What is wrong with Africa? Is there an unbreakable glue on all seats of
power in Africa? In Uganda, Museveni wants to become another Mugabe,
Back home in Nigeria, Obasanjo, despite his abysmal failure, and hollow denials
is obviously plotting to become another Eyedema, Life President!

<http://www.monitor.co.ug/>  Uganda, Monday, May 9, 2005

The author is a producer with KFM radio.
Contact: aizama@kfm.co.ug
071 666 999

Politics and name-calling

While Lucy was busy making a star out of her good
self by posing for pictures and slapping
journalists, the major political question in
Uganda continued to be power succession, framed
locally as ìwill the President seek a Third Term?

Uganda is taking an eyefull of bad press over
this small matter. Former US Ambassador to
Uganda, Mr Johnnie Carson wrote in the Boston
Globe that Museveni could soon be known as a
Mugabe, just another African president who is
clinging to power, but his analysis proved
nothing beyond a cultivated message about the US
State Departmentís view of Museveni.

Another publication, Southscan, pinned South
Africa for continuing arms sales to Uganda
despite what they claim is South Africaís efforts
to stabilise the region through peaceful and
democratic means. South Africa, which is
reportedly also a major supplier of tear gas to
Uganda, has dispatched 30 Buffel armoured
personnel carriers destined for Ugandaís police

These vehicles were popular with South African
police of the Apartheid era as they battled ANC
protestors in the townships during the struggle
against white minority rule in SA. Once here, hey
will be fitted with water canons. The brass
equipment is tied to this issue of a Third Term
because it is being argued that government is
preparing for civil unrest within this transition

Needless to say, effective protest in Uganda
against sitting governments has historically
never been conducted on the streets and certainly
never been fought off using water guns. Anyway
the Uganda police force last year, sources said,
had imported sniper rifles as well, which appear
closer to the sort of crowd control methods
employed here.

In addition, a closer look at the blood and iron
nature of Ugandan politics and society could have
informed Carson (he probably knows it too) that
the more significant event was the takeover of
the armyís heavy weapons arsenal by one Major
Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the Presidentís son, who is
now commander of the Tank Brigade.

If Carson were to cut the political pretensions
that are part of the diplomatic repertoire, he
would have spent his ink explaining why there
will be no transition without a military struggle
on behalf of those who take it upon themselves to
remove this President from power. Museveni, who
in the past 15 years has entrenched a patrimonial
system with increasingly more filial control of
the national army, is under no obligation to
abdicate to Ugandaís Marks and Spenser opposition.

Stability (which is traditionally more important
to America than so called democracy) will depend
on the ability of the effective opposition to
wrest Museveniís hold on the patrimony that
distributes benefits and opportunities,
particularly in the view of this writer, to
exploit the glaring inequalities within the
mainstream military and the ìRepublican Guard,
which enjoys better terms. Thatís real politic.
Ugandaís commission- prone middleclass will not
lift a finger to fight for regime change for the
same reasons they resist that change because it
butters their bread.

That said, itís interesting to observe from the
commentary of both Lucyís feminist insurgency at
the Kenyan State House and Museveniís
neo-colonial posturings that clean reputations
are important to politics, which by its own
admission is a dirty game. There is no end to
dirty politicians with clean names and fancy
titles. (Wars of terror and oil exploitation for
example are conversely called ìwars against
terror, and its architects are revered as
freedom fighters. How ridiculous!)
For one to appreciate the net value of political
reputation, there has to be a lifting of the
veil, an examination of the politics that a
particular reputation serves.

The elite crisis in Uganda

Ugandaís unstable politics is a testament of the
crisis of the elite in this country since
independence. Throughout this period, elite
politicians including those who have served
various semi-illiterates that have ascended to
State power over the last 40 years, have failed
to deliver a solid ideological proposition for
the country that could effectively redefine the
state after the exit of colonialism.

After 1962, Uganda emerged as a country of mild
mannered farmers and workers with a political
class carved out of the missionary and technical
schools designed to feed exploitative structures
of the colonial system at the time.

While the colonial state was coherent in its
purpose, it soon became clear that this coherence
could not survive the departure of the
colonialists themselves. Because while the
colonial state served the interests of
colonisers, exploiting raw materials and slaves,
the heirs of the Ugandan state, the national
elite dissolved into competition for resources
available from holding state power.

The ideological vacuum left by colonialism was
quickly replaced by tribal, ethnic and religious
mobilisation used by competing elites to marshal
support. But even with the conviction of
individuals like Obote and Museveni, this elite
competition is still a scramble for control of
the national kitty and little else.

As a victorious warlord in 1986, Museveni is
perhaps the only one who attempted to reconstruct
the coherence within the state with a new
ideological proposition based on no-party
democracy and founded on the distortions created
by bloody competition he and his colleagues
witnessed and participated in.

Unfortunately, the Movement system proved an
unruly steed where elite competition was
reordered by a powerful Museveni and now follows
patronage networks where the President holds most
of the chips. Its failure as a restorative
alternative ideology has proved the shallowness
not of the system per se but perhaps the nature
of Museveni as a member of this elite.

This ideological dilemma is being mocked by the
impending referendum on political systems, which
quite honestly will fall short of redefining the
state itself, and perhaps sets the stage for
further combustive conflict on the fundamentals
of managing the 26 million people, their 57
ethnicities, multiple religions and perceived
common purpose.
In the meantime we must all raise our glasses to
Mrs Lucy Kibaki who has literally sexed up the
political soap opera by putting a spin on gender
emancipation and popularising ìeffective power
sharing in bedroom politics.