KAMPALA — Political commentator, George Muhimbise has hit at President Museveni’s powerful son Maj. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba—listing a litany of his alleged transgressions ranging from lack of respect for elders to taking Uganda as ‘his father’s property available for him inherit.”
Gen. Muhoozi is the commander of the infantry wing of Uganda’s military forces and he has been increasingly assertive in Twitter posts in which he mentions his wish to rule Uganda even when he is still a serving officer of the Uganda’s military establishment.
But many commentators are taking a hard look at this trajectory.
In a Saturday morning missive Mr. Muhimbise has since castigated Gen. Muhoozi—accusing him of undermining the contributions to bushwar heroes such as Gen Mugisha Muntu, Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye, Gen David Sejusa among others.
“In your recent tweets you were seen ridiculing the person of Gen Mugisha Muntu, to the extent of calling him a sober non performing commander who purportedly wasted the nine years he was a commander,” Muhimbise, a hardliner member of Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) wrote.
Muhimbise also took strong exception to an assertion by Gen Muhoozi after the latter suggested that “I wish my father had made Colonel Jet Mwebaze, Army Commander after Afande Saleh in 1989. He was a great commander for sure!… Mistakes we regret. Late Afande Jet should have been Army Commander! Our great Army would have been much greater. We spent almost 9 years under so called ‘Sober’ non-performers! They were better qualified for seminaries and church choirs than the army”.
“Gen Muhoozi, you need to know that the retired comrades you are ridiculing are the ones who brought the peace you are enjoying,” wrote Muhimbise in bare knuckle jabs to Gen Muhoozi.
He added: “[Gen] Mugisha Muntu that you are abusing was shot in the chest during the bush war & he almost lost his life. By that time you were a kid somewhere in Sweden eating sausages, where would you get the insanity to abuse such a man who fought for the peace that you enjoy?”
“Anyway do you even recognize that the war that brought your family into power claimed tens of thousands of lives including men in uniform whose blood you aught to honor?” Muhimbise a political commentator and an author who has previously criticized a number of ruling government policies especially on human rights, rule of law and corruption wrote telling off Gen. Muhoozi to desist from undermining those who served the UPDF before him.
On the case of undermining Gen Muntu’s contribution to UPDF achievements, Muhimbise asked Gen Muhoozi to stay in his lane—minding him that “Muntu became an army commander at 31 & for you at 48 you are a commander land forces.”
“Do you know Muntu became a General at 30 and you have become a General at 45 plus? So do you realize that Muntu is far greater than you?”
Gen. Muhoozi has spent significant his time this week—sending out controversial tweets — including one telling Muntu that he was a non performer.
High-profile Gen Muhoozi supporters are largely split over his attacks on Gen Mugisha Muntu who served as the army chief,
the highest position in the Ugandan military, from 1989 to 1998.
As army chief, Gen Muntu oversaw the demobilization of many sections of the army.
Observers attribute Maj. Gen. Muntu’s quick ascension to the pinnacle of the NRA/UPDF to his reputation as an incorruptible and loyal officer to the President of Uganda.
“Our dear General you are losing it all. Underscoring Gen. Muntu’s 9 years commandership to this extent is absolutely either ignorantly or deliberately underscoring the then CIC’s (M7) capability to identify who was qualifying to be army commander & who wasn’t,” one Muhoozi’s social media defender Aron Kaviira Ateenyi wrote, replying to a post where Muhoozi rebuked Gen Muntu reign as army commander.
Muhoozi recently spoke of increasing the sports budget in favor of young people when he “ wins power in this country.” And he says he will announce his political program soon.
“Some opposition politicians and even perennial Presidential candidates have been reduced to commenting on my tweets! That’s their job. How pathetic! They think by catching a ride on the unstoppable train of young Ugandans they will be more relevant? History will absolve us!” Muhoozi, 48 wrote on Twitter.
Kainerugaba’s supporters say he offers Uganda the opportunity of a peaceful transfer of power in a country that has not had one since independence from British colonial rule in 1962. But opposition leaders, critics and others eager for change say his rise is leading the East African country toward hereditary rule.
Kainerugaba’s birthday celebrations should be seen as a formal introduction of “the crown prince and heir to the Ugandan throne,” critic Muniini K. Mulera wrote in a column in the local Daily Monitor newspaper. Museveni “has entered his last lap of a long walk towards the realization of a fifty-year-old dream to create dynastic rule,” he wrote.
Kainerugaba also faces legal scrutiny. Because Ugandan law prohibits a serving military officer from engaging in partisan affairs, some say Kainerugaba has already crossed the line.
They point out that other army officers who discussed politics were humiliated.
A Ugandan attorney last week filed a petition with the Constitutional Court seeking a declaration that Kainerugaba’s political activities are unlawful. That petition also seeks to have Kainerugaba prosecuted for alleged treason, charging that his activities are destabilizing.
Kainerugaba joined the army in the late 1990s, and his rise to the top of the armed forces has been controversial, with critics dubbing it the “Muhoozi Project” to prepare him for the presidency.
Museveni and Kainerugaba himself have denied the existence of such a scheme, but it appears a transition is now underway as Museveni, 77, serves what could be his last term without a recognizable successor within his government.
Museveni has not said when he would retire. He has no rivals within the ruling National Resistance Movement party — the reason many believe the military will have a say in choosing his successor.
Most of the heroes of the jungle war that ended years-long civil strife and launched Museveni’s presidency have since died or been retired from the army, putting authority in the hands of young military officers who see Kainerugaba as their leader.
Kainerugaba, the pillar of his father’s personal security apparatus, is now the de facto head of the military, with his allies strategically deployed in command positions across the security services, according to observers.