30+ Years of President Museveni – Part 1: “Man With The Key Has Gone”

On 9th October 2019, Uganda commemorated 57 years of independence from Great Britain, of which over 30 of those years have been under the rule of President Museveni who took power in 1986. However, reflecting on the past thirty years or so a significant section of Uganda’s population are of the view that things are getting worse.

Let me explain.  Recently, through Quora, I learnt it is feasible that among the reasons why the Titanic hit an iceberg is “the lookout crew did not have binoculars because they (the binoculars) were locked in a cabinet. The key to the cabinet was left in Southampton.” This reminded me of Dr. Ian Clarke’s book about my beloved country Uganda and titled: “The man with the key has gone.”

The book is set in the 1980s and I am among whom Clarke described as those “who had lived in Uganda, (who) immediately knew what I was talking about. At that time, there appeared to be only one key for any store or office in Uganda and if that man with the key had gone, there was no way to get in, no matter who you were, or how much fuss you made.”

On a social media platform of a group whose members are people who like to read books, I asked the question: “What is your experience, have things changed for the better in Uganda or is it the case that often the “man with the key has gone”?

Firstly, my fellow Ugandans let me know that they too were of the opinion that Clarke’s book is “a fantastic book indeed (and) a good study of service delivery in the 80s.”

Secondly, 45 members of the group responded to this single question poll. The majority of respondents, 95 percent voted that things have gotten worse (82 percent) or stayed the same (13 percent).  Only one person voted that things had gotten better. The remaining one respondent voted that they were uncertain.

This is a strong indictment, indeed, of President Museveni’s reign, he who is currently the longest serving post-independence President of Uganda.

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