opinionBy J. M. Kavuma-Kaggwa
Uganda has just celebrated 27 years of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) leadership, and the man at the helm has been, and still is, President Yoweri Museveni.
During the ceremony to mark the day at Kasese on January 30, the late Sir Edward Mutesa II, who was the first President of Uganda, was posthumously awarded the highest medal of Uganda. This was a tremendous thing, although it should have waited until October 9, 2013, and be held on Buganda soil, at Kololo. President Museveni has made many highly remarkable achievements, though the most outstanding, in my view, was the restoration of the Buganda Kingdom on July 31, 1993.
The restoration of the kingdom created an atmosphere of peace and national unity and set the pace for economic development throughout the whole country. Buganda, especially Kampala, is the centre of all kinds of economic, educational, social and political activities carried out by Ugandans. When President Museveni took over the leadership on January 26, 1986, this country had gone through a terrible time of political turmoil and instability which put Uganda in a unique position.
In East and Central Africa, it is the only country which has had nine Presidents since independence in 1962. Many other countries achieved their independence almost at the same time - but Kenya has had three presidents, Tanzania four, Zambia four and Malawi four. Out of the nine presidents, five came into power backed by gunfire and five left power unceremoniously, hounded by gunfire.
President Museveni's second biggest achievement has been the establishment of peace and political stability in the country. It is evident everywhere that when there is peace and stability, the citizens develop themselves. People cannot develop economically and socially in a turbulent situation as it is in Somalia today. In Buganda, my own area, people have built schools, universities, hotels, hospitals, industries, shopping malls, filling stations, worshipping houses, beautiful mansions, etc, in Kampala and elsewhere. This has been done because of the prevailing peace and political stability in the country.
Recently, the Kabaka of Buganda, Sabasajja Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, inaugurated a huge and magnificent commercial building at Kibuye which was built by the Kabaka's government. President Museveni has put in place a modern people's army, UPDF, which has struggled to bring peace in the region and currently in Somalia. "Panda gari" of the early 1980s is now just a bad memory.
Museveni's other achievement is in the area of industrialization. To a large extent, the driving force in this exercise has been the late Dr James Mulwana and the former executive director of Uganda Investment Authority, Dr Maggie Kigozi. Having our own industries has helped a great deal. I remember when, between the 1970s and early 1980s, Uganda was merely a market for Kenya goods. I am sure the situation has now changed a great deal.
Another Museveni achievement was organising for the people to work out their own Constitution in 1995. This Constitution gives a clear political road map for Ugandans, and military decrees are now no more. The last two big achievements in the area of politics were the reintroduction of the multiparty system in Uganda in 2005 and working very had to ensure Rwanda and Burundi are brought onboard in the East African Community. A multiparty system is the strongest pillar of democracy in any country.
Also, the people of Rwanda and Burundi are ethnically related to several tribes in Western Uganda and have, therefore, smoothly integrated into EAC. The ninth president since independence has held power for 27 years and the question being asked is what has made him succeed for that long. Two clear factors emerge. First, when he and the Baganda restored the Buganda Kingdom, he gained a firm and strong political base in Buganda, the source and centre of political power in Uganda.
Secondly, he has one good quality, which I personally admire, and which other politicians should emulate. You may love or hate him, but President Museveni is one person who works out a plan and will implement it, even if it is after four, ten, twenty years or beyond, and above all, he is always on top of the situation.
We are waiting to see whether he will retire in 2016 or 2021 and hand over the leadership of this country to a Muganda president sponsored by his party.
The author is an elder from Kyaggwe, Mukono district.