Yoweri Museveni is no longer just a name. The annoying joke passing around that we should just declare Uganda a monarchy and sit back and relax until nature sorts its emperor actually makes a sobering sense to those who know a thing or two about tactical retreat. Yoweri Museveni is a monarchy now. It’s not good to admit but it’s not too late to do so either. It’s as well good that we named the republic after him in some way or by a title he chooses for his undying vision for the country. Emperors are not called by their names, they are known by their titles.
Leopard, Emperor Visionary or whatever, Ugandans are currently worked up over ongoing plans to amend more articles in the Constitution to allow him run for re-election when his current term ends in 2021. By then, the only living emperor reigning without being crowned will be 77 going by his official date of birth. He will be ineligible to run for office as the Constitution bars persons aged 75 and over from vying for the country’s executive job.
But what will happen? Well, here are some bitter facts we must come to terms with. The son of Kaguta will get his wish. And Ugandans—at least there are some who still hold the nation dear—will sulk for weeks and return to business as usual. It’s a pattern we have lived with for ages.
By 1981, Museveni was already clever enough to see through the facade of our bloated sense of patriotism and courage that he never trusted any of the Ugandan politicians. Museveni knew that the so-called roasting of Uganda Martyrs at Namugongo with tales that they were cheering on as they burnt to ash could only have happened in a movie that every producer rejected. Museveni saw firsthand and was part of the group of ‘liberators’ who had to turn to Tanzania to help remove Idi Amin from office. Ugandans? We were sat on our thumbs.
Ugandans just couldn’t do anything for themselves. Wait, let me rephrase that; we couldn’t and we still can’t do anything for ourselves. Museveni has lived and seen all these. He treated Ugandans and continues to treat them with such disdain you would think he rinsed his mouth with with acid. Read his Mustard Seed book and how he describes various manners he approached meetings between himself and several top leaders in the country at the time.
It’s no wonder that to get his grand dream going, Museveni convinced Rwandan refugees and former refugees turned Ugandans into taking up arms with him. These people meant business. They had a sense of direction, determination… where Kenyans and Tanzanians shed blood for their soil and independence, Ugandans waited on suited men to carry bowls to the British and ask for some crumbs.
As the suited men jostled with the negotiations, the rest waited by the roadside to cheer. These scenarios would be repeated with each change of guard. Amin overthrow, Obote overthrow, the Lutwas and all… until he arrived with his fellow ‘liberators.’
Fast forward to February 19, 2016, and Ugandans were left mourning. Kampala was deserted. Quieter than a mortician’s parlour. After they had dried their tears and seen a few who put up feeble street resistance beaten into cabbages, they came out of their hiding to resume from where they had left off.
At the heart of all these is a phenomenon defined by avarice. Everything in Uganda revolves around money. Look at the many people who are willing to accept a Tee and some platter of hurriedly cooked meat in return for being ferried from their home to add to the crowd cheering on their man. How do you expect a boda boda man who thinks that fueling his motorcycles is more important than paying a medical doctor to care about age limit?
It takes some special body organ transplants for one to convince the nation that the bunch of legislators who are more interested in cash for cars than equip the National Cancer Centre will protect the Constitution against a second round of a major rape. Remember, the Constitution is subjected to all sorts of insults by the executive and its wing of an increasingly militaristic police force day in and out without as much as a cough from those tasked with its protection. Parliament has never done anything but keep endorsing the same Kale Kayihura whenever he shows up for reappointment formalities while wearing the Constitution at his feet.
Uganda crossed the Rubicon in July 2005. At the time, the country still had a semblance of sane political leaders. But once they had fallen for Museveni’s machinations, even that mere semblance was gone. What was left of it was a bunch of disillusioned politicians like Eriya Kategaya and Bidandi Ssali.
Put succinctly, we allowed our virgin daughter called Constitution to walk into the gates of the Palace because we were all shrouded in a mist of greed and false belief that the Emperor would make good his many promises. We had overlooked the fact that once a maiden enters a palace, she can only ever come out as a dead body headed for the countryside tombs.
And now we are all worked up over the Emperor deciding what to do with ‘a maiden-no-more’ that we blessed him with. We are expecting the man who, with the arrogance of a ghost, declared national resources as his personal property (my oil) to be defeated in a grand scheme like how to bed the maiden daughter we sent him. That won’t happen.
I will take a tactical retreat.