Not only Loch Ness has its own particular monster. The vast and deeper inland seas of Africa also host ghosts from the Cretaceous, called mokèle-mbembé, terrifying beings capable of devouring elephants, according to popular belief. But there is more. Some of these prehistoric beasts have abandoned their hiding places, colonized the land, and seized power. The evidence is irrefutable. Equatorial Guinean President Teodoro Obiang has been in the chair for 41 years, his Cameroonian colleague Paul Biya, 38 and Yoweri Museveni has reached 36 under the command of the Ugandan executive. The dinosaurs of the black continent are born, grow, reproduce and enrich, and are perpetuated in power. Failure or resignation is not an option. There are too many accumulated grievances and desires for revenge. Rather die than give up command. The elections held last week in the latter country exemplify the unwavering will to remain.
Tyrants are made. Uganda looks like fertile territory for political excess. Just four years after the proclamation of his independence, President Milton Obote launched a self-coup to prevent Parliament from investigating his corrupt and repressive management that caused tens of thousands of victims. Now the horror, in absolute terms, came in 1971, when Idi Amin Dada took control. Over a decade, this psychopath killed half a million people, for belonging to the Acholi or Lango ethnic groups, practicing as lawyers, being foreigners, journalists, artists, intellectuals or any other strange reason.
Former school teacher Yoweri Museveni participated in the removal of the tyrant with his militia, the Mozambique-backed National Liberation Front. The end of the dictator did not bring democracy, but dispute between the different caudillos and, after another coup, Museveni seized the executive. The leader imposed another way of doing things, less brutal and more conciliatory with the West.
The former guerrilla has become a man with a good-natured expression, always sheltered under his wide-brimmed white hat. Under his gaze, the country located in the heart of Africa has opened up to the world and adopted a liberal economic policy that attracts the pleasure of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Investments in infrastructure with the support of the United States and Great Britain even created an illusion of development. The looting of the natural resources of neighboring Congo has also contributed to that mirage and to the enrichment of an elite.
Museveni’s political strategy has been more sibylline than that of his predecessors and responds to the new political forms of the continent. Its control is absolute, but since 2006 there has been a purely nominal multiparty democracy. It is voted, yes, but the result cannot alter the imposed order. The president also discourages voices that criticize him. Kizze Besigye, the leader of the opposition, has been detained, tortured and tried by a military court. He resigned from running in last week’s elections after repeated defeats and physical beatings. He is a doctor and has been able to verify that the political initiative seriously threatens health.
Museveni has amended the Constitution to allow his re-election. He has eliminated the term limitation and the age limitation (75 years), imposed until now on applicants, since he has just exceeded it. In addition to these tricks, no one doubts that it has numerous popular support among a middle class that has grown in recent decades and in the countryside, where patronage and the memory of worse times abound. His ultra-conservative thinking also wins him the favor of wide sectors of the population, traditional in his faith and beliefs.. A fundamentalist Christian, he allied himself with the evangelical sect La Familia and criminalized the homosexual minority, considered alien, according to his radical thinking, to the African spirit.
Dictators don’t change, but their peoples do. The irruption of Bobi Wine on the stage prior to last week’s elections has significantly altered the status quo. The leader’s rival, 38, is an extremely popular Afrobeat singer in a country of 44 million people, half of whom are under 15 years old, and where pop idols are much more admired than politicians. senile. Born in a ‘slum’ or suburb of the capital Kampala, the new candidate had breathed some hope, especially in the younger and urban generations.
34% of the votes
The usual methods were not enough to dissuade Wine from showing up. Of course, he was arrested and tried, handed over to the military, and pressured in every possible way. The Uganda Communications Commission even suspended 13 radio and television stations that reported the arbitrary detention of the composer and performer. The opposition rallies were dissolved by the Army, claiming that they did not respect the safety distance in times of pandemic. Everything has been in vain, even the shots at his fiery supporters that have caused dozens of deaths.
In the end, with a 52% turnout in an election suspected of rigging, Bobi Wine obtained 34% of the votes to 58.64% for Yoweri Museveni. Yes, with armored vehicles on the streets and internet connections cut off to prevent the spread of hoaxes or mobilizations against the government.
Museveni defends his identity as ‘mokèle-mbembé’ and protects his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba, lieutenant general and probable dolphin. Any other alternative seems catastrophic for an elite linked to the regime, which has fed on the public budget, Congolese gold smuggling, tourism and foreign investment in commercial agriculture and mining. In Uganda there is not much scope for the inclusion of new rhythms. There, for thirty years, the same music has been playing.