When President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni took over power in 1986, there was a great sense of energy and excitement in the country. Throughout the time he delivered significant addresses and programs that conveyed a clear vision and sense of purpose while also aligning development teams around a core set of values in a bid to build a great Ugandan society. Unfortunately this momentum is diminishing at a fast rate with so many scandals ranging from the NSSF 6bn scandal, the Karamoja goats scandal, the COVID vaccine scandal at the science ministry and now the mabaati scandal that has rocked the nation to the core.
In late 2022, the Karamoja Affairs Minister Mary Gorreti Kitutu requested for over 10,000 iron sheets for vulnerable persons in Karamoja from the stores of the office of Prime minister. Surprisingly, according to media reports, over 5,000 iron sheets did not reach Karamoja but instead shared amongst senior government ministers and officials subverting all known operating procedures. Among those cited to have shared the loot include; the vice president Jessica Alupo, Speaker of Parliament Anita Among, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, Minister Rose Akello, Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija, his deputy Amos Lugolobi, Karamoja Affairs Minister Mary Gorreti Kitutu, her deputy Agnes Nandutu and Government Chief Whip Denis Obua among others. What is more disturbing is that they claimed not to have requested for them yet they engaged in the utilization of the same.
Constitutionally, In Uganda, when the President is no more, the vice president takes over and so is the Speaker of Parliament when the vice president fails to do so. But given the ‘silly’ mistakes committed by the vice president and the speaker in the Mabaati scandal where they received iron sheets, directed their utilization and later deny responsibility for the mess thus created, are these leaders real ready to take up the mantle?
Sharing relief items among senior leaders depriving the most vulnerable Ugandan has shaken the nation so much that sections of society believe that the government has become a fraternity of thieves. Relief items looted under the watchfully eyes of the office of the Prime Minister – “the leaders of government business”.
Since Mr. Museveni came to power, he has managed to stay past the end of his constitutional mandate of terms of office due to his competence and consistent leadership. Indeed the president has built a legacy and achieved majority of his impact by connections and engaging with significant others in pursuit of clear and compelling purposes. However the excessive drive by his senior team; cum 2026 campaigners for their personal gain, who shared relief items meant for the vulnerable is quite appalling and unacceptable. It is hard to tell if this divided and toxic team of leaders who clearly have lost empathy, kindness and focus still has clarity and reassurance in their leadership objective and that their mess can be fixed overnight. Yet these are the ones busy campaigning for the presidents 7th term comes 2026 so that they continue in the same leadership positions. These can’t be trusted into leadership of this nation anymore.
No one likes having awkward conversations, but in times like these they are the most important ones to have. The signs that the president’s team has let him down are clearly written on the wall. As a significant leader in the history of Uganda who has built a legacy and now that it feels like he is no longer able to energize his team and inspire them to push forward, or that the teams no longer listen to his able guide, it is time to pass the baton he has created to his trusted son Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba before the momentum is lost.
With Uganda’s future under the challenge, he should not devote his time to any partisan cause to spare these ‘thieves’ – cum campaigners other than the awesome duty of pushing forward and help his long term goal of an empowered Uganda through his able son and not seek and accept the nomination on his part for another term as president in 2026. Leaving the presidency for his son is in itself that Ugandans can be kind but strong, empathetic but decisive and above all optimistic but focused.
The president should take a courageous and heroic act of stepping aside at the end of his current term and make a plea for national unity. Such a bold move of competent and consistent leadership is the backbone of the country. After all, saying good bye is what is intended for a good leader’s journey.
Pessimists can complain about this, but in the current Uganda, the times demand to see if one is leaving behind a team ready to take up the mantle.
Mr. Bwayo Geoffrey is a key opinion leader in the Elgon Zone
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