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Gen. Muhoozi’s emerging power

Is the presidency project taking shape?

Kampala, Uganda | MUBATSI ASINJA HABATI | On January 24, the media was awash with photos of Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.

Gen. Muhoozi who is a son of President Yoweri Museveni, senior presidential advisor on special operations and commander of UPDF Land Forces, had travelled to Rwanda on Jan.22 reportedly on a diplomatic mission – to ease tensions between Uganda and Rwanda.

Muhoozi’s Rwanda visit came on the heels of a whirlwind of diplomatic engagement, including by Uganda’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Adonia Ayebare, who carried a special message on the issue from President Museveni to Kagame. The increased pace was revelatory of imminent resolution of the three-year Rwanda closure of its border with Uganda and ban on goods from Uganda.

After the meeting, Muhoozi tweeted: “I thank President Paul Kagame for the very warm reception my delegation and I received in Kigali. We held very cordial and in-depth discussions about how to improve our bilateral relations. I am confident that under the leadership of our two Presidents we shall be able to quickly restore our historical good relations.”

Some political observers argued that the decision by President Museveni to send his son to Rwanda is a move intended to show Uganda’s commitment to mend relations with Rwanda. Those who hold this school of thought say despite being Museveni’s family member, Muhoozi not only understands the problem between the two countries very well but also has a positive view of President Kagame, thus making him a special and acceptable envoy whom Kigali will welcome.

As a measure of the success of his mission, Muhoozi revealed that on his request, President Kagame had released a UPDF soldier previously held by Rwanda. He also shared photos of him meeting President Kagame, including one in which he was seen saluting President Kagame.

A few days later, on Jan. 27, Rwanda announced that it was re-opening the border with Uganda effective Jan.31.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Rwanda said in part: “Following the visit to Rwanda of Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Senior Presidential Advisor on Special Operations and Commander of Land Forces of the Uganda People’s Defence forces (UPDF) on January 22, 2022, the Government of Rwanda has taken note that there is a process to solves issues raised by Rwanda, as well as commitments made by the Government of Uganda to address remaining obstacles.”

Hundreds of Muhoozi’s twitter account followers showered him with praises with most affirming that is a job well done.

Gen. Muhoozi’s triumph in Kigali came barely a week after he had travelled to Kenya and met with President Uhuru Kenyatta. On that occasion, Gen. Muhoozi and President Kenyatta jointly witnessed the trans-shipment of container cargo from the Standard Gauge Railway to the Meter Gauge Railway at the new inland container depot in Naivasha. The inland depot is designed to ease trade by reducing the time and cost for transporting cargo from the Kenyan sea port of Mombasa to Uganda’s Malaba Railway Yard from 96 hours by road to 36 hours and from US$ 2031 per trip to US$860.

After that occasion Muhoozi tweeted: “I thank my great big brother, President Uhuru Kenyatta, for inviting me to my second home Kenya, to join him in the inauguration of the Inland Container Depot in Naivasha. A strong East Africa is the only way to go!”

On that occasion, hundreds of Muhoozi’s twitter account followers showered him with praises.

Meanwhile, Gen. Muhoozi is overseeing the joint Uganda- DR Congo operation against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) that was launched on November 30, 2021.

On Jan. 04 Muhoozi tweeted: “Our brothers the Congolese military, FARDC, are very hardy, determined forces. The joint operations between FARDC and UPDF have been successful because both armies are strong.”

On December 31, 2021, Muhoozi tweeted: “Viva our great leaders H.E. Felix Tshisekedi and H.E. Yoweri Museveni. Viva FARDC and UPDF!”

Kagame (left) listens to Muhoozi.

Muhoozi’s emerging prominence

These are some of the incidents that reveal the regional reach of Gen. Muhoozi’s emerging central position in his father, President Museveni’s government. After reaching the pinnacle of his dominance of the military, Muhoozi appears to be positioning himself as a foreign policy fixer in the mold of his father and pursuing regional and global alliances. Control of the military and deftness in foreign affairs is critical for any politician close to the apex of executive power in Africa.

In this case, foreign alliances could be built on ethnic links with Rwanda, dynastic politics with Kenya and DR Congo (Uhuru Kenyatta is a former first son and President Tshisekedi Tshilombo is the son of prominent Congolese politician; the late Étienne Tshisekedi, who served as Prime Minister of Zaire in the 1990s), and ideologies such as pan-Africanism with Tanzania.

For most Ugandans, however, President Museveni’s deployment of Gen. Muhoozi in the military and foreign affairs and his cultivation of a positive public emerge appear exciting.

Whenever Muhoozi does something or tweets, the so-called army of key-board warriors retweets and affirms how it is a job well done for “Uganda’s next president.”  The talk is no longer the old talk of whether “President Museveni is grooming his son, Muhoozi, to take over from him” but how the move will be made and when.

Those who front this argument point at the speed at which Muhoozi has been fast-tracked in the leadership of the army having joined the UPDF as an LDU member in 1999 and now his emergence as Museveni’s special envoy.

Muhoozi has been commanding the elite group of the UPDF that protects the president, his family and the country’s strategic assets. Recently, he was appointed commander of UPDF land forces making him among the top four commanders of the country’s military. Yet in 2012 he was a brigadier commanding the then Special Forces Group.

That he can now take up diplomatic roles, some political observers argue that his father is preparing him for the times to come. But not everyone is happy about Muhoozi’s emerging prominence in the succession politics.

Some observers view Muhoozi’s foray into foreign affairs as weakening the established institutions like the Foreign Affairs Ministry whose main task to secure Uganda’s good relations with other countries.

