Opinion: Critics of Lt Gen Kainerugaba Muhoozi’s assumed presidential bid are exploiting the fact he takes alcohol to try to convince Ugandans that he isn’t suitable for the big office.
Muhoozi admits taking alcohol. Even then, the people using the same to denounce his presidential bid, have not provided proof yet to show that such private lifestyle would interfere with the job of the president in case he stands and wins.
Away from that and for the years he has been serving the army, the land forces commander isn’t known to have committed any blunders on account of being drunk. I have not also heard yet, of any single incident, for instance, where Muhoozi has ever been involved in shooting at people, fighting them and peeing in the public following a round of drinking alcohol.
Nor have I ever heard, let alone witnessed, the First Son drinking alcohol in public or at least holding open beer parties.Yes, the name Muhoozi Kainerugaba is being cited in the torture of satirical writer, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija.
Supposing the claims are true, though we need to put them into perspective. Kakwenza is the one who started it all by authoring and circulating a tweet containing uncharitable words to describe Muhoozi. One can argue that Kakwenza is entitled to hold and express his views. And so, was right to write what he wrote.
Well, yours truly is of the considered opinion that one cannot abuse another and then turn around to assert he or she was doing so in order to express his or her views. But Muhoozi’s own dad, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni despises drunk leaders. But, it’s also true that he loves working with them.
To Museveni we shall revert later. Let`s discuss Dr Apollo Milton Obote first
The former president used to heavily drink alcohol. Yet he was a good organizer recalling that he managed to bring together many factions from different political backgrounds and ideologies on the way to securing Uganda’s independence.
That singular act of securing independence for his country makes the drunk Obote a hero in the league of Jomo Kenyatta and others you know of. The man now eternally resting in Akokoro, Lira, didn’t stop at fighting for Uganda’s independence and then sat back.
He was instrumental in forming OAU which helped to fight for the eradication of colonial rule from Africa. So, one can submit that the drunk Obote was also a Pan Africanist. Yes, Obote made mistakes. However, I don’t want to think those gaffes can be blamed on the fact that he was taking alcohol.
Yours truly would submit that Obote simply failed to control the army which ended up terrorizing people and toppling him twice. Take it, leave it, the son of Opeto was an astute politician and a statesman who worked hard to develop Uganda without discriminating any region.
That drunk Obote as we know him, was a very intelligent man too. He would sit alone and write the five year development program for the country. He would do this while puffing on cigars and taking his whisky.
Let’s put emotions and politics aside for once and talk honestly. Obote’s fall was also facilitated from outside the country, simply because he stood with Africa against the Europeans.
Take his1971 overthrow by Amin Dada for demonstrative purposes. Obote and Julius Kamberege Nyerere had co-athoured a missive calling for a quick and unnegotiable end to apatheid in South Africa. No one among Obote’s peers was brave enough to read the missive. They cowed away fearing a backlash from the colonizers.
The eloquently gifted Obote swallowed the bullet by reading the missive himself. UK was mad at Obote. UK’s foreign secretary, Heath, said in passing, that some people were talking big but would not return home in time to find their lofty offices intact. UK had of course talked to Idi Amin to overthrow his boss.
According to the former Zambian President, Kenneth Kaunda, Obote had prior to turning up at the Commonwealth meeting in Singapore, got wind of Amin’s boiling coup. He also knew UK was fanning the flames. All the same, the Ugandan leader chose to go to Singapore to tell off the apatheid rulers and their backers other than staying back home safeguarding his seat.
Going back to Museveni, one of the renowned drunkstars he has worked with is George Cosmas Adyebo. Those in the know remember the surprise pick from Teso. A story is told of how Museveni appointed Adyebo to the office of Prime Minister while the man was seated around the pot sucking at Ajon with buddies. Obuusera lugishu, amarwa lusoga,
Ajon is a favorite local brew for especially people from the Eastern and Northern part of the country. In Luganda, it’s called Malwa, Basoga call it Amarwa whereas in Western its known as Amaarwa, the same meaning alcohol. Patrons use sticks improvised as straws to suck the stuff made out of sorghum and yeast,from the pot they congregate around.
Museveni finally dropped Adyebo. All the same, we have never ever heard the president at any one time castigating the man as having been a failed Premier on account of his alcoholic lifestyle. Suffice it to say, the appointing authority dropped the man not because alcohol was failing him in his duties but for other reasons.
Dr Gilbert Baalibaseka Bukenya is another self-confessed drunk leader Museveni appointed to cabinet.Bukenya served in the sensitive cabinet post of the Presidency before scaling ladders to become Museveni’s number two in cabinet.
Bukenya loved his alcohol, no doubt. But the man known by the Mahogany nickname in the political circles, knew when to drink and when to carry out his cabinet assignments. He did his cabinet work meticulously. This is the reason why the jolly elder from Kakiri ended up lasting in cabinet for many years. In fact, Bukenya was only dropped from cabinet merely because he had allegedly started nursing ideas of unseating his master.
Dr Robert Kibirige Ssebunya is Museveni’s other celebrated drunk minister. Museveni spotted the drunk Kibirige from one of the leading agricultural institutes in the country. In spite of taking alcohol, Kibirige wowed Museveni with his crop research skills which saw him discovering clonal coffee.
“I found Kibirige in a sorry state. He was walking on bended shoes. But his crop research prowess immediately endeared him to me,” Museveni used to comment about the departed minister.
