OpED

DAVID MAFABI: Awaiting a president who tweets to annoy other countries

David Mafabi, a veteran journalist

MBALE —When Gen Muhoozi tweeted;

“It wouldn’t take us, my army and me, 2 weeks to capture Nairobi,” he wrote, referring to Kenya’s capital.

Many a Ugandan were awash with excitement but a number of us were quick to ask where does this General get the audacity to say this?

And on 6 October at 8.37 am Brig Gen Felix Kulaigye tweeted “A general does not threaten another country. The authority to declare war lies with the parliament and the president. A president can declare war if a country has been attacked and parliament can declare war in agreement with the president,”

But as if to cement the popular statement that goes “a guilty conscience needs no accuser” president Museveni apologised to Kenya over the tweets [his son Gen Muhoozi tweeted].

In his own words, “I ask our Kenyan brothers and sisters to forgive us for tweets sent by General Muhoozi, former Commander of Land Forces here, regarding the election matters in that great country. It is not correct for public officers, be they civilian or military, to comment or interfere in any way, in the internal affairs of brother countries,”

But moments later, President Museveni announced changes in the command of the UPDF sacking Mr Muhoozi but also rewarding him with a promotion to the position of a four-star General, the highest rank in the UPDF.

This response illustrates the challenge facing Uganda, it is chaos, where an aging ruler has evolved from reformer to tyrant- he leads a country where people are rewarded for committing crimes, a country where promotion is not based on merit, a country where selfish interests override reason,

Whatever is happening in Uganda in the political sphere is clear proof that absolute power does indeed corrupt. It is a vivid example of how some leaders hate their own people — out of fear of being ejected from the seat of power.

President Museveni explained that the promotion was meant to appreciate the many other positive contributions Gen Muhoozi has made despite acting negatively in recent days, ……..really!

It is unfortunate that to date Gen Muhoozi has not apologised himself and the Kenyans must be wondering why the general can’t come out to apologise for his mistakes but the father does for him, what does this mean to Kenyans?

Gen Muhoozi, while you may come across to this country as someone tough and an individual that refuses to back down no matter what, it’s not strength that you’re displaying, you’re showing how very weak you are on the inside.

You must accept that your tweets are diplomatic errors that have raised a lot of debate about whether you can succeed your father, as is widely believed.

And that your social media use has become a subject of debate given that the law bars serving army officers from engaging in politics even when your so-called supporters argue you have a right to freedom of speech like any Ugandan.

I would like you to note that folks across the world that are incapable of offering an apology just feel very psychologically threatened to them because an apology would make them feel intense shame, which they can’t handle it psychologically.

As a human being who is a Christian, I want to state clearly that you can cheat anybody and get away with it but you can’t get away from your conscience which is constantly following you up like a shadow.

Gen Muhoozi, the crime you committed which your father has apologised for will always haunt you till you make amends or repent and pray to God for forgiveness such that there is no need for any outsider accuser to accuse you of the sins committed by you.

Mr President Thanks for the apology but learn from this Bugisu proverb from my late Grandmother; No one drinks medicine on behalf of a sick person.

To Gen Muhoozi, I want you to learn that accepting responsibility for our actions is a sign of emotional maturity; it demonstrates self-awareness and a belief that we can change and learn to do better.

As one of the generals in this country stop thinking that you are superior to others and therefore are entitled to do what you want without bearing the consequences, often this is taken as an unconscious attempt to overcompensate for self-doubt, low self-esteem, or insecurity.

Where did Gen Muhoozi’s words come from; From Gen Muhoozi or from some force in his background? Was he the one speaking or was another mouth behind him and speaking through him? Was it his mouth speaking or his heart speaking?

Why are these questions being asked? Because sometimes and most times in the African tradition, the mouth can speak what the heart is not speaking.

Thank you so much President Museveni for clearing the air; many Kenyans and a section of Ugandans were wondering whether it was Gen Muhoozi who spoke or someone else but after the apology, they now understand who was speaking behind Gen Muhoozi’s voice.

