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Why Muhoozi Kainerugaba is the candidate to beat

Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba

Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba

I will say one more time that if calamity demobilizes Bwana Museveni before the 2026 election, our newly minted chief of defence forces, comrade Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, will manage to body his way to the presidency.

If Museveni appoints him VP within the next two years, that is, before any life-threatening calamities strike him, it would be an easy ride for the young general. (Well, he isn’t really young). But whatever happens thereafter, he will have to organise an election to claim his legitimacy to the former bosses of his father: the IMF and the World Bank.

My prayer is that we do not slide in the direction of Sudan with warlords taking over Kampala. I smell a purge within the armed forces — or is it already happening? Again, if Gen Kainerugaba manages to impose himself on the entirety of the UPDF, and all armed groups, he will be left with us to deal with: the wananchi — as he wrestles for legitimacy.

I want to propose to all change-seeking Ugandans to prepare for this candidate. My contention is that this candidate will be weaker, and beating him is a real possibility.


It is a double jeopardy for Kainerugaba that his father is both the gold standard, and the ghost that will haunt him. On the one hand, he will be endlessly measured against his father’s accomplishments, many of which he does not measure up to!

And on the other, his father’s many, many crimes and failures will be used against him. For the most part of his reign, Yoweri Museveni has had 1981 - 1986 in his pocket. He called this the struggle. The resistance. He has deployed this ‘liberationist narrative’ throughout his presidencies, often reminding the country about how he brought us peace.

“We can now sleep.” To this end, many folks in the countryside and elderly individuals believed him.

He tried to impose this onto the much- younger generation, claiming he was the grandfather of the country. He has not been very successful, but he can claim it. But beyond this liberationist claim- making, Museveni also enjoyed the bragging rights of hardboiled rebel leader who fought his way to the presidency.

He went through the furnace. That is material for movie heroes, and wins over hearts. On the other hand, despite being a full four-star general of his father’s force, even his bosom buddies can see through his claim to stardom: he is the son of the big man. Such a resume is only appealing when one has royal blood.

I have endlessly appealed to Muhoozi Kainerugaba to, at least, pretend to coup his dad, become the opposition hero, and accuse the old man of all the crimes the general Kampala public accuses him of. It would be cinematic but if he managed to pretend to jail or exile his father — even if this meant turning Luzira into a Serena of sorts, this would elevate his heroic appeal.

Sadly, Kainerugaba hasn’t heeded my calls thus far. That he is being pampered by his father to the presidency doesn’t look good at all.

Second: from the videos we have seen from our CDF’s public appearances, the jury has it that in Museveni’s case, “glowing fire seems to always beget cold impotent ash.”

I still do not understand why Muhoozi’s handlers have not set him up for a show on either NBS’s “The Morning Breeze” or Capital FM’s “the Capital Gang,” or NTV’s “On the Spot,” to debate “fiscal policy.” Does he really want this thing?

You have to give it to Museveni that despite being a worker for the IMF and the World Bank—that have so committedly sustained him—he is a superb performer for the political stage. He made his hold onto power look like a product of his own genius. Before age took hold of him, this man’s oratory eloquence was undeniable.

Then he knew how to play chess with Buganda, the Catholic Church, and buy off opposition. The man also knew how to position himself as a regional actor, allowing in refugees en masse, becoming a mercenary force in Somalia, South Sudan, CAR, Afghanistan, which made him indispensable to our racist and extractivist friends in the Western world. It remains unclear whether Gen MK commands any of these credentials.


While Museveni stole most of his elections, he actually began from a good place. He would claim support in the countryside, among the elderly, and working through the local councils. He cultivated this at the beginning of his reign, which eased his way to the next ‘victory.’

Museveni knew most of the people in key positions, not just via appointment, but also personally. He also had a file on their vulnerabilities. In addition to many believing his genius and promise.

Besides having nothing to throw on the table, it is highly doubtable that folks in the different layers of government actually believe in the Kainerugaba presidency and are ready to commit crimes against their consciences so as to realise this presidency. That is doubtable.

Again, too bad for Gen Kainerugaba for the last 20 years, his father’s reign has had the least ratings. The old man has failed at any metric of governance: be it the fight against corruption, the fight against poverty, extravagant government spending, human rights, public health or public infrastructure, the man has nothing to record home.

It is this empty legacy that Kainerugaba is inheriting. In writing this opinion, my audience are folks interested in a new management of this country — including myself: (a) Museveni should not be the target this time, even if he stands in 2026.

He cannot do another seven years. (b) I’m not an advocate of political party unity, but activism, movements, and project-driven unions, which have to die at the conclusion of the project. (More on this next week). But suffice to mention, there is a project on the horizon.


The author is a political theorist based at Makerere University.


+5 #11 Lysol 2024-04-07 05:03
The boy is free to participate in any elections as an ordinary Ugandan, in a level playing field, where elections are free and fair.

He should not be imposed onto Ugandans because of his privileged position. That would be a big mistake and he will not survive long in power.

Museveni knows that very well, and maybe that is why he is trying to isolate him by appointing him as the Chief of his militias. Maybe, he is also preparing the boy to be the future warlord after he is gone.

The problem here is, there is no such thing as free and fair elections in Uganda. It's a complete waste of time and resources.
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