How A Country Named Uganda Became Museveni Family Incorporated

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All in the family: Museveni, son Muhoozi and wife Janet

[Global: Commentary]

The story of the dominance of the Museveni Family Network in Ugandan politics and their monopolistic grip on the most important business sectors goes back to the "bush" days of the war that brought Yoweri Museveni to power in the mid-1980s.

Already, during the 6-year old war (1980-1986), General Museveni was exhibiting tendencies of exclusive dependency on close family members for personal protection and the consolidation of his grip on power.

Most favored in the emerging Family Network was Museveni’s young brother Salim Saleh, now a major general.

To the chagrin of other Ugandans involved in the war, Salim Saleh quickly became the de-facto Number 2, in terms of the bush-time power hierarchy, wielding more power than the likes of the Late Eriya Kategaya, who was officially RO 002.

Salim Saleh and his brother Museveni ruthlessly dispensed the power they had, and, according to a former Bush War Commander, grossly abused and misused it for personal aggrandizement.

The deaths of Bush-time top Commanders, like Sam Magara, are commonly attributed to the power machinations by the Museveni-Saleh central axis. Testimonies by some Bush time fighters have also exposed the absolute control that Museveni and his brother Salim Saleh exercised in relation to the management of the war-time financial affairs. It is said that Museveni would receive huge financial donations from far away sources, like Libya, and would keep the spending process totally classified – only for his own eye and that of his brother. 

27 years later, and with the Museveni Family Network firmly entrenched in Uganda’s political and economic body fabrics, justifiable questions are being raised in all sections of Ugandan society about the wisdom of allowing this Family to continue its monopolistic enjoyment and clearly visible abuse and misuse of political and economic power in a country of 37 million politically disempowered and economically emasculated citizens.

To fully understand the extent to which the Museveni Family Network monopolizes political power in Uganda, one has to simply take a glimpse at the profiles of the five most powerful occupants of the highest power pyramid in the country.

The Gang Of Five:

1. General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (President/CEO) – He has been President for 27 years. His stay in power has been largely achieved through imperious authoritarianism, violent repression of any form of criticism, and the abject manipulation of constitutional order.

On coming to power in 1986, Museveni consolidated his personal and family hegemony by enforcing non-competitive politics, and banning opposition political activism. This was followed in 1995 by a constitutional amendment, which removed Presidential term limits a move which was initially condemned by Johnnie Carson before he became Assistant Secretary of State for Africa during President Obama's first term. Carson, who left after Obama's first term, never brought up the matter again.

By this heinous violation of constitutional order, engineered, according to a former ruling party top official, by General Museveni personally, the beginning of a journey that would lead to the timeless monopoly of Presidential power by the Museveni Family was effectively launched.

In order to maintain state power, General Museveni has, according to a former senior military officer who has since fallen out with the regime "deliberately undermined and subverted state institutions and structures so as to weaken the state, so that they can advance their personal ambitions.”

According to this source, Museveni’s family-cantered dictatorship manifests itself through the total control of all the most important political and economic activities in Uganda. The Museveni family's stranglehold on political power is manifestly meant to enhance the “abuse of power for personal and collective family survival.”

That, essentially, is the core task of the Museveni Presidency. It is the reason why the Museveni Family Network is prepared to savagely and ruthlessly violate the freedoms and human rights of Ugandan citizens on a day-to-day basis. Simply put, it is why they cannot and will not voluntarily give up political power, unless they are forced to by the People of Uganda.

2. General Salim Saleh, whose real name is Caleb Akandwanaho, is Museveni’s brother (some say half-brother), who wields mighty influence in a way that overshadows all other military officials.

Officially, General Salim Saleh is referred to as Senior Military Advisor to the President, but a source who is familiar with the workings of the Ugandan military as well as the Museveni Presidency confirmed that the General is routinely allocated the most sensitive and critical duties, far beyond what Museveni allows any other senior army officer, including the Chief of Defense Forces.

