From our Archives Manager, Dr. W.E. Kamirichika. 21 May 2038.
H.E the Vice President;
The Rt. Honourable Speaker of Parliament;
The Hon. Chief Justice;
The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister;
Honourable Members of Parliament;
Your Excellencies the Ambassadors and High Commissioners;
Distinguished Invited Guests;
All my countrymen and women, and friends
Greetings to you all. All things in this life come to an end including presidencies [applause]. In recent months, the state of our country has been tested yet again, in how to strengthen our democratic, electoral and governance institutions and how to move our country forward. Our country is at a critical historical junction (masanganzira) in its 56-years of post-independence period. Indeed, elections especially in areas such as Bugiri, Rukungiri, and Arua have culminated into increased discussions among some of our citizen about the direction and the democratic and governance status of this country we all love very dearly. To date, that discussion has continued unabated. The election of a citizen to represent a constituency or administer the presidency is an important facet of our evolving democracy. It involves making choices and channeling our deep thoughts and values into a candidate for parliament or executive office who is worthy of our trust. It ought to be a candidate worth a singular distinct expression of your wishes, hopes and aspirations. After considerable reflection and consultation, I must now inform you, as shapers and guardians of our democracy, that in the next few days and months, I will begin preparations to relinquish the office of the presidency of Uganda, retire from politics and provide space to those whom you will consider adequate and resourceful to administer the executive government of Uganda. If you still find me worthy of contributing as a private citizen in shaping your aspirations for the next candidate and the decades to come, accept my sincere pleasure and ready willingness. But my permanent address will be my country home in Rwakitura where I will rock on my chair, enjoy my ranch and milk, and most importantly, play with my grandkids.
I implore you, at this moment, to accept that I have arrived at this resolution with due regard to all the considerations that accompany my citizenship and love for this country and that in ceasing to offer myself as your trusted and resourceful leader, I am now influenced by relentless eagerness for a just and a democratic future of this country, which now, God forbid, may have been exposed to uncertainty on account of my impaired judgement, personal deficiencies, and the weaknesses that so easily entangle and accompany all of God’s children. Every fiber of my being now supports my conviction that the decision to move on to a life of a private citizen is the best step for the democratic future of our country, which my continued presence particularly arising from recent unfortunate outcomes of our country, now increasingly threaten, and possibly even endanger the democratic trajectory of our beloved country. When a government, in the estimation of the people, ceases to represent their aspirations, choices and values, it is the right of the people to protest peacefully, and engage in robust debates about how to establish a fresh government that is responsive to their aspirations and values. I agree. Uganda is greater than our personal ambitions, egos, political inclinations, ideological fervors and the occasional and misplaced zealousness of some of my NRM compatriots, and some bankrupt zealots of the opposition and a few undisciplined media houses such as the Monitor. I have fought for freedom in the last 48 years and defeated those that sought to reverse the match of self-determination and democracy in Uganda and Africa.
My fellow countrymen and women, my continuity in the office against the wishes of what now appear to be most Ugandans, and as means to please the wishes of some of my un-informed members of my party, kith and kin, would be an affront to all norms of civilized conduct, to which our country has hitherto upheld. I constantly wished that I had made this decision much earlier after the enactment of the new constitution in 1995, before the increasingly partisan and other complex challenges we face today. Nevertheless, there is never a wrong time in politics to step aside, only wrong motives to entrench oneself. You have entrusted me the presidency of Uganda since our victory in 1986 when we ousted dictatorship in Uganda for good. The strength of my disposition to resign the presidency occurred immediately after my broad consultation with my family, friends, select members of my party and the UPDF High Command. Upon the undivided counsel of these parties and persons entitled to my confidence, I was driven to my knees to ask God for forgiveness of my sins, for the pain and inconvenience I brought upon you, my country men and women.
