By Tolberts Joseph Sibuta
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is the Fountain of Honor, the number one citizen; and reigning President of the republic Uganda, a post he has held continuously since 26th January 1986 when he was sworn in to date. He has run and masterminded the political game for the last 34 years and is still pushing hard like never before. He has maintained a rich name and preached his political gospel without fear or favor. Prior to his Presidency Museveni held a post in the Uganda intelligence service and led various resistance groups. Today, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has the Master key to State House and he believes only God can beat him at his own political game.
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Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was born on 15th September 1944. He is 76 years of age, by the time of publishing this piece.
Childhood, early life and career.
The President of Uganda was born in Ntungamo, in a typical Banyankole family of cattle herders. He grew up with a brother, Caleb Akandwanaho, popularly known as Salim Saleh and sister Violet Kajubiri. Museveni means “son of a man of the seventh” in honor of the seventh battalion of the Kings African Rifles. Museveni gets his middle name from his father, Amos Kaguta (RIP)
Education and association at school
Museveni attended Kyamate elementary school, Mbarara High school, and Ntare High school. In 1967, Museveni moved to Tanzania to begin studies at the famous Dar es Salaam University where he studied political science and economics gaining a bachelor’s degree in 1970, and he later became a Marxist, involving himself in radical Pan African politics. While at the University, he formed the University Students African Revolutionary Front activist group and led a student delegation to FRELIMO territory in Portuguese Mozambique, where he received guerilla training
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Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is a father, uncle and grandfather. He refers most of his supporters as the “bazzukulu” laterally meaning my grandchildren. Janet Museveni, also Minister for Education and Sports is the First lady. They have four children namely Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Natasha Museveni Karugire, Patience Museveni Rwabogo, and Diana Museveni Kamuntu.
Taking a stand in politics and liberation.
During General Amin’s reign, Museveni fled to Tanzania along with the then deposed President Dr Apollo Milton Obote. During the Uganda Tanzania war, Museveni formed the Front for National Salvation and later the popular National Resistance Army (NRA).
In 1970, Museveni joined the Uganda intelligence service, serving President Dr Apollo Milton Obote. In 1971 during the military coup led by General Idi Amin, Museveni fled Uganda for Tanzania along with many other figures from within the then deposed government, including former Apollo Milton Obote.
During Idi Amin’s rule, Museveni collaborated with exiled resistance forces in Tanzania while living in exile. He also served as a lecturer in a cooperative college in Moshi, northern Tanzania. In 1973, Museveni shifted his allegiances, leaving most mainstream groups in Opposition of Obote and forming the Front for National Salvation which later “gave birth” to the National Resistance Army (NRA) after the 1980 General elections which he said were rigged by Milton Obote.
Between 1981 and 1986, during the Ugandan bush war, Museveni and his allies moved to the southern rural regions of Uganda and formed the popular resistance army. Together, they organized a rebellion to overthrow the Obote regime. On 6th February 1981, Museveni and his colleagues (resistance forces) attacked an army installation at Kabamba in central Mubende.
On 27th July 1985, Apollo Milton Obote’s government fell due to the military coup led by Tito Okello Lutwa. Museveni and the NRA/M were angered by the power grab, claiming that their own efforts had been hijacked by “this boy” Okello and the UNLA. On 20th January 1986, Idi Amin’s supporters, aided by the Zairian (now the Democratic Republic of Kenya) military troops entered Uganda with the aim of overthrowing Okello. Within two days, the incursion had routed government troops from Kampala. As a result, Museveni was able to lead his own faction to victory over the capital city, over throwing Okello’s government. (“The famous people.com”)
The direction and “periscope” of “political light”
The NRM Budge
A brighter star?
Has Yoweri Kaguta Museveni learnt nothing and forgotten nothing from its predecessors?
I was not born by then (1986), but was told by a few elders and relatives who stormed the streets all over different parts of the country in celebration of NRA/M’s victory in 1986. The NRM then proclaimed an era of “fundamental change” based on a 10-point program whose principles had been elaborated during the liberation struggle, aimed at rescuing the “virgin” Uganda from “political rapists”. “A warm, damp wind of hope rose and blew around the nation”. The “political subservience” that had for many years been laid like a cloak around Uganda was wiped away as though it had never existed. With this, an old ailing gentle man said to me;
“Oooohh my dearest grandson, I experienced a wind of change, beacon of hope and saw a perfect savior (M7) who had come to hold my distressed motherland Uganda, by the shoulder and lead her into a democratic path, a path where the wish of the majority remains supreme and where the rule of law is held sacrosanct”.
The above is not a hypothetical statement. It’s reality. The implication of this statement was that the old ailing gentleman had great hope in the new liberation government (NRM) under President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Since 1986, President Museveni has pursued a comprehensive public sector reform agenda through increment of government ministries to make government leaner and easier to run. There has also been creation of districts, sub counties and villages to bring services nearer to the people.
The 1986 Luwero triangle liberation struggle left every element of political anarchy and “hysteria” dropped into the “political coffin basement”. After the bush struggle, (Luwero triangle war), a new chapter in Uganda’s political atmosphere was “ignited’’.
