Mr John Patrick Amama Mbabazi is no longer Uganda’s Prime Minister. He did not leave on his own volition. President relieved him of his duties.
Last week, while appearing on NTV’s Fourth Estate talk show, I mentioned that in the jostling between President Museveni and (his then Premier) Mbabazi, the most important thing to look out for was what Museveni would do and not what Mbabazi was up to. What informed my assertion is the fact that though Mbabazi has been hyped as being very astute, most of what made him the man the public came to perceive as Museveni’s potential powerful successor was what the President bequeathed upon him over the years. Everything Mbabazi did was founded on Museveni’s magnanimity. If Museveni withdrew from the picture then Mbabazi’s dream would crumble.
When the late Zairean dictator Mobutu sacked his Premier Kengo Wa Dondo, the late Lwambo Lwenzo Makiadi a.k.a Franco with le T.P. O.K. Jazz composed the song (the tailor) Tailleur (Mokolo Tonga) in 1981. The song ridiculed Kengo who one time sent Franco to jail for singing ‘pornographic songs’. Franco rubbed it in, that the owner of the needle (Mobutu) had taken back his needle effectively rendering the tailor (Kengo) redundant!
Power in all autocracies shares this symbolism. Mbabazi, with Museveni’s appointments, had power and influence. He was a major broker in the game of transaction and patronage politics.
Museveni’s Uganda is at a stage where political following is determined by the financial and material benefits people expect or acquire from a benefactor. People will follow you, associate with you and allow you to patronise them if you can change their material wellbeing. If they sense that the money and influence has waned or is at risk of waning, they move on.
Mbabazi’s privileged positions in the middle of the government’s financial, diplomatic and security apparatus rendered him privy to important information and material resources, which he took aantage of to provide for the cause of his political mobilisation. That was his needle. Now that the needle is gone, not many will want to be seen near Mbabazi or take his phone call. They will look out for the next provider who will pull strings for them and get things going.
Some analysts claim that the sacking is in Mbabazi’s favour because he can now mobilise within the NRM where he is the Secretary General. This is laughable and a clear indication that many people do not understand the politics at play in African dictatorships. Here the President works his socks off to kill all institutions of power and governance and usurps all their powers. He is the ultimate decider on who gets employed, sacked, prosecuted, excused from the law, treated abroad. A local government may not receive money from the Treasury but Museveni will come with hundreds of millions in sacks and provide it to the youth to show that he has more power than the local government.
The institutions formed merely exist in name or are necessary to provide jobs for patronage. There is nothing like NRM as political party in its true sense and Museveni’s word is almost law in NRM. The people there are grateful to him for having put them in these positions and will fall over each other to please him.
Mbabazi is now isolated. In politics, however clever and good you are, you need people in positions of influence and numbers to aance your cause far and wide. If Mbabazi attempts to fathom his cause of mobilising to stand against Musevenihe may not be touched.
Museveni will use the security and financial apparatus to suppress and compromise Mbabazi’s support to isolate him. He will scatter them. Just watch this space.
Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues. email@example.com
SOURCE: Daily Monitor