In the Book of Matthew Chapter 5 Verse 7, it says: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” There is therefore a need to extend mercy among us, in love to each, as some of us engaged in acts which should not have been done and omitted what we should have done. This is what Paul in the Bible laments as the nature of this wretched body of sin. This is the true love of God. In the coming weeks, and months, perhaps even years, I and some NRM cadres will be reviled and maligned by sections of this country. I urge, you NRM cadres, in the spirit of brotherhood, to extend instead, love and forgiveness to those who could turn against their fellow citizen. Be still, therefore, patriots; false accusations are nothing. For we transcended the firing squads of Idi Amin, the extra-judicial killings, the imprisonments, the losing of comrades in battles, etc. You are not alone. The Ugandan constitution, international law and that of our own land will protect you and me equally, as it does all other Ugandans.
The burden on my conscience and the unease on my soul about the continued waste of taxpayer funds in the pursuit of a governance enterprise I now know deep in my heart and soul as a fraudulent adventure, adds to my reflection that I abandon the stubborn and selfish idea of retaining the presidency at all costs. Uganda is priceless. She has no costs except those that some of our obdurate and selfish compatriots sought that I bear on their behalf for their shortsighted ambitions and egos. My fellow citizen and friends, Iam here on earth for the short time our Almighty God allocated me, long before I came to politics. I must heed the whisper of my God-inspired conscience that our Uganda will survive you and me, long after God has called us to our eternal home. My conscience now tells me that this is the right time to abandon this ephemeral and earthly pursuit of trinkets that man falsely equates with glory, power and the trappings that come with it. This spirit and love for power, unfortunately, is at the core of human nature, grounded in the sturdiest lusts of the human mind and deepest crevices of the human heart. Jointly, as a united country, we now must reclaim, through new membership for the parliament and leadership for the presidency of Uganda, the stature of our country as God’s patch of peace, unity, prosperity and diversity here on planet earth.
You will recall that I began the pursuit of freedom when I was a young man, and pursuit of this office after the stolen elections of 1980 when 43 compatriots with twenty-seven rifles began a journey to return Uganda to a democratic path. Save for a few instances of bottlenecks, my party and I have continued this vision. That determination defined the social, political and economic development of this country under my leadership, and that sacrifice has introduced broad-based economic development that continues in full throttle in our country. I came to the leadership of Uganda with an iota of governance acumen, with much of it premised on our disciplined and revolutionary methods of work in the bush and pan-Africanist freedom struggles in Mozambique, Angola and South Africa. In fact, I did not know how to steer the state, nor did I fully understand the burden of the executive arm of the state. No entrant to the office of the presidency ever gets a manual for this highest office in the land. In the discharge of this trust these thirty-two years, especially in the last five months, I have only to say, to my eternal regret, that I have, with no prior malice and ill will, unwittingly contributed to increasing uncertainity in the way forward for our country. Iam mindful of my inferiority for this job and conscious of the troubling political outcomes of longevity in the presidency, and failed leadership in most of Africa. But my deep experience in pan-African struggles and the successful liberation of Uganda from shallow individuals, however, strengthens my resolve to relinquish the duties of this office to our next trusted citizen.
There are young and fresh men, bazukulu, and women in our democracy and military leadership that are able, waiting and willing to continue with this great responsibility of Ugandan stewardship. The weight of evidence from an increasing portion of our country, and my age—I am now 74 years– admonishes me more and more that I must vacate this office and the political scene. I do not agree and want to see, or regret, seeing Uganda become a failed state, adding to an ever-increasing pool and statistics of African countries committing constitutional suicides such as long reigns in power, justifying contested or rigged elections, and soiling the reputation of courts of law, which many now label as “constitucide.” I will not allow history to suggest that I allowed and sacrificed what I did to bring long-cherished and awaited peace and economic development we have enjoyed since the advent of NRM to power. When I came into office, Uganda’s GDP was a mere 3.9 billion USD Dollars. As I leave the presidency, 32 years later, the GDP is about 26 billion USD. Our bazukulu are economically happy and I pray that they become even better in the years to come and happier under an in-coming leadership in our trust.
