Uganda debates its future

2012-06-07 13:27
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (AFP, File picture)

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (AFP, File picture)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kampala - A quiet debate over who will succeed Uganda's long-serving leader is getting louder as more Ugandans start to imagine a life after President Yoweri Museveni, who said last month that he does not wish to rule beyond age 75.

Museveni, who is in his late sixties, has held sway over Uganda since 1986 when he captured power by force as a guerrilla fighter. He now faces fierce competition from an opposition emboldened by his old age and by his diminishing prestige within his own party.

 Even Christian clerics usually noted for their discretion have joined a popular campaign to limit Museveni's hold on the presidency, saying they constantly pray for his departure.

Museveni says in his autobiography that he was born "about the year 1944". He says he uses the word "about" because his parents don't remember the date of his birth. Some of Museveni's opponents say he is possibly older and should retire.

An opinion poll released late last month found that most Ugandans looked forward to the day Museveni goes. Ugandan pollster Patrick Wakida, whose firm Research World International released results of the poll, said on Monday that most Ugandans do not want Museveni to seek more time in office when his current term expires in 2016. Museveni has not said if he will run again.

"Within the National Resistance Movement people have outgrown the personality of Museveni," Wakida said, referring to Museveni's party. "They think that they can live without him. This is very interesting because now Museveni is less popular than his party."

Museveni told a television interviewer last month that he will respect a constitutional provision that prevents him from ruling past his 75th birthday, calming fears he would attempt to have the age limit removed from the constitution.

Term limits

In 2005, in a corrupt manoeuvre slammed by diplomats as a backward step for democracy in Uganda, Museveni had presidential term limits removed so he could get more time in office.

Now a popular movement to restore term limits, opposed by Museveni, is gaining momentum. It is backed by clerics and independent activists who say Museveni's example is not good for Uganda. A prominent Anglican cleric named Zac Niringiye has been travelling around the country to bolster support for the restoration of term limits.

"There is hope for Uganda because this country does not belong to Museveni and his clique," said Miria Matembe, a former cabinet minister who parted ways with Museveni after he had term limits removed. "Uganda belongs to Ugandans, and I do believe that in Uganda there are so many people who can effectively steer this country to prosperity."

A new State Department report on human rights says Uganda's most serious problems are lack of respect for the integrity of the person, unwarranted restrictions on civil liberties, and violence and discrimination against marginalized groups.

Uganda has not had a peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1962, and some critics say Museveni's violent crackdown on opposition activists makes him look like the dictators he once fought.

"People are no longer threatened by the past," said Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a professor of political history at Uganda's Makerere University, referring to the violent record of Uganda's former leaders that Museveni usually cites to justify sticking around. "Especially in the urban areas, there is a new atmosphere that suggests that the ground seems to be shifting."

Speculation on Museveni's possible successor has focused on First Lady Janet Museveni, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister, as well as House Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who, according to recent polling, is the politician favoured by most Ugandans to succeed Museveni.

Government of national unity

Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, a Kampala-based lawyer and political analyst, said Museveni is in a "difficult position" because his favourites are either tainted by corruption or would come across as terrible choices for national cohesion.

"I think Museveni would prefer to stay around," Rwakafuuzi said. "In the end he may have to fall back on his wife, but she carries the baggage of being Museveni's wife."

Most analysts predict the army would have a say over who would replace Museveni, especially if he left power violently, and that he would attempt to pick his replacement. Museveni has long been accused of grooming his son, an army colonel who commands the most elite unit of the Ugandan military, to take over.

Kalundi Serumaga, a Kampala-based political activist, said the challenge for Museveni as he considers retirement will be how to keep the interests of everyone in his close circle intact when he transfers power to someone else.

"If they wanted to save the country, as opposed to saving themselves, then they would form a government of national unity," Serumaga said.

Read more on:    yoweri museveni  |  uganda  |  east africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


BMW drift battle: M235i vs. speedway bike

Watch this insane drift contest with four-times dirt-track World champion Karl Maier riding a speedway bike against a BMW M235i.

Want to start talking dirty?
Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


Enjoy the view because as from tomorrow you are going to need to come back down to earth and join the party. In the meantime more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.