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Pains of building a kingdom in a ‘democracy’ & without royal blood

President Museveni

President Museveni

I have failed to shake off this feeling that every night before Gen Yoweri Museveni reclines in his bed — possibly for the last 15 years — he never stops wishing there was a kingdom called Uganda with him as king.

In this dream, his children and wives will be queens, princes, and princesses, and all clanmates, royalty. Because, despite running and enjoying Uganda like it were actually a kingdom — journalist Andrew Mwenda famously told us much in 2009 — Museveni lacks royal blood.

His wives, children and all kindred are just like all of us, bakopi, commoners in this thing called Uganda. There is no denying that the succession question — named as such and not transition — has preoccupied the mind of Museveni and his co-conspirators for a long time.

“How do we ensure we do not lose the wealth, power and influence we have accumulated as soon as the next government takes over?” And then, “how do we ensure a friendly government comes after our main hero, Yoweri Museveni?”

After much deliberation and soul-searching, they settled for the son, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba. And they have been manufacturing, panel-beating, and cobbling a president out of him.

Strangely, despite many people thriving and being closely associated with Museveni’s reign, it seems the king did not trust any other person outside of family. It could not be anybody else, however friendly and brilliant they may be.

But at the conclusion of this search, and upon reaching this decision, they were faced with one painful reality: they were not royalty – and Uganda is not a kingdom.

See, for royalty — actual kings and queens with royal roots — the announcement of the prospective king, even if this were a baby, is met with ululations and jubilation inside homes, gossip corners and alehouses. The crowning is met with general public affection, offers of gifts and messages of congrats from near and beyond. But Yoweri Museveni and family lack royal blood. Well, they could be royalty somewhere else, but not in Uganda.


As luck would have it, Museveni and co. thrived in a space where if one intended, opposition politicians can be bought off through the political system itself. Our colonisers, new and old — from Andrew Cohen to IMF and World Bank — managed to design a politics that is a bribe itself – a trap for the elite.

As Kalundi Serumaga meticulously elaborated recently, the LEGCO/parliament (add institutionalised civil society and NGOs) form “the primary channel through which the regime can widely, safely and continually interact with the political class as a whole,” bribing them and disconnecting them from the rest of the masses.

Museveni and co. have so seamlessly adopted the Cohen model, bribing whoever joined the political playing field. Opposition political parties, young and old, from DP, UPC, to the FDC, and more recently NUP are all in ruins, only keeping appearances while being eaten inside out.

You do not really have to shoot and kill anyone: Against neoliberal impoverishment, just “oil the system” in which they operate — throw money at them — and they will tear themselves apart.

Where does actual opposition exist? On the streets of Kampala and social media circles (which is regarded almost powerless, at best, inconvenient noise). The work of Dr Spire Ssentongo and Agatha Atuhaire, for example, can be dismissed as background noise. Or as highways to joining institutionalised politics, or non-governmental work, where the system will tactfully capture them.

But there exists real opposition in the armed forces. Indeed, Yoweri Museveni has been careful with appointments, deployments and retirements. The armed forces, specifically the UPDF (sadly, not much for regular police officers), have to be well-taken care of. Their saving scheme, Wazalendo, is the biggest in the country, and soldiers often get gigs abroad —Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan — to boost their incomes and morale.

Yes, because these folks carry weapons and have more tactical training, their anger has potential for serious opposition. Notice that theoretically, it is not possible for over 45,000 officers — young and old, from different villages and ethnics — to appreciate the idea of saluting a man whose only claim to importance is birth. Rifts might not exist, but sentiments have to be managed.

The Sunday Monitor lead story on March 24, 2024 enumerating the allies of the recently appointed ‘commander in chief ’, signal to the presence of adversaries in the same force. Or folks simply seated on the fence. Have we forgotten the witch-hunt against Gen David Sejusa when he signalled to a presence of the Muhoozi Project more than 10 years go?

