Debate Escalates: Who is Museveni Serving?

President Yoweri Museveni visited a rural family in Luweero last year.

President Yoweri Museveni capped his speech at the 31st NRM anniversary yesterday, clinic with a statement that got the country bolted from the blue.

His emphatic remark that he doesn’t consider himself a servant of Ugandans because he isn’t hired by them, capsule through yesterday evening had a number of critics and leaders in opposition feeling vindicated while those on the government side jumped to the defensive.

While speaking at the Liberation Day celebrations held in Masindi District, Museveni said, “I am not an employee. I hear some people saying that I am their servant; I am not a servant of anybody.

 “I am a freedom fighter; that is why I do what I do; not because I am your servant. I am just fighting for myself…for my beliefs.”

President Museveni’s remarks were seemingly directed at Col Dr Kizza Besigye, the former FDC presidential candidate, who in his “Defiance Campaign” rallies Ugandans to cease treating people in leadership positions as masters, but rather as servants. The citizens, Besigye says, are the Masters of their leaders.

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Museveni’s remarks yesterday were received with a mixed feeling of vindication and disappointment mainly from the opposition.

Forum for Democratic Change President, Maj. Gen Mugisha Muntu told The Frontline Show last night on NBS, he wasn’t surprised and that to an extent he was in agreement with Museveni.

“I agree with him in one respect that he is fighting for himself and for his beliefs as he has stated,” said Muntu. “He is not fighting for our beliefs or our objectives.”

Muntu noted that the President has diverted from the beliefs that he and his comrades fought for in the 1980s liberation war.

The opposition leader however disagrees that Museveni is actually a freedom fighter, and so does Norbert Mao, another leader of the opposition Democratic Party, who argues that Museveni is no longer a freedom fighter since he is already in power.

Mr Mao said during the show, that a statement that a country’s president is not a servant of the people could only have been uttered by “a person drunk on power.”

“Museveni took an oath to defend the constitution whose first article states that; power belongs to the people.  Also Article 98 provides that the president must work for our welfare and our security,” said Mao.

“Mr President you are our servant; whether you don’t believe it, but as long as you take that oath; that’s our relationship with you.”

But for a person like Gen Kahinda Otafiire, who fought side by side with President Museveni in the war that ushered in the NRM government, stating that he is not a servant is not far-fetched nor is it controversial.

Otafiire, who is also Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, says Museveni is, as he states a freedom fighter, even after 31 years since he left the bush to occupy State House.

Not even the democracy and multiparty politics in the country today can change that, the minister says.

“Multi-party elections don’t erase our legacy and tradition of freedom fighting,” he said.

On whether or not President Museveni is pursuing his beliefs and not those of Ugandans, Otafiire says that is not strange since as a leader, the president has followers and supporters, and that these supporters share the same beliefs as him.

After all, he says, there is a host of former colleagues who, when they stopped sharing the same beliefs as the president, jumped ship and joined other political parties.


The government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo while appearing on the same TV show, said the President’s statement seemed to have been given a “mechanic” interpretation, or quoted out of context.

In the natural sense, Opondo said President Museveni cannot be a servant since no one hired him to do what he is doing.

“A servant is a person hired by a master to do their job for pay. The president is correct that nobody hired him to go to the bush, or to be the presidential candidate of NRM. He offers himself.”

“The President must fight for himself because he is a human being and a citizen of this country. He must fight for his space,” added Opondo.

This being the second time the president has reiterated that he is serving his own interests, (he first said so in a TV interview with a Kenyan Media house) numerous other Ugandans yesterday took to social media to express their disappointment.

Wafula Oguttu, the former FDC party spokesperson and Parliament’s Leader of Opposition noted in a post, “If I ever became President of Uganda, I would wish to be a servant leader of the people of Uganda. That Museveni philosophy of controlling and using our taxes but refusing to be our public servant is highly dangerous.”


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