It has long been obvious, even to a child that the state in Uganda is unraveling. Sadly for everyone in the region, government in Uganda is slowly but steadily coming apart. Uganda is for all intents and purposes without leadership. The positions of leadership in the country have occupants, but actual leadership is absent. This is not to insult the good people of Uganda. Very many of them say the same thing.
We will see how this lack of leadership has culminated in the Museveni government blaming everyone else (including Rwanda), but itself for the insecurity, chaos and general lawlessness sadly prevailing in what used to be The Pearl of Africa.
To start with, the deficit in leadership has affected people from all walks of life: the poor, the in-between and the rich and powerful. The country’s citizens are crying daily for deliverance from the living nightmare their life is becoming under President Yoweri Museveni and the ruling NRM. Every day the Ugandan media is full of bloodcurdling stories. If you have a small child, you live in fear that someone will abduct him or her, and they will end up in the clutches of some witchdoctor to be butchered in child sacrifice rituals. If you are an adult, you aren’t that safe either. An ongoing wave of kidnappings for ransom has hit Uganda, leaving very many scared witless. “Where are we to go now?” is a frequently asked question in the country. As for those in the highest echelons of society, it is hard to imagine how frightened they must be if even the most senior members of the security forces (think James Kazini and Andrew Felix Kaweesi) are not safe from common “Boda Boda” assassins. Or whoever else feels empowered to move around Uganda’s towns with illegally acquired weapons.
To watch Uganda today is, for those old enough to have seen the seventies and early eighties, to have a sense of déjà vu. Uganda under President Museveni today is becoming more and more like the lawless times of Idi Amin, and of Obote 2. If Archbishop Janan Luwum, and prominent people like him could be murdered in broad daylight, with utmost impunity, how is that different from the gunning down of Muslim clerics now, or the shooting of senior policemen, members of parliament, and so on? Here is only a small list of prominent Ugandans that have been shot and killed, with no one charged for the crimes, just since 2012 (we will not include others that died natural-seeming, yet mysterious deaths): Muslim clerics murdered included, Sheikh Abdul Karim Sentamu who was gunned down on a crowded street in the capital in April 2012. Sheikh Abubaker Kiweewa, shot dead on 12 June 12 in Kyanja in the outskirts of Kampala. Sheikh Abdul Khadir Muwaya, shot to death at his home in Mayuge District on Christmas Day 2014. Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga, shot dead at Bwebajja on Entebbe Road on 30 March 15. Sheikh Abdulrashid Wafula the Iman of Bilal Mosque in Mbale, gunned down on 21 May 15 in the town.
This is not even a full list of the unfortunate clerics that have lost their lives to assassins not a single one of whom has been apprehended. In each and every case the police and other security organs of Uganda vow to investigate, and bring the killers to book. In none of them have they produced so much as a single credible suspect. That was the same with the killing of Maj. Gen. James Kazini in 2009. It was the same with the assassination of Joan Kagezi, a well-known Kampala City attorney in March 2015, and it was the same with that of the Uganda Police’s AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi who was shot dead together with his bodyguard and driver just outside his home in March 2017. One can be certain the recent killing of Member of Parliament Ibrahim Abiriga too will go unresolved. Child abductions for ritual murders. A spate of kidnappings during which the kidnapped are killed all the same even after relatives come up with the ransom monies extorted. Political assassinations. Infighting within the security forces. The chaotic goings on, like the arrest of former police chief Kale Kayihura. Those that know Museveni best will tell you things like these were the inevitable outcome of his style of leadership.
Respected commentators, like Ugandan journalist Charles Onyango Obbo, have long painted a portrait of Museveni as a manipulative, deceptive, utterly unscrupulous president who will say, or do absolutely anything to entrench himself at the cost of everything else. Those that have served Museveni since his days as leader of the NRA guerrillas, like Kiiza Besigye, or John Kazoora in his book Betrayed by my Leader describe him as “corrupt to the core”, and as someone that will tell just about any lie and set people against each other, sowing mistrust at every turn. Daniel Kalinaki in Kiiza Besigye and Uganda’s Unfinished Revolution extensively interviewed former bush fighters under Museveni and they talked of a situation earliest in the NRA’s struggle when Museveni’s divisive tendencies, favoring individuals over others caused much mistrust and discontent in the ranks of his guerrillas.
Beyond Uganda’s borders Burundians, amongst those that have fallen victim to the machinations of President Nkurunziza, have come to know Mr. Museveni as someone that will do anything to enable him (Nkurunziza). Even when the African Union, and the EAC were relying on Mr. Museveni to broker a deal to save the Arusha Agreement that protected all Burundians through power sharing provisions, Museveni instead looked the other way as Nkurunziza savaged the agreement. The Ugandan leader did not raise a finger as Nkurunziza unleashed his murderous police and Imbonerakure militias on the civilian population.
“I do not know what misfortune led to Museveni being picked for Mediator in our problems!” exclaimed a Burundian lawyer living in exile in Kampala. Others say President Museveni’s stance with Nkurunziza is a very good example of Museveni’s duplicitous character. The Burundians are only finding out what most people that have dealt with President Museveni long ago discovered. Now for some reasons Museveni’s security organs have trained a fierce and baseless propaganda campaign against Rwanda, conducted on different social media and blogs where they publish things that they never back with any proof.
A Ugandan journalist that regularly writes about the state of insecurity in Uganda told this writer, “We hear all these allegations for instance that Rwanda has ‘infiltrated Ugandan security services’, but up to now no one in Uganda has produced a single proof to back that allegation. “We have heard all the stories about how Rwanda has ‘compromised’ Ugandan security but as for actual evidence, Museveni’s operatives have not shown us anything.” A Ugandan retired civil servant; a long-time resident of Kampala that lived through all the upheavals from independence says with Museveni, Uganda again is suffering the curse of bad leadership. “People are not deceived by all this talk that Rwanda is behind our insecurity,” said the old man. “It is the curse we have suffered from the beginning. “Now if you talk of all these Ugandans losing their lives senselessly, kidnapped for money, all the women that were being murdered in Entebbe recently, how can you say a foreign country is involved in all that! It is just Museveni’s people justifying their failure to do their responsibility to maintain safety and security for Ugandans.” It is obvious that as insecurity grows and gets out of hand, blaming Rwanda is increasingly the only fallback position Uganda’s intelligence and their boss can find. Ugandan operatives trolls on social media will be busy disseminating fake news on all social media.
But in all seriousness, said a Ugandan analyst who requested anonymity, “If the spy operatives and their bosses can somehow deceive some people that Rwanda is responsible for one or two things, how will they also blame Rwanda for lack of safety so that even little children are not safe but quite a few end up dead in primitive child sacrifices? “How can you blame another country for the kidnaps for ransom? Or the potholes and rubbish in the streets; the sewage that overflows in many places during rainy season, and all such failures due to Museveni’s poor leadership?”