Why smooth presidential transition eludes Uganda

The Rtn Hon Margaret Thatcher (RIP) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK) in 1986 when President Museveni came in to power. Since then, the UK has had a change of Prime Ministers seven times, including the most recent change from Rtn Hon Boris Johnson to Rtn Hon Liz Truss.

And yes, during the 36 years that President Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) has been in power, the two major political parties in the UK, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, have had the opportunity to be in power and also in the main opposition.

Some might say that this is not important and that we should not compare Uganda with the UK. But I think it is important to do so, firstly, for UK’s smooth prime ministerial transitions exemplify the importance for a nation to have strong institutions that are not dependent on individuals. The way UK government business goes on smoothly as prime ministers come and go is as it should be; and what Uganda should aspire to achieve.

And, the manner in which the individuals who are given the privilege of being UK Prime Minister are made accountable is admirable. Yes, for example, how before the end of the current prime ministerial term of office the UK has booted out Rtn Hon Johnson for his misconduct – he was accused, investigated, evidence adduced, was found guilty, and was determined not fit to occupy the position of UK Prime Minister.

This is the level of checks and balances we should aspire to in Uganda, where the different arms of government hold those in office accountable, without fear or favour. Yes, it is hard to imagine it now for Uganda, but it is an ideal we should aspire to achieve.

It is refreshing, also, to note that of the eight UK Prime Ministers while President Museveni is in power, three are women, albeit all of the Conservative Party. Nevertheless, overall, it means that the UK has had the benefit of being led by persons with varied political ideologies as wells from different gender perspectives. I believe that diversity in leadership is of great benefit to a nation.  

Just in case, I would like to preempt diversionary commentary, and so I clearly state that I am not advocating that we sacrifice meritocracy for gender diversity, as Uganda has seemingly done currently at the top echelons of government leadership. What I am advocating for is for us to appreciate that we have good competent leaders among the different genders.

It would be great for Uganda to benefit from diversity in ideological stands and gender perspectives. In order to do so, however, we need smooth presidential transition; which transitions can only be achieved if we had strong institutions which espouse the ‘no-one-is-above-the-law’ ideology.

While I am not privy to the details of the Hon. Norbert Mao and President Museveni deal, I don’t think that Hon Mao’s ‘ladder-philosophy’ or ‘ladder-theory’ is the vehicle through which Uganda’s weakened public institutions will be strengthened. In this regard, the rhetoric of the Alliance for National Transformation sounds more appealing.

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