In many ways I find Museveni better than his critics. When he felt Uganda had a crisis of leadership, he did not sit and complain in pamphlets. He took political initiative to gain power and change the country. His critics sit in air-conditioned offices and hang out in fancy nightclubs to lament how he has destroyed the country. But if the man is incompetent in managing the state, surely we who are more competent, more educated, more skilled, more exposed should have the competence to easily kick him out. You cannot claim to be the best sprinter when you cannot even qualify for the Olympics.
So we ask for mutually contradictory things: we want a leader who can transform our nation for us in one big stroke. Yet if any leader was to achieve such a feat, she/he would need to act without restraints on his/her power i.e. be a benevolent tyrant. At the same time we want such a leader to be democratic, subject to checks and balances. That is why we cheer Barak Obama when he says Africa does not need strong leaders but strong institutions. But strong institutions mean a leader has little he can do as an individual. This is the core problem of us African elites, ideological confusion.
Listening to Ugandan (and African) elites, one is overwhelmed by the sheer volume of helplessness and powerlessness even on matters of direct personal responsibility. It is as if we have no agency to shape the destiny of our countries – we surrendered that to the mythical great leader. Every aspect of our lives is supposed to depend on leaders. This belief in leaders as saviours is detrimental to active citizenship. We need a vision that believes that our destiny can only be shaped by the anonymous actions of hundreds of millions of active, living, thinking, and functioning citizens; not a single leader.