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How Museveni applies the laws of holding onto power

In 1998, Robert Greene, an American

writer, released a book titled The 48 Laws of Power.

If I was looking for a one reference point to help me understand the actions of President Museveni and those around him, then this is it – of course not forgetting the Italian political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince.

Here I will only pick a few of the ‘laws’ he suggests and demonstrate them with examples from home to help us understand how and why certain things happen the way they do in our politics – the games people play to hold onto power, both on top and under.

It also particularly helps us contextualise the ‘good dog’ behaviour of some of our selfishly calculative politicians. I also recommend the psychology book Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid, edited by Robert Sternberg. Greene’s first law: Never outshine your master.

Call it the art of sycophancy. Try to make your boss feel superior and perhaps more intelligent than he/she is. You may need to show your talents, but carefully, not to steal the boss’ show and make them feel insecure.

Compare Prof Gilbert Bukenya and Edward Ssekandi here. Bukenya went too far in showing his abilities with his upland rice initiatives and showing he could even be Museveni himself – by perfecting mimicry. You heard the loud kick that followed.

This way, his successor learnt how to act ambitionless. One bull at a time! Secondly, never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies. It’s good to keep your historical ‘allies’, but continually court new converts.

These will tend (or try) to be more loyal because they have more to prove. Hence, statements like those from Beti Kamya, Henry Mayega, Ofwono Opondo, etc.

They are stuck in there, for it’s hard to win back credibility outside the fence. In connection to Law Two, Law 39 instructs you to ‘stir up water to catch fish’. Make your enemies fight as you stay calm and cast your net; the vanquished (or both) run to you.

Fish from the troubled waters. Thirdly, conceal your plans. People shouldn’t be able to read your intentions, lest they plan for counteraction.

Reveal your intentions piecemeal. Keep them guessing about term limits until removed; about age limit until you strike it out; about life presidency until you die at it... Let them realise your intentions when it’s too late to prepare.

Fourthly, try to guard your reputation while you place others in positions where theirs will come out damaged. Let them be exposed to the public and be rebuked while you sit aside and watch as the good one or saviour.

When in wrong, blame another for having misled you – like on the handshake, Bujagali, etc. And, as stated by Law 26, whatever bad or dirty idea to push forward, delegate an Anite, Abiriga, Simeo, Kayihura or Magyezi. Let them take the blame and public anger.

Don’t accumulate much dirt around you, though. At an appropriate moment, dump the used fellows unceremoniously – also so that they don’t get too familiar to think that they are indispensable. They will get no public sympathy on being dumped, anyway.

Meanwhile, Law 12 demands that you use selective honesty and generosity. Publicly appear to be truthful and caring; then your dishonesty can be covered by these few actions. Relatedly, Law Six is that you gather as much credit as possible.

Don’t miss any opportunity for being seen to be more caring and hardworking – go where women are killed and take notes from residents, take photos carrying matooke on a bicycle from your water bottle-irrigated farm, launch whatever you can attend, appear to make the most important decisions, even in dockets of others. Law Seven adds that you present collective achievements as yours (I did ...). Appearances matter a lot.

Don’t forget Law 11; make people dependent on you. Make it seem almost impossible to imagine life without you. Be the provider – of scholarships, pledges, do- nations, jobs... Never teach them enough so that they can do without you. Don’t mentor any possible replacement.

Neither should you risk any internal competition to be compared to others; be a sole candidate. Together with this, remember Law 17; create a mystery around yourself. You need friends, but for strategic reasons. Therefore, Law 14: pose as a friend but work as a spy.

Infiltrate your enemies to know what they are planning so that you can plan ahead of them. Use moles/ spies to learn about your adversaries’ weaknesses and use the information to your advantage.

As you do all the above, Law 20 demands that in the long run, you commit to no one but to yourself. This way, you can control others and play them against themselves.

Law 25 cautions that you always remember to re-create yourself. Always go for that identity that commands attention. Don’t bore the audience, ensure a dramatic public appearance. Use proverbs and metaphors that carry away people with humour – lubengo, bean weevil, cotter pin, etc.

Once in a while, give them a rap. Law 31: control the options. Let there appear to be room for choice when there is actually little or none. Control the alternatives as well. Operate an autocracy within a democratic framework – a hybrid regime. Organise elections, but do the counting.

You don’t always have to promise only what you can do. Law 32 calls upon you to tap into people’s fantasies. People want to have hope and to hear nice things. So, feed them on: Entandikwa, Bonna bagaggawale, middle-income status, electric car manufacturing ... To these, I will add Law 46: Make it appear like you are just helping them – like the son of God helped us.

Oh, where would we be if He didn’t come!


The author heads the Centre for African Studies at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi.


-2 #41 Lysol 2018-03-19 20:50
Quoting Julius O.:
Post your views for the readers here to judge, instead of always criticizing other's comments and unnecessary name callings.

It means you're the biggest fool here with nothing to contribute.

Mr Lizard (Lysol), I only comment when I must. But I'm naturally repellent to idiocy.

That's why whenever I see an idiot I'm prompted to call them to order.

The difference between me and you is that you and your twin fool Wadada comment because there is space for commenting while I only comment when there is something sensible to say.