Have we forgotten the rumours of death by poisoning of Gen Aronda Nyakairima for being opposed to the Muhoozi project? Definitely, for the success of a ‘succession without royal blood’ we will hear about or actually see more purges within the armed forces in the coming days. Because it appears now that the crowning is near.


Because Museveni and co., are only workers of IMF and the WB, and their bosses, sadly, understand one language, democracy, however pretentious. IMF and WB will only accept new management as long as they entered office ‘with the mandate of the people,’ which is an elected leader.

To this end, Museveni has a lot of work to do to earn their democratic trust. Museveni could appoint son, vice president, which directly puts him in line for the throne. But how does this go down in a country that pretends being a democracy? How will our bosses receive this?

Again, Museveni has to painfully gamble along, camouflage with this appointment and another, and ensure that something looking like a democracy is visible. Whatever happens, Gen Kainerugaba will have to organise an election — not for Ugandans, but for the actual bosses. But are all the stars aligned to successfully steal it?


The author is a political theorist based at Makerere University.


0 #11 Akot 2024-03-31 19:25
Quoting Remase:

Kivumbi is urging Ugandans to keep doing more of the same, going to the bogus elections, then expect different results!

With clear knowledge that elections organized by M7 won't and never will ever bring change to Uganda, Kivumbi is urging us to keep doing the same thing over and over again and keep expecting different results! Kivumbi struck all the right notes, but [on purpose] ended up with the wrong solution.


It's up to Ugandans, if they want chance, not to listen to fake opposition representers who are living well under M7 & want him to be legalised every 5 years!

No real opposer to M7 would even talk about going to yet another fake elections, knowiwng only M7 & his followers are winners!
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0 #12 Akot 2024-03-31 19:32
Quoting Remase:

Fellow Ugandans, to understand the dilemma we are facing to even be hopeful that one day change will come, you don't need to hear bogus opposition figures...!

Kivumbi and Segona are those in the opposition who are the beneficiaries of M7's autocracy and only interested in maintaining the status quo of more of the same thing!


Ugandans should by now know that they don't need mps as this only legalises, consitutionalise M7's ownership of their land, tax money, thus their enslavement!

M7 will rule with or without fake presidential election but NO to the tribalistic system & UNITY are all Ugandans need, if they want to be owners of the zone formed by their tribal lands & govern as they wish!

Ugandans, please, don''t listen to any of the so called opposition leaders any more, inless just ONE says NO to tribalism & sings you to UNITY!
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0 #13 Akot 2024-03-31 19:41
Quoting Lakwena:

...there is no happiness in dishonesty/falsehood.


Powerless tribally divided ruled Ugandans are ensuring their complete destruction, while Museveni watches with smile, knowing as long as the tribalistic system stands & Ugandans go along, him & family are safe in the zone that is their family business!

If Ugandans don't want to bring down the tribalistic system, the best they can do is not go for next fake elections to continue protecting Museveni & family legally, officially, constitutionally!
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0 #14 Akot 2024-03-31 19:48
Kamparaaa, so,

Ugandans won't stop fighting one another as Museveni has sons, grand kids...who will replace one another as & when needed!

And by maintaining the tribalistic system, fighting for posts, going for fake elections, Ugandans will continue ensuring their land belongs to Museveni's family for good legally, officially, constitutionally!
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0 #15 Remase 2024-04-01 08:59
Akot, my love for life, believe it or not, M7, his family, relatives and militants are set and/or on course to rule/own Uganda for life!

Unfortunately, Kyagulanyi, Muwanga Kivumbi, Lubega Segona, Mpuuga (the so called opposition figures) and their political parties are hell bent on urging Ugandans to keep doing the same thing [go to bogus elections] and keep us in expectation of different results! Whom should we blame?

M7, who is motivated by nepotism, tribalism, patronage, violence, militarism and sanctioned corruption or the opposition that is driven by greed?
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