President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is one of the longest serving African leaders. To some he is considered as a states man. Within the borders of his country and international he is a well known political figure and leader. A man loved by women because of his support on the issue of gender and women empowerment. He is a man with a strong character, an academician and a man who is loved by many and hated in equal measures. He became president of the Republic of Uganda on January 26, 1986 after leading a successful five-year guerilla struggle against the regime of Milton Obote and Tito Okello. Before he took power Uganda was almost a failed state and to some it could have been considered or branded as a banana republic due to the former rule of the dictator Idi Amin and other leaders like Milton Obote. Uganda was constantly under war and all sort of vices were surrounding it. Corruption, abuse of human rights and social injustices were the order of the day.
But with Museveni’s rule he was able to unify the country under the National Resistance Movement and did manage to ensure peace and security for its people. This can be seen through his inaugural speech when he said that, “Every person in Uganda must have absolute security to live wherever he wants. Any individual or any group who threatens the security of our people must be smashed without mercy; the people of Uganda should die only from natural causes which are beyond our control…”
President Museveni also when he ascended to power, was a darling to many especially to the western community. He was seen as a true reformer, a man who would ensure that democracy and rule of law prevailed in Uganda, but as the saying goes, Power corrupts good Morals, a phrase that currently describes him best. He has tried to ensure that no other political party enjoys the popularity of the people and many opposition leaders have been intimidated through unwarranted arrest and other inhumane acts. He has developed and adopted the common behavior that most African leaders suffer from which is – “desire to want to rule for life”. This is clearly seen through rigging of elections, voter intimidation’s and changing the constitution to allow him to continue to govern for more terms. This is an act of dictatorship a system he had spend most of his life fighting against but ending up embracing it. With this form of leadership donor aid in Uganda has been cut by countries such as UK, Ireland and others like Norway.
His former friend and physician Dr Kizza Besigye tried to hold a demonstration because of the high cost of living in Uganda, but Museveni ordered the police to brutally mis-handle Dr Besigye by beating him up resulting to his hospitalization at the Nairobi Hospital. This kind of act from a leader demonstrates that he not democratic enough to a point where he can let the opposition do their mandate of criticizing and being the watchdog of the government. But the question that keeps lingering is Museveni a states man or is he portraying a true image of a benevolent dictator?
During Uhuru Kenyatta’s inaugural day Museveni came out strongly criticizing the International criminal court as a court that is being manipulated by our big brothers to impose leaders of their choice to the African people. To him the court is more of a tool used to advocate for neo-colonialism than a court that seeks justice. As citizens were cheering Museveni for his strong remarks towards our big brothers, His counter part President Bob was the most excited man and if given a chance he would have donated half of His wealth to him but the man who I do believed must have rolled on his grave and stood up in honor of Museveni’s words is the Late colonel Muammar Gaddaffi of Libya who whispered softly, “Finally I have a leader who will replace me as the King of Africa.”
Allow me to play the devils advocate and categorically state that for Africa to break away from International interference on its systems of government and affairs we truly need leaders like Museveni. Leaders who will stand up and tell the western Countries that enough is enough and that they should learn to respect the Africans, their system of government, the choices they make, and that every African country is a sovereign state and needs total and absolute respect. The African Union needs to make a point of visiting Museveni for some tips on how it can take up its lost mantle to enable it play its big role in ensuring that Africa as a continent is respected and given a chance to play its role in the global system as a partner and not a subordinate.
A Political Scientist