Uganda: Why Coronavirus Is A Blessing for Tyrants Like Gen. Museveni

Dictator Museveni has been lying to Ugandans since 1986
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Dictator Museveni has been lying to Ugandans since 1986. Photo: Chatham House/Wikimedia Commons
 
The coronavirus pandemic that hit the world economically and socially unsparingly since November last year has been a global calamity but for Uganda’s ruler Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni it’s a blessing.
 
Gen. Museveni has been a president of the east African country since 1986, after a five-year bush war struggle that eventually ushered him into power. He came promising the rule of law, democracy, and economic development. He spewed that his National Resistance Movement (NRM) did not represent a mere “changed of guards.” He claimed, “I think this is a fundamental change in the politics of our country.” He declared that the problem with Africas leaders was that they overstayed in power.
 
Today, 34 years later, the country is entangled in the labyrinth of woes he denounced in 1986. He is still president. The democracy he promised has become Musevenocracy. The rule of law became the Museveni rule; fundamental change became lip-service; working for a better country has since turned into working for himself, his grand children, and his children, as he told a Kenyan journalist Jeff Koinange. He has overstayed in power, and aged despot whose age is allegedly 76, who wants to use the coronavirus to extend his rule to 40 years through the forthcoming 2021 elections.
 
Data from the Ugandan Ministry of Health and Worldometer show that the country has registered 7,218 cases of coronavirus; 3,647 of whom have recovered, and 71 have died. However, we have also seen relatives of those whom the government allege died of Covid-19 protesting in the media, contesting the government’s postmortem reports. The government has been granted huge loans by financial institutions to fight the pandemic, including $491.5 million from the International Monetary Fund alone.
 
But the impact of the money has proved ineffectual with many undelivered promises of relief by the government including promises to supply food and masks to the impoverished populace and healthcare workers report not being paid. There is now a Covidpreneureship class. The Health Minister, Jane Ruth Aceng cannot even account for the local donations amounting to billions of shillings and people complain of conflicting test results.
 
Next year’s election is going to be “scientific”—digital—according to information available from the electoral commission, police and ministry of health, officially in order to curb the Covid-19 scourge. This will be a great opportunity for the despot and the members of his political party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) to violate the standard operating procedure set by themselves conceivably to suffocate the opposition. Political campaigns are already in high gear for different politicians vying for different offices in total disregard of standard operating procedures. Members of the NRM are allowed to campaign freely and rally crowds of people while partisan police officers merely watch. When an opposition politician comes up to campaign, he or she risks having his or her skull cracked by “security” officers.
 
Several Ugandans have bravely announced intentions to contest for the top job against the incumbent, Gen. Museveni. A challenger who is popular and capable of pulling throngs of people should expect to spend more days in police cells than campaigning. This is not news because we have seen it happen to Dr. Kizza Besigye since 2000. He has, innumerable times, been stopped from campaigning while Gen. Museveni was gallivanting the whole country, and forcing all the television and radio stations to air out his freshly painted and packed lies—in the form of a manifesto.
 
Some challengers should expect to be pulled out from the studios of various television and radio stations. This also happened to Dr. Besigye in the previous elections. Resident District Commissioners, with the help of police officers, enforce such dishonorable and undemocratic acts. Dr. Besigye was denied airtime on the radio. Some RDCs even declared him a pariah in their districts—Jinja and Bugiri—as if he is not a Ugandan constitutionally entitled to enjoy freedom of expression and movement.
 
Polling agents of opposition candidates will be arrested and incarcerated so that ballot stuffing in favor of the NRM can be unimpeded, under the faithful watch of the Uganda Police and Military officers. Voting materials in opposition strongholds such as Kampala, Mbarara, Mbale, Rukungiri, Masaka, Jinja, Gulu, Soroti, Kasese, and many more others, will reach late in the evening when the polls are about to close at 6PM.
 
Gen. Museveni, with all the state institutions, is expected to “win” in 2021. A candidate who challenges the outcome by petitioning the supreme court will be disappointed. Gen. Museveni’s cadre judges planted in the judiciary by his appointments will uphold the “victory.” Forget the voter bribery, the state orchestrated violence and intimidation, and the ballot stuffing.
 
The military and police will stroll the streets, wielding heavy machine guns. The batons will be ready to break skulls of demonstrators. The homes of opposition candidates will be besieged by “security” forces. Those who insist on challenging will be airlifted to a court in a remote part of the country like Karamoja, which is what happened to Dr. Besigye in 2016. He was taken there and charged with treason.
 
This time around, the despot will claim that an opposition candidate broke the standard operating procedures on coronavirus, in order to arrest them.
 
Coronavirus is not bad at all for Gen. Museveni.
 
The writer can be reached on kakwenzarukirabashaija@gmail.com
 

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