speaks about a wide range of issues, including the two people who he thinks can replace President Museveni and dissects the workings and character of the opposition.