News and Views
Museveni can’t pick successor – Gen. Kahinda Otafiire
President Museveni is in no position to choose a successor to hand power to, Justice Minister, Kahinda Otafiire has said, describing the idea as an “incredible”, “impossible” task.
“I have heard quite a lot of chorus about impossible tasks like President Museveni choosing a successor,” said Gen. Otafiire. “How can President Museveni bequeath what he does not have, which he does not own; the office of the President?”
Gen. Otafiire argued that if Mr Museveni had the ability to “bequeath” his office to a successor, as has been mooted by sections of NRM party supporters who blame current rifts within the ruling party to jostling over who should take on after Mr Museveni, “why does he apply for [the presidency] every five years?”
“Every five years President Museveni applies for this job, sits interviews for three months, loses weight and you say he can pass it on?,” asked the retired General.
The Justice Minister issued the comments while speaking Friday at a public lecture in memory of Brig. Noble Mayombo, former Defence ministry permanent secretary, who passed on in May 2007.
At the time of his death, Brig. Mayombo, who, as President Museveni’s aide-de-camp, left an enduring image of himself kneeling down in the early 1990s to lace up his master’s shoes, had been widely viewed as a possible Museveni successor given his loyalty and meteoric rise within the military and political establishment.
Kanyeihamba breaks down
At the lecture, where retired Supreme Court Judge Justice George Kanyeihamba delivered a keynote address paying glowing tribute to Brig. Mayombo, a man he described as an “intellectual icon” before breaking down at some point into tears, emotion hit fever pitch level as participants debated the event’s theme; challenges facing young people in the struggle for social, economic and political development.
Retired Maj. Okwir Rabwoni, a younger brother to Brig. Mayombo, said it was not enough that the ruling NRM had restored peace and tranquility in Uganda yet a majority of the youth, 83 per cent of the country’s 75 per cent youth population, remain unemployed.
“Isn’t that dangerous? Isn’t that a national crisis?” he asked.
The Assistant Bishop of Kampala Diocese, the Rev. Zac Niringiye, an outspoken cleric at the forefront of a campaign to restore presidential term limits, said at the heart of Uganda’s problem “is leadership gone bad.”
In a tardy response, however, Gen. Otafiire questioned the motive behind the agenda to restore term limits and argued that Uganda needs to discover “homegrown solutions” to its biting challenges.
“Term limits, term limits, term limits; yes you can impose term limits for fools [but] will that solve your problem?” he asked, throwing his audience into a fit of laughter. “You will have one fool after another; you will have one thief after another…one dictator after another, is that going to solve your problem?”
The lecture comes on the back of demands by Brig. Mayombo’s family for the release of a government probe report into his death reported to have been handed to President Museveni in November 2007, six months after completion of investigations. The probe was led by Maj. Gen. James Mugira.