By Norbert Mao
Let me state at the beginning what my central thesis – the essence of my struggle – is. I believe that today Uganda is on the brink of a precipice due to the greed, incompetence and corruption of President Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement. The only solution to this quagmire is a new beginning championed by a new leadership. This is the elephant in the room. The rest is simply noise. Tips of the iceberg. Now we have another tip of the iceberg in the UTL saga.
The lone champion of the public interest now seems to be the controversial figure of Evelyn Anite – Minister of State for Finance in charge of Investments. On the other side is the cabal of economic buccaneers. Anite seeped her way into the national consciousness as an ultra-Musevenist – key promoter of Museveni’s eternal presidency.
During a Kyankwanzi retreat for NRM Members of Parliament, alongside other Museveni diehards she drafted a motion declaring Museveni the sole candidate for NRM in the 2016 elections. The motion begged Museveni to continue being the flag bearer for the NRM.
Anite’s motion created an irreversible wave which drowned Amama Mbabazi’s attempt to reform the NRM from within. The likes of Anite became the rock on which Mbabazi’s voyage as an NRM insider ended with a shipwreck. It thwarted his prospects of nomination as the NRM presidential flag bearer. People held their breath as they considered whether Mbabazi would sign or not. Eventually Mbabazi had no choice but to sign and endorse the sole candidature of Museveni. He was No. 202 on the list. The tumultuous internal debate that followed convinced him that his part in the Museveni story had come to an end.
Anite was used as the final nail in the coffin of the historicals who saw themselves as co-creators of the NRM. It was a turning point. Museveni surrounded himself with young people with no authority to challenge his viewpoint. Those erstwhile viewed as regime anchors became increasingly marginalized. Their only hope of retaining favour was to be quiet or at best vague.
These young people displaced the old guards when they spearheaded the move to lift the constitutional age limit. As a reward, Museveni christened them the “New Historicals”. There is even a parliamentary WhatsApp group known as “the 317 New Historicals” – a reference to the 317 MPs who voted for “touching” the last roadblock to a Museveni life presidency!
Anite was the poster child for the age limit removal. She notoriously alluded to the NRM’s control of the army should opponents of the amendment become too militant. When she reported for studies at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, a hostile crew of Ugandan protesters from the Boston area greeted her with banners denouncing as a promoter of tyranny and corruption.
All this is now fading as she stands up to wheeler dealers bent on grabbing UTL, stripping it of its key assets including prime land countrywide, the undersea cable in the Indian Ocean, buildings, masts and multimillion dollar high tech equipment. Anite wants the company rescued through a strategic partnership with a core investor ready to inject cash into the company. The so called mafia want the company declared dead and buried alive! Anite opposed one of the quack investors fronted by some people with connections. She insisted that the company be offered UTL shares provided they put 10% of their offer on the table within a month and the balance within three months. They failed and got wrong footed by Anite.
She has now moved to have the powerful interim Administrator of the troubled company fired. This matter is in the hands of the Attorney General. Given the array of actors and interests in what is now a familiar script, the question is whether Museveni will side with Anite and the people of Uganda or the vested interests. Either way, Anite is busy reinventing herself. Her narrative has become the dominant narrative in the UTL saga and the other side has egg all over their faces.