Philosophy teaches that behind every man’s action is an intention hidden from public consumption. For now, Uganda says it is to pursue two objectives in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo—DRC after establishing a long term military facility there: i) to end the rebel or terrorist Allied Democratic Forces—ADF, ii) to protect regional joint road works. So what else could be concealed? A careful analysis of available facts can reveal it.
The Western beneficiaries
In this initiative, Museveni indicates to be pursuing a range of interests for others—not for himself alone. Particular open beneficiaries include the European Union which is seeking to tap into the East African market via its Economic Partnership Agreements-EPAs, the United States that is in hot pursuit against ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliates in Africa, France that wants safety of its majority 72% stakes in the East African Community Oil pipeline-EACOP, as well as the host DRC that aspires to pacify its eastern region of armed rebel movements. For a while, and unless it backfires due to other emerging dynamics, the current situation firmly restores Museveni back in his favorite comfortable zone as the regional peace guarantor, a role he was bound to lose as troops withdraw from Somalia. But here is this opportunity in DRC—upon which he either had obtained prior intelligence or correctly read the minds of all big powers as their next destination after Somalia. The biggest advantage to him is that this time he is not venturing into Congo upon the West’s urging but as his own initiative.
The Russian big return to Africa
With Russian assistance, Museveni is in the process of building a long desired strongest personal army on the African continent that is independent of Western influences and only reliant on African resources—in this sense, specifically from the enormous mineral wealth of the DRC. In a nutshell, this constitutes Museveni’s secret urge of establishing nearly a permanent military presence in DRC—without foreign dictation of particular time frames of withdrawal schedules as experienced in the Somali project.
After the U.S reduced cooperation with Uganda’s Special Forces Command-SFC in 2015, Kampala now anticipates to singlehandedly hire Russian expertise to skill the SFC into an international outfit. Russia is actually already in touch with the SFC courtesy of the unit’s commander Lt General Muhoozi Kainerugaba. Muhoozi, son to Museveni is widely perceived as being mentored for a takeover after his father’s time. Beside SFC connections, Russia is also in talks for developing Uganda’s combat aircrafts plant as well as a weapons and ammunition factory. Alongside this is a planned nuclear technology facility that is emphasized; I don’t know why, for peaceful purposes. Scores of Ugandans are already undergoing nuclear-related studies inside and outside the country.
Is Museveni the African Czar in the making?
Sunday May 16 2021 is going to enter the annals of history for Mr Museveni. It’s when his inner circle generals legitimately reset bouts on Congolese soil after decades eager waiting due to a U.N embargo that barred them from doing so. They identified suitable sites for the said military facilities in a number townships of North Kivu province of the DRC where troops have set camps.
Although initiated by Uganda, this military operation process has the full blessing of Kinshasa, the E.U via its funded International Conference on the Great Lakes Region-ICGLR and the United States of America via its Africom headquarters in Djibouti.
When Museveni repeatedly asserts that he still has an agenda to fulfil for Africa, as the reason for his continued stay in power, he exactly means his old dream of recurving the ancient geographical locations of the Chwezi Era to which he proudly identifies and his son, Muhoozi identifying himself as that dynasty’s last posterity. In his writings Museveni describes this location as stretching from parts of northern Tanzania to South Sudan and from western Kenya to eastern DRC. He strategized to achieve this first by recreating the East African Community—EAC, which is why to him the regional grouping is useless unless he is its overall political leader. Whereas this is within achievable target, following indications of DRC joining the bloc soon, to firmly be in charge as the regional Czar, Museveni must be the gate way to Congolese mineral resources. With the easiest access to these resources, especially gold, for which Uganda already owns three world class refineries, that earn it over USD1bn annually, Museveni aspires to transform his army into the best outfit on the continent. So in 2019 he found a better way of circumventing the U.N limitations by exploiting his friendship with current DRC president Felix Tshisekedi whom he had backed for president and later convinced to conduct joint infrastructure development projects in eastern DRC. On this basis, Tshisekedi played the sovereign interest card to over step the U. N’s International Court of Justice injunctions and allowed the Ugandan military return onto the DRC land after nearly two decades since it was banished as one of the penalties for fighting in Congo’s Kisangani city with Rwanda. Rwanda is also certain to return to DRC as a deliberate counter-balance measure to Uganda’s reemerging strong influence and this presents some uncertainties in regards to the regional stability question.
But if everything remains uncertain, at least one is not: with Uganda already annually earning over a billion dollars from gold without involvement of its army; this must multiply several folds with official reentry of its military in the DRC and sure to sustainably surpass all forms of foreign aid combined. This is the true meaning of independence Mr Museveni craves.
Simon Kimoyi is a PhD Candidate, Kampala International University
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