On April 4, 2019 at Hotel Africana in Kampala, the Democratic Party signed a memorandum of understanding among some of its break-away factions.
The occasion attracted other opposition big wigs like Kyadondo East MP, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, and former FDC president, Gen Mugisha Muntu. On that occasion, it became clear that the opposition is not yet united in its bid to present a united front against President Museveni. Almost all the speakers at the gathering attacked Dr Kizza Besigye, who was not mentioned by name.
Mr Kyagulanyi was quoted to have said: “I have concluded that some members in the opposition are only concerned about their positions and will fight any composition that threatens their positions.”
He added: “Don’t talk about democracy and stand four times, and on the fifth time you tell people democracy doesn’t work. We believe it works. On that point, I’ll assert that democracy actually works and anybody who despises democracy is despising the people of Uganda.”
Museveni is certainly happy to hear Kyagulanyi stating that there is democracy in Uganda and that he, Museveni, has beaten Besigye four times at the vote. We shouldn’t focus on Besigye, but Museveni. In 1980, Museveni knew that he couldn’t win the presidential elections. Therefore, he decided to wage a guerrilla war to capture power. It was premeditated because Museveni told us then, “If Obote rigs the elections, I’ll go to the bush.”
It wasn’t proved that Obote rigged those elections. Nonetheless, Museveni picked up the gun and headed to the bush.
On his inauguration in 1986, Museveni stated the following: African leaders talk about change, “but it’s no longer change but turmoil… Nobody is to think that what is happening today is a mere change of guards. This is not a mere change of guards. I think that this is a fundamental change in the politic of our government.”
However, that fundamental change is no longer change, but turmoil. The more Museveni talks about change, the more it stays the same. This was best illustrated on January 8, 2019 by a British MP, Dr Paul Williams, when he tabled a discussion in the British parliament in reference to democracy and human rights issues.
Williams gave an example of the relentless violation of Kyagulanyi’s rights by the state and persecution of other politicians. Also, in a television interview, Williams stated that he was concerned to see what looked like a strong democracy with strong institutions such as independent judiciary being undermined.
It is common knowledge that the regime persecutes impressive challengers of Museveni like Dr Besigye Hon. Kyagulanyi and his people power exponents are being harassed, beaten and tortured by the police and army before our eyes. Mitiyana MP Francis Zaake was tortured into coma. Mukono MP Betty Nambooze is repeatedly tortured because she speaks truth to power. She is now confined to a wheelchair!
Dr Williams, who once lived and worked in Uganda, said that after 32 years in power, Museveni is now the impediment to Uganda’s development because the regime centralises power in one person.
While in Ntungamo district earlier this year, First Lady Janet Museveni said Museveni has led Uganda for three decades because God chose him. Incidentally, Museveni believes he is the only one who is ordained to rule Uganda!
Autocrats believe in a mode of government that thrives on a cocktail of nepotism, patronage and corruption! Pervasive violation of human rights becomes the pictogram of their routines to silence whoever exposes them.
The first lady also dubs as the minister of Education and Sports! She was once an MP and minister of Karamoja region. A father-in-law to Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Sam Kutesa, the foreign affairs minister, has been implicated in many corruption sagas.
The most recent one is that in which Kutesa is said to have received $500,000 from a former Chinese government minister, Patrick Ho Chi-ping, who was convicted of corruption charges by a federal court in New York, USA. In court papers, the federal prosecutor submitted that Ho paid Kutesa in exchange for favourable business deals in Uganda.
Museveni’s brother, Gen Caleb Akandwanaho, aka Salim Saleh, handles billions of money as the chief coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation. He was once a minister of the failed microfinance ministry. He has been linked to multiple corruption epics, most notably land grabbing and purchasing junk helicopters for the army.
Williams said: “We all know that in Uganda there is a parallel structure to the democratic process that is only loyal to Museveni and the ruling party, which makes it difficult for a true democracy to prevail. And it makes it very difficult for the Ugandan people to choose a different leader and to do it in a free and fair way.” He further said that Museveni’s government is essentially a military government in civilian clothes.
Therefore, the problem is not Besigye standing as a candidate over and over. The problem is Museveni who has denied us a fundamental change. We should unite and draw the line and say that 33 years are enough; Museveni shouldn’t be a candidate in 2021. Power belongs to us.
The author is a former reporter of Ngabo and The Star newspapers.