By Patrick Matsiko wa Mucoori
President Museveni’s retirement from power is not near. He has already declared his availability to stand again for the presidency in 2016.
Addressing both local and international media at State House on Feb. 16, two days before voting, Museveni said if his party chooses him in 2016 he will contest. He was responding to a question on whether he will offer himself for another term in 2016. “We shall decide. The party will sit and decide. Even me I will decide.” Those familiar with Museveni’s past responses to such questions about whether he will stand for another term, are under no doubt he has already declared his candidature. It’s the same answer he has been giving to whoever has asked him before about his intention to stand again.
Museveni said he intends to turn Uganda, where about a quarter of the population lives in absolute poverty, into a middle income country in the next five years as president. He did not explain how he will achieve that goal in five years, after failing to do it in the 25 years of his rule so far. “I will not allow [Kizza] Besigye and group to mess up that plan,” Museveni said. His statement seemed to reinforce claims that he will not hand over power if he loses the Feb. 18 elections. Supposing he lost the elections, how then would he “stop Besigye and group from messing up his plan?” His words were construed to mean he will not quit power even if he loses.
He denied reports that many of his former supporters who fought with him in the guerrilla war had deserted the party and are now in opposition against him. He insisted his core NRM support was still intact even when he was reminded of his powerful former allies like former Army Commander Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, who is now in the opposition. Museveni dismissed his former army commander and head of military intelligence during the bush war as “a nobody” in NRM. He said Muntu’s rise to prominence was accidental.
“Muntu was not even among the principal commanders in the bush. What was his rank when he came from the bush? He was very junior. Some of these people came up because most of our commanders died of AIDS, so we had to look for others to replace them. They benefitted from the AIDS scourge,” Museveni told the local and foreign media, drawing laughter.
He said Muntu cannot even be considered among the NRM core because he did not fight in the war against Idi Amin in the 1970’s. Muntu was in high school at the time and Museveni had finished university. Joining the war would have meant Muntu had to drop out of school like Museveni’s brother Gen. Salim Saleh. Is that what the President wanted Muntu to do?
Besides, his dismissal of Muntu’s contribution to the NRM struggle on the account that he did not fight Amin was a bit surprising and intriguing. The current Chief of Defence Forces Gen. Aronda Nyakairima and chief of military intelligence Brig. James Mugira too were not involved in the anti-Amin war. Is their contribution to the NRM struggle also insignificant?