Countrymen and women, in the political sphere as well, you must choose carefully and reflect intently about those who want to become leaders or those who seek to replace me. We should not entrust leadership to bankrupt elements. These are the elements that rationalized our war of liberation. These individuals engage in talk, mere talk. They are what I call bukamwa kamwa. They are idle charters. Un-informed, evil schemers. Museveni this. Museveni worse than Amin, Museveni life-Presidency. Agende. What are these people smoking? There is no talk about economic integration of Africa or move Uganda to middle-income status to guarantee our prosperity. You will never hear a word from these false prophets. No radio talk-show, no lecture in a lecture theatre, no sermon in a church supporting what is crucial for our survival as Africans. On the issue of political integration in Africa for our survival as a free People, not even a whisper. These bankrupt individuals masquerading as opposition are totally absent in this area. On the issue of our identity, I do not even know their stand on these issues. Especially those who say they are religious, they could do well to remember what Jesus taught us in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 5, Verse 5. It says: “Blessed are the humble for they shall inherit the earth”. Some of our religious people are so full of arrogance. They talk most authoritatively on all and everything even when they have not bothered to find out the truth. I call them Kayffas, the Chief Priest, that betrayed Jesus.
Countrymen and women, even as the moment of terminating my presidency and politics has come, the pain of my perceived governance deficiency nevertheless require that I announce my deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my party, the NRM, my family, kith and kin, and to many Ugandans for the many honors they conferred upon me in these thirty-two short years of my presidency. Amidst the acrimony of politics, elections and campaigns, I will remember some of you, my countrymen and women, who stood firm and displayed steadfast confidence in me as we traversed this great land of Uganda we are fortunate to have, with all of its God’s blessings. Prior to 1986, and in 1995 with the dawning of the new constitution, not many of our citizens knew that our constitution, which is the work of all our hands had to be sacredly maintained and that its administration in every aspect required the seal of wisdom and virtue. To my eternal regret for which I beseech your forgiveness, there were moments that challenged my duty in enforcing our constitution to the full, in upholding it, in respecting its authority, in complying with its laws, and submitting to its measures. Some Ugandans have argued, perhaps as a free duty of every citizen, that I abused the constitution through curtailing the freedom enshrined in it such as of free speech as in free media, in free assembly or protests, even though I considered processions illegal as they inconvenience people and facilitates criminal behavior among some members of the opposition. I did this to maintain the security and the integrity of the state.
On occasions, I admit, I failed in my solemn duty and in my primary responsibility to protect life and property. One example is worth remembering. We worked to systematically resolve the issue of cameras in the cities, towns and highways and improved forensic systems. That work will continue under my successor. We closed several gaps that saw criminals challenge old police methods, systems and sources. When NRM came into power, we found remnants of criminals at work, and our growing pains at governance mixed with some laxity crept in, with some elements in the army and police failing to do what they should have done. I took vigorous corrective measures to ensure that the Police Force is totally free of infiltration by criminals or any other un-patriotic elements. Using our military tribunals, we executed harsh punishment on undisciplined soldiers and service members. Many of our country men and women died needlessly because of these criminally-inclined individuals and service challenges. Some will say, I undermined the presidential oath when I failed to protect life and property. Posterity will be a better judge. In some cases, some in my party influenced the selfish enforcement of law and order for unconscionable ends for our party and country. We court-martialed some of them and in certain cases used civilian courts to respect the judicial systems. I will not judge the rest of my countrymen and women except that history will decide if the expediencies of the office of the presidency or my ill-fated ambition to correct Uganda required I do so.
Some still maintain that my party’s political longevity, and that even I, began an enterprise to alienate some portions of our country from the rest, and that I may even have enfeebled the sacred ties that have linked and bound us together against sectarianism, and neo-colonialism. I respectfully disagree because of our correct NRM ideology. NRM unlike past bankrupt regimes has always been an outfit of people of one common cause and vision. We fought and triumphed together for our independence from those who sought to dominate, if not to enslave us. Imagine, just imagine, by 1900, the whole of Africa had been colonized except for Ethiopia, the only African country to defeat the invaders completely, at least for some time. This was a vote of no confidence in the traditional leadership of Africa – kings, chiefs, clan leaders, magicians etc. Other Peoples that were colonized never survived colonialism. They were exterminated – the Red Indians, the Aztecs, the Incas, the Caribes, the Aborigines of Australia etc. The Africans, since they do not easily die, survived the horrors of colonialism. By that time our elders, the ANC founded in 1912, had several strategic goals, some of which were: to regain independence; and to attain democracy for the first time since there was no democracy under the chiefs or under colonialism. So, you can see that together we have survived common dangers, sorrows, and successes. We welcomed and fought good fights. In Uganda, in my life time, we have defeated and crushed non-patriotic leaders who carelessly aided and abetted crime for cheap popularity reasons as we saw in Arua, Rukungiri, Mbale, Kasese and so on.
