UGANDA: Is Sabalwaanyi Museveni a hostage of sex, money and power?
By Andrew Karamagi
“My son Andrew, he wants power while the vultures around him want money,” was the response from my former lecturer to a text message I sent inquiring about her take on whether the incumbent occupant of State House is being held hostage by the convoluted web of largely illicit, ethnic, amorous and armed interests around him and is no longer able to act with the degree of latitude that should come with that Office.
The premise of my inquiry is that in the two years following the naked theft of the recent presidential elections, we have witnessed so many outrages including the ferocious and unresolved murder of senior Police Officer Andrew Felix Kaweesi, the evolution of corruption into brazen looting and aggressive plunder, the undeclared but ongoing war between and within the police, intelligence agencies and the military, the unresolved serial killings of twenty seven women, the rise of state-sponsored armed gangsters, land grabbing by gun-wielding herdsmen and the routine emptying of our national coffers to bailout dubious business interests among other horrendous scams against the people of Uganda.
Matters have degenerated so badly and there doesn’t seem to be anyone able to rein in especially the well-connected Mafia, within and without the regime—most of whom are related to the ruling Family by blood, marriage or other interests.
No Minister, Head of a Statutory Authority or Government Institution/Department can dare say or do anything to address any of the above. At least Amelia Kyambadde routinely cries in public. Police and other law enforcement simply promise to “investigate” and that is where it stops. Vice President Kiwanuka Ssekandi simply blurs these serious issues by whiling away the afternoons and evenings at his favourite watering hole in Rubaga. The Chief Justice while addressing a press conference after a state-sponsored mob raided a Court in Makindye in 2016, appealed to a hapless and vanquished population to help him pushback against the assault on the judicial branch. The darling but spineless House Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga already sold her soul to the creeping Dynasty, thereby reducing Parliament into a clearing and forwarding house—with the exception of about two dozen or so sober legislators who understand what is going on. Cabinet is effectively impotent as shadowy interests pull the strings.
Mr. Museveni the only person in Uganda who wields titles like Commander-in-Chief, First Citizen, Fountain of Honour, Head of State, Chief Executive and audaciously named himself “Ssaabalwaanyi” (Fighter of all Fighters) equally cannot do anything to restore sanity.
He can only bide his time or play one cartel or cabal against the other. At sunrise he will support one of the many warring Muslim factions, offer them a sack of money and by noon, he will be meeting the head of yet another splinter group and at sunset will dine with a third bloc, telling them how he understands their plight: for good measure, he will appoint their leader as Senior Presidential Advisor on something. This duplicity is the same approach he uses when it comes to cultural institutions, ‘foreign investors’, turf wars within his cult called the National Resistance Movement and within the Great Lakes region as the flames of war displace, maim and kill millions of Africans in the Undemocratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and South Sudan.
Intra- and interagency disputes are handled similarly. Little wonder he had to bypass all protocol and physically appeared in the matatu bus park to quell an imminent riot over parking fees. He abolished the impugned levy and within hours, was asking the Kampala Capital City Authority to find a way of re-imposing the same levy he had abolished. His self confessed attack dog Tamale Mirundi owns a fleet of matatus and so is the case with many of his handlers who cannot separate their private interests from the public good.
Rumours abound about how Museveni has occasionally had to mediate feuds between his ministers and bodyguards over wives and girlfriends!
The latest in this series of state capture is the schisms within the police/military/intelligence community. From a Political Science perspective, one of the benchmarks for an effective state is its ability to maintain a monopoly of violence or the means thereof. In the case of Museveni’s Uganda, the ideal monopoly of violence that the state should enjoy has been significantly challenged by NRM-affiliated vigilantes, armed bandits and robbers in suits. The dreaded criminal outfit Kifeesi even held a press conference assuring the public of a peaceful festive season while at the same time confessing to aggravated robbery and murder in cahoots with senior police officers.
It is now customary for the rogue Kale Kayihura, the tainted head of our country’s frontline civilian law enforcement institution to be implicated in a litany of indiscretions and crime—ranging from the partisan and brutal suppression of dissent to capital offences like treason, terrorism and murder—with barefaced impunity and shameless treachery.
Under Kayihura’s warlord-like approach to policing, the Force has not only successively come out on top in corruption surveys and studies but has also degenerated into an armed wing of the ruling political class (there is no ruling Party) and Kayihura’s personal fiefdom in which (as was aired in the news a while ago) he routinely suspends (senior) police officers by word of mouth and in unsavoury language, sans a fair hearing…the latest episode being in Mubende where he even used the word “gasiya!” (garbage) while ostensibly admonishing his senior officers.
For all his (apparent) power, Museveni is stranded and looking for ways to contain an insurgent Kale Kayihura and his top lieutenants. Short of decisive and urgent remedial measures, we are on course for outright anarchy… but who will crack the whip? Who is in charge?
As I work towards a conclusion, my thesis is as follows:
Dictators are as captive as the populations they misrule. The concentrated power they wield reduces them into conduits for abuse and misuse of public resources. They are unable to take decisions freely and in the public interest. With the blind and incorrigible support of Washington, London, Paris, Brussels and lately Beijing, Yoweri Museveni built this monster whose strength is increasingly taking a toll on his administration’s ability to ensure basic functionality, law and order.
Regardless of whether (like me) you do not consider him to be the legitimate President of Uganda, the question I leave to you, Dear Reader is this:
Does the current occupant of our country’s highest office find himself in the situation of the legendary hyena’s quandary (of the childhood tales featuring the crafty Mr. Hare) in which the hyena did not know whether to swallow the hot rock that was wrapped in delicious fat and endanger its life or to save itself and spit out the rock but miss out on savouring the great-tasting mound of fat wrapped around the piece of rock?
If the answer to that question is in the affirmative—as is the case in my opinion—can he still faithfully exercise the functions of the President of Uganda; uphold, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and observe the laws of Uganda and promote the welfare of the people of Uganda so help him God as the Oath he swore by requires?
Your guess is as good as mine!