THE LAST WORD: Why there is a big disconnect between Museveni the intellectual and Museveni the politician
THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, President Yoweri Museveni delivered an impressive speech to fellow African Union (AU) heads of state in Addis Ababa about the need for regional and continental integration. According to social media, the president even got a standing ovation. The speech was Musevenisque in its historical sweep, breadth of perspective, depth of analysis and strategic foresight. It showed how Museveni the politician contradicts Museveni the intellectual. It also proves that leaders are human – they have egos and other emotions that stand in the way of their strategic ambitions.
Museveni argued that the colonial conquest of Africa was made possible by the failure of pre-colonial African chiefs to unite against the foreign invader. Instead, he said, they allowed their tactical differences to blind them to this strategic threat they all confronted. He then advised contemporary African leaders to put aside such tactical disagreements in pursuit of the bigger continental goal of what he called “strategic security” and prosperity. Even the president’s harshest critics on Uganda’s social media agreed that this was indeed a great speech.
I read the speech with admiration and frustration: admiration for its grand vision and frustration with its disconnection from Uganda’s foreign policy towards Rwanda. Charity begins at home. If Museveni believes that strategic cooperation should be placed above tactical differences, why has he not promoted this approach in Kampala’s relations with Kigali? The Museveni who spoke in Addis Ababa should find it important to work hard to solve this misunderstanding with Kigali.
It may be surprising to many readers that Uganda has never made any formal or informal complaint to Rwanda about what Kigali has done to her. Yet social media and security officials in Kampala accuse Kigali of kidnapping Rwandan dissidents in Uganda and either killing them or taking them to Rwanda and thereby violating our sovereignty, a complaint Rwanda reads in the Ugandan media. I have asked for evidence of this from Kampala to take to Kigali for four years and gotten NOTHING. The only person Kampala has presented as evidence, a one Lt. Mutabazi, was NEVER kidnapped. He was officially handed over by the officials of the state of Uganda to the officials of the state of Rwanda.
Let me assume that Kampala’s claims of kidnappings and killings are true. Museveni should send his officials to Kigali, or personally call President Paul Kagame to find ways to resolve it. Kigali has complained to Kampala that Uganda provides sanctuary to persons working actively to destabilise their country and ensure regime change. Social media and intelligence services in Uganda also claim that Kigali has been seeking to overthrow the government in Kampala and this is one of the reasons why former police chief, Kale Kayihura, was hounded out of office.
To his credit, Museveni has many times gone out of his way to resolve differences with his enemies and critics. In 2011, I worked closely with him to fix the relationship with Kigali. He has throughout his political career sought talks with nearly every rebel group that he has fought, including the psychopathic Joseph Kony. He reconciled with Chris Rwakasiisi and with the families of Milton Obote and Idi Amin. Therefore, it is surprising that Uganda and Rwanda can veer so close to military confrontation at the time when Museveni is leading the argument for strategic cooperation.