from HASSAN ONYANGO in Kampala, Uganda
KAMPALA, (CAJ News) – IF the conviction, defiance and flamboyance Muhoozi Kainerugaba exude in his statements lately are anything to go by, Uganda is line to join a number of African countries to be ruled by dynasties.
This, already, is dividing the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), which has only known his father- Yoweri Museveni- as the party leader and head of state since 1986.
It has for years been speculated Kainerugaba was being groomed to be the successor when Museveni (78) eventually exits office.
Lately, Kainerugaba has apparently ended the speculation in what has been an eventful recent weeks for the president’s oldest of four children and the only son (aged 48).
His confirmation that he was eyeing the top post is part of a series of controversial statements the social media-savvy military man has been sharing with Ugandans.
Kainerugaba is already in good stead, in his role as Presidential Adviser (Senior Operations), and until his sacking in October, was the commander of the Land Forces of the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF).
Earlier this year, he had announced he would be retiring from the UPDF “the greatest military in the world” although he did not give a timeline.
It was rumoured he was eyeing the presidency upon the said retirement.
His latest statements have raised some political temperatures, with Uganda’s next poll scheduled for 2026.
“The only way I can re-pay my great mother is by being President of Uganda! And I shall definitely do it,” Kainerugaba declared.
He added, “My mother has always been an angel for me. She is simply perfect. Like most men feel for their mothers.”
Kainerugaba’s mother is Janet Museveni (nee Kataaha), Museveni’s wife since 1973, and current Minister of Education and Sports.
Kainerugaba was born a year after they married.
He has sisters Natasha (fashion designer and film director, aged 46), Patience (pastor, 44) and Dina (entrepreneur, 40).
In announcing his interest in the presidency, Kainerugba threw shade at the opposition.
“To the Ugandan opposition, after my father, I will defeat you badly in any election. Ugandans love me more than they’ll ever love you.”
The opposition has alleged Museveni rigs polls to stay in power. This includes the last poll in 2021 when he defeated politician-cum- musician, Robert Ssentamu, by 58,38 percent to 35,08 percent
Kainerugaba’s presidential ambitions have revived tensions over Museveni’s succession.
His sentiments that it was time for the “new generation to replace old guard” have rubbed seniors in the party the wrong way.
He has also pledged to devote time to the youth.
With the endorsement of Museveni, Kainerugaba is planning the “Patriotic Youth Conference” at a date yet to be announced but “in the next few weeks.”
Youths are anticipated to endorse him.
He has revealed a number of current and former African presidents would be invited.
One opposition leader he wished to attend is “my brother” South Africa’s Julius Malema.
However, amid the backdrop of tensions, some ruling party youth sections have called on Museveni to stand for re-election in 2026.
Museveni would be 82 and would have ruled for 40 years.
In 2017, Uganda lifted the age limit from 75, paving way for his sixth term that he won in 2021.
The NRM leadership has summoned the youth and warned them against early campaigns, but they have remained defiant arguing they are promoting the party’s ideologies.
Outside the ruling party, Kainerugaba has come under criticism, particularly linking his presidential ambitions to honor his mother.
“I thought it (presidency) was for serving Ugandans. I didn’t know it’ll be a gift for your (Kainerugaba’s) mother,” rights activist Kizza Godfrey responded.
“Other mothers gave birth to kids too,” said another activist, Cantona Dante.
Political analyst, Job Richard Matua, believes Kainerugaba can be a viable alternative to his father.
“Museveni has been over surrounded by people who manipulate him to disadvantage Ugandans,” the analyst stated.
He drew comparisons, along age lines, between the new British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak (42) and Kainerugaba.
Kainerugaba is arguably the most controversial figure in Ugandan politics lately, and his father has not been spared his abrasiveness.
Museveni was infuriated, as was Kenya, when Kainerugabe tweeted it would not take his army two weeks to capture Nairobi (Kenya).
After issuing an apology to Kenya, Museveni fired him as commander of the army’s land forces although promoting him to full general and keeping him as presidential adviser
Museveni, in an interview with Kenyan media, was quoted as saying he had dissuaded his son from Twitter, he responded, “I am an adult and no one will ban me from anything.”
Then he changed tack, “My father, His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, is a prophet of Almighty God! I respect him beyond measure.”
Kainerugaba is not one to shy away from prevailing geopolitical issues and conceptualising some, like his envisioned United East Africa.
“We would be the largest country in Africa and the seventh-largest country on earth. Bigger than India. This is the mission of our generation.”
He declared, “I will be the Mahatma Gandhi or Great Soul of East Africa! I shall unite our countries.”
Kainerugaba has lately been vocal on the diplomatic row between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda.
The two neighbours have fallen out as DRC accuses Rwanda of backing the resurgent M23 rebel group that is carrying out attacks in the eastern parts of the former.
It is a delicate issue that only the warring parties and intercessors have commented on but Kinerugaba has waded in.
“As for M23, I think it is very, very dangerous for anybody to fight those brothers of ours,” he said.
“They are not terrorists. They are fighting for the rights of Tutsi in DRC,” he argued.
When the Presidency disclosed to Ugandans that the Air Force had with the permission of the DRC, destroyed a camp of the Ugandan-established Allied Democratic Forces terror group, and the locations provided, Kinerugaba demanded that Museveni fired his aides.
“The people who are in charge of my father’s social media accounts should be fired. This kind of information is classified,” the general said.
Several African countries have been ruled by father and later, son.
Among these, with fathers listed first are Botswana (Seretse and Ian Khama), Chad (Dérby and Mahamat Idriss), DRC (Laurent and Joseph Kabila), Kenya (Jomo and Uhuru Kenyatta), Gabon (Omar and Ali Bongo), Ghana (Edward and Nana Akufo-Addo) and Togo (Gnassingbé and Faure Gnassingbé).
– CAJ News