According to this source, General Saleh’s mostly secretive, assignments are usually in form militarized business operations, whereby military resources are deployed to actualize specific high-profile business ventures for the benefit of the Museveni Family Network. Most of the operations are carried out within Uganda, but as has been the case in recent years, General Salim Saleh has been dispatched by his brother Museveni to make incursions into mineral-rich neighboring countries particularly the Democratic Republic of Congo for the sole purpose of extracting minerals and other natural resources, and selling them off to earn the Family money. His Congo exploits, according to the UN, dates to the late 1990s.

A number of senior army officers, who know about these secretive operations, have described Salim Saleh, as an extremely ruthless and no-nonsense operator, who can kill, if need be, to achieve a business goal.

Most recently he was named in a United Nation's Group of Experts report looking into the outside supporters of M23, the Rwandan proxy army which is now fighting against the UN and Congo's army. The UN report said one of the M23 leaders Bosco Ntaganda, now at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, owned two homes in Kampala and met regularly for consultations with Gen. Saleh and with Uganda's police chief Gen. Kale Kayihura.

3. Mrs. Janet Kataaha Museveni – the all-powerful wife of General Museveni, who currently serves as Minister for Karamoja and is also an Member of Parliament in the legislature dominated by Museveni supporters, after opposition parties were emasculated through the last of several rigged elections.

Beyond her functions as Minister for Mineral-rich Karamoja, Janet Museveni pulls the levers of political and economic power that sustains the Family Network. Janet Museveni is an undeclared, unofficial adviser to her husband. According to State House sources, General Museveni has secretly provided Janet Museveni with the spare keys to his Presidential power, enabling her to dictate some of the decisions that Ugandans falsely believe Museveni the president has taken.

4. Brigadier Muhoozi Kaneirugaba – Museveni’s son is now the most powerful military officer, after his father Museveni and his Uncle General Salim Saleh. As an over-privileged Commander of the Special Forces Command (SFC), he is more powerful, in real power terms, than General Katumba Wamala, the newly appointed official Chief of Defence Forces. He is responsible for the security of General Museveni, but it is also tasked to guard the vital oil and other natural resources fields across the country.

Brigadier Muhoozi’s operational remit extends beyond the officially outlined responsibilities, and, more often than not, encroaches onto public policing duties, with the brief of containing, by any means necessary, any form of political opposition activism and any type of civil disobedience against the Museveni regime.

Recently, when he visited Ugandan troops serving in Somalia, an enlisted man asked him how it was that he had been promoted so swiftly in the army. The enlisted man was immediately arrested and loaded onto a plane back to Uganda where he's since been incarcerated for having the temerity to pose a question to the all-powerful presidential son.

It is an open secret in Uganda that Muhoozi SFC operatives, trained in extra-repressive techniques against unarmed civilians have been regularly donning regular police uniforms and taking lead roles in the brutal suppression of the increasingly regular public demonstrations against the Museveni regime. 

A particularly well-informed former State House security operative, who has now joined hands with other Ugandans to demand for political change in Uganda, one such Special Forces Command operative was the hooded man who, in 2011, savagely attacked and sprayed chemicals in the eyes of Dr. Kizza Besigye, the former President of Uganda’s biggest opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change FDC.

Currently a major row has broken out between General Museveni and several senior army officers, including top Generals who fought with him in the 1980-1986 bush war, about the secret plan by Museveni to transfer political power to his son Muhoozi, at some point after the 2016 elections.

General Museveni is not so sure that his son Muhoozi would be able to engineer and manage electoral victory against an emboldened, battle-hardened political opposition in 2016. So he has made the strategic decision of going for another term as Presidential candidate in what would be obviously rigged elections, and then mid-way in the next term of office, he would consider handing over to Muhoozi, as a conclusion of what has been dubbed "Project Muhoozi".

5. Mr. Sam Kutesa is Gen. Museveni’s brother in law. He is father to to Charlotte Kutesa, the wife of Museveni’s son Brigadier Muhoozi. He serves in government as Minister of Foreign affairs.Kutesa is believed be one of the most trusted Museveni Ministers and a close business associate. This closeness to Museveni is what has ensured that Kutesa remains at the heart of political power, in spite of numerous accusations of impropriety. The more muddled up in scandalous adventures Kutesa’s name has been, the more Museveni, the Head of the Family Network, has  entrusted him with important political responsibilities.

