In Uganda, “Muhoozi Project” is a term used to refer to a scheme by Gen. Yoweri Museveni to pass on power to his son Brig Muhoozi Keinerugaba.
Gen. Museveni who has been in power for the last 30 years runs a personal army that is financed by the Ugandan tax payer.
About a decade ago Ugandans questioned his son’s role in secretly recruiting specific groups of people into the army, Museveni told Ugandans that his son was not a soldier but was simply a member of the paramilitary Local Defence Unit (LDU) who was simply volunteering to identify educated youths for the army.
During that time, Museveni said he was preparing to leave power after finalising the professionalization of the army.
Critics say he was instead skilfully privatising the security forces and preparing his son to take over the overall command of the security forces.
Next Ugandans heard about was that his son was attending an Officer Cadet course at the prestigious Sandhurst Military Academy in the UK.
Upon graduation from Sandhurst, his son was deployed to the elite Presidential guard unit.
Since then, he has been rapidly seconded for all sorts of specialised command courses at the world’s best military academies.
Concurrently, he was also being rapidly promoted such that he is currently the Commander of the over 10,000 strong and elite Presidential guard Division called Special Forces Group (SFG).
The SFG is dominated by the other soldiers who were personally recruited by Muhoozi when he was still a ‘member of the LDU’.
Under the SFG are all the strategic military units like Mechanised Regiment, Artillery and Air Defense, Air force, Military Intelligence, Signal (communication), etc.
It is the SFG that mans all the geographically strategic military positions and installations throughout the country.
The same SFG provides Commanders that man the Special Police that is manning the special region of ‘Kampala’ and a few other regions of interest.
Recently, Museveni stated that his son Muhoozi “will revenge” for any harm inflicted on him (Museveni) adding that even his name means ‘the one who revenges’ thus Muhoozi.
In 2013, then coordinator of intelligence services, Gen David Sejusa, authored a document saying Museveni was grooming his son to take over from him.
The so called Muhoozi Project came to the limelight when some public figures publicised it and Ugandans of all walks of life rose up to condemn any such scheme.
Museveni reacted by dealing a heavy blow to all the anti-Muhoozi architects.
Recently, he confessed that he sacked his Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, over the Muhoozi project.
Museveni had hoped that by 2016, he would have become the President of East Africa Community thus leaving the presidency of Uganda to his son, say critics.
When Tanzania was reluctant to endorse the fast tracking of the East African political federation, the disappointed Museveni moved quickly to isolate it through the Coalition of the Willing comprised of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
When he realised that the scheme couldn’t work, he tactically called off the Muhoozi Project 2016 and instead reportedly pushed it to 2021.
However, during his 2016 – 2021 term of office if he will have managed to influence Tanzania and he gains the regional leadership, then Muhoozi will assume the presidency in Uganda.
For the time being his son Muhoozi is undergoing political and military orientation to prepare him for future roles as President.
The regime is in the process of systematically discarding its aging cadres in preference for the younger ones who not only fit into Muhoozi’s age bracket but find it a privilege to serve him.
As evidenced by the various political roles that a he has been engaged in of recent.
You may as well say the 2016 elections is a referendum on the Muhoozi Project.
How Mbabazi survived arrest over Muhoozi
Apart from the Muhoozi project, Mbabazi was also sacked for harbouring plans to run for presidency of Uganda on the NRM party ticket.
Since then Museveni declared himself the sole candidate for the NRM party presidential aspirant in the February 2016 general elections.
Mbabazi has not quit NRM and also gone ahead to declare his intention to run as an independent candidate and has duly been nominated by the regime’s Electoral Commission.
On the eve if the nomination date speculation was ripe that Mbabazi was to be arrested over concocted charges.
The Mbabazi team raised their concern to the regime’s prosecuting authority (DPP) that is unfortunately headed by a State House Aide and the Police also hastily came out to deny the allegation.
Whether, the plan had been there or not, at the end of the day its Mbabazi who scored higher.
Mbabazi’s candidature is to some extent weakening the regime’s political cohesion.
Because of the dire consequences from the regime, very few top members of the regime party will openly come out to support Mbabazi’s candidature.
However, typical of Mbabazi’s method of work, he will register a lot of covert support from a good number of regime cadres.
Because of his past service record, Mbabazi has a number of contacts in the regime party structures, the security forces, the opposition parties, civil society and in the diplomatic circles.
This is the reason Museveni is itching to destroy him sooner than later.
After, weeks of incarceration, Mbabazi’s military aide, Jimmy Katabazi was hastily tried, convicted and sentenced by the Court Martial to 50 years imprisonment over flimsy charges of absenteeism.
The sentence was designed to send a clear message to Mbabazi and those members of the regime who intend to support his bid that catastrophe awaits them.
This is what Museveni alluded to when he warned ‘infiltrators’ from the Mbabazi camp thus: “I have the capacity to know whatever happens in the whole country”.
Initially, he had hoped that the opposition would come up with Mbabazi as the joint presidential candidate so that by the time he deals him a blow, it would be too late for 5he opposition to get a credible replacement.
Much as the regime would wish Mbabazi to get out of the Presidential race at all cost, it cannot arrest him before the Pope’s visit that is slated for 27- 29 November, 2015.
Between now and then, the regime is trying to maintain some semblance of political tolerance in order to portray a “false” impression of Democratic governance.
Sarah Nalukenge, the author, is a social and political commentator