Another walk as a desperate Museveni runs out of tricks
By Charles Kamya Ssentamu
Feeling increasingly alienated from a support base he has abused countless times, a desperate President Museveni embarks on his second walk in as many months as he tries to shore up his rapidly diminishing credibility. On January 6, he will set off on a three-day 100km trek that will take him on a trail through some upcountry places.
These are places the regime has long wanted to turn into iconic areas, by virtue of the fact Museveni’s guerrillas deprived the simple peasant people there of all they had. Yet once he ascended to power 34 years ago he discarded them – even formerly die-hard supporters in Luwero Triangle areas – like used ladders.
On December 4, Museveni led a sham walk against corruption that instead earned him sneers and focused attention on his own greed, and the wealth he has illegally, fraudulently and corruptly amassed over the years. Museveni claims the symbolic trek, from Galamba in Wakiso District to Birembo in Kibaale, will be “a celebration of the freedom fighters’ heroic sacrifices for patriotism”.
Yet this comes exactly 20 years after another identically sham walk in 1999 when he moved with a sack of money from which he doled handouts. “The trek which should be on foot, should remind the elderly but also to sensitize the younger people, including ‘the bazzukulu’, of the heroic exertions of the freedom fighters. They were doing for no pay and no reward – just for patriotism, mwooyo gwa Uganda!” he said.
But analysts say Museveni who increasingly looks frail these days, will in reality be trying to use the walk to try to hoodwink Ugandans that he still has the physical stamina to lead them. He also desperately needs to invoke his “liberation” credentials as Ugandans increasingly see him as an oppressor who rode on their sacrifices to not only install himself into power but to use it to disposes them of the little they had.
Villagers can hardly enjoy a night’s sound sleep as they have to contend with state sponsored thugs that wreak terror on them through abductions of their loved ones, and murder to force them off their land which ends up in the possession of Museveni, his clan, and the wider cabal of henchmen that keep him entrenched.
With the passing days Museveni can no longer accuse his favourite bogeymen Idi Amin and Milton Obote of misrule. In any case the majority of living Ugandans today never witnessed the rule of the two. Museveni is under pressure as his own record sets the tone.
The youth are denied a future with mass unemployment the order of the day as a result of Museveni’s gross mismanagement of the economy. Youth leaders have risen into a popular movement that his intimidation and wanton violence have failed to contain.
During the symbolic trek that he has code named “Africa Kwetu” (our Africa!) itself a reflection of the internal confusion in his mind, Museveni will be trying to gloss over the failure of his state such as overcrowded public schools, or health facilities that have become places of death rather than healing.
He plans to use evening bon-fire sessions where he will give pep talks the trekkers about Uganda’s supposed “liberation journey” with emphasis on the role of various organizations including The Front for National Salvation (FRONASA) and the National Resistance Movement. Signs already are that Ugandans will not be easily hoodwinked.
News of the planned walk immediately attracted angry reactions. Writing on Facebook one commentator observed: “As the war veterans are dying of poverty you and your mafia are swimming in ill-gotten wealth and you want them to use their little energy to walk? Genda otambuke nagabbi go – go walk with your thieves!”
Museveni has presided over a system from which the political class is shielded from the reality of ordinary folk through generous perks and outright bribes.
People that try to oppose this are met with brute force, teargas and maiming by goons armed and dressed by the state.
The Ugandan state exists solely for Museveni’s personal benefit and a few opportunists whom he uses to displace Ugandans from their traditional land holdings through a mixture of guile and force.
It looks less tenable by the day.