Cheeye: Muhoozi Project was a hoax!
KAMPALA (UGANDA CONFIDENTIAL) – President Yoweri Museveni may have wished his son General Muhoozi Kainerugaba to succeed him as the anointed heir president of Uganda. Luckily for Ugandans in particular and Africa in general, General Muhoozi brooks no such family presidency project. Indeed Karl Marx (1818-1883) said that “Men make history but not as they please”.
In 2016 Mr. Museveni removed General Muhoozi from being the commander of the Presidential Special Force that guards him. Museveni’s atomization of his decorated son, perplexed many people. In this article I show that General Muhoozi’s heart had never wished to ride on the back of his father’s favors, let alone wish to be anointed the president of Uganda, by his father.
Background: One day in 2012, while still in Luzira Upper Prison, a young Muhima man, called Brian Funzi, who was on a remand, come to see me in my room. Among the many things he told me was that as a young Muhima man, he was aware of the “Muhoozi Project” and even supported it. The “Muhoozi Project” aimed at making General Muhoozi succeed his father as the next president of the Republic of Uganda. I instantly told Mr. Funzi that their “Muhoozi Project” was a hoax which would never succeed in Uganda of today.
Mr. Funzi was very dismissive of my sagacious foreboding. Why did I correctly believe then, and still believe even today, that General Muhoozi would never accept to be anointed the next president by his own father? The answer dates way back to 1996 when Muhoozi, was just 23 years, fresh from the university, and still trying to find his bearings in life. One day in 1996, I telephoned the young Muhoozi, then working with his uncle General Salim Saleh in a private business.
I told Muhoozi that I wanted to talk to him face to face. He immediately gave me an appointment to see him at the Kampala International Conference Center at the Serena Hotel. At the agreed time, I met the young Muhoozi inside a store of plastic chairs — not a spacious office with imported furniture as one would have expected. I went straight to the point. I told the young Muhoozi that it was not prudent for him to work with his uncle, General Saleh in their private business.
I advised Muhoozi that as a leading and trusted political cadre, he should ideally go to the Ministry of Education and help General Jim Muwhezi who was the Minister of State for Education in charge of Primary Education. I wanted Muhoozi to help Gen Muwhezi succeed in implementing the newly launched Universal Primary Education (UPE). I told him that If UPE succeeded, it would give NRM elastic political dividends, and if it failed, NRM political capital would be totally whittled.
Muhoozi listened to me attentively. No interruptions. When I thought I had made my case, I told him that I wanted to hear his response. The young Muhoozi impetuously told me that he did not wish to serve in his father’s government, because whatever he would achieve would be attributed to his father’s favoritism. He told me that he wanted to strike it out just like any young man., and that he did not wish to get undue advantages. I told him that I respected his decision and wished him well. After three years, in 1990, Muhoozi was recruited in the army, and the rest is history. He became a Selectee General, most probably against his father’s wishes.
Putting General Muhoozi’s recalcitrance in the wider military sense: General Muhoozi’s refusal to do his father’s bidding is a sign of fundamental intellectual transformation within the elite armed forces.
The soldiers who carried out coups d’etats between 1960 and 1980 were largely uneducated, and mostly influenced by tribal or ethenic considerations. The UPDF leadership is largely educated. Therefore, UPDF is not aligned to any vertical religious, tribal or ethnical grouping. Indeed, UPDF has nothing to lose if one man (Museveni) is bowdlerized, just like Zimbabwean army did not have anything to lose when President Robert Mugabe was peacefully removed by his own supporters.
In addition, the military coups, atrocities, and brutalities of 1960-1980s were committed before the emergence of video social media global coverage, which now makes individual security officers accountable before local and global community. No educated military man or woman would like to be identified in the footage as the buffoonery abuser of individual human rights, or intervening in court orders and may even end even end up blacklisted by International Immigration services or even dragged to International Criminal Court (ICC).
Furthermore, the thirty years of peace has created a brotherhood and sisterhood among many Ugandans especially the young ones which cannot allow the emergence of the old tribal mistrust. The inter marriages between Ugandans has weaved a carpet of common fellowship that cannot easily allow the emergence of tribal animosity. Furthermore, the emergence of a wealthy military elite class makes the army leadership wish to maintain an international status quo in order to avoid a situation which would make international community label Uganda a rogue state, confiscate their bank accounts and ban them from going to Europe and Northern America.
That is why the Kenyan armed forces rejected President Paul Kagame’s advice to take over Government, at the height of 2007 mayhem. And that was precisely why the Zimbabwean army refused to overtly take-over Government in order to remove Mugabe.
That is why General Muhoozi’s refusal to be anointed heir President, and his avoidance to take active role in politics, should be seen as a sign of many good things to come from the intellectual men and women in uniform. And this is good news for a peaceful transition after President Museveni. The army after all may not be interested in taking over power as a section of Ugandans seems to fear.
In Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare (1564-1616) said: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrown upon them.” Gen. Muhoozi has achieved greatness by rejecting any form of greatness simply being thrown at him. Sources have told Uganda Confidential that General Muhoozi, has even applied to the Army Authority seeking to be discharged from the army so that he can lead a civilian life style.
Teddy Sseezi Cheeye