By Charles Kamya Ssentamu
Is Museveni turning Uganda into a kingdom?
This week, one story probably overshadowed the final delivery of the much-touted Uganda Airlines’ two bombardier jets.
Well, the jets finally came, albeit with the circus that preceded their coming, among which the ownership of the company that many Ugandans thought was public.
It took the keenness of a few MPs to discover last minute that all along, the billions of our money were being spent to purchase aircraft for a company that was privately owned.
Enough was said on this subject so I will leave it for now.
The story that competed for space with Uganda Airlines was one that is not by any means, deserving of more than filler on a society page of a community newspaper.
It was the story of a birthday party. Yes a birthday party!
Alas, it did not only get prime airplay in major bulletin of all national television stations, it also graced front pages of all major dailies. Some of them actually run it multiple times through the week.
At the forefront, was New Vision, a government-owned media outlet that has narrowed down its mandate to one of promoting the interests of President Museveni and his family.
On their front page on April 26, the main story went “First Son Muhoozi turns 45” the same edition carried a multi-page pictorial in the inside pages.
Daily Monitor, the paper to which many Ugandans had pegged their hope to continue exposing the excesses of this regime but has of late become another Museveni tool, ran with a subtle headline, “Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba asks government to build war museum”.
Not to be outdone, Nile Post, a website under Next Media Service (NBS) – the once progressive media group that too seems to have also fallen prey to the predators, ran a series of articles on the same birthday.
When it came to Chimpreports, the Web-based outlet we now know belongs to the Museveni family, the motive behind this media campaign became clearer. A lengthy piece by none other than Editor in Chief Giles Muhame rumbled on and on about Muhoozi’s war exploits (which war?), his credentials as a powerbroker, and a man who has hitherto been behind the scenes, deciding who should be Minister or any other senior official in this government.
The article went on to allege how Muhoozi is a charismatic commander, who is loved by rank and file of UPDF and above all, what an “intelligent military leader” he is. If there were “brown nose awards” in journalism, ChimpReports would undisputedly take the gong.
The article, which the readers were beforehand warned was a long read, went on and on singing the praises of an individual that Ugandans better know for his wild-partying style with bevies of nubile females than anything else.
The line-up of guests at the birthday party was also very telling. Senior government officials, heads of parastatals, top military generals, NRM-leaning business magnates… it was a veritable who is who of regime insiders looking like they were paying court to a king in waiting. Museveni’s sycophantic praise singer Ofwono Opondo was outdoing himself on the dance floor, to catch the eye of the First Son.
In fact, a source who attended intimated that the preparation, right from the drawing of the guest list, was done at the highest level of government.
Nothing was left to chance, according to those in the know. “It was for all intents and purposes a state function and not a family and friends function, as we know birthday parties to be,” said the source who did not want to be named to be able to speak freely.
State House, and not “Muhoozi’s friends” as the stories labored mightily to try to convince us, was the convener. Tellingly, the MC was Don Wanyama, the Press Secretary of Museveni.
The source continued: “speaker after speaker heaped praises on Muhoozi, offering obsequious praise for the fellow’s supposed brilliance. It was clear the instructions on what to say were issued first hand, more to project the First Son as some bona-fide general; or as one capable and ready to undertake much bigger responsibilities”.
Was it mere coincidence the man’s birthday was celebrated like a state function? Or is it part of an ongoing insidious campaign to acclimatize Ugandans to the First Son as a commander-in-chief-in-waiting – the so-called Muhoozi project?
It certainly looked so.
A political commentator who spoke to this website in confidence analyzed that indeed the party was the unveiling of the long-awaited Muhoozi Project. “Age is not on the side of President Museveni and evidence of this is in the erratic manner in which he continues to make policy decisions. Most importantly, Museveni has seen what happened to his friend Bashir in Sudan,” added the commentator.
He continued that with Bashir now languishing in the same prison where he sent his political enemies, Museveni is facing a frightening reality check. Bashir was sent to prison by the same generals he recruited, nurtured and promoted to where they are.
Who, then, would be best placed to cushion Museveni against accountability of the atrocities he has committed in his over three-decades misrule, other than his own son?
The Muhoozi project is on in earnest, going by the facts on the ground.
But is Uganda ready for a Museveni dynasty?
All indications over the past several years are that the masses of People Power supporters, and millions of other simply fed up citizens would answer with a resounding “No!”