“One of the peculiarities of African governments with long-serving leaders is that whereas they are led by aging men and women, their public institutions are pubescent. Like minors everywhere, these institutions tend to be easy to abuse and harder to control as the spell of paternalism wears off.
Unsurprisingly, where such tensions exist, the fear that leaders may die intestate or depart without setting their affairs in order are real. Without the political equivalent of a will or succession plan the prospect of chaos is as real as the evening sun.
The Ugandan political class is undergoing some hand wringing over similar concerns. By the time of the next election in 2016, Yoweri Museveni – the charismatic leader of the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement – will have been 30 years in power. Asked recently at a party conference if he would be partial to the discussing his own succession Yoweri Museveni reportedly left the room for a bathroom break.
Party conferences, like the one in Kyankwanzi in January, have become necessary to keep the ruling NRM from tearing itself apart. This one – the fourth in a series since the last half of 2011 – came when just months after winning re-election a season of dissent descended on the NRM.
And it is fair to say that pressures driven by uncertainty about a future after Mr. Museveni and inheritance of the family jewels – Uganda’s newly discovered oil wealth – are driving some of the bickering.
Protests from organized groups including teachers, health workers, traders and students rage at the door of change. Inside, finger pointing over allegations of corruption, centred mainly around bribery claims in Uganda’s oil sector, have led to calls for the resignation of the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, the Foreign Minister and brother-in-law of the President, Sam Kutesa, and former energy Minister (now head of Internal Security) Hilary Onek. Besides being regime insiders, both the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have been associated with the succession ‘queue’.
These ‘family’ quarrels are obviously meant to re-arrange the so-called succession queue or impose a different form of succession within the party.
Last year parliament, packed with a majority of young Mps, many of them fresh to the gallery, surprised the President by convening a special session at which they sought to stop the government from signing any new oil deals and launching an all out reform package in the extractives sector. They also picketed government Ministers over other cases of corruption, which in Uganda is like closing your eyes and pointing any member of cabinet off to jail. Each may yet have their turn. A Minister for the Presidency, Princess Kabakumba Matsiko, was forced to resign after allegations that her radio station was using broadcast services belonging to the national broadcaster for free. Waiting in line are three or more others.
It is anticipated that unless the President manages to reign in his Mps through the “re-education camps,” where he has met them with lectures on ideology with an emphasis on party unity, things may well and truly fall apart.
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Izama, Angelo (25 January 2012). Uganda: Oil and Sucession Plans Combine in Kampala. All Africa Retrieved from http://allafrica.com/stories/201201251288.html