As I listen to President Museveni’s speeches, I am bewildered whether this is the same man who 33 years ago presented himself to Ugandans as their saviour when the NRA captured power in January 1986. What happened to the revolutionary, has he grown into a walking contradiction or was he always that way and it is us who projected our desires of a better Uganda on a false messiah?
Museveni also played up this image of himself referring to his predecessors, Amin and Obote, as incompetent leaders, often disparaging them as swine. Museveni also disparaged them for tribalism, nepotism, corruption, dictatorship and ideological bankruptcy. Few would have predicted that thirty-some years later he would turn out in their company.
A sweet-talking of the energetic revolutionary went to bush after Militon Obote stole the elections, only to later outdo him by rigging every election his government has organized in the last 33 years. Museveni has also outdone Obote on tribalism, nepotism, corruption, dictatorship so much so that to accusing him of ideological bankruptcy is redundant. He has perfected corruption beyond Obote’s imagination, for the latter never appeared in any international corruption scandal and none of his senior ministers was banned from traveling abroad as is the case with Sam Kuteesa. It beats reason how Kuteesa can carryout diplomatic tasks without being able to freely travel for fear of interception by the Americans who have him as a wanted man to answer corruption related crimes that have him listed by the Manhattan court as Exhibit 1504 and his boss, Museveni, Exhibit 1510.
I recall a young charismatic revolutionary talking about Uganda, Africa, and the world. He was passionate and focused, then. Today when I recall those speeches, I can’t help but think of how Thomas Brooks was describing Museveni when he wrote about, “gilded misery, a secret poison, a hidden plague, the engineer of deceit, the mother of hypocrisy, the parent of envy, the original of vices, the moth of holiness, the blinder of hearts, turning medicine into maladies and remedies into diseases.”
People who have worked close to him, like Kiiza Besigye, would attest to Brooks’ description of Museveni. Moreover, they swear he is a deeply envious person. Another long-time confidant of Museveni, and a close friend since childhood, once tried to give me insights into Museveni’s “two-facedness.” “Maxon,” he began, “you don’t know this man, he will promise you heaven and give you hell,” he said referring to Museveni’s empty promises to Ugandans that go as far back as to his inauguration in January 1986.
It is only those who don’t know Museveni that keep waiting for him to deliver on his promises, according to his long time confidant. A leader of a country recently discovered who the real Museveni is and is reported to have said, “I will no longer engage President Museveni on anything one on one; he tells you one thing and does a different one,” he said, seemingly frustrated.
Museveni’s senior ministers can’t travel for criminal reasons and he also can’t constructively engage with his peers because they can’t trust anything he says. It would be smart for him to quit while he can. Unfortunately, as he ages his ambitious nature compels him to desperately cling to power, even if it means he gets to preside over a dysfunctional state. He wants to go down with the ship, Uganda, something that even Amin and Obote were not selfish enough to contemplate.
According to Museveni’s remaining unwavering supporters, like some of us were in the late 1980s and early 1990s, his acts of desperation are justified because desperate times call for desperate analogies, including the most recent one where he compared himself to Jesus during an NRM caucus meeting. Museveni’s expects his political resurrection from his recent fashioning of himself as a “Ghetto Man.” After this move, that involved appointing Catherine Kusasira and Mark Bugembe as ghetto special envoys, an NRN diehard and former NRA officer had this to say, Maxon, “Gen Sevo is a military genius who foresaw the potential battleground in 2021 elections and moved very fast to seize it,” he said, in reference to yet another of Museveni’s past shenanigans to appeal to the youth.
These and past acts of desperation, according to Charles Caleb Colton, are part of Museveni’s scheme “to the mind what the cap is to the falcon; it blinds us first and then compels us to tower by reason of our blindness. But alas when we are at the summit of a vain ambition, we are also at the depth of real misery. We are placed where time cannot improve but must impair us; where chance and change cannot befriend but may betray us; in short, by attaining all we wish and gaining all we want, we have only reached a pinnacle where we have nothing to hope but everything to fear.”
In his old age, and after reaching the pinnacle of his ambitions despite his trademark mendacity, more time will not improve whatever is left of his dubious legacy; it will impair him and turn whatever hope he might have for the future into fear and despair. Sadly, it is this fear that is driving the desperation ending to Uganda’s false prophet.
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