Thirty five years later, has Museveni shaped the destiny of our country?

Saturday April 17 2021

Author, Asuman Bisiika. PHOTO/FILE

By Asuman Bisiika

It has been rumoured unto me that Mr Museveni will be sworn in as President of the Republic of Uganda on May 12, 2021. On that day, the said Museveni will have been in power as the President of the Republic of Uganda for more than 35 years. 

Thirty five years is a long time. Contrasted against Uganda’s average of  five-year presidencies, Museveni’s presidency is a real eon of time. 
 And so it has been asked unto us: what will be the legacy of Museveni’s lengthy presidency? Let me re-work this interrogative phrase: Has Mr Museveni’s lengthy presidency shaped the destiny of Uganda? 
I was recently invited to write for a souvenir publication themed on Museveni’s 35-years presidency and the May 12 event. Assuming I was a Museveni supporter, the publisher asked me to positively review ‘35 years of the Museveni Presidency’. 

Truth to tell, I have not yet decided whether to honour or decline the invite. However, if I were to take it on, I would share my experience on my self-assigned campaign effort supporting NRM candidates in Kasese. But we should go back to the question we posed: Has Mr Museveni shaped the destiny of Ugandans? 

Anyone one who has been a leader in your life for 35years (going to 40 as is Museveni’s case) would have an impact on your life. It therefore goes without saying that a leader in as high a position as the presidency would have to shape the destiny of the country (in one way or the other). 

NRM cadres tend to look at what they call achievements of the NRM and Mr Museveni. And oh dear, they list (or actually throw) them around. Since I am not an NRM cadre, I tend to look at Mr Museveni’s legacy as opposed to his tangible physical achievements. 
If one looked at the physical achievements, one may not capture the extent to which the lengthy Museveni presidency has shaped the socio-political destiny of Uganda. Ugandans will always refer to Museveni’s long tenure presidency as the English refer to their Elizabethan reign (Queen Elizabeth I, not this current one). 

After Mr Museveni, Ugandans do not expect a very strong president (as Museveni is or has been). They also do not expect another lengthy presidency in the near future. But for me, the regular cycles of electoral processes (their quality aside) are likely to be the most enduring legacy of Museveni. Although there are claims that Museveni rigs all elections, any new president reluctant to organise elections is likely to face the wrath of Ugandans. 
I participated in the election campaigns that culminated into the January 14 polling day. In spite of projecting myself as a bona fide Mukonzo from the mountains, I must confess I had my first experience of climbing the mountains and interacting with real people during those campaigns. 


I was also reminded about the old rivalry between the sub-counties of Kisinga and Kyarumba (both in Bukonzo East County). Because of its remote and mountainous terrain, we from Kisinga used to call Kyarumba (our) cupboard. The NRM candidate was from Kisinga while the FDC candidate was from Kyarumba. 

Now, feeding into the old Kisinga-Kyarumba rivalry, the joke during the campaigns was that ‘Kyarumba is no longer Kisinga’s cupboard (because it also has electricity). Yes, because it now has electricity. 

We can give NRM cadres the latitude to brag over Mr Museveni’s tangible achievements but the most enduring development that will shape (or has already shaped) Uganda’s destiny is rural electrification. Yes, Kyarumba is no longer our cupboard because it has electricity. 

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flagpost.