Uganda experienced drastically, a hope and new bright light shone over the entire nation. Why do I say a hope and new light shone? With stories from a few people (elders) who experienced other regimes such as the Idi Amin, Milton Obote, Tito Okello and others, I found it really fascinating that I have been able to experience this life of mine in this new bright light. What can I say? We are at some time privileged to see these things. One may ponder if there is any difference between Uganda in the late 70’s and Uganda of today. Only you and I can answer this question best. To me, I believe the best answer is, yes. Why do I say so? It is simply because Uganda’s economy has been steadily transformed right from the 70s to date. The present generation has not experienced scarcity of commodities.
Uganda has consistently been one of the fastest growing African economies, according to African research institute. Is this statement really true? And if yes, to what extent
And as emphasized by one of the 2016 Presidential aspirants Yoweri Kaguta Museveni with “steady progress” as a campaign theme, is it really 30 years of “steady progress”? Is there any difference between the colonial government and the NRM government?
Is it really steady progress?
By both national and international standards, Uganda is judged as having done well and remarkably under the visionary leadership of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. A while ago during the 77DOGS revival, radical Pastor Robert Kayanja exclaimed, “Uganda is no longer a poor country, we are not poor and we shall never be poor”.
It may seem difficult to do everything at once. But we can do one thing at a time. To most of the critics, “steady progress” basing on the long office reign of President Museveni means “nothing done” but instead “backwardness” since 1986. Most surprisingly, most of these critics did not witness the previous regimes. They have over the years criticized and discredited the government of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. But truth of the matter, “steady progress” can be compared to the famous saying; “a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”. You really can’t skip from level one to level ten. It’s a slow steady progressive process. To cap it all, the government of President Museveni has done a lot and is still doing its best to see Uganda a modern developed and “darling” country in the near future. I believe in Uganda, it’s really “steady progress”.
For the many years (31) of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s regime, the majorities of Ugandans have really experienced a conducive political environment by someone (Museveni) who is characterized by great wisdom, devoted to God, and has provided Ugandans with a conducive political environment that has surpassed in splendor anything Ugandans had hitherto known over the previous regimes before 1986.
“This is not a mere change of guard, it’s a fundamental change”,Said Museveni in his maiden speech.
On 29th January 1986, President Museveni addressed the nation (Ugandans) for the very first time as a national leader.
president Museveni giving his maiden speech in 1986, photo from Wikipedia
Uganda had been led by several (7) Presidents and a Presidential commission in the preceding 7 years who had “raped the then virgin economy.” Very few including me could have expected that President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni would remain at the helm of power 3O years later. Looking at where Uganda was in the last 38 years, I have come to realize that some leaders are not made but born. When I look at the flashback of the earlier regimes, as narrated by the elders, I really see that there is something special about President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. He is truly a father of this great nation Uganda. Transformation and integrity are tagged on his “face”. If I must say, in Africa and Uganda in particular, we have politicians and leaders, on the other hand, we have both politicians and leaders. It’s only a few special and distinguished and committed ones who are both. But why really do I say so?
Reminiscing the past?
In the early 70’s and 80’s, there was war, suffering, no rule of law and impunity in Uganda. It should be remembered that President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on 26th January, 1986 inherited a state that had been torn apart by religious differences and ethnic conflicts, the economy had been shattered by effects of colonialism, post-colonial political mismanagement, years of unstable leadership as well (even those that were there by then can adduce to it). People were largely illiterate, culturally diverse, linguistically fragmented and economically poor due to economic disintegration. Neo-colonialism too was on a “highway drive” since the attained independence on 9th October 1962 was to a great extent pseudo. Physical and political instability too were intense and on the “drive” since the security situation was too “fragile”. Several sectors such as the industrial, education, security and medical sectors had been diverted to “the dog’s kennel” and most had been abandoned.
The Uganda – Rwanda impasse.
A diplomatic feud between Rwanda and Uganda stopped most cross-border movements and activities between the two countries, a situation that has had a huge effect on daily life for families in both countries.
A row between the two neighboring countries has been simmering for the past two years but seems to have escalated when Rwanda closed its borders in February 2019. Both countries traded accusations of interference in each other’s affairs. Officially, the Rwandan government says the border is open but many people trying to cross over are not able to do so.
Who is/was being affected?
The impact of the border disruptions is extremely personal for local communities. I met a young Rwandan man; Deo Hategekawho expressed his anger and frustration that his means of earning a living had been disrupted by the border row.
He usually makes just over $5 (£3) a day working as a taxi conductor ferrying passengers across the border. Another Ugandan trader Bedia Nizeyimana, who runs a shop at the border, says his business is struggling.
The constitutional amendment of article 102
After coming out victorious yet again in the 2016 general elections, President Museveni began to lay the foundation for a 2021 run early after a bill crafted by an aligned legislator Raphael Magezi sought to extend the Presidential term limit was brought to the floor of the August house in October 2017. The Uganda Constitution was eventually amended with an overwhelming vote of 315 – 65.
The unrest with the bill first became visible within Parliament itself. In December, violence broke out of the August house floor during debates over the amendment of the Constitution.
The author Mr Tolberts Joseph Sibuta is a Law Student at Makerere University
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