- Posted January 6, 2014 by
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Is realpolitik enough to explain Uganda’s relations with its neighbours? Why, if the Sudan question is so volatile are the Ugandan authorities willing to risk being burned by its fire? It appears to me at least that state-making is shaping up to be a multi-nation process in the Great Lakes and Ugandan participation is a direct result of the military state that sits at the heart of its so-called democratic enterprise. If not checked, Uganda has been intimidating the weak regional nations by posing as their ‘god father’. Museveni is a member of the Banyankole ethnic group and his surname, Museveni, means “Son of a man of the Seventh“, in honour of the Seventh Battalion of the King’s African Rifles, the British colonial army in which many Ugandans served during World War II. While studying economics and political science at the University of Dar es Saalam, 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. Studying under the leftist Walter Rodney, among others, Museveni wrote a university thesis on the applicability of Frantz Fanon’s ideas on revolutionary violence to post-colonial Africa. Museveni is a very corrupt politician who has embezzled Uganda’s wealth for his own benefit. Mr Museveni, who fought an election with posters depicting him as Rambo, bought a new 562mph plane while millions of civilians struggled to feed themselves. The Gulfstream G550 can carry 18 passengers in comfort and has been dubbed the ‘world’s most versatile and stylish ultra-long-range jet.’ British aid money was used to buy the jet, a revelation which highlights the controversy of hard-pressed British families being asked to fork out higher taxes to pay for spurious aid projects.
Allegations regarding significant corruption have also shaped criticism of the Museveni regime. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2012 Human Rights Report on Uganda, “The World Bank’s most recent Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected corruption was a severe problem” and that “the country annually loses 768.9 billion shillings ($286 million) to corruption. A specific scandal, which had significant international consequences and highlighted the presence of corruption in high-level government offices, was the embezzlement of $12.6 million in donor funds from the Office of the Prime Minister in 2012. These funds were “earmarked as crucial support for rebuilding northern Uganda, ravaged by a 20-year war, and Karamoja, Uganda’s poorest region.” This scandal prompted the E.U., The U.K., Germany, Denmark, Ireland and Norway to suspend aid.
The Petroleum Bill – passed by the Ugandan Parliament in 2012 – which was touted by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) as bringing transparency to the oil sector has failed to please domestic and international political commentators and economists. The new law was tantamount to handing over an ATM (cash) machine to Museveni and his regime. Uganda now has oil reserves that have the potential to double the government’s revenue within six to ten years, worth an estimated US$2.4bn per year. On 17 November 2005, Museveni was chosen as the NRM’s presidential candidate for the February 2006 elections. His candidacy for a further third term sparked criticism, as he had promised in 2001 that he was contesting for the last term. The arrest of the main opposition leader Kizza Besigye on 14 November – charged with treason, concealment of treason and rape – sparked demonstrations and riots in Kampala and other towns. Museveni’s bid for a third term, the arrest of Besigye, and the besiegement of the High Court during a hearing of Besigye’s case (by a heavily armed Military Intelligence (CMI) group dubbed by the press as “Black Mambas Urban Hit Squad”), led Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to withhold economic support to Museveni’s government due to concerns about the country’s democratic development. On 2 January 2006 Besigye was released after the High Court ordered his immediate release. The Supreme Court of Uganda later ruled that the election was marred by intimidation, violence, voter disenfranchisement, and other irregularities. However, the Court voted 4-3 to uphold the results of the election.
Museveni is being accused, by a general who is breaking ranks with the military high command, of grooming his son to take over power. His son, a senior army officer named Muhoozi Kainerugaba, has been rapidly promoted over the years, leading some to believe that he is being groomed to succeed his father. Last year he was made an army brigadier in changes that also saw him become the top commander of the country’s special forces, an elite unit widely seen as the most powerful in the military. The special forces guard the country’s oil installations and are also in charge of the president’s security. In this position Kainerugaba answers directly to his father. Kenyan political leaders have flown to Entebbe’s State House for ‘advice and blessings’ from a dictator suppressing his people by reliance on Black Mambas on the streets. Whether this is by design or the consequence of the presence of weak states around Uganda for that entire period is certainly for debate. There are those who reason foreign policy as something that is “done” to African governments. They would be wrong half the time.
