Written by Edris Kiggundu
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 21:11
As President Museveni swears in today for a fourth term, focus has already shifted to what his new government can achieve and on his future after 2016.
Museveni’s intentions about consolidating power were made clear soon after the Febraury elections when he revealed that he had authorised the purchase of Shs 1.7 trillion fighter jets and other military haedware from Russia.
Coupled with the expected oil exploitation, the next five years could be Uganda’s turning point economically and politically.
By 2016, Museveni will have ruled for 30 years, he will be 72 years old and succession debate will be raging. At the heart of this debate will be the question of whether the President is, indeed, grooming his son, Lt Col Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to take over from him in 2016 or in 2021, as it has been widely rumoured.
In 2016, Muhoozi, who heads the Special Forces Group (the elite force that guards the President among other things), will be 42 years old, the same age as his father when he came to power in 1986.
He has over time grown in stature and is said to be one of the people Museveni consults before taking decisions on some military matters. If he is being groomed for bigger things, the next five years will see Muhoozi promoted (to the rank of Colonel or above) and given more responsibilities. However, the way succession [if any] is handled could determine whether NRM keeps together or disintegrates.
A fallout similar to 2003-2006 [when the likes of Eriya Kategaya, Bidandi Ssali, Mugisha Muntu quit over term limits) is possible if some senior members deem the succession process non-transparent.
What is clear is that by 2016, most of the present NRM favourites to replace Museveni will not be in contention because they will be as old as him, and there will be pressure to get a younger candidate. Muhammed Kulumba, a senior lecturer in the department of political science at Makerere University, believes the succession fight will not materialise because Museveni is not going anywhere after 2016.
“When you look at his actions and speeches over the years, he has characteristics of a man who wants to be around for a long time to come. He has acquired the necessary political and military skills to encircle anyone who would seek to undermine him, whether it’s within the party or even his nuclear family,” Kulumba said.
Indeed, it is possible that Museveni’s massive win, which saw him triumph in northern Uganda for the first time, could energise him to deliver on his promises and make himself even more electable in 2016.
If the massive investment in infrastructure, electricity and oil continues; if there are improvements in health and education service delivery, Museveni will have at his disposal more than enough resources, and goodwill among peasants, to sweep another election with relative ease.
Moreover, with about 270 MPs, his party has more than enough numbers to do his political bidding.
The prospect of reaping big from oil raises questions related to infrastructure development, but also corruption. Museveni has previously said that the oil money will be used to invest in strategic sectors such as health and education, but the opposition and some members of the civil society remain suspicious that his government will mismanage it.
“The political situation determines the economic situation. Since this government has no political will to fight corruption, oil is just going to widen the pot of resources available to be stolen,” said Jasper Tumuhimbise, an anti-corruption activist.
In the next five years, two power plants, Bujagali (250MW) and Karuma (700MW) are expected to become operational. Government says when these two come on board, the cost of doing business will significantly go down, boosting industrial development.
Handling the opposition
The tension between government and the opposition over political space and freedoms is likely to continue. The uncompromising response to the ‘walk-to-wok’ protest is a sign of what is in store for anyone who seeks to challenge Museveni’s hold onto power. Wafula Oguttu, the FDC spokesperson, predicts that Museveni is likely to be more brutal towards the opposition.
“You can see how he is already vowing to crush us. Ugandans should brace for the worst,” Oguttu told The Observer on Tuesday.
Oguttu further said the opposition will grow stronger and united as they realise the need to take on the NRM head-on, like they have done recently. Politically, Museveni might get some relief when FDC president Dr Kizza Besigye, his nemesis, steps down from party leadership in 2014.
Museveni 2011-2016 promises
NRM shall continue working to protect and defend the human rights and freedoms of the people of Uganda. The NRM government will facilitate the Local Council courts to enable them exercise their mandate, especially in settling land disputes in the villages.
NRM recognizes the importance of national identification for all Ugandans and will ensure that Ugandans have national identity cards within the next five years.
NRM shall continue the ongoing professionalization of the police, including training and equipping it further to meet the emerging challenges, which include cyber crime, terrorism, and maintaining law and order.
The government will emphasize community-based policing, where police managers in the district will visit villages to sensitize communities on combating crimes such as human sacrifice, drug trafficking and abuse, human trafficking and terrorism.
The government pledges to increase economic growth to more than 10% per annum through targeted measures to stimulate increased productivity and production in agriculture, industry and services sectors.The government promises to maintain macroeconomic stability by keeping inflation at single digit and implementing a sound fiscal and monetary policy.
The government shall take measures to reduce the cost of doing business. These will include, among others, investment in energy, road, railways, and simplification of the procedures of registering a business, including registering land.
In the area of information and communication technologies, the NRM government pledges to extend the National Fibre Backbone to reach all district headquarters.
The government will operationalise the migration of Analogue to Digital Television broadcasting.
The government promises to promote and market Business Process Outsourcing (Call Centres) industry to stimulate job creation and employment for the youth. Furthermore, the NRM hopes to develop human capital and critical mass of ICT skills to compete in the global market.
The government plans to operationalise the National Information Security framework to protect national resources and systems from potential cyber attacks and associated risks such as cyber terrorism.
NRM will continue to strengthen the application of Pan-African doctrine of region-led peace initiatives supported by the AU and UN on the critical challenges of our times, including post-referendum Sudan and Somalia in order to promote peace and stability and ensure post-conflict reconstruction, regional integration and development in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa.
The NRM government will continue to work with all the Nile Basin countries, including Egypt and Sudan, to ensure an equitable and sustainable use of the River Nile and other shared natural resources.