Should Ugandans start preparing for life after Mr Museveni?

Author: Asuman Bisiika. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Most Ugandans always dream of a Uganda without Museveni at the presidency, they fear the possibility of another violent transfer of power from one leader to another

We spent April 2018 running a marathon tour around the country. I was part of the Inter-religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) and The Elders Forum of Uganda (Tefu) promoting the idea of a national dialogue.

The tour came with some revelations for me. Most Ugandans we met on our tour didn’t seem to fathom the very possible reality of a Uganda without Mr Museveni at the helm of things.

In Gulu, we were told that president Milton Obote set up a commission of inquiry into human rights violations during the regime of military ruler Idi Amin. We were of course more familiar with the one set up by Mr Museveni in the early years of his presidency.

The findings of the two commissions of inquiry were never published. Ugandans are so scared of their past that all attempts to review and reflect on this dirty past has ended in nothing.

Mr Museveni has ruled Uganda since 1986. Yet in spite of the tough love for Mr Museveni’s Luweero effort and the regular extension of his rule via popular vote, Ugandans need a smooth transition from Mr Museveni to another leader.

But the question is always: Who will take over from Mr Museveni? This, of course, is a silly question; to say the least. Don’t those people who ask such a question know that the Constitution of Uganda has elaborate provisions on how Ugandans get a president?

Yet this is a legitimate question. Ugandans, who have no experience of a formal peaceful transfer of power from one leader to another, are justified to express anxiety over a Uganda without Mr Museveni’s lengthy service as President of Uganda.

Enter Norbert Mao, president general of the Democratic Party and minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

Mr Mao has been selling the idea of a transition from Mr Museveni to another leader as the vortex of his engagement with Mr Museveni (that led to his ministerial appointment).

Mr Mao’s idea is exciting to say the least. And if it were not for their vast understanding of Mr Museveni’s love for power, Mr Mao would be the hottest thing in Uganda now. But Ugandans seem to know better than expecting anything tangible from Mr Mao’s overtures (or justification for working with Mr Museveni?).

To understand how Ugandans want a Uganda without Mr Museveni at the helm, one should reflect on the excitement Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba has caused with (by) his subtle expression of interest to lead Uganda after Mr Museveni.

Yet only few Ugandans believe that Mr Museveni can just go (even with the expected transfer of power to his son). So, my Eureka take-away in all this is that whereas most Ugandans always dream of a Uganda without Museveni at the presidency, they fear the possibility of another violent transfer of power from one leader to another. And for the fear of another-shooting-inspired transfer of power, some Ugandans are likely to be inclined to say: ‘the devil you know…’

Gen Mugisha Muntu of FDC used to challenge service chiefs (in the military and the intelligence) to start profiling scenarios in the unfortunate (and unlikely?) event that Museveni left power. 

 Ugandans want to design and formulate the Uganda they want. A Uganda that owns her dirty past, accepts her not-so-clean present and a future shaped by her people. Many Ugandans need a new constitutional regime.   And as Ugandans know, such a new constitutional regime would require the endorsement of Mr Museveni. And knowing him, he would have to be at the centre of everything. But is Mr Museveni willing to lead this process (that is likely to divest power from his hands)?

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flagpost. [email protected]