BY ALEX TAREMWA
33 years later, this is how far a dictator is willing to go in order to remain in power.
Uganda is yet at another tipping point. The mood amongst the populace is one of anger as it looks evident that Museveni – the country’s ruler since 1986 is keen on another term in office after 2021 – to take his tally to an astonishing 40 years.
You are probably wondering; how? Well, Museveni is on a constitutional amendment to remove Article 102(b) which bars anyone from standing for the presidency when they are above 75 years.
Although the Age limit bill as it is termed in political circles has generated intense resistance from all corners of the country, from a strategic point seems like a done deal for Museveni whose party – National Resistance Movement – boats of a 299 Membership in a parliament of 449.
But Museveni is not your ordinary constitutionalist and doesn’t like to have one plan rolling. He set an alphabet of plans from A to Z but one that is perhaps more ridiculous than bribing Members of Parliament was attempting to change his birthday.
See, on August 3, 2017, he — in company of his family — went to St Luke Church of Uganda, Kinoni in Rwampara, Western Uganda to mark his 70th baptism anniversary.
At this event, that the area Bishop – Sheldon Mwesigwa would display the Church’s records as if to publicise the president’s actual baptism date. But there was more to it; the record entry would suggest that the president was baptised when he was only a few months old not at three years as he himself earlier maintained.
In other words, Museveni would miraculously become three years younger – a blessing albeit not for long.
THE MUSTARD SEED
In his autobiography, Sowing the Mustard Seed: The Struggle for Freedom and Democracy, first edition, Museveni writes and I quote that:
“The third childhood memory I retain was when I was baptized, along with Mzee Amos Kaguta and Esteeri Kokundeka, on the 3rd of August 1947, at Kinoni Rwampara. By that time, I was almost three years……”
Although there has been no conclusive record to confirm his birthday, September 15, 1944, is wisely used to that effect. This means that Museveni is 73 years old — ineligible to run for another term of office in 2021 as per the 1995 Constitution of Uganda as he will be 77 years old.
And with the controversy surrounding the constitutional amendment to remove the age limit from the constitution, the Church of Uganda’s near-magical revelation could have been Museveni’s sole hope of maintaining grip onto Uganda’s top spot.
Shedding up to three years off his record make Museveni 74 years in 2021 – just in time to run, yet again to run for another term without tampering with any constitutional provisions.
THEN CAME SOCIAL MEDIA
Uganda – understandably went into a Social Media delirium after the news hit the streets with people questioning not only the convenient timing of the records but also their authenticity. And just as expected, the Museveni propaganda machine attempted – albeit unsuccessfully – to pun the story into another direction.
Lawyer and Activist Andrew Karamagi went as far as subjecting the records to modern technological forensic tests using a combination of ultraviolet and varying levels of brightness of indoor lighting. His conclusions were nothing short of alarming.
This Social Media fire did not spare the Anglican Church of Uganda which has time and again come under criticism for alleged partisanship with the state to further its agenda. Critics argue that the Church comes out strongly against issues like homosexuality but is silent on issues of domestic politics like election rigging, corruption, murder, hunger among others.
Opposition politicians tasked Ankole Diocese Bishop Sheldon Mwesigwa to explain his role and interest in the sudden discovery of Museveni’s baptism records and whether it had anything to do with the Shs310 million donation that the president made to the diocese under various projects.
In his defence, Bishop Sheldon argued that as a researcher with a PhD and the role of a researcher is to dig and bring to light new information for the betterment of society. But inasmuch as Bishop Sheldon defended his actions as apolitical, there timing, nature and purpose come off as a little too convenient especially when the country is locked in a debate on the country’s political future.
The strategy died on arrival but the grand master-plan – one of a Museveni life presidency – is so much alive only this time speared by Honourables Abiriga, Anite, Magezi (Mover) among other NRM MPs.
All hope is not lost – yet. Ugandans under #K’ogikwatako campaign seem determined to do everything to ensure their constitution is not amended and the only safeguard against a life presidency removed.
The question is whether their representatives still have the presence of mind listen and act accordingly.
The writers blog