Typical of Africa’s big-man “liberators”, Yoweri Museveni is unlikely to hand over power to another leader. He has reached a point where he believes he alone is qualified to rule Uganda. Contrary to his self-glorification, Museveni is not in power because Ugandans love him. Rather, he has carefully manipulated national politics to enable him to rule for life – so writes Vick L Ssali.
In a recent interview with the Doha-based Al-Jazeera TV, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni lied to the “young man” interviewing him, to Ugandans and to the Al-Jazeera audience worldwide. He also looked calm as he lied all through the interview, and that was scary! He dodged the numerous questions about the rationale (or irrationality) of clinging to power beyond his legitimate mandate. He insincerely justified his 31-year stay in power as a constitutional right while aware of the way the law of the land was desecrated two decades ago to remove term limits.
There are rumours he is bent on removing age-limits and stand again in 2021. He couldn’t say it openly, but it was obvious he has two deceptive self-convictions: One, that he is the only Ugandan (out of 40 million) who can meaningfully lead the country (and the East African region) to its God-given destiny: And two, that he has the right, as a liberator, to rule for life. He also told the world that any other aspiring leaders should content themselves with district (and other administrative units) leadership.
Never mind that the decentralization drive that has created over 130 districts (from 33 in 1986) is crumbling under the weight of patronage. He gave false reasons for keeping any serious contender to the presidency, such as Besigye, on the edge. He didn’t seem bothered by the death of over 100 people in Kasese at the hands of his security forces even when he was challenged on the irrationality of holding only one side of the confrontation in detention. He accurately quoted the Oxfam (2016) appraisal of 19.7 per cent of the population below the poverty line by 2014 as opposed to nearly 56 per cent in 1992. Nevertheless, he didn’t (and wouldn’t) acknowledge the fact that the Oxfam report in question was actually focusing on the sad reality of gross horizontal inequalities in a country where the richest 10 per cent of the population enjoy 35.7 per cent of national income; the poorest 10 per cent claim a meagre 2.5 per cent, and the poorest 20 per cent have only 5.8 per cent.