This General Muhoozi Kainerugaba: Is he really serious?

Sunday March 19 2023

Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s adviser on special operations. PHOTO | PETER BUSOMOKE | AFP


Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, President Yoweri Museveni’s adviser on special operations, went to Twitter once again to make announcement:

This time round Gen Muhoozi said he will be contesting the presidency in 2026, but later on deleted it.

For the son of the president, that may be both bad and good. Bad because he is a soldier who shouldn’t lie to the public. Good because, perhaps he may have made a bad joke and realised it.

But as a politician trying to venture from military practice, he could be a typical Ugandan politician with unpredictable steps.

In the good past days, Gen Muhoozi was a reliable envoy, who helped restore Uganda's relations with Rwanda, who had shut the common land border for three years.

Smoothen relations


In the bad days, he put Ugandan diplomats in frantic calls to smoothen relations with states he had rattled. For example, he sided with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, when the rebel group was fighting the Ethiopian government. Uganda called for dialogue, officially.

Then he said he could “capture" Nairobi easily were he to decide so. Kampala played back channel diplomacy to reassure Nairobi that they didn’t like his bad joke.

Whether to be believed or not, however, Gen Muhoozi these days speaks the language of youth, bored to death of being led by old people, among them his father. He just doesn’t directly mention him in the tweets though, when criticising old leaders.

“The Prime Minister of the UK is 42 years old, and the Prime Minister of Finland is 37 years. Some of us are hitting 50. We are tired of waiting forever,” he tweeted this week. “We will take a stand! Fidel Castro (former Cuban leader), my HERO, became President at 32 years. I am about to hit 49 years old. It’s really not right. The Presidency of the nation is meant for young men. How many agree with me that our time has come? Enough of the old people ruling us. It's time for our generation to shine.”


He didn’t delete this. But he deleted: “You have wanted me to say it forever! Okay, in the name of Jesus Christ my God, in the name of all the young people of Uganda and the world, and in the name of our great revolution, I will stand for the Presidency in 2026!”

Gen Muhoozi spent the latter part of last year leading mobilisation drives, especially after he was relieved of the office of the commander of land forces, at which he said he was now free to interact with the people whose support he needed.

However, despite having formed committees, a clash with his father’s comrades, especially the bush war heroes such as the Internal Affairs Minister Gen Kahinda Otafiire and Haji Moses Kigongo, the country’s ruling party (NRM) vice-chairperson, seemed to have humbled him when he said he would only be president if his father supports him.

To his supporters, he remained a "standby generator," ready to take over when the main power source goes off, in anticipation that his father was at some point going to relinquish power.

On the ballot

Increasingly, it has become clear that President Yoweri Museveni will again be on the ballot to seek a mandate for his 7th elective term, since 1996. Museveni, who came to power through a coup, in 1986, was first elected president under the new constitution in 1996.

According to Muhoozi fanatics such as Balaam Barugahara, the Muhoozi movement is awakening sleeping NRM historicals and bush war heroes who have refused to step down for the energetic, youthful members.

“We are putting in place structures to prepare Gen Muhoozi to take over from his father when the time comes. We are doing it independently. We are not attached to NRM,” he added.

“Those who haven’t set their priorities right are the ones confusing themselves. They don’t know whether to please the son or the father,” he told local media in Kampala.