Muhoozi Project: We must take Tinyefunza seriously

By Dr Obote Odora

03 June 2013:

President Museveni's son Brig Muhoozi: Heir apparent?

The underpinning reasons for the desire to choose Muhoozi as a successor to his father is the First Family’s survival strategy in a post-Museveni era. To achieve that, Gen Museveni needs a poodle.  A servile or obsequious person – a person trusted to a fault to guarantee Museveni’s future and protect his wealth as well as prevent independent investigations into the Luwero, Teso and Northern Uganda mass murders.

A servile successor will ensure that Museveni and his cohorts will never be prosecuted for possible crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes including crimes of massive corruption and abuse of office.

The choice of his son, ‘Baby Museveni’ – otherwise known as Muhoozi, is a logical one, particularly for a desperate Commander-in-Chief of the NRA/UPDF who does not want to end up like Ben Ali of Tunisia, Gadhafi of Libya or Mubarak of Egypt. The crimes he is alleged to have committed against the Ugandan civilian population since 1981 weighs, or should weigh, heavily on him.

Similarly, the alleged crimes he committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will not go away because such crimes are not subject to any statute of limitation. Gen. Museveni needs protection particularly when he is no longer president and exercises no executive and military power. He will be extremely venerable to national and international criminal prosecutions.

However, the choice of Muhoozi to succeed his father, while appealing to Museveni, may not fully protect him. Papa Doc tried and imposed his son on Haitian people. After his death, such succession did not protect Baby Doc and family.

General David Sejusa a.k.a Tinyefuza’s disclosure that there is a ‘Muhoozi Project’ is therefore not a surprise. It is also not a surprise that persons opposed to the idea of Muhoozi replacing his father as president of Uganda may be targeted for assassination. The track record of the NRA/NRM suggests that since its formation and throughout its existence, it has eliminated, and continues to eliminate those it considers undesirables from within and without its rank.

Those undesirables are generally known as ‘biological substances’. The ‘biological substance’ description has since been expanded to include ‘cockroaches’ and that is one of the reasons Gen. Tinyefuza is afraid, that on arrival at Entebbe from London, he may be arrested like a ‘cockroach’.

Gen Tinyefuza is best placed to know how the NRA/NRM treats ‘cockroaches’. If in doubt, ask Mr Daniel Omara Atubo, a former minister of State for Defence, one of Tinyefuza’s victims who were treated as a cockroach, by being publicly flogged, humiliated and thrown in detention for one year before being released.  The derogatory term ‘cockroach’ is used by the NRA/NRM to dehumanise its ‘enemies’ in a similar manner used by the Hutu extremists to describe Tutsis during the Rwanda genocide.

The NRA/NRM historical records demonstrate that it has always been careful to leave a window of opportunity for a ‘plausible deniability’ explanation of many political killings by creating alternative versions of causes of death of persons suspected to have been murdered by the agents of the regime.

The untimely death of the young Brig. Mayombo is one such example.  Similarly, unexplained deaths of Dr Andrew Kayira, a former minister in the NRM government, Vice- President Bukenya’s son, former Speaker of Parliament Francis Ayume and former Member of Parliament Ms Nebanda are examples of alleged political murders with ‘plausible deniability’.

Gen. Tinyefuza’s concerns on being a target for possible assassination alongside others, coming from one who knows how the system works and is also a suspect in some of the criminals acts committed against the ‘enemies’ of the NRA/NRM, must be taken seriously. Only the wilfully blind can ignore such warnings.

What is important about Gen. Tinyefuza’s outburst is that, as Museveni’s war time accomplice, he expected Museveni to hand-over power to his contemporary ‘bushmen’ who fought alongside him between 1981 and 1986.

Museveni’s plan to allow his son to ‘jump the succession queue’ and pass on his Real Estate (read Uganda) to Baby Museveni is the proverbial straw that broke the Camel’s back. In that context, Tinyefuza’s outbursts have nothing to do with democracy, transparency or accountability. It is an internal NRA/NRM power struggle, fought within an undemocratic and anti-democratic NRA/NRM.

