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Ethiopia PM resignation big lesson for Uganda

On February 15, 2018, Uganda’s main political parties discussed the theme ‘The embattled continent: Crisis of political transition in Africa’ at a seminar organized by Makerere University’s political science students.

I represented the FDC president, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, on a panel that included DP president general Norbert Mao and a commissioner from the National Guidance directorate who represented NRM secretary general Justine Kasule Lumumba. Yes, the NRM was represented by a civil servant, something Mao amplified to his discomfort.

Fate has its own course, because even the organizers couldn’t have predicted that Jacob Zuma would be used as an illustration at this seminar, also attended by Kyambogo and Nkumba university students.

Zuma, who had just resigned as South African president, competed for mention at the seminar with Ethiopia’s prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who almost simultaneously announced his resignation that same day. The two leaders of very powerful African states were forced to resign by different circumstances.

While Zuma’s resignation is something almost everybody expected, especially in the last days, the one of Desalegn was a shocker. A shocker because Ethiopia is a police state and citizens have for long been at the mercy of rulers.

I have visited Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa a number of times and I can only compare it with Kigali. Very promising infrastructural development and efficient government machinery, but no liberty almost at all.

How did these subjugated souls, trampled upon for decades, rise up to force a powerful prime minister to resign? I think Ethiopia is now a very good destination for benchmarking by the Ugandan opposition.

South Africa offers only statistical value because the conditions there are completely different from ours. The African National Congress (ANC), President Jacob Zuma’s political party, is not or has not been turned into someone’s political enterprise; the judiciary is independent and attempts to turn the state into the president’s private company have failed.

The judiciary indicted a sitting president, thereby helping an equally-powerful ruling political party to tip him away. Both these factors are lacking in Uganda. Here, the words government and NRM mean Yoweri Museveni. The government is like his personal company and NRM his clan. The judiciary and parliament have also been co-opted. Therefore, it is Ethiopia that should offer us some hope.

That is why our focus as a country should be Ethiopia that has the same ingredients like Uganda’s. They have a revolutionary government that keeps a very tight grip on power and a ruling elite from a small ethnic group called Tigray. This small ethnic group constitutes just six per cent of the whole Ethiopian population estimated at about 85 million. The small ethnic group fought a guerrilla war and removed Col Haile Mariam Mengistu.

That is why the protests that have eventually forced the prime minister to resign began in Oromia region whose (Oromo) people constitute 34.4 per cent of the population and has spread to Amhara who constitute 27 per cent of Ethiopia’s population.

I don’t believe in majority ethnic groups dominating others like the Kikuyu have done in Kenya, but I also hate a minority group imposing itself on the rest for a long time. That is why transparent periodic elections are important. Ethiopia is, therefore, a big lesson to our revolutionary leaders who led a guerrilla war and removed a government.

Another important factor is that the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) had just won elections in 2015. It won 500 seats out of 547. The NRM here has 300 seats in a parliament of 455. Like in Ethiopia, most of the remaining seats are held by NRM allies like the army and independents.

Therefore, use of the state security apparatus and money to win elections is no insurance. That is what NRM must learn.

The BBC noted in an analysis that nothing sparked off riots in Ethiopia that have claimed more than 400 lives so far. It was accumulation of years of frustration from ethnic groups that are marginalized. The Ethiopian wave may come and pass like the Arab Spring did, but I am convinced the wave that will finally uproot this ruling kifeesi is about to happen.

Happen because even when you look at statistics, Africa is getting at least five new leaders every year. We are hardly two months into 2018 and already three leaders have left power in South Africa, Ethiopia and Liberia, circumstances of their departure notwithstanding.

Last year, there was change of leaders in Angola, Gambia, Lesotho, Somalia and Zimbabwe. And in 2016, new leaders took over the state mantle in Benin, the Comoros and Sao Tome and Principe. In 2015, there was change in leadership in Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia.

Even on the basis of statistics, the writing is on the wall. Those who think removal of age limits will necessarily guarantee Museveni many more years might be mistaken. The man is going; but my fear is that he may go down with our country.


The author is Kira Municipality MP and opposition chief whip in parliament.


-1 #11 Akot 2018-02-23 19:17
ejakait engoraton, understood!

