Last week, President Yoweri Museveni praised his son, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, and criticized the National Resistance Movement (NRM) for his son’s entry into the political arena.
Although the UPDF Act prohibits its officers from participating in politics until they are discharged from the army, Muhoozi declared his intention to replace his father last year. However, his actions have never been checked by the UPDF’s top leadership.
During the NRM retreat in Kyankwanzi, Museveni acknowledged that the weaknesses of the NRM had led to some frustrated youth turning to the MK group, thinking that there is hope there.
He mentioned that some individuals within the group were pursuing their own interests, creating unnecessary contradictions. Museveni emphasized the importance of unity and fighting against those who oppose their ideology. He acknowledged that corruption exists within the army, and Muhoozi has been vigilant in combating it, leading to a resistance movement within the resistance movement.
“The issue of a standby generator (Muhoozi), I am handling it with Muhoozi and his group. The issue of Muhoozi is partly due to the weaknesses of the NRM. I remember when Muhoozi celebrated his 48th birthday, there were some soldiers and youths from Kampala and other areas and when I analysed it, I could see that because of the weakness of our systems, some of the frustrated youth went to the MK group thinking that there is hope. Some of them are looking for their own interests. Some are looking for this, some are looking for that. What I did, I called and I talked to them,” Museveni said.
He blamed his son for creating contradictions. “It is not a good thing. You should only fight with those against your ideology. So, I am helping them. Don’t create unnecessary contradictions among yourselves.”
In response to Museveni’s comments, the minister for Internal Affairs, Gen Kahinda Otafiire, stated that the president’s remarks align with his previous statements. Otafiire emphasized that he does not belong to the past or the future but is working towards a better country.
Andrew Mwenda, the spokesperson of the MK Movement, addressed the misinterpretation of Museveni’s statement by critics within the NRM and mainstream NRM. That is part of the reason the ruling party is losing popularity, he said. There are even more self-seekers in opposition parties masquerading as democrats when they are intolerant.
“We are beginning to set up organization structures. We shall be putting in place mechanisms to identify and weed out undesirable elements. The MK Movement will keep identifying self-seekers within its ranks and weed them out. This is because the leadership, values and goals of the movement are for the good of Uganda,” he said.
Balaam Barugahara, a staunch supporter of Muhoozi, stated that Museveni’s comments were driven by his own motivations. He believes that wherever there is an emergence, there must be a problem. Balaam criticized some leaders within the party for neglecting the concerns of the youth and failing to provide solutions or alternatives to the challenges they face. This is one of the reasons why the MK movement was established.
“I can’t blame him [president] for what he said but applaud him for telling us the truth,” Balaam expressed. He acknowledged that Museveni based his comments on his personal intelligence system and emphasized the importance of not undermining the president. Balaam acknowledged that there may be individuals within the MK movement misusing it for personal gain, such as engaging in theft or black-mailing government officials. He called for self-seekers to step aside to maintain the reputation of the MK movement.
“He didn’t imply that all of us are self-seekers. He has made this clear several times,” Balaam emphasized.
He urged members to be exemplary and not engage in extortion or fraud but, rather, uphold the NRM ideology of pan-Africanism and patriotism. Museveni consistently encouraged them to avoid identity politics, tribalism, and sectarianism, as they could lead the country into a situation similar to what Sudan is currently facing.
Balaam stated that they would reflect on their actions within the movement based on Museveni’s statements. They remain committed to working towards Muhoozi leading the country forward after his father’s tenure. He assured that the MK movement is unbreakable and driven by the people, under the guidance of the president. Balaam emphasized the need
to exclude corrupt individuals from the movement.
Alex Ruganda, Fort Portal Central MP and a strong supporter of Gen Muhoozi, couldn’t verify Museveni’s statements but highlighted that self-seekers exist everywhere, including among the team surrounding Museveni. He emphasized their agenda to prevent the country from falling into political turmoil, similar to Libya, Sudan, and other African countries.
Ruganda raised the question of how they can navigate the post-Museveni era and stressed the leadership’s commitment to addressing any issues within the movement.
The deputy spokesperson of the MK Movement and Kasambya County MP Daudi Kabanda stated that many of those attacking Gen Muhoozi are defectors from other political parties who now express greater support for Museveni than his own son does.
He claimed that those who dislike Muhoozi are often corrupt individuals who are aware of his zero-tolerance policy towards corruption. The MP labelled those who mobilize MPs to attack Muhoozi as “mabaati (iron sheet) thieves” and emphasized the need to address corruption within their ranks. He said there are more self-seekers in NRM.
Muhoozi joined the army in 1999 and steadily rose through the ranks to become a full general. He served as the commander of the Special Forces Command (SFC) from 2008 to 2017 and was reappointed in December 2020 until 2021. Additionally, he held the position of commander of the land forces from June 24, 2021, to October 4, 2022, when he was relieved of his duties and replaced by Lt. Gen Kayanja Muhanga.