Second, it must be noted that Gen. Tinyefunza’s outburst coincided with the conviction of Guetemala’s military strongman Jose Efrain Rios Montt who ruled his country with a firm hand from March 1982 until August 1983. During this period, Rios Montt’s military regime used extreme terror in an effort to wipe out a Mayan minority ethnic group and the opposition in the early 1980s. President Rios Montt was convicted by a Guatemala national court on Friday 10 May 2013 for genocide and crimes against humanity.

President Rios Montt was aged 86. He was sentenced to 50 years in jail for genocide and 30 years for crimes against humanity. Some of the criminal acts for which he was convicted include the disappearance of 1771 people and enforced displacement of 29,000 others. Other criminal acts for which he was convicted include use of starvation to cause the death of thousands of civilians, mass murder, rape and aerial bombardments as tactics to exterminate the Maya minority community and those opposed to him.

President Rios Montt presided over ‘scorched earth’ tactics to eradicate his enemy. Rios Montt’s soldiers used sexual violence as a tool to destroy the social fabric of the minority group and murder of babies and pregnant women to destroy the Maya minority group.

Prosecution of former dictators has become a common practice in Latin America. Chile and Argentina have, over the years, successfully prosecuted and jailed former military leaders. A few days ago, General Jorge Videla, Argentina’s dictator who was one of the key military officers who initiated the ‘Dirty War’ and was serving a life sentence, died in jail, aged 87.

Museveni is still young, and he knows that time for justice and accountability will come – hence the urgency of the Muhoozi Project.

The criminal acts committed by Rios Montt and Jorge Videla are, in fact less serious, when compared to the serious criminal acts allegedly committed by Museveni, Tinyefunza and other senior NRA/NRM officials and members in Uganda. Museveni and his soldiers, alongside the UNLA and other armed groups, are responsible for the death of many civilians in Luwero between 1981 and 1986, and the NRA is solely responsible for the atrocious crimes in Northern Uganda since 1986.

During Operation North (in 1991), General Tinyefuza placed the entire Northern Uganda under security lockdown and employed scorched earth tactics on the civilian population. He detained, tortured and starved the civilian population. Many women and children were killed. Under Museveni’s orders, the entire population of Acholi, for example, were removed from their homes and re-located to the various concentration camps throughout Acholi land – displacing more than 1.2 million civilians.

These are serious international crimes which Museveni & Co fears prosecution for. However, if Muhoozi were to succeed Papa Museveni, then his father expects to be protected from possible investigation and prosecution for crimes committed against the Uganda civilian population since 1981.

This is significant because Museveni does not want an independent investigation on what he did in Luwero, Teso and Northern Uganda. He has rejected all requests for independent or judicial investigations. On the other hand, Museveni desperately needs protection when he is no longer in office. Only Muhoozi can provide that protection. On the other hand, Tinyefuza cannot rely on Muhoozi to protect him. Tinyefuza needs to rely on himself or create his own poodle to succeed Museveni.

The discourse on the ‘Muhoozi Project’ is not about the vision of Uganda in a post-Museveni era. It is about protecting Museveni from prosecution for serious violations of international humanitarian law, massive corruption and abuse of office. The prosecution of dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya set a worrying precedent for Museveni.

And, Tinyefunza’s utterances are grounded on his desire to remain relevant in a post-Museveni era. For the rest of Ugandans, in order to have a more just vision for Uganda, the Musevenis and the Tinyefuzas of this world who have looted Uganda and murdered women and children must be made to become irrelevant.

An anti-democratic organisation like the NRA/NRAM cannot establish democracy, transparency and accountability in a post-Museveni era. The ‘Muhoozi Project’ provides an opportunity for Ugandans to discuss their future without Museveni. Every responsible Ugandan must become engaged in the discourse. Ugandans must not to look at the ‘Muhoozi Project’ through a narrow lens.

To that extent, the objective must be to strive to create a society that meets the basic needs of all Ugandans and to get rid of the NRM corrupt system that caters for only 1% of the super-rich, a system the ‘Muhoozi Project’ seeks to maintain.  END: Login to every Monday to read our top stories mid-week for our updates

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Dr Obote Odora is a Consultant in International Criminal Law & Policy

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