Uganda threw its weight behind Mwai Kibaki in the disputed 2007 elections by sending UPDF troops to murder rigged election protesters and later behind Uhuru Kenyatta in last year- even as Kenyan politics like Sudanese politics has many musical chairs with the same actors. In recent years, as we noted, several of the Kenyan politicians vying to succeed at the general elections have been beating a path to Museveni’s doorstep in Kampala. Raila Odinga, the man opinion polls always claimed to be in the lead to win the presidency, has been there. So have Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi; current President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and Eugene Wamalwa. Are we grooming a tyrant and endorsing him as the regional commandant? I will discard that during my presidency. The Post Election Violence that Museveni engineered was costly for Uganda. Ugandans were attacked, and several Ugandan-registered trucks were attacked and their drivers killed in Kenya during that period. The supply route from Mombasa to Uganda was closed. In Kibera, Raila’s constituency, youth activists uprooted the railway line to disrupt traffic to Uganda. The ensuing economic crisis was so bad that fuel prices at the pump in Uganda shot up nearly 70% – and several percentage points were knocked off national growth for that year. Museveni’s support for Kibaki undermined him greatly with ODM. When he came to Nairobi to try and help in the negotiations between Kibaki and Raila, he gave it one shot, and never returned. Museveni forgets that this history may repeat itself as the number of disgruntled Kenyans are increasing by the day. Kampala authorities went into a state of shock when Gen. John Garang De Mabior died. His chopper, an aircraft loaned to him by the Ugandan president, fell out of the sky and burnt to ashes. It was telling that De Mabior, a national figure in Sudan, its first Vice President under an impending separation agreement between the north and south of the country, had taken an emergency trip to Uganda amidst rising tensions within his own party. This was not unusual for Kampala that for years has been a stopover for many real and wannabe revolutionaries, their delegations, international do-gooders and other war profiteers. The SPLA, Sudan’s ruling army and movement, it would later be revealed had been wound so tight by the time of Dr Garang’s visit that many in the know expected an implosion.
Widespread speculation as to the cause of the crash led Museveni, on 10 August, to threaten the closure of media outlets which published “conspiracy theories” about Garang’s death. In a statement, Museveni claimed such speculation was a threat to national security. “I will no longer tolerate a newspaper which is like a vulture. Any newspaper that plays around with regional security, I will not tolerate it – I will close it.” The following day, popular radio station KFM had its license withdrawn for broadcasting a debate on Garang’s death. Radio presenter Andrew Mwenda was eventually arrested for sedition in connection with comments made on his KFM talk show. As it was explained to me, Dinka factions, one led by De Mabior and another by Salva Kiir Maryadit were expecting a face-off. De Mabior had apparently ordered Salva’s arrest. During the week and before his plane went missing military handlers of his guards were forced to, according to one source, separate armed representatives of the two factions by housing them in different parts of the city to avoid a violent confrontation. A rumour had been going on that some of De Mabior’s guards had been poisoned.
Many have had their say over these events but what probably happened is that a major confrontation, similar to the one we are witnessing now in South Sudan had been avoided with Garang’s untimely and tragic death. It was mainly owed to embarrassing revelations of the ugly disagreements within the SPLA/M that KFM had been shut down.Front and center even then was the Neur leader and future Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny. He had thrown his considerable weight behind Salva Kiir and had been vital to what was in fact an internal coup within the party. Some saw his actions for what they were; a careful investment- intended for a future at the Presidency. Last month, it appears, Salva traded places with the late Garang, and facing an internal revolt similar to 2005, he is rumored to have ordered Machar’s arrest. The rest is history. Ugandan servicemen have been placed under Salva Kiir’s control. The actual number is unknown but probably significant for other reasons as well. There is poorly concealed discomfort with Salva’s opponent Dr. Riek Machar whose role as broker for the relationship between Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony and the patronage of SPLA’s arch enemy, the Khartoum government has not been forgotten. It is also probable that for a long serving military leader, a perpetual shape-shifter, albeit one as gifted as Dr. Machar, goes against the grain of unquestioned loyalty that holds together the perpetuity of long reigning regimes. Perhaps lastly but not least if Uganda’s biases are questioned as others including Machar- what would a South Sudan policy encounter should he return victorious to Juba?
My fellow upcoming East African politicians, war is a terrible business. But today’s conflicts have been made worse by the skewed application of a language of the ethics of contemporary state building. The language of democracy, governance, elections and accountability applied to all and sundry has led many down the twisted garden path. Should we win our various countries elections, we will have to do something to eradicate imperialism from the EAC. I am ready to go to war to ‘pluck feathers’ of autocratic rulers. With Kenyans referendum and backing, I will acquire special mandate from the UN Security Council to wage this special war which I will dub ‘Operation Terrain Shark’ to remove Yoweri Museveni. To ensure success, four conditions will have to be met. Similar to those identified by German military planners in late 1939, they will include elimination of the Ugandan Air Force to ensure air superiority, clearing of the Malaba Border of mines and the laying of Kenyan mines, the emplacing of artillery along the Lake Victoria islands, and preventing the Ugandan secretive Navy from interfering with the landings. For the plan to work on Lake Victoria, Migingo island will have to be taken back by force as it stands as the primary war launch pad for Museveni on Luos and other Lake Victoria communities. We will have to equip our armed forces to protect Kenyans from being mentally abused and intimidated by this union between Mt Kenya Mafia and Museveni. This union has cost innocent Kenyans lives, families, homes, businesses, robbed us of rightfully won elections while he Museveni was gradually extending his negative energy on Kenyan territory. Kenyans, you must support me in this course to free our region from political terrorists. We must not allow Black Mamba like cadets on Nairobi and other major towns’ streets. This is impunity at its climax rhythm, and misleading counsel from Museveni to Kenyan Government. No way!!