Institute for Security Studies
African Conflict Prevention Programme (ACPP) -Pretoria
ACPP Daily Briefings
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
East and Horn of Africa:
- Uganda: Political pressure building up on Museveni?
The ACPP Daily Briefings:
The briefings are held weekday mornings in the ACPP Pretoria’s Situation Room and the Briefing Notes are the minutes of this meeting during which each regional expert of the Programme reports on the latest human security developments in his/her region, followed by general discussions around the table. An intern then compiles a summary of the meeting, which is reviewed by the respective researchers, and a senior researcher edits the report and provides quality control before returning it to the intern to prepare it for dispatch to the mailing list.
ACPP-Pretoria research team:
Dr Issaka K. Souare (N. Africa)
Dr David Zounmenou (W. Africa)
Dr Emmanuel Kisiangani (E. Africa & the Horn)
Ms Dimpho Motsamai (S. Africa)
Mr Arthur Chatora (Intern)
Ms Lisa Otto (Intern)
Compilation: Arthur Chatora
Editor: Dr Emmanuel Kisiangani
To download the PDF of this briefing or review previous briefings visit the ACPP Daily Briefing web page:
For this briefing, the ACPP team was joined by Mr Stephen Twinoburyo, a Ugandan national living in South Africa to brief us about internal issues in Uganda. This briefing is therefore based on his contributions.
Summary of Briefings:
Political pressure on Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s government continues to mount with the rekindling of the second phase of the walk-to-work campaign. The prevailing developments in Uganda seem to indicate an uncertain future for Museveni, with growing public dissatisfaction over the continued general increase in prices of basic commodities and the rise in cost of living. The Uganda economy has been on the decline and inflation has continued to rise, peaking at 28.3 per cent in September, thereby continuing to push the prices of basic goods beyond the means of average Ugandans. Ordinary Ugandans have blamed Museveni for their plight, accusing him of running a highly personalised rule and condoning corruption. Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) have also been criticized for abusing state resources to run an expensive elections campaign in February this year and for widespread bribery. Interestingly, the discontentment now appears to cut across the political divide, with fissures seemingly appearing in Museveni’s administration. The clearest sign to date of Museveni’s hold on instruments of power getting increasingly challenged is the recent parliamentary inquiries into corruption against his ministers and motions submitted in parliament to probe some alleged dodgy government deals.
It appears that some members of the NRM are beginning to question Museveni’s relevance and possibly see him as a liability to the party, considering he seems detached from the concerns of ordinary Ugandans. What has become evident is that, there are people within the NRM whose political careers are being damaged by Museveni’s poor governance and these people possibly see themselves beyond Museveni.
Tension in Uganda appears to be worsening with the detention of opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who has been under house arrest since last week after he attempted to participate in the walk-to-work demonstrations. The latest work-to-work protests have been met with police repression and intimidation, reminiscent of the previous ones held in April. Indeed, the government has continued to crackdown on the protest organisers. According to reports, three members of the Activists for Change (A4C) pressure group, Sam Mugumya, Mwijukye Francis and Ingrid Turinawe, were arrested and charged with treason for allegedly attempting “to overthrow the government”. It is interesting to note that Museveni has continued to use the security sector, particularly the police to sustain himself in power. This strategy has served Museveni well in the past as the opposition parties and the civil society have been continuously frustrated and curtailed by the police from making any meaningful inroads in their cause. Whether the same tactics will succeed, amid the increasing assertiveness of institutions such as parliament and the judiciary, only time will tell.
Although some people have accused Uganda’s opposition parties of being weak and ineffective, it should be recalled that Uganda’s political context is a harsh one to operate in. Museveni’s strong hold on most of the instruments of power and institutions such as the judiciary and the media has continued to secure his political survival. However, the question now is, against the backdrop of popular protests in Tunisia and Egypt, is the possibility of an “African Spring” realistic in Uganda? The contexts may be different but the Arab Spring has certainly had a subtle effect on the rest of continent, particularly about how ordinary citizens can use their power to change government.
For Uganda, the biggest challenge has been the lack of effective checks and balances. It is this challenge that has led to the country’s poor record of accountability and transparency. Accordingly, if Uganda is to overcome its pressing socio-economic and political challenges and avert the possibility of an “African Spring”, then Museveni’s will need to lead his government in reforms and reforms require sacrifices. But if Museveni is to regain the trust of Ugandans, the sacrifices are necessary.