Opinion: Museveni using Akena to ‘revenge’ on Mao


President Museveni presents a medal to Jimmy Akena

Uganda has two traditional political parties that were founded around the time of independence.

The Democratic Party (DP) was founded on the foundation of the Catholic Church.

The Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) was founded on the foundation of the Protestant church and the monarchy.

When the British colonialists were leaving Uganda at independence, they left the country under the governance of the UPC and its founding father Dr. Apollo Milton Obote as the Executive Prime Minister.

The UPC alliance with the Buganda monarchy saw King Sir Edward Muteesa become the first and last ceremonial President of Uganda.

The events of 1966 saw the fall out of the UPC/Buganda Kingdom alliance.

King Muteesa was attacked by central government troops, humiliated and forced to flee into exile where he died.

Kingdoms were abolished and Uganda became a republic with Milton Obote as the first executive President.

These developments pitted monarchists and Baganda in general against the UPC and Milton Obote in particular.

It is for this reason that when Iddi Amin overthrew Obote and UPC, the Buganda monarchy, the Catholic Church and the Baganda in general had almost no trouble with the eight years of Iddi Amin’s rule.

For the same reason, those who were fighting Iddi Amin were not comfortable with DP’s founding President Ben Kiwanuka serving as the regime’s Chief Justice.

He was mysteriously kidnapped and disappeared to this day thus tarnishing the regime’s image.

When the forces that overthrew Iddi Amin were advancing, Museveni reportedly went on a disinformation campaign of how Buganda region and the Baganda in particular were hostile to UPC and Obote.

In order to win over Buganda, the first post Iddi Amin governments were headed by two consecutive cosmetic Baganda Presidents who only ruled for sixty seven days and one year respectively.

During the 1980 general elections, Yoweri Museveni who had earlier been a member of both UPC and DP, catalysed the social and religious division by forming what he termed as a non-sectarian ‘Third Force’ (UPM) and contested for the presidency.

Throughout the campaigns he highlighted the religious, social class, monarch/Republican divisions.

At the time there was no serious ethnic divisions in Uganda.

The so called ‘Third Force’ brought into play could not make any impact on the political arena and Museveni miserably lost the elections.

The UPC won the elections and though the DP claimed that it had been robbed of victory, it went ahead to form an opposition in parliament.

Museveni who had been building a “Bantu army” within the new post Iddi Amin national army (UNLA) as a weapon to achieve his childhood Presidential ambition opted to wage a guerrilla war against the UPC government.

He rode on the DP ticket by claiming that he was fighting because the elections had been rigged.

He allegedly recruited Bantu fighters into his force and preached the gospel of UPC and northerners as being killers and enemies of the Baganda.

He systematically manipulated some Baganda peasants and a few elites while he undermined other Buganda based fighting groups.

Historians say this is when for the first time in the history of Uganda, the seeds of ethnic division had been sowed, germinated, and tended.

The government troops were dubbed Acholis and later Anyanya – a term used to refer to all people from the northern region.

To consolidate Buganda’s backing, he involved the monarchs in the war and promised to restore Buganda Kingdom.

When Museveni took over power in 1986, he embarked on an indoctrination scheme dubbed ‘demystifying the gun’ – which meant that Museveni had unmasked the myth pertaining to the gun being only in the hands of the people from northern Uganda.

The gospel was also dominated by how UPC, Obote and soldiers from northern Uganda were killers and enemies of Buganda.

This misconception led the way for the victorious NRA’s advance into northern Uganda thus giving rise to the bloody insurgency that has lasted two decades.

In order to win over the nationwide DP support and Buganda in particular, his first government was dominated by DP.

Its only in the security forces where the catholics like Brig. Tadeo Kanyankole, Brig. Julius Chihandae and other were purged on suspicion that they were plotting with DP to take over power.

In order to effectively demonise and erase the UPC from the history of Uganda, he systematically “destroyed” all the developmental programmes and ventures that had been initiated by the UPC.

The different cooperative societies, Uganda Commercial Bank, Cooperative Bank, Uganda Railways, Uganda Airlines, Lint Marketing Board, Coffee Marketing Board, Uganda Transport Company, Uganda Cooperative Transport Union, and others were destroyed thus economic deprivation.

The over a decade long ban on political party activities gravely affected the UPC than it did with the DP.

While the DP enjoyed some alliance with the regime for some years, the UPC was a target of sectarian propaganda and political indoctrination where it was portrayed as a party of killers in the face of Ugandans from the southern and western regions.

As a result the word UPC is used by many people especially in Anklole to refer to evil.

Phrases like: “You have done me UPC” to mean an evil act done to someone.

When Museveni’s life presidency project took shape, he totally abandoned reliance on the DP and Buganda alliance.

This was after he had satisfied himself that Buganda’s capacity to militarily challenge his hold on power was no more.

He found new allies in UPC and northern Uganda.

He pardoned UPC’s former Minister of Security, Chris Rwakasisi whom he had for many years painted as the Chief killer under UPC who had been on death row and made him his Advisor.

Buganda’s Hajji Musa Ssebirumbi had already been sacrifices by hanging over alleged UPC atrocities in Buganda during the Bush War on top of the many Baganda Youth Wingers who were removed for being ‘Bipingamizi’.

Museveni knew very well UPC and Dr. Obote’s potential to shake his hold on power.

With Dr. Obote dead, Museveni knew that UPC was no longer a threat and would also never be the same.

With the UPC threat no longer out of sight, he fully shifted alliance from Buganda and DP to UPC and northern Uganda.

However, of recent owing to Buganda/DP’s backing of Amama Mbabazi and his Go Forward has worsened the situation in the Museveni camp.

In the past, the DP has made alliances with the opposition but they did not substantially affect Museveni’s hold on power because at the time he was still using the UPC scarecrow to blackmail Buganda and the DP.

When DP Paulo Ssemogerere contested against Museveni in 1996, the latter’s propaganda machinery did concoct allegations that DP was in secret alliance with UPC and that it intended to bring back deposed President Milton Obote and it really worked against Ssemogere’s candidature.

Museveni very well knows that over the years he has successfully destroyed the UPC such that it is almost non-existent in other regions save for Lango, Acholi and some small patches in Teso, Bugisu and Busoga regions.

Even in those regions, its membership is dominated by a few thousands in the over 55 year’s age bracket.

He also knows very well that he almost gains nothing from the so called alliance with UPC with an almost non-existent UPC.

However, the historic and magnificent home of the UPC at the storied Uganda House in the center of Kampala city and managed by the Milton Obote Foundation is his target for destruction in the new found alliance.

Therefore, in allying with the Lango Jimmy Akena faction of UPC, Museveni’s only interest is to torment the Baganda and Norbert Mao led DP thus the tit-for-tat; ‘you go with Mbabazi, I also go with UPC’.

Sarah Nalukenge, the author, is a social and political commentator

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