In recent times, Kutesa has been linked to some of the more pronounced financial scandals of the Museveni era – for example the accusations that were levelled against hleveledde allaged corruptionalleged the organization of the Commonwealth conference and more recently for having received bribes from global oil business companies involved in the nascent Ugandan oil sector.

Sam Kutesa is believed to be among the wealthiest people in Uganda, and, according to various sources, has been a long-time front for significant business interests of the Museveni Family Network.

Mafia-type operational Methods:

Deaths of Prominent Business people: In the past few months, Ugandan newspapers have been full of grotesque stories of point-blank shootings of prominent business men in Buganda region, Western Uganda, and other parts of the country.

The recent spike in the murders of prominent business people has raised questions as to who might be behind the crimes. There is suspicion that the murders have foot-prints emanating from State House.

Gen. Kale Kayihura, the ruthless army General and Museveni confidant who commands the Ugandan Police Forces, has been accused by some high-profile opponents of General Museveni’s regime of nurturing and harnessing special killer squads and mafia-type gangs, which, in addition to assassinating and persecuting political opponents, have been busy ‘eliminating’ Ugandan business people, who are deemed financially too powerful and yet unsympathetic to the ruling regime.

In most of these incidences, the police, commanded by General Kayihura, have either come too late for purpose, or have not put serious effort in finding the perpetrators.

Land grabbing: The Museveni Family Network’s linkages to the centres of economicenters are as unashamedly corrupted and sullied, as are their monopolistic endearment to the political landscape.

Examples of these economic-centred excesses icanteredland grabbing by Museveni and his Family associates in wide-ranging areas of Uganda - from Luwero and Kayunga in Buganda, to Bunyoro, Ankole Karamoja, and Acholiland.

A source with deep insights about the goings-on in Museveni’s State House attested to the fact that even the famous Kisozi ranch in Mpigi district, which is owned by General Museveni was irregularly acquired from the Uganda People’s Defence Forces.

According to the above source, the Museveni Family Network is said to have also firmly set its sights on land in Western Uganda and Northern Uganda where proven oil deposits have been discovered. Great suspicions abound that the first family have massive interests there, with a crucial piece of evidence being the decision by General Museveni to allocate guard duties at the said oil-rich land sites to his son Brigadier Muhoozi and his Special Forces Command.

One Northern Ugandan politician, who has been at the heart of on-going local resistance to Museveni’s plans to forcefully acquire massive pieces of land in Amuru, Acholiland, had these questions for the Museveni Family Network – Why does Museveni keep referring to the country's oil resources as "...My oil, which I personally discovered, and I am not going to go away before it starts flowing..."?

According to the source with links to the Museveni State House, the empowerment brought to the Museveni Family Network through land grabs enables them to economically disempower and emasculate Ugandan citizens, who then become less able to stand up and resist political repression.

But, crucially, according to a prominent Ugandan opposition politician, the Museveni Family Network is physically re-drawing the electoral map of Uganda through the creation of a multitude of new districts, but also by dissecting the country-side land masses through land grab operations. Thousands of evicted citizens are often re-settled in other constituencies away from their traditional places of settlement. Some of the grabbed land is also allocated, as bribe and thank-you gifts, to some heads of Museveni’s coercive forces, besides bringing direct financial muscle to the his Family Network.

Karuma Dam Saga: The recently-launched Karuma dam in Northern Uganda looks set to become one of the most shameful travesties of the Museveni era. The involvement of the Museveni Family network, whenever it fully surfaces, will shock Ugandans.

According to impeccable sources, Museveni personally intervened to overrule the Inspector General of Government (IGG), and went on to launch the project without a contract, because of the entrenched financial interests of his Family Network in the dam project.

Revelations from well-informed sources point to the Family Network’s interests, in the approximately $1.4 billion project, being driven by the following members: Geoffrey Kamuntu, who is married to Museveni’s third daughter Diana; Museveni’s son Brigadier Muhoozi, through Amon Muheirwe, who owns companies ravaging Karamoja district using the Special Forces Command; Museveni’s wife Janet’s ministerial portfolio; and, the participation of Joviah Saleh, the wife of General Salim Saleh and her sister Kellen Kayonga.    

 

 

 

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