It is like when we fought UA, UNLA, Kony, Lakwena, ADF or the Karimojong cattle-rustlers. We crushed them all. Therefore, some challenges we overcame. Many still remain. Most will need courage and principled vision such as mine. May my few failures be continuing lessons for my successor to do better. Even the emerging structural economic problems that could beset Uganda will find a willing opponent in the individual who, as matter of urgency, will and must now succeed me.
Because of ideological reasons, some in my party as well as non-patriotic self-seeking obscurantists blocked the proper execution of our programs, laws, aided in no small measure by a few whose real intent, I must now admit, was to direct, control, counteract regular deliberation and the action of the constituted authorities of our country. These individuals failed and stained our party, and indeed, it became increasingly clear to you, countrymen and women, that, some in my party collectively failed to confine themselves within the rails of our respective constitutional spheres. This was destructive to my party, our country, and to all fundamental principles of civilized conduct, good governance and the rule of law which I have held for more than four decades. During my leadership and now my ending presidency, especially during and between elections, some individuals who had infiltrated our party because of our inclusive and broad-based ideology sought and became potent centers of cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men. They, in hindsight, subverted the voice, power and aspirations of Ugandans, and indeed the direction of our country. In so doing, they usurped for themselves the reins of my party and government. They inappropriately distributed power and maladjusted our constitution to serve their ends. But we killed some of them as in Kasese or Rukungiri. We jailed some. In fact, some are still in jail despite their earlier status in our executive or as comrades in our past wars. A few fled to exile in fear of prosecution for their crimes here.
Another issue: so much has been talked about corruption, and so let me touch on the issue of corruption very briefly. Corruption is not unique to Uganda. Yes, amidst us are people perceived to be corrupt. Very corrupt people. The law handled them and acted accordingly. It is not the place of my successor to seek to know how some people became overnight dollar millionaires. They worked hard. They based their wealth on my slogans of “Kulembeka”, “Aigaakipi”, “Jolo-pii”, “yii okuza”. I also used the terms “ekibaro”, “cura”, “otita”. I suppose some engaged in criminal or dishonest means. It is my humble submission that the laws of this country will seek justice not vengeance for all, including those who were my opponents. In their quest for justice, I pray that the courts of law will be true to our laws and our constitution. Even as I now step aside, I plead with Ugandans to avoid revenge, political which-hunt and acts of planned lawlessness.
In reviewing the moments, episodes, incidents and chapters of my presidency, I am not immediately aware that, I committed intentional errors or purposed any pain, to you my countrymen and women. Whatever my party did under my direction or through the faults of my ineptitude, or through lapse of judgement, I implore that, my fellow citizen, you may find haste in forgiving me. I now depart from the political scene knowing that the cloud of what some call my administrations’ illegitimacy will lift and the winds of history will carry it to posterity, where from I will find fair and impartial judges, and the faults of my ineptness will be committed to extinction, as myself, like you my country men and women, must in due course meet our Creator.
As NRM party and NRM organization, we have stayed true to the strategic goals of Africa: independence, democracy, economic integration for prosperity, political integration for strategic security and preserving our identity as Africans. As NRM, we have re-built Uganda and strong organs of the state. My time in office has laid a foundation for these strategic goals and real democracy, patriotism, pan-Africanism and social-economic transformation. Let us all remain in constant prayer to ensure that my successor will find the blessings of the almighty God to guide our country. The Almighty God has guided this great republic for decades. He will guide us still. Our wonderful country is beginning yet another phase of its life under new and fresh leadership. We once again pray at the dawning of a fresh nation and the coming forth of a sober leadership that will enrich us all.
The time for the old man with the hat to depart politics has finally come. Thank you all.
Bye bye. Kwaheri. May God bless you. For God and My Country.
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni