“This is not a mere change of guards; I think this is a fundamental change in the politics of our government.” To a country that had seen decades of political instability and turmoil at the hands of political leadership, these words may have seemed like a mere fantasy. However, 36 years later, Uganda has only seen a phase of peace, stability and continuous economic progress under the rule of one man.

 Yoweri Kaguta Museveni became President of the Republic