This week president Museveni rubbished the succession debate and reiterated his earlier assertion that it would be discussed at the right time and probably in the right forum.
A journalist had asked him to respond to his son in-law Odrek Rwabwogo’s insistence that the country needed to resolve the succession question now or never.
Odrek had written quite a number of articles which not only criticized the sustainability of the NRM revolutionary project in general but also questioned the working methods of its chairman who also happens to be his father in law, President Yoweri Museveni.
But while he was answering the journalist, he appeared bored to talk about the subject.
It was like asking the pope to discuss what happens in the disco.
President Museveni has won so many wars but there is sufficient evidence to suggest that he might lose the succession battle.
The Ugandan leader has fought and won wars against nations like Zaire(now DRC) ,Rwanda , sudan among others. Fought and defeated presidents like Gen Idi Amin , Apollo Milton Obote , Gen Tito Okello Lutwa, Joseph Mobutu, Juvenal Habyarimana, Omar Bashir Laurent kabila etcetera.
In fact while most leaders usually collapse when they venture into wars with their nearest neighbors like Amin who evaporated with the kagera misadventure, Museveni has managed to survive very many tricky wars his especially the one of Rwanda where over a million people perished in a genocide.
Under normal circumstances, and given the fact almost the antagonist forces that invaded Rwanda where from his NRA contingent, he would have been put on the spot for what happened, but the situation normalized sooner than expected.
He has defeated over 40 Ugandan rebel groups that include ADF, LRA, Westnile Bank Front,UNRF1, UNRF2, FOBA , UPDA,UPA, Holy spirit Movement, PRA etcetera.
And in this process he has obliterated notorious rebel leaders like Alice Lakwena, Col Juma Oris , Col Erick Odwar ,Joseph Kony, Herbert Itongwa, Jamil Mukulu, Col Samson Mande etcetera.
He has also overcome so many political challenges that include the lifting of presidential term limits, the return of traditional kingdoms which President Milton Obote had suspended in 1966, the return of Asians that President Idi Amin had expelled from the country in 1972, , the kayunga riots, the numerous political coalitions that have usually ganged up during elections etcetera.
He has also ‘somehow’ contained the Buganda question, the Acholi question, the Westnile question, the Lango question, the Obugabe question, the Obusinga question, the Kyabazinga question etc.
He has overcome controversial elections of 1996,2001,2006,2011 and 2016.
President Museveni has also got away with quite a number of radical economic decisions that could have led to his downfall like hugely misunderstood currency reform of 1987 where the Ugandan currency was devalued by 30%, the massive privatization exercise, the massive retrenchment of workers, the unforgiving famine and drought that has always ravaged the country almost every two years among others.
The Transition Conundrum
Given the aforementioned challenges, you can now say that the only two issues still standing in his way , which are interlinked in a way , are the lifting of age limit on the presidency which was padlocked at 75 years and the succession question.
Both political questions are interlinked because, one leads to the other in a certain way. That is to say; if Museveni and his group manages to succeed in lifting the age limit, it will certainly prolong the succession question to infinity-perhaps beyond 2026!.
If, however, it (the lifting of the age limit) doesn’t happen, then he will have the opportunity to settle the succession question as early as 2021 when he will certainly step down.
That is exactly what makes the succession debate very interesting.
The other aspect of it is the personalities likely to constitute a group from which he will choose his successor.
At the moment, it appears as if even the president himself doesn’t know whom to choose.
In the last ten years there have been constant rumors that he was grooming his son, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba to take over the mantle when he opts to retire.
But the propagators of that conspiracy theory were shocked when he sacked his son from the relatively influential position of commander of special force brigade and demoted him to the lesser post of advisor to the president on military affairs.
Having decimated, humiliated and rather obliterated the opposition and reduced it to a laughing stock, the source of the next Ugandan leader is one of the biggest challenges of our time.
Constitutionally, the pecking order shows that the vice president is supposed to takeover when the Ugandan president dies, resigns or is impeached.
If any of the above was to happen today, then the less talked about Hon Edward Sekandi easily takes over as Ugandan president.
But how come some Ugandans are asking president Museveni to show them his heir apparent to the throne even when he has a vice president?
A few years ago it appeared to be an easy subject for the Ugandan president to discuss the retirement question. When he appeared on NTV, he told talk-show host Patrick Kamara that he felt that he wouldn’t continue serving beyond 75 years.
Today, Museveni is 72 years old. And in the next three years, actually in 2020, he will certainly have clocked 75 years mark which he said he would retire.
Will he abide by his word this time round? Ugandans have numerously caught president Museveni on the wrong side of his own promises.
He has broken so many promises one of which includes the one he made in 1986 that the problem of Africa was the leaders who cling on power-which in effect was translated as pledge that he was not going to cling on power like the other selfish African leaders.
Then there is another one he made in 2001 that he would not run beyond 2005, the time when his two constitutional terms was due to expire.
Today he has done 31 odd years without feeling tired-according to the vigor he exudes whenever he is challenged to prove his fitness.
Well, all you can say is that while the Ugandan leader has overcome so many challenges during his thirty year reign, he still continues to find the succession question as the most challenging, most confusing and most embarrassing subjects.
It is not only a quagmire or a conundrum but it’s like a pendulum that swings from either the positive side to the negative side with unpredictable force.
The author Fred Daka Kamwada is a researcher and blogger ‘.chat with him on [email protected]
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