Museveni has grand ideas but a steep mountain to climb

It is always admirable to have dreams and to take calculated risks to accomplish them. Museveni has had big dreams. People take different routes to realize their dreams. Some take political routes dodging obstacles on the way while others resort to the barrel of the gun in a hurry and crush every obstacle on the way. Some get to the top of the mountain, others fail to do so.

Museveni started off his long journey by becoming president of Uganda using the barrel of the gun (the political route was too slow). He wanted to use Uganda, a small country, to rise to greatness which included restoration of Mpororo kingdom and formation of Tutsi Empire in the great lakes region and first head of the East African political federation and play a leading role on the African and global stages.

The inclusion of cultural institutions in the 1995 constitution was designed to help restore Mpororo kingdom. The project has run into difficulties because the idea of kingdoms or cultural heads is not popular in southwest Uganda. Discussions of Mpororo in the media, reappearance of Mpororo kingdom on Uganda maps and singing Mpororo benefits are attempts to sell the idea which has remained unpopular. Twisting arms to restore the kingdom will have unintended results especially as it violates the human rights of others.

Museveni’s expansion into the great lakes region was to be achieved in part through Kagame and his Batutsi refugees by helping them return to Rwanda. Museveni would be the big brother. When Kagame captured power he became his own man and rejected subordination. The conflict exploded in Kisangani in DR Congo when Uganda and Rwanda troops fought each other with heavy casualties. Kagame is believed to have won the contest.

Uganda’s wanton exploitation of DR Congo resources, support to Congo militias that have destabilized the country and recent allegation that Uganda troops participated in Hutu genocide in eastern DRC have made Museveni unpopular there. Further allegations that Museveni interfered in Kenya’s 2007 elections have complicated relations on that front as well.

The East African political federation project with Museveni as first head should it happen while he is still president of Uganda is also moving slower than expected. So Museveni will do everything he can to hang on to power in Uganda until the East African political federation is resolved. Many Ugandans believe that Museveni has refused to have an independent national electoral commission to ensure rigging in his favor.

Museveni plans to dominate the African political stage have been sabotaged by the interest of the Libyan leader who wants the United States of Africa quickly which Museveni opposes. The conflict of two ambitious individuals with military background has not worked well for Museveni.

At the global level, problems have also been experienced. In the early part of his presidency, Museveni became the ‘darling of the west’ simply because he allowed Uganda to be used as a guinea pig in structural adjustment. As a reward, he was regularly invited to the G8 Summits. The failure of the experiment and the diseases of poverty that have engulfed Uganda have diminished Museveni’s visibility on the international stage. Museveni’s failure to show up at the MDGs Summit in September 2010 when his name had been on the list of speakers for weeks and demonstrations against him in New York in 2009 and 2010 have damaged his global star further. Kagame was the rising star on the international stage until a report alleged that Rwandan troops have committed genocide against Hutu in eastern DRC.

Museveni’s ambitions which he pushed in a hurry disregarding the rights of others in the process have not carried him very far. They could have dragged him down. The allegations of genocide in central, northern and eastern Uganda as well as in eastern DR Congo and confirmation that he is a dictator presiding over a failed state witness the breakdown in social and ecological systems, his confrontations at the AU level and near disappearance from the global theater have combined to damage his image. He still has a chance to recover. All he needs to do is to respect others and put Ugandans first above his personal and sectarian interests.

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