Politics and Government

Forecast: 'Uncle' Paul Kagame, the next President of East Africa

The sun is setting on the Old Man in Uganda. Mama Samia Suluhu in next door Tanzania is still learning the ropes, as is General Évariste Ndayishimye of Burundi. It doesn’t matter who wins Kenya’s two-horse race in August; neither of the frontrunners in the election can outmanoeuvre the more experienced PK.

DRC’s Felix Tshisekedi and South Sudan’s septuagenarian, Salva Kiir, have their hands full with domestic issues and cannot afford regional ambitions.

In Uganda, the rapid decay of the NRA from a hybrid regime, to a junta, and now to naked family rule will have numerous consequences, not least the reorganisation of the region’s power chessboard over the past two or so years.

Underneath Kenya’s glossy portrait as the region’s economic powerhouse and supposed exemplar of democracy is a thinly veiled case of family dynasties whose domination of that country’s politics has stifled its capacity for achieving its full potential.

What Gen. Kagame lacks in military or economic power, he more than makes up for with an effective intelligence community whose eyes and ears span the region. Moreover, the duplicitous West is evidently growing weary of their erstwhile darling and puppet, Yoweri Museveni, whose penchant for violence has become more counterproductive and is now a threat to regional stability.

The UPDF and all armed services have been stripped of the pretence that they once hid behind and are now either a praetorian guard for the First Family or outright mercenary outfits, available for foreign and local hit jobs (in the name of peacekeeping/peace support operations). The proliferation of small and light weapons, paramilitary and pro-NRA vigilante groups across the country—and the lawlessness with which the untouchable class behave—easily makes Uganda a net generator and exporter of violence.

In the circumstances, it is not farfetched to imagine that the Pentagon and its European allies (and China, perhaps) might begin cozying up to Kagame, in whom they see a steadier pair of hands that will keep a volatile region in line. After all, he has built and run a fairly organized, avant-garde and media-savvy autocracy for more than twenty years.

However, my glowing assessment of Uncle Paul’s prospects is not blind to the possibility of internal revolt, a coup d’état, or the indiscriminate scythe of the Grim Reaper; he is, after all, not immortal. Yet, as things stand, Kagame is in pole position to replace the region’s incumbent doyen, Gen. Yoweri Museveni, who, in a miscalculation of industrial proportions, has anointed his novice, maladjusted, and self-absorbed son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to continue the subjugation of my country’s peoples and their livelihoods.

I will deliberately limit my argument to the outlook of PK’s possible ascendance to the throne of the Great Lakes Region, but it should interest scholars, journalists, and intelligence analysts what this will mean for foreign policy, public services, labour/social mobility, civic participation in governance, and commerce, to name a few.

Thinking of Uganda, though, I wonder whether useful idiots like Balaam Barugahare, and the more educated hatchet men like Kiryowa Kiwanuka think beyond their stomachs, and consider the national/regional implications of their support for grotesque pursuits like the stillborn Muhoozi Project.

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