It's frightening how Ugandans are helping museveni own their country withsuch politeness-gratitude-respect...for the thief & conqueror!

Is our disrespect-hatred-dislike...of one another tribally so deep that it blinds us as to museveni's intentions?

Which tribal will still have tribal land when the entire zone is handed over to museveni & who will help Ugandans get back their country knowing they, Ugandans, gave it as present to museveni?

Why is Acholi part of this sell out of our country?

After the country is officially-legally-constitutionaly museveni's, will Acholi be his military base & Amuru ground for growing food to feed Rwandese-refugees-migrants...?

Why are Ugandans playing with the demon?
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0 #12 Akot 2018-02-23 19:25
Quoting Lysol:
Museveni has reached a point of no return in his political life.

He will never resign and would prefer to die keeping himself into power. Unfortunately for him , sometimes, the end comes unexpectedly.

Agreed, yet,

Even if museveni drops dead now, his family will still be in command & if the country is constitutionally theirs with all documents signed/passed in parliament, the difference will still be the same: it's musevni or his wife/son who will own the country!

So, is our Unity so dangerous face to this circle that will always bring us to museveni & family?
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+2 #13 Grace E 2018-02-23 22:59
Haile Mariam Desalegn is not from Tigray. He was just a compromise choice after the death of strongman Meles Zenawi.

the Tigray elite chose him just like Pasteur Bizimungu was president of Rwanda after RPF victory.

He never had any real power. The reasons for his resignation are a matter of debate.
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+1 #14 Jama 2018-02-26 14:48
Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia are countries where a minority ethnic group rules over the entire nation on gun point by sometimes pretending to organise half baked elections.

As for Kenya where they have a Republican army and police the Kikuyu profit from their numerous advantage to dominate democratically

As to you're worry of seeing the supreme liberator go to exile or take Uganda with him to the grave (these are the two alternatives left for him since he door behind him of what seemed the most logical solution of handing over power to a democratically elected successor in decent manner) that will never happen, be assured honourable Semuju.

He will leave this country as those who came before him did.
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0 #15 Lysol 2018-02-27 00:34
Quoting Grace E:
Haile Mariam Desalegn is not from Tigray. He was just a compromise choice after the death of strongman Meles Zenawi.

the Tigray elite chose him just like Pasteur Bizimungu was president of Rwanda after RPF victory.

He never had any real power. The reasons for his resignation are a matter of debate.

Most of the current East African leaders are bootlickers of their Western backers. None of them have real power, asides from appeasing their masters. That's why they keep one Museveni there until he drops dead.
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+1 #16 Jama 2018-02-27 14:21
In the ex Zaire Mobutu Seseko was convinced that he was eternal, after a coup de etat which brought him on power.

He baptized himself Seseko (meaning eternal in lingala) after setting the security apparatus under the dominance of his Ngwande tribesmen and other tribes from equatorial region,where he originated.

After 32yrs of tyranny and self enrichment he was booted out. This eternal leader was laid to rest for eternity in a Moroccan cemetery by led than 20 family members. Military tribalism is fragile and limited.
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0 #17 Akot 2018-02-27 15:39
Jama, understood, yet,

For Uganda, museveni does not come from any tribe in the zone, & does not care in what state he will live it, if he does!

Museveni has made it clear he is going no where unless thrown out by the very people who took him in & this can only be in UNITY!

Remember, when Daniel arap Moi, Kalenjin I believe, was presiedent of Kenya & the country was at peace because Luo & Kikuyu were not fighting for the post trying to settle long time family differences!

Uganda MUST UNITE & then go for the kind of governance they want: museveni will continue using our people against one another while they hand over their country to the common enemy in peace!
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0 #18 Akot 2018-02-27 15:45
Jama, agreed.

Mobuto is good e.g for Ugandans, this is why Ugandans MUST UNITE around 1 of their own so that the DRCongo play is not seen in Uganda! If there was National leadership in DRCongo, their country would have been at peace immediately after Mobuto!

Rwandese are fighting DRCongo army, yet the rest of the world say it's Ugandan rebelles doing so!

If those rebelles were Ugandans, would they not be fighting museveni?
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