Today marks 31 years since President Yoweri Museveni took power after a five year guerilla war. A master of changing with the times, he has managed to remain at the helm for three decades. He will be ineligible to stand come 2021 as he will have exceeded the 75-year age limit. Political analysts believe the Constitution will be amended to lift the age limit like the term limits. We conducted a survey among our readers, asking who they think can lead Uganda after President Museveni, if he decides to call it a day.
Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala
Many of our survey respondents cited Gen. Wamala’s humility, clean track record and remarkable down to earth personality despite having served at some of the biggest positions as attributes worthy of the country’s most coveted office. They argued that in his time as Chief of Defense Forces and Inspector General of Police, Wamala demonstrated his leadership capabilities beyond doubts, acted impartially and earned respect from Ugandans irrespective of the political, religiousor ethnic differences.
Also, some argued that Wamala stands a decent chance of being president since he hails from Buganda, the biggest ethnic group and with the backing of the Mengo government, he would easily sail to presidency.
Born in 1956 in Kalangala, KatumbaWamala served as commander of land forces in the UPDF from 2005 to 2013. He also served as the Inspector General of Police (IGP) from 2001 to2005. While serving as commander of land forces, he was closely engaged with peace keeping in Somalia which bore fruits of peace to the war ravaged nation. He served as Chief of Defense Forces from 2013 till recently when was appointed State Minister of Works.
Maj Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba
A section of our respondents argued that the so called “Muhoozi project” cannot be taken for granted. According to this school of thought, first son Maj. Gen. MuhooziKainerugaba is being “groomed” for the top job and it’s only a matter of time before the conspiracy comes to pass. That if the president backs him for the top job, no other candidate will floor him.
Born on April 24, 1974 in Dar esSalaam, Tanzania to Yoweri Museveni, who has been President of Uganda since 1986, and Janet Museveni, the Minister of Education and Sports since June 2016, Muhoozi was the Commander of the Special Forces Group, which contains the unit known as Presidential Guard Brigade responsible for providing security to the President of Uganda and to Uganda’s constitutional monarchs, from 2008 to 2017.
Muhoozi is currently serving as Senior Presidential Adviser for Special Operations. However, despite the conspiracies Maj. Gen Muhoozi has on record denied harbouring interest in the presidency.
Some of our respondents argued that Hon. RuhakanaRugunda is one of the blue-eyed men of the government. His appointment as Prime minster on September 18, 2014, after AmamaMbabazi largely portrayed him as a trustworthy figure, patient and loyal to the president. A physician by profession, he held a long series of Cabinet posts since 1986.
He served as Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1994 to 1996 and as Minister of Internal Affairs from 2003 to 2009. Subsequently he was Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2009 to 2011 and Minister of Health from 2013 to 2014. With this experience many argued that his understanding of foreign affairs and local issues places him at an advantage to serve at the top.
Rugunda is a respectable figure even among opposition supporters because he has not exhibited the sycophancy many of Museveni’s ministers are known for. He is also not on the list of cabinet’s poster boys for corruption.
Dr Abed Bwanika
Some of our respondents preferred a candidate free from current political establishment in government or opposition politics. These argued that the next president should be free from influences of the past and Abed Bwanika scored highly among this group. They praised Bwanika for his independent thinking and deep understanding of issues particularly his display of intelligence at the 2016 presidential debates. They argue that he has a following and it’s up to him to rise to the occasion.
However, for reasons best known to the veterinary doctor and pastor, the three time presidential aspirant only comes to the spotlight in the election season something that perhaps kept his score at less than 1% in all the attempts at presidency.
Born to an Acholi father and Munyakolemum, Norbert Mao was cited by our respondents as the best candidate to heal the deep tribal divisions in the country. Some cited him for youthful nature and the need for young blood in politics. The lawyer has served as LC 5 chairman of Gulu district and DP president. He stood in the 2011 elections and scored a paltry 1.86%. Surprisingly, he opted to rally behind AmamaMbabazi in the previous election.
Born in the Democratic Party, baptised in NRM and married in FDC, Winnie Byanyima’s stellar credentials makes her one of the favourites for the top job. Having floored men in Parliamentary elections to serve as MP of Mbarara municipality from 1994 to 2004, some of our readers argued that she could achieve the same on the national stage. She was then appointed director of the Directorate of Women, Gender and Development at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
She served in that capacity until she was appointed as director of the Gender Team in the Bureau for Development Policy at UNDP in November 2006. She is currently the executive director of Oxfam International, a position to which she was appointed in May 2013.Before that, she served as the director of the Gender Team in the Bureau for Development Policy at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from 2006. Our readers cited her experience that this top level as material fit for presidency. Recently there was talk of her standing for the top job in the land, which she neither denied nor confirmed.
Wife to the president, Mama Janet as she is fondly known has never been comfortable with just the “First Lady” title. She started out being involved in public affairs with her charity organisationUganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans (UWESO). She took the plunge into politics, becoming MP for Ruhama County in Kiruhuura district in 2006 and re-elected in 2011. She was also granted the Karamoja Affairs ministry by her husband. Currently she is the Minister of Education and Sports. Respondents to our survey argue that if she is fronted for presidency, the samemachinery that has been used to entrenchPresident Museveni could be used to ensure her victory.
Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga
Lawyer by profession and Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda since May 19, 2011, Kadaga has been cited by respondentsin our survey as an independent, no-nonsense person. On several occasions, she has defended the independence of the legislature which at times meant locking horns with the judiciary or executive. She has been known to stand her ground. She is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Kamuli District Women’s Constituency, Busoga sub-region, which she has represented since 1989.
A section of respondents were in for MugishaMuntu’s rather calm approach to issues saying he is what Uganda needs to heal divisions. It is this same personality that has earned him admirers and naysayers. Some argued that he is the most suitable person since he has worked with both NRM and FDC. However, despite being FDC party president, he was floored by KiizaBesigye in the 2011 race for the party’s presidential flag bearer. If Besigye exits the stage, Muntu could be the party’s flag bearer and take advantage of the legion of FDC loyalists.
Another FDC strongman respondents in our survey cited as presidential material was NandalaMafabi. Readers cited his zero tolerance to corruption which has made Bugisu Co-operative Union grow from strength to strength under his helm. The accountant and lawyer representsBudadiri County West in Sironko District in Parliament. From May 2011 until January 2014, he was the leader of the opposition in Parliament, a post which made him extremely popular. As head of the Public Accountants Committee in the previous Parliament, he was the poster child for fighting corruption, a vice that has eaten to the core of Uganda’s economic fabric. Respondents feel he could be our Magufuli in the fight against corruption.
Rtd Col. KizzaBesigye has unsuccessfully contested against President Museveni in four consecutive elections. Besigye has always said the elections have been rigged and in last year’s elections where the Electoral Commission announced that he had polled 32% compared to incumbent President Museveni’s 62%, Besigye went ahead to hold a mock swearing-in ceremony and he is now battling treason charges for that act of defiance. He has been under house arrests, his movements are restricted and he has been arrested countless times. Dubbed the “People’s President” many of our respondents believe Besigye will one day rule Uganda especially considering his overwhelming support in different regions of the country.