Home News The State of Ugandan Politics: Museveni’s Longevity and Its Consequences

The State of Ugandan Politics: Museveni’s Longevity and Its Consequences

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the state of ugandan politics musevenis longevity and its consequences
the state of ugandan politics musevenis longevity and its consequences
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For weeks, Uganda’s political landscape has been marked by controversy involving the country’s second-largest opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). Allegations have arisen that key party leaders received campaign funds from President Museveni in 2021. The purpose behind these funds was purportedly to prevent an alliance between the FDC and the largest opposition party, Bobi Wine’s National Unity Platform (NUP).

Party president Patrick Amuriat and Secretary General Nandala Mafabi have acknowledged receiving the money but have declined to reveal its sources, citing concerns for the donors’ safety. This situation has led to suspicions that the funds originated from President Museveni, given his history of co-opting opposition figures.

This development sheds light on Museveni’s increasing efforts to undermine political actors and institutions challenging his regime, especially as his legitimacy weakens and his age signals the approaching end of his tenure.

At the age of 79, and with some speculating he may be in his mid-eighties, Museveni likely has only a decade or so left in his leadership. He has systematically weakened or co-opted key institutions to ensure no formidable rivals emerge. While this strategy has maintained the status quo temporarily, it raises concerns about the country’s future stability.

Museveni has a history of dismantling or neutralizing opposition parties, as seen in his previous alliances with factions of the UPC and DP, which essentially translated to co-optation. These factions abandoned their principles in exchange for political positions and potentially bribes.

The recent crisis within the FDC and new allegations of infiltration in Bobi Wine’s NUP suggest that Museveni aims to weaken any opposition by recruiting those with weak character. This approach is reminiscent of his Movement system in the 1990s, which effectively established a single-party regime.

Surprisingly, Museveni’s assault on political parties has not spared his own party, the ruling NRM. He has dominated it to the extent that it appears unable to function independently of him. In every election, he is endorsed as the party’s “sole candidate,” effectively preventing internal challengers.

While his son, General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, has appeared at numerous rallies, there is skepticism about his succession. Museveni may be using him as a diversion from growing discussions about political transition, both within and outside the ruling party.

Museveni’s desire for control extends beyond political parties to other pillars of Ugandan politics, particularly the military. He has divided the army into two, with the Special Forces Command (SFC) responsible for presidential security, leading to concerns about potential division and resentment within the military ranks.

His influence also extends to the parliament, which is heavily populated with over 500 MPs drawing substantial salaries, creating a financial barrier to entry. This has made MPs susceptible to bribery when Museveni needs constitutional amendments to prolong his rule.

The parliament has thus become another instrument of the president in a country marked by poverty. It raises questions about when, rather than if, public anger will erupt against the political class, potentially leading to Museveni’s downfall.

Museveni’s leadership has coincided with the suppression and impoverishment of the public, the decline of cooperatives and trade unions, curtailment of freedoms of assembly, and increased kidnappings and murders of opposition activists. Public trust in the police and courts has eroded due to instances of fabricated charges, further adding to the challenges facing Uganda’s political landscape.