This week, the long-serving NRM Vice Chairman, Alhaji Moses Kigongo endorsed the person of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for the 2026 presidential elections, just a few weeks after a group of NRM enthusiasts also launched the same candidate in what they termed as the `Jajja Omalako` campaign.
This endorsement and counter endorsement of President Museveni’s sole candidature for the 2026 elections is so baffling that it raises some serious questions. It also has ramifications that need to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. First of all, it technically means that the campaigns for promoting President Museveni’s candidature are already underway, even before he gets to know his opponents for those particular elections.
Secondly, it also means that the Museveni camp is so insecure that he wants to make sure that nobody gets in the way of his candidature. Although he is obviously in charge and firmly running the show, it is interesting that he still needs to get appraised for continuous leadership mantle even when there is no viable opposition to challenge him.
Why would the man who has run the country for the last 36 years require continuous affirmation to his leadership? There is something that is not adding up well in this hullaballoo. To understand this, you need to comprehend the way President Museveni perceives power. For a longtime, he has always behaved as if he is not in power. One of the first suspicions (please treat it as a suspicion) is that he doesn’t seem to feel in complete control of state affairs, and feels that something is missing in his leadership lockers.
Actually, the reality is that while many may think that Museveni is firmly in control of proceedings in the country, he doesn’t necessarily feel the same way. So, he needs to be reminded all the time that he is the one in charge now, and will still be in charge in 2026 and beyond. On several occasions, he has made statements which expose his luck of confidence in his powers. At one time, he complained that there are so many power centers that undermine his ability to perform as well as he should.
On several occasions, he has questioned why he is called a dictator! Yet, he has made decisions that make him look like one, coinciding with Hon Winnie Byanyima famous saying that when it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is obviously a duck! Therefore, analogically speaking, although President Museveni has on several occasions walked like a duck, quacked like a duck, he doesn’t feel that he should be considered a duck!
This obviously means that he doesn’t actually feel as indomitable as we tend to think or expect of him. He doesn’t feel the invincible powers that he has held for the last close to four decades. This explains why he is always looking for someone to blame for things that go wrong and sounds as if someone is encroaching on his powers.
The Outsider Mentality
When he talks about the challenges faced by this country, he sounds as vulnerable as a local man on the streets. For instance, he has been very categorical on the issue of stopping land evictions of squatters around the country. But at the same time, he has been left in a predicament of lamenting about these land evictions than halting them entirely. He makes things appear to be out of his control.
This week, he met the leadership of Kampala City which include the Executive Director, Ms Dorothy Kitaka, and all the concerned parties. He questioned why they were harassing traders without giving them alternatives. By questioning the KCCA activities, the President was actually exposing his lack of touch with what was going on in the city.
The President is expected to know that this KCCA brutality started way back during Madam Jennifer Musisi’s reign, but he kept quiet about it. He should have already known that it was mostly because of Jenifer Musisi’s brutality that the NRM has lost support from Kampala dwellers. Actually, there is a secret code that if you want to win any political contest in Kampala, you should NEVER make the mistake of contesting on the NRM ticket.
Under Dorothy Kisaka’s reign at KCCA The Smart City initiative has been a direct addition to the brutal activities KCCA, which has been operating without consulting the local authorities. They demolish kiosks, raid merchandise from the streets at night and arrest hawkers found in suburbs that are miles away from the city center. The end result is that the people are silently praying for Museveni’s exit as soon as yesterday.
But as stated earlier, he doesn’t seem to appreciate that he has the powers to deal with such issues. He has this outsider mentality that makes him fail to notice what is going on around him. He enjoys feigning ignorance about sticky matters that require his attention.
This diffidence could be the fundamental reason why he is terrified of handing over power to someone else.
It also explains why he even doesn’t feel secure enough to appreciate that he will be the sole candidate for the 2026 elections. He therefore needs people like Hajji Moses Kigongo to assure him with an endorsement for elections which are still four years away. And the repercussions? President Museveni’s continued stay in power has the terrible repercussion of undermining a structural change of power.
It leaves the country in suspense of what can happen if he leaves power without preparing the ground for the transition. Gen Museveni should not be like Gen Tito who led Yugoslavia to become one of the great powers in Europe, but was left in a complete mess when he died abruptly. Luckily, President Museveni still has the time to copy and paste from his political mentor, former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere.
Nyerere organized a peaceful transfer of power to President Hassan Mwinyi that has set that country on a very solid path that has seen them graduate into the middle-income status. The political transition is crucial to Uganda at this time because the NRM has done 36 years in power already, and needs to sustain this stability by passing on the mantle to another leadership while President Museveni still lives. Liberation movements like that of Mozambique, Angola, South Africa, have moved on from the old independence leaderships of people like Joachim Chissano, Sam Nujoma, Nelson Mandela, and are enjoying a good spell of stability.
If the current NRM leadership doesn’t hand over power to another leader, it will leave the country in unnecessary suspense and have the net effect of betraying the spirit of the bush-war. The earlier the Ugandan President realizes the importance of the need for a transition, the better for the future of this country.
- Fred Daka Kamwada is a seasoned journalist, blogger and political analyst for over a decade in Uganda
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