Muhoozi’s ‘coming out’ to lead Uganda politically has been traced to the celebration of his 47th birthday in 2021.

When Muhoozi turned 47 on April 24, 2021, a social media hashtag celebrating his birthday went viral. Many who sent him birthday wishes added the line: “my next president 2026” or “my next Commander in Chief.”

Until recently, Muhoozi was operating behind the scenes and under the shadows of his father. But his recent found love for the social media site, Twitter has brought Muhoozi, the man many did not know.

With over 450,000 followers on twitter, Muhoozi’s tweets get noticed easily. Some of the tweets are heavily political in spite of him being a serving military officer, where the law bars such officers from taking political sides. One of his most recent controversial tweets appeared to be in support of the Tigray people of Ethiopia when they launched a war to oust the elected government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Perhaps as a preparation for visit to Rwanda, on January 16, Muhoozi told off Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s adversaries.

“This is my uncle, Afande Paul Kagame. Those who fight him are fighting my family. They should all be careful,” Muhoozi tweeted, with a caption of two pictures of President Kagame.

Some are reading into this argument that the Muhoozi presidency is taking shape. Since the beginning of this year, a number of events have set this in motion. A group of youth have been roaming strategic towns posturing to demonstrate in support of Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba to become the next president of Uganda. Some have been calling on his father, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to name Muhoozi as his successor.

A group calling itself Transformer Cadres’ Association Uganda, is a group of NRM parliamentary candidates that lost in the 2020 party primaries has been fronting the idea that parliament should elect president of Uganda instead of the current s majority of Ugandans.

The group is led by Felix Adupa Ongwech, the former Kioga County parliamentary contestant in Amolatar District. The political opposition led by NUP president, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine think the proposal of parliamentary democracy if implemented is meant to benefit Museveni and his son Muhoozi since the ruling NRM party has historically dominated parliament at every election cycle.

Speaking to Uganda Radio Network recently Joseph Kasule (PhD), a research fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research said if the “Muhoozi succession project” is to materialise, he must work hand in glove with existing political groups.

“He has to work with the army, opposition, Buganda, civil society, religious bodies, donor community, NRM, etc. He will only become president by consensus. I hate political predictions, but seeing what is wrong today, any new leader shall arise from either political compromise or genuine electoral politics.

Any smell of foul play may usher in discontent from the people. He may rule with the gun and dish money to parishes, but social legitimacy is important even to a military dictatorship,” Dr Kasule says.

President Museveni has been quiet about his succession plan. When he chooses to speak about succession, President Museveni is always dismissive saying that the Constitution of Uganda is clear on this topic.

Uhuru Kenyatta (left) relaxes with Kainerugaba

Journalist turned politician, Ibrahim Ssemujju, says President Museveni is unwilling to hand over power to anyone including his son. Ssemujju says what we are seeing are political schemers trying to position themselves to replace Museveni in case of any eventualities.

Indeed, a keen observation shows that Gen. Muhoozi has a big number of supporters, majority of whom, are target workers. Most of these are praise singers on his twitter account and launched an aggressive social media campaign for a 2026 presidential bid for Muhoozi hardly a year into President Museveni’s sixth elective term.

These supporters have coined many slogans and titles for Gen. Muhoozi. Some praise Muhoozi as:  the next president, presidential material, chairman MK, Gen Muhoozi my role model. All these and many other credentials are sometimes boldly emblazoned on branded T-shirts, jumpers, caps, shirts and posters printed, distributed and worn by Muhoozi’s legion of supporters. They all loudly tout Muhoozi’s leadership prowess.

Also in circulation is a bold yellow poster of Gen. Muhoozi that proclaims, “For peace, unity, transparency and supersonic development, vote President Muhoozi Kainerugaba 2026-2031.”

The key promoters include young parliamentarians led by David Kabanda and businessman Balaam Barugahara. Muhoozi project WhatsApp groups have been created in universities. Muhoozi-leaning university leaders are nudged to spread the word and promote the general’s 2026 candidature among students.These leaders also identify young and vibrant leaders allied to Muhoozi who can be supported during guild elections. In return, these university students have allegedly been promised jobs.

Odrek Rwabwogo, a son in-law of President Museveni and also a presidential assistant on special duties, appears to be a lone voice cautioning against these political maneuvers. Like Muhoozi, Rwabwogo has often taken to social media to air out his views.

On Jan. 23 he tweeted: “Like a human cell, a political party has connected tissue much like the human body. If you continue to provoke its members by pushing narrow succession agendas, you will generate backlash that could reverse the party fortunes. I am warning people who are doing this to STOP.”

Some observers saw this as a veiled message to those within NRM who are pushing for Muhoozi to succeed his father in 2026.

Rwabwogo’s tweet seems to be a departure from his call for a succession debate in 2017 when he was writing in the newspapers. He was criticized by ruling party apparatchiks like David Mafabi, a presidential aide, for discussing such matters in a wrong forum. They advised Rwabogo to take up the matter in NRM’s central executive committee or to President Museveni.

Rwabwogo had taken a low profile after he was persuaded not to run against Maj. Gen. Matayo Kyaligonza for NRM vice chairperson for Western Uganda.

This time, the ruling NRM party has stated that members pushing the Muhoozi project are not endorsed by the ruling party and neither do their ambitions align with the future prospects of the NRM.




  2. i support him for president

    • thanks Alot. Even all ugandans trust GEN.MK To be the best next president of republic of uganda after SHUJA GEN.YKMUSEVENI Retires

  3. That is my president wama uncle am with #kitagwenda

  4. How appalling! May this never come to pass or else Uganda will remain in the medieval age being ruled by, sadists, blood thirsty kleptocrats and despots for another decade.

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