It is sad that in Uganda, nobody seems to be condemning Gen Muhoozi for the tweets; the entire UPDF is quiet, the President although apologised and promoted the General and many Ugandans lined up in Bombo Army headquarters to appreciate his promotion and thank President Museveni for this promotion.

Today, it is as though Gen Muhoozi did not commit any crime by tweeting the way he tweeted; instead of mourning, we are celebrating, something so strange in the African tradition.

Ever wondered what it would be like to have a father who is great, who is known for doing very good things? As his child, you would wear his name with pride and you would want to relate with him at every moment.

As a family member, you’d feel the thrill of being related to him, there would be a residual glory that would extend for a long and you would feel good when someone asks, “Oh, are you related to that guy?”

I am not saying that Gen Muhoozi behaved like his father, NO but the Biblical wise old Solomon, who had quite the father himself, tells us that “the glory of children is their fathers” (Proverbs 17:6).

As you read these words, you should be able to picture children looking at their fathers with pride because of their accomplishments. Children bask in the residual glory of their fathers’ greatness.

I want to advise Ugandans to also get some lessons from this proverb; “Examine what is said, not who is speaking.” This quote could not be more appropriate in today’s age of side-taking and people vilification.

Ugandans who are still in doubt could also get some lessons from this local Bugisu proverb that “Imbizi Isaala Imbizi”, in line with another proverb from Nigeria with the same meaning; “A Frog will always produce a frog”

I want to state that when you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him and I want to say that it is bad to do evil, but worse to boast about it.

President Museveni who usually quotes the bible while giving speeches and whose wife is an ardent Christian should know this, In the Bible from the book of Deuteronomy 21:18-21 about a Rebellious Son says; “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Dear President I am not going to explain this but I know that Gen Muhoozi is not an innocent little child, who made a mistake by tweeting the way he tweeted; he is a mature adult, who is damaging people around us with his tweets.

He ought to start practicing self-awareness, coach his people, serve as a model and act as a model of integrity and hard work—when he talks the talk and let him walk the walk—people will admire his leadership and work to emulate his behavior.

I want to give you some advice my friend, the four-star general now some advice from Bugisu proverbs: “Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do,”

I know for sure that to many observers, Gen Muhoozi’s frequent tweets on political discussions are signals that he already fancies himself president-in-waiting but he needs to tame these tweets because he is entering a complicated playing field.

Take it or leave it, in Uganda today under the NRM government, we are living in a time where intelligent people are being silenced so those stupid people won’t be offended.

There are increasing talks of growing anti-Museveni fatigue and resentment in Uganda that could turn the tide against a possible father-to-son transition if Gen Muhoozi continued pursuing this course of tweeting.

Loosely speaking there are ways in which a father lays foundations for his son’s political beliefs; he may do this through indoctrination –both overt and covert as a model of imitation such that the son picks up the loyalties, beliefs, and the values of the old man.

I hope this is not what our dear president is doing to prepare his son for Uganda’s presidency because dynastic descendants perform worse than regular politicians because they inherit voters loyal to their family and face weaker performance incentives.

While you may come across to the world as someone tough and an individual that refuses to back down no matter what, it’s not strength that you’re displaying. You’re showing how very weak you are on the inside. Have you ever met anyone that could never admit their wrongdoing no matter what the circumstances?

Gen Muhoozi today speaks, with no small emotion, that he learned critical decision-making skills from his father. Many of his supporters say; He’s the real deal for Uganda.” Except for today, he must be extra careful and thinks the father would understand.

But many scholars like me think that tweeting is not helping the general’s presumed desire to occupy Uganda’s top office as he “lacks the wisdom, intelligence, and sophistication of the father”.

President Museveni’s apology on behalf of his son is just a signal of intent to support him against all odds to replace him as the president of Uganda however he forgets the fact that most Ugandans have not embraced him save for the few who have a parasitical relationship with him.

President Museveni should get lessons from this African proverb; “The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel the warmth”

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