Pundits weigh in on transition – Uganda after Museveni
Kampala, Uganda | IAN KATUSIIME & PATRICIA AKANKWATSA | President Yoweri Museveni, 75, will be making 34 years in power next month. He plans to contest for another term – the sixth term in the 2021 presidential elections amidst calls from members of the opposition and a section of the public that he retires.
His party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) endorsed him as the sole party flag bearer in February, two years before the 2021 polls.
However, one of the issues that a section of political leaders and experts agree is that at one point, Museveni, will leave power.
However, one question that lingers in the minds of many is how the presidency will look like after the long serving leader is out of the picture.
The emergence of Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine on the political scene has fuelled the clamour for a new era of political leaders in Uganda particularly those that do not have a military background.
Bobi Wine, Kyadondo East MP, has called time on Museveni’s reign and is hoping to ride on the wave of a youth vote to trump Museveni at the ballot with his People Power movement. He has already declared his intention to stand for president.
Godber Tumushabe, the Associate Director at the Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies (GLISS), a Kampala think tank, says the person who comes after Museveni will likely not wield as much control as his predecessor.
This seems to be a widely held view due to a possible vacuum of power after Museveni. Whether this means Uganda will be more democratic as a nation is hard to tell.
Analysts say there is likely opening up of political space and a stronger civil society and more empowered institutions like it is in Kenya following the exit of Daniel Arap Moi.
“No matter who becomes president, they will not have as much control of state and non-state institutions”, he says.
On the possible democratic gains for Uganda with Museveni out, Tumushabe says this will depend on “how the process of his exit managed.”
“How it plays itself out, say for example sudden death will bring its own challenges. It could be worse as the new leader tries to exert control.”
According to Tumushabe, a negotiated transition where there is a peaceful and dignified retirement for Museveni could smoothen the transition.
“Anything should not be ruled out. There may be lots of people flexing muscles but these things usually come as surprises,” he adds.
Gen. Mugisha Muntu, the leader of the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) has been the foremost voice in advocating for preparation to manage change once Museveni is out of the way.
“If we don’t have structures to manage change, then it will be a wasted effort. Museveni is not the issue,” he has always said.
Joel Senyonyi, the spokesperson of People Power says the movement is working to ensure that it is not a matter of changing the head of state currently under Museveni.
“We do not want mere change of figureheads. We want change in systems, a change in form of governance. We want Museveni to leave, and we are working hard for that to happen.”
Senyonyi tells The Independent that servant leadership is key for a post-Museveni era to thrive.
“We want servant leaders. Many times Mr Museveni has told you that he is not your servant,” he said.
He also weighs in on the fears of uncertainty that many have talked about in the wake of a Museveni exit.
“That propaganda is spread by Museveni himself. That there will be chaos and so on. I mean this country does not start and end with him.” He says, adding that the fear is spread by Museveni and his people.
FDC Deputy Secretary General, Harold Kaija, told The Independent in October this year that FDC has an unusual plan. “We are looking at a way of ensuring Museveni does not appear on the ballot,” he said.