The re-election of Uganda’s aging President in a contest in which opponents were tamed with brutal force is another clear manifestation of how African leaders insult democracy.
Yoweri Museveni’s win with over 60 percent of the votes was a foregone conclusion. His government was hellbent on winning, no matter what and had therefore crushed the leadership and supporters of the main opposition Forum for Democratic Change. The party leader Dr. Kizza Besigye had multiple times been victimised. Three days become Ugandans went to the polls, Dr. Besigye was twice arrested without acceptable reasons. The government’s blanket excuse was that the opposition leader wanted to pass through a busy business district. Besigye was not spared even on the day of elections. Police barricaded his party headquarters, forced their way inside and started unleashing teargas on party officials and supporters. Bullets were fired before Dr. Besigye was taken away. He was accused of planning to declare himself the winner of Thursday’s elections.
Despite voices of cries, Besigye remained in police detention until yesterday when he was released. As results tick in, FDC leader remains under house arrest, with police shielding his Kampala home. If this is what democracy is all about, then Africans should think of a different system of governance.
Museveni, a former guerrilla leader, first ascended to power in 1986 after his rebel group seized power. He came with a promise to hand over power as soon as possible. He is like our very own Yahya Jammeh who made a similar promise only to swallow his words when he became power drunk. Both leaders and their counterparts are talking about everything under the sun except relinquishing power. The problem with Africa is her leaders’ refusal to leave power until death strikes them. Even those leaders who are physically and psychologically worn out think they are created to rule forever, and in the process meddle their fingers into everything.
All these nincompoop leaders, including President Museveni bastardise their constitutions to cling on power, despite fierce opposition. The question becomes: who bells the cat in a system that is controlled by one man?
President Museveni, 71, (even though he said in his biography he is the son of illiterate cattle farmers who does not know his real age) is prepared to step on dead bodies to remain in power. He made his intention clear last month when he said “Those who say, ‘let him go, let him go’, they need to know that this is not the right time. This old man who has saved the country, how do you want him to go? How can I go out of a banana plantation I have planted that has started bearing fruits?”
What is the point of holding elections when opposing contestants will be elbowed before they get into the ring? This is Mr. Museveni’s fifth term in office. He would have been in office for 35 years when Ugandans go to the polls in 2021.