Kibirige wasn’t a mean guy. He shared the stuff with people.He used to personally serve alcohol to people during social gatherings and political activities in his constituency. Alcohol made Kibirige very popular. It helped him to mingle with and listen to issues of his voters and to act on them.
This is why he probably ended up serving his constituency up to the time of his demise. His son, Kibirige Ssebunnya replaced him. I don’t know if Kibirige the son is an alcoholic in the league of his dad.
What I know very well is that Kibirige Junior didn’t survive the second election. He lost out to NUP’s Wakayima Musoke. The loss might imply he isn’t a better and popular leader his drunk dad was. Kibirige Junior had even lost the by-election to replace his dad. Wakayima Musoke standing on the DP’s ticket, floored him.
But he opportunistically exploited the fact that Wakayima had jumbled up his names while registering his candidature to convince court to overturn the opponent’s unassailable victory.
We are still praising the departed Central Bank chief Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile as the chief architect of the Uganda’s good economy. Well, Mutebile was another heavy drunko. But despite his love for whisky, Museveni ended up keeping the man around for years than any other governor who came before him because he was arguably exceptional.
Mutebile not only received kudos from Uganda upon his demise, but also from elsewhere around the globe which possibly attests to his competence at the job.
In the military, the departed Gen Kasirye Ggwanga stood out from colleagues in as far as imbibing alcohol is concerned.
Ggwanga drunk openly and even bragged about it. This is how members of the public came to know him as a drunkard yet they are many soldiers who drink alcohol.
Much as Ggwanga was a drunk soldier, Museveni loved him for his hard work and brevity.
If one wants proof of Ggwanga’s hardwork and development astuteness, he or she is better advised to go to Mityana and ask locals for what he did for them during just one term he served as the district chairman, aka Governor.
Going to neighbouring Kenya, critics of Uhuru Kenyatta also exploited the fact that he takes one too many, to undermine his presidential bid when he first came up to replace Arap Moi. They were claiming that Uhuru was destined to fail as the president on account of taking alcohol. Photos of him with red eyes became the salt in social media soup.
Kenyans knew better. They rejected the propaganda and voted Uhuru into office. Following the elapse of the first term of office, Kenyans again overwhelmingly voted Uhuru back into State House for his second and final term, even when he had never denounced the liquor.
As regards what the so-called drunk Uhuru has managed to do for the country, the jury is out for anyone to make their comments. What cannot be denied though is that Uhuru has made Kenya a much better country and an enviable economy as opposed to the utter mess he found it in.
Children in Kenya are going to school and receiving laptops and data to go with it without the bother of paying for them. The future of the country therefore looks brighter now since the nation is assured of a better educated workforce. Uhuru takes credit for extending financial assistance to the private business people following the resumption of business that had been shut down in the wake of Covid-19.
On the contrary, majority of Uhuru’s peers in Africa, some of whom don’t touch alcohol, didn’t do anything to help out their people engaged in private businesses.
Going on, Kenya is more of a united nation at the moment than it was during the days of Arap Moi, thanks to divisions, when tribal groupings were a common thing.
Most important, Uhuru is currently writing history by backing an opposition leader, Raila Odinga to replace him. This is unprecedent. Odinga’s father was a staunch opponent of Uhuru’s father as well as founding President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
It is also a commandable and exemplary job given that Odinga is not a Kikuyu as Uhuru. One can argue that Uhuru is doing this to mend fences with Odinga’s family. And to avoid being replaced by Samel Ruto, fearing his deputy can end up avenging against him. Someone arguing like this would be entitled to their opinion.
All the same, the fact that Uhuru is backing an opponent to replace him as president, is itself a sign of mature and civilized politics which has been lacking in Africa for decades now.
Kenya under Uhuru is a respected country within the region and globally. It is taking part in peacekeeping missions in Somalia and elsewhere. It’s army is one of the best facilitated in terms of salaries and logistics in Africa.
Uhuru’s `brother`, Baraka Obama was a drunk president too. Yet alcohol didn’t stop him from shining as the first black man to reign over the biggest super power in the world. Baraka’s star would shine even much more brighter when he finally put out of action, one of the 21st century’s deadliest terrorists in Osama Biden Laden.
Let me say clearly. Taking alcohol isn’t bad perse. What is bad is abusing alcohol. We should never confuse the two to conclude that one who takes alcohol is not fit to become a president and vice versa. Take food for example. It is essential for proper human growth. Yet when one abuses it, food can turn into poison or cause the consumer health problems.
Let me hit the nail on the head. Muhoozi’s competence, or lack of it as the president, is the converstation we should be holding currently as a country. As opposed to discussing his person and the man’s private lifestyle which is immaterial to the subject at hand.
I would accordingly argue all of us to quickly get down to analyzing what Muhoozi has achieved as a military officer so far, his education background and such critical things. And then use that to gauge his suitability, or lack of it, for the big project.
In any case, Muhoozi isn’t vying, if at all he is vying, to become an Anglican Archbishop or a Sheikh for that matter, as to bother us to carry out an alcohol background check on him. Good people, the 2026 deadline is fast ticking away. Wisdom would counsel us not squander more time indulging in small political talk.
I rest my case.
- Mr. Stephen Kasozi Muwambi is a seasoned crime investigative writer, majoring in judicial-based stories. His two decades’ experience as a senior investigative journalist has made him one of the best to reckon on in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected]
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