Open letter to Yoweri Museveni
Dear President, first of all, I am one of your staunch fans who is now thinking about abandoning you. I used to like your way of saving face before it became monotonously abhorring. Most importantly, when I remember your revolutionary ardour, those olden golden days after one, Idi Amin, lorded it over Uganda, I feel redolent as I wish you could become what you vowed to become.
I wish you’d live up to the promises you offered instead of replicating the ills-cum-mess those you overthrew created.
Under Amin, many blameless Ugandans died just like those who died recently simply because they supported your opponents.
I remember your nuggets of wisdom and a firm stand, particularly when you told the world, by then, that “the problem of Africa in general and Uganda in particular is not the people but leaders who want to overstay in power” (Museveni, 1986).
Who were these leaders you meant? Were you serious or it was just holier than thou, especially when the shoe is on the other foot?
Remembering such words compared to what I am evidencing now, I see two Musevenis; a promising, sharp young revolutionary and the old man. Your mentor, Julius Nyerere, Tanzania founder, agrees with you that “we spoke and acted as if, given the opportunity for self-government, we would quickly create utopias. Instead, injustice, even tyranny, is rampant” (Lamb, 1985).
Mr President, when you came to power, Tanzania was under Ali Hassan Mwinyi in power for just a year. He did his five-year two terms and nobly retired. While Mwinyi, a democrat per se, read the signs of time, you soldiered on.
Although Mwinyi and other knew and tasted the melodiousness of powers, they had to remember the saccharinity of being respected out of the power.
Your democratic story goes on. As you were thinking about how to cling unto power, Tanzania welcomed the late Benjamin Mkapa as Mwinyi’s successor; and, as well, did his five-year two terms and gregariously retired.
Mr President, bear with me. Although the story of Tanzania might become tedious for you, still verily has a lot to teach you individually and Ugandans collectively.
When Nyerere relinquished power, a year before you came to power many years ago, some people made a goof thinking that there couldn’t be peaceable and prosperous Tanzania without Nyerere. Many begged him to stay on.
He forlornly chided them for harbouring dictatorial jabber. He openly told them that Tanzania was bigger than him and has many more competent souls than him. It came to pass.
Mr President you know as I do. After Mkapa who was instrumental in the post-Amin period, there came Jakaya Kikwete who did his five-year two terms and now is in his sixth year of retirement just as his successor John Magufuli is in his final second term in office.
Overall, you have already seen four presidents of Tanzania in your capacity as president as they come and go while you’ve hanged on.
I know as you know. You are a good friend of Tanzania if not its creature. You, thus, have a good rapport with almost all Tanzania’s presidents. Let me humbly implore you to touch base with the retired two.
They’ll tell, if not teach, you about the boons and admiration of retirement timely as the former heads of state. I recently heard Kikwete telling journalists that he has put on weight after relinquishing power. He said that it is because, in power, things were arduous for him. Sleepless nights and many issues to tackle slimmed him.
Mr President, apart from the presidents of various countries you have served with, I am told that more than 50 per cent of your electorate only knows one president, namely Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni whom some acerbically view as president for life like the one Malawi once had.
Maybe, they must learn something from Malawi in that the so-called president for life ended up being booted out of power before his Maker called him to let others rule. Nobody thought Banda would relinquish power.
However, when the chips were down because of aging that is inevitable for every mortal, Banda became history and a pictogram of abomination for his country and Africa at large.
In sum, allow me to humbly sign off entreating that you remember times. The times when revolutionary ideas were gold, especially when one uttering them had his marble intact.
Please remember the time when every hope was pinned on you. Do so as you do the needful as far as accountability, democracy and making good on the promises you made those times (1986) are concerned.
Nkwazi Mhango is a lifetime member of the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador