By Charles Kamya Ssentamu
On the day to celebrate Uganda’s 56th Independence, Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of Oxfam International, tweeted “Happy Independece Day dear Ugandans. Let us support the creation of the East African Confederation and give Kaguta Museveni a new role as its first leader, and afford Uganda a smooth transition. It will be a win-win.” This statement caused an uproar from East Africans, with Ugandans themselves predictably fuming for what they saw as an insult not only to them but to their brothers and sisters of East Africa.
Dr. Zac Niringiye, the prominent theologian, tweeted in disbelief, “Just checking if this is the Winnie Byanyima I Know.” Other ordinary Ugandans chimed in, “Madam Winnie please answer my simple question. If a father has failed to cater for his one family for over 30 years, how can he be able to cater for more than 5 women?” Yet, another in a series of disappointed responses observed, “If he has failed us as a country, how will he be able to manage an entire @jumuiya, how can you take the role of head teacher yet you have failed as a head boy in that very school?” One Sengendo echoed the same sentiment, “Why would we do that? You can’t fail to lead Uganda yet imagine you can do better with the entire East Africa.”
Patrick Egesa was succinct, “We will be shifting the problem to all the six nations.” Jim noted, “East Africa doesn’t want him either.” Francis Kuloba wasn’t taking it, “With due respect, it’s a ridiculous idea. Win-win!? That a man is raping my daughter and I ask my daugher to negotiate with him? Would that qualify as a win-win!?? I’m baffled,” he wrote in amazement.
Clearly, Ms. Byanyima had touched a raw nerve. She quite clearly doesn’t get that people are “fed up” with Museveni and are “trying to get rid of him,” as another writer put it. If she did, she would have immediately noticed that she had gone out of line and quickly apologized.
However, she added insult to injury with yet another baffling tweet, “Put differently, if Museveni said ‘I won’t run for 2021 elections, I will run for East African Confederation leader instead,’ would you not urge him on?” Yet another storm poured against Winnie’s ridiculous view that suggests that the EAC should be a dumping ground of failures.
But this was a predictable storm. It comes on the heels of the arrest and torture of members of parliament, assassinations, assassination attempts and eliminations of jenemies or perceived enemies, and a general thuggishness of the security forces that no longer feels the need to hide its molestation of ordinary people and journalists in broad daylight in Kampala and elsewhere in the country.
“I wonder how Winnie Byanyima, whose husband also has suffered so much at the hands of Museveni, could say that he is a person to lead the region,” said a commentator. It’s utter contempt for the people of East Africa, who still believe that the EAC can be salvaged to advance the spirit of brotherhood, and would have nothing to do with it if it was converted into a place to exile a failed leader. Indeed, its objectives are noble, “The benefits once the protocols are properly implemented and observed would be astronomical,” commented veteran Tanzanian journalist Jenerali Ulimwengu soon after revival of the community.
What no one foresaw was that Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni – a man skilled in saying the right things but doing the exact opposite – would throw a spanner in the works at every opportunity available to him. This is a man who likes to promote himself as a pan-Africanist only to act as the most reactionary force ever imagined.
It is an open secret that Museveni has sabotaged almost every initiative that he had originally seemingly enthusiastically agreed to with his colleagues of the East African Community. Among the noble aims he has sabotaged are the single area telephone network, air and railway transport, electricity and oil pipelines. He has similarly sabotaged peace efforts in the region by either facilitating rebel outfits to destabilize his neighbours, interfering in elections, among others.
The results are in, Museveni is the biggest stumbling block to the realization of the East African Community. What he is doing at home to emulate Idi Amin, he is also doing at the regional level. Amin was a nightmare.
Apart from Museveni’s incompetence, his emulation of Amin portends something totally harmful. Let’s not export our pain to our brothers and sisters across the borders.