How Museveni has manipulated national politics to enable him rule for life

President Yoweri Museveni who is accused of having dodged the numerous questions about the rationale (or irrationality) of clinging to power beyond his legitimate mandate during his recent interview on Al Jazeera TV
President Yoweri Museveni who is accused of having dodged the numerous questions about the rationale (or irrationality) of clinging to power beyond his legitimate mandate during his recent interview on Al Jazeera TV

Entrenching horizontal inequalities (HIs) [17]

In plural societies, such as Uganda, it is inevitable that equity among the various cultural groups is guaranteed for people to have a grip on their destiny, and for the country to avoid the danger of violent conflict. Nevertheless, neither the overly strong central government nor the patronage-driven decentralization policy described above can guarantee such equity. Cultural autonomy for the different ethnic groups has been assaulted over the years; political HIs are being entrenched with certain groups being overrepresented in government and military service compared to their share of the total population; and these current policies have the effect of increasing socio-economic disparities.

Aili Mari Tripp has argued, for instance, that “to understand the balance of power in Uganda past and present, it is necessary to look at the configuration of all the security services … Most of Museveni’s closest associates since 2005 have been top military leaders, all from the west – including his son, Major Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who was promoted in 2008 to the rank of lieutenant colonel and commander in charge of Special Forces …”[18] Muhoozi has since been promoted to the rank of Major General and appointed Special Presidential Advisor on Operations.

Indeed, according to the 2016 cabinet list, “western Uganda got the most ministerial jobs, 27 in total. The west has 14 cabinet ministers and 13 ministers of state picked from Ankole, Rwenzori, Kigezi, Tooro and Bunyoro sub-regions. Central region follows with 20 ministerial slots; eight cabinet ministers and 12 ministers of state. Eastern also got 20 cabinet slots with six cabinet ministers and 14 ministers of state. And northern got only three cabinet ministers and 10 ministers of state.” [19] There is, in other words, a concentration of political power in the southern part of Uganda, which has also laid the foundations for economic and political exclusion, especially of the Acholi minority in northern Uganda, which has further cemented the grievances that define north-south, and which arguably fuelled the creation of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group. [20]

In the absence of empirical evidence, it is hard to make a clear link between the dominance of particular ethnicities in the senior echelons of the Uganda government and socio-economic inequalities. Nevertheless, it is not unreasonable to conclude, even from anecdotal evidence, that there are inter- and intra-ethnic tensions and debates on whether political HIs in Uganda today do lead to policy outcomes that advance the interests of the ethnicities with a dominant share in government. It is not unreasonable to conclude that these debates are due to perceptions of social inequality as operationalized by the United Nations into six explicit categories: (1) inequalities in the distribution of income, (2) inequalities in the distribution of assets, (3) inequalities in the distribution of employment, (4) inequalities in access to knowledge, (5) political inequalities, and (6) inequalities in access to medical services, social security, and safety.[21]

3 thoughts on “How Museveni has manipulated national politics to enable him rule for life

  • May 7, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    The time is now for Africans to admit that independence was a mistake. Every post colonial leader has demonstrated that they are unable to lead a nation whether big or small. 60 years is a long time not to learn a thing or two. Before African independence was called for, if those leaders organizing the resistance had any understanding of what a nation state was/is all about, they would have taken time to study and understand the many tribal and ethnic groups in their own countries before telling colonial administrators to pack their bags and leave. Secondly, they should have worked with the colonial administrators to learn their techniques of ruling people whose languages they barely understood. Countries such as Uganda which did not spill any blood in the name of independence, should have worked hand in hand with colonial administrators in preparation for self-rule. After all, struggles in other parts of the continent such as Ghana, had triggered awareness in colonial administrators that they may not last long as rulers. A polite request by an aspiring African leader such as Apollo Milton Obote would have been entertained particularly if the Buganda king, Edward Mutesa was involved in that dialogue. Since none of this was done, Africa has found itself with selfish leaders from Cape Town to Cairo and from Abuja to Addis Ababa. With the exception of perhaps Botswana, no African country can claim success and enjoying the fruits of independence. Africa may do itself a favour and invite their former colonial masters back to take care of business. After all, through the welfare checks they hand to African leaders every year, they are still in charge. It is the same welfare check which has turned Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni into life president. Before Europeans return to take care of business, Ugandans should forget about party politics. It does not take 60 years to develop party politics.

    • June 26, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      An interesting article. However, first ask yourself, who helped Amin to come to power in Uganda?
      Who killed Patrice Lumumba in Congo? Who kept Mobutu in power? Who made sure that Gaddifi is killed?
      Who supplies and makes sure there are endless wars in Arab countries? Sincere answers to these questions may make the writer think twice,

    • July 2, 2017 at 1:56 am

      Mr. Peter Magosi,
      Thank you for appreciating this brief article. In your response you did mention Amin, Lumumba and Ghadafi as representatives of external power. True to some extent. However, one thing that students of colonialism as well as intellectuals and academics have failed to point out over the decades, Africa was colonized at a time when the world was divided on ideological lines Marxism, Socialism, Communism and Capitalism if you will. Africans did not understand any of these terms until education opened their eyes and minds, The type of education early Africans received was not directed towards the development of their societies, but an image of Europeans in a far away land. By the time people such as Jomo Kenyatta, Kwameh Nkrumah, Abdel Nassar, Patrice Lumumba and Julious Nyerere to mention a few realized that what was being taught had nothing to do with transformation of their societies, it was already too late. In the end, these leaders who had very little understanding what the interest of Europeans was, they took arms to get rid of them without knowing what they would do next. Unknown to these leaders was that Colonialism had already brainwashed a few of them such as Mobutu. What these leaders failed to understand was that the wars they were fighting were proxy wars representing the interest of the very same people they are fighting. Due to lack of this understanding, African leaders turned against their own people by denying them every fundamental human rights and instead continue the policy of divide and rule. When the ordinary people organize themselves to get rid of these leaders, they call these people rats as Ghadafi did until he was found hiding in a water pipe this time becoming a rat himself. To address your concern, had African leaders truly fought for the freedom and rights of their, leaders such as Lumumba, Ghadafi etc would have not died the way their did. Africa is still very far away from achieving independence if at all that is even possible. African leaders have invested too deep in external interest to break away from it being causing civil war as a payout.


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