Freedom of expression is not a license to absolute imbecility

Simply admit that your are shallow and void of ideas at this forum, except to attack and trying to play a self appointed moderator

That is the work of the Editorial board.
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+1 #42 Julius O. 2018-03-20 08:16
Mr Lysol, just stop commenting garbage and see if I'll bother you.

If you are addicted to trivialities and nonsense, keep it at your home. Not on a public forum like this
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+2 #43 Wooden K. 2018-03-20 13:37

this weekly thing is not working .

We like your columnists ; but when all their articles come in on the same day and stay packed for the whole damn week , they expire and become stale .

As a result , those who comment get bored and begin to attack each other.

Mama and I suggest that if it were possible , OBSERVER should publish one weekly interview with a prominent personality ( especially the older quiet ones)--- like the one with Col.Bogere you see.

Where is Oliver Zizinga and what does she think ?

What about Col.Kashilling ?
Can Chris Rwakasisi explain why he murdered those people in Mbarara and he was pardoned yet Ssebirumbi was hanged ?

Why did Gen. Katumba Wamala get involved in punching up members of the opposition while other Generals simply sat and watched ?

Come on Great OBSERVER , be creative !
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0 #44 Akot 2018-03-20 14:24
Kasozi Kasozi, thanks!

Remember I was 1 of those who woke the world up as to what Somalians do: terrorised the world hijacking ships & asking for ransom? I said then once developed world stopped paying, hijacking would stop & it did, right?

Museveni's allies, those he trust are not Ugandans & we MUST UNITE before they take complete control of our country!

Kenyans should thank Kenyatta for wanting Somalians to return to their country: unfortunately, Kenya parliament joined UN-EU in saying Kenyatta was wrong!

Somalians in Uganda joined Rwandese but we are naive & don't see it!

How many foreigners/refugees will join mueseveni while Ugandans are left out of everything in their country?
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0 #45 Akot 2018-03-20 14:38
Lakwena, thanks.

Rwandese-Somalians take advantage of UN-USA-EU naivity to cause/maintain wars/unrest while they invade lands yonder & want to have a territory of thier own & Uganda is going to be that home they so much want to have!

Rwandese & Somalians have so much in common: they are

- war mongers,

- can't live together in their own countries,

- marry within family: a man marries/makes babies with wives' sisters,

- they impose their dirt on other countries,

- men marry their uncles daughters...!

What will happen to Ugandans when these 2 demons get Uganda as their own territory?

Not to forget Sudanese-S.Sudanese joining them now in Uganda!

Ugandans MUST wake up before it's too late!
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0 #46 Akot 2018-03-20 14:45
Steve Mauso, thanks!

Museveni wants Uganda as his own country & our people are the last to see-feel-understand it & they are the ones handing over their country to the monster!

I never could have though any country could be conquered so easily by a former asylum seeker just tribally dividing & rulling a naive people!

How can we be so dangerous to our own existence & not even think a minute of our children?
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0 #47 Stewart 2018-03-20 16:29
Quoting Wooden K.:

this weekly thing is not working .
Mama and I suggest that if it were possible , OBSERVER should publish one weekly interview with a prominent personality ( especially the older quiet ones)
Can Chris Rwakasisi explain why he murdered those people in Mbarara and he was pardoned yet Ssebirumbi was hanged ?
Come on Great OBSERVER , be creative !

Going after 1979 Mbarara murders will cost you a fortune, although folly like the universe is infinite, you will for once see wisdom much as you normally take loooooooooong to understand.

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+3 #48 ejakait engoraton 2018-03-20 18:58
WOODEN , talk to mama and she will tell you that the people who carried out the killings are well known.

This was ethnic/religious cleansing, just so happens the victims belonged to one particular tribe and religion, a people whom the head of the killers harbored a long seated hatred and still does, and it so happened that they were almost exclusively of the same tribe and religion, and in those parts of the world, to them one was the other.

Just like in Nigeria, some southerners think that a HAUSA and MUSLIM are one and the same.

So if one says someone is a Hausa , they may actually be meaning they are Muslim and the other way round.

And you do not have to look far , as they say, they are hiding within sight.

ON the other hand, the same group has continued to carry out killings just like they did then. Before that , they had killed a group of Americans and the blame was put on Amins soldiers, but quite a few people know the truth, including eventually the Americans.
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-3 #49 Lysol 2018-03-21 01:16
Quoting Julius O.:
Mr Lysol, just stop commenting garbage and see if I'll bother you.

If you are addicted to trivialities and nonsense, keep it at your home. Not on a public forum like this

Obituary Julius, you are surrounded by idiots and the world is full of them besides politicians.

What are you gonna do? Beat them up. You're fighting a losing battle. Do something better with your life if you cannot contribute anything positive (except for playing the attack mad dog) at this forum.

It seems you are void of ideas. We are here to stay, whether you like it or not. It seems you're clueless about the internet or the social media, where anything goes.
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-3 #50 Lysol 2018-03-21 01:21
Quoting Julius O.:
Mr Lysol, just stop commenting garbage and see if I'll bother you.

If you are addicted to trivialities and nonsense, keep it at your home. Not on a public forum like this

Who appointed you the judge here? Are you trying to take the job of The Observer Editorial?

Post your comments first before you start calling others garbage. Of course, you're are nothing but a mere a mad attack dog at this forum.
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