Towards the 2021 general elections, Mugisha Muntu revealed on his Twitter account that in the early stages of the bush war, two starkly different ideologies emerged.
On one hand, some combatants looked at the war as an opportunity to capture power for personal enrichment. While on another, the fighters believed that acquiring power was a means to achieving ideals greater than primitive accumulation of wealth — ideals such as a corruption- free country, rule of law, democracy and ultimately, a Uganda that works for all.
Muntu further noted that when it became clearer that they were going to win the war, those who subscribed to the ideology of self-enrichment occasionally raved about the largeness of life they would lead while occupying the high-end suburbs such as Kololo.
In his tweet-thread, Muntu wasn’t clear on which group of ideologues consisted of the majority or was more influential. But I think it is now possible to accurately guess which group was stronger.
A few days ago, Museveni hit at close associates of Muhoozi when he said that many people around his son, promoting the MK Movement, are self-interested. I wondered whether Museveni wanted us to believe that the vast majority of his bush war comrades were selfless. Going by what Muntu revealed, a significant faction of the combatants were actually very self-interested.
Therefore, Museveni’s concern, I think, should be on what are the self-seeking members of the MK Movement not doing that a selfless person, if such a person exists, would do?
It actually strikes me as true that a self-interested person is more likely to work diligently and passionately because he has a prize to imagine. It should, therefore, be upon Muhoozi and his apparently few confidants to recognize and constantly appeal to the selfish interests of the members of the movement, just like Museveni did during the bush war and has continuously done to maintain his government in power.
In the thick of the bush war, Museveni allied with Buganda and other traditional groups because he promised to restore kingdoms in Uganda upon assuming power. He allied with the business community because he promised and indeed represented (because his NRA Army was proving to be stronger) stability for the businesses to operate steadily after the war.
He attracted the support of other relatively weak militia groups who were also fighting for power then because he promised to work with their leaders such as Andrew Kayiira after capturing power. By making all the promises and compromises, Museveni was literally appealing to selfish interests of his allies.
Even in the post-bush war era, Museveni has propped up his government for so long by sustainably appealing to selfish interests of different groups in Uganda.
Arguably, Museveni has presided over the most broad-based government in the history of Uganda but it is also noteworthy that Museveni has achieved so by offering government positions to individuals and money to organized groups and individuals with an aim of appeasing those individuals’ kinsmen — which largely explains the bloated government and expenditure on public administration that is inconsistent with the strength of our economy.
In the absence of organized groups to extend patronizing wealth to, Museveni has actually gone out of his solace and initiated the creation of the groups through his patronage schemes such as Parish Development Model, Emyooga, Bonna Bagaggawale, etc.
If Muhoozi is “overwhelmed” by self-seekers — most especially those with very immediate interests such as finding a job or a few millions to establish themselves — and is finding it extremely hard to find important confidants and committed individuals at the grassroots, it could suggest that his cause is hard to buy into and, therefore, borders on “unsellable.”
It may further suggest what some may consider a remote possibility that Museveni has presided over so much poverty that most citizens, from the highest to the lowest class, live with economic fear and, therefore, are more interested in working out the immediate challenges such as finding food, sending children to school, paying bills than focusing on distant objectives that the comfortable and financially secure architects of the MK Movement seem to be invested in.
From Museveni’s lamentations, it appears that Museveni, who understandably wants to be replaced by his son, has an uphill task to overcome.
It seems Museveni never imagined the hard reality that colossal amounts of money and military might can have limits beyond which they may not go in attracting public support when he conceived the idea of paving way for his son.
The writer is a political commentator