Museveni and Muhoozi; identical but not similar

Author: Nicholas Sengoba. PHOTO/FILE/COURTESY

What you need to know:

"...people who cannot bring themselves to run 10Kms as a show of solidarity but are quick to join in a fete of food and drink a few hours later, you anticipate he will start on a very challenging note. "

At the moment, it is only fair to state, when talking about a future Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba bid for the Ugandan presidency, that he has not made an explicit bid for high office.
Most of what is said follows the ‘duck theory.’ Looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it is a duck.


Back in 2013 the then coordinator of intelligence agencies, Gen. David Sejusa coined the term ‘Muhoozi project.’ claiming there was a plan to have Muhoozi, then the Commander of the Special Forces Command (SFC,) succeed his father Gen. Yoweri T. Museveni, as President.
There have been denials and all manner of debates. It is now raging and groups of mainly young people have come out bare knuckles describing him as their generational leader. They say he is their president come 2026.
For his 48th Birthday there was a huge fete which made some doubters believe that may be the issue of Muhoozi succeeding his father or taking a shot at the Presidency in future, should now be taken very seriously.

Should this be the case then we may draw a few parallels between the two military men related by blood, on their journeys to high office starting here.
In Museveni’s case his clearest bid was announced at a much earlier age of about 35 when he stood and failed as a Presidential candidate for the UPM party way back in 1980. Although he had right from the 70s been mobilizing and making attempts in preparation. He went to Mozambique and had hands-on experience with FRELIMO. Joined hands with Milton Obote in the botched invasion of Uganda from Tanzania in 1972. At about 40 there was no more debate about his intentions. After 1980 he went to the bushes of Luweero and shot his way to power. The conviction and self drive and motivation was there from a very early age. In Muhoozi’s case at this stage it may be argued that his proposition has been grounded on a less challenging foundation. Military training abroad. Relatively speedy promotions in the army.

 Extreme license to make political statements as a serving officer in the army which indulgence many do not enjoy. He benefits from well-established political/ military structures built by his father.

His Kabamba moment, the one that makes people sit up and notice was at a 48th birthday party ceremony with merry making, involving thousands of supporters, friends and family in an urban setting. The push for high office when history is written will be ascribed mainly to ‘due to public demand,’ especially on social media making Muhoozi a rather reluctant convert and not the enthusiastic evangelist.

This does not take anything away from him. It in fact lends him and his father credit to wit that you no longer need to have blood and iron under your belt to have a shot at the presidency. Still on this note, the two had a rather lukewarm ‘launch.’ In Museveni’s case there were about 40 men with 27 guns at audaciously attacking Kabamba barracks which is in a rural area. It later mutated into an army of rebellious legions that overthrew a sitting government which was a first on the African continent.

In Muhoozi’s, the first prominent event dubbed the ‘MK Marathon,’ did not exactly turn out to be the anticipated thunder storm of runners showing their unfailing love with some sweat. In fact it petered into a scattered shower which was later in the evening redeemed by a very huge concert at Lugogo with plenty of food, drink and fun. It climaxed the next day with a dinner at State House in his honor which brought the Rwandan President to Uganda after a hiatus of four years which was no mean feat.
That said, in case Uganda ends up with a Muhoozi Presidency, the hand of Museveni will be visible in a very pronounced way.

In all his life in politics Museveni has been the sort of convincing patriarch who made men leave school, families, careers and took a serious risk of dying for an idea that they were not sure of succeeding.
FRONASA then NRM was a rag tag army hoping to steal weapons from an established government then defeat it on the battlefield. You had to have conviction and self abnegation to get involved. When you look at the characters surrounding Muhoozi; people who cannot bring themselves to run 10Kms as a show of solidarity but are quick to join in a fete of food and drink a few hours later, you anticipate he will start on a very challenging note.

But why? It is because of the politics of Uganda which is the result of Museveni’s effort. It has quickly descended into the phase where everyone of us is better off grabbing something for themselves because the system that distributes equitably; the state is failing and falling apart. Politics is the most paying profession. The smartest men and women now simply position themselves to be near the source of power which is politics, in order to have an opportunity to pick something and move. That is what 36 years of NRM rule have reduced Uganda to.
If the opportunity is not there then you create it by hanging on as a sycophant making outrageous statements to show overwhelming love for the powers that be. It does not have to come from deep in the heart. It is hard to find genuine people.

Therein lies the problem for Muhoozi or whoever will come after Museveni be they from the opposition. They will have to contend with dealing with ‘thieves,’ opportunists and grabbers for support. Writing in the Weekly Topic in his column, A View From Boston on November 22 1991, Charles Onyango-Obbo put it thus, “great institutions as well as nations are built and nurtured by men and women who give to them (at least) more than they take away..”

The future of Uganda after Museveni will be characterized by taking away if all things remain the same and there are signs that they will only get worse.
The fact that the things to take away are decreasing by the day, woe unto the one who will lead the men and women on that day. When they run out of things to grab they will want to grab power.  That responsibility now seems to be in the hands of Muhoozi if all goes according to plan.

Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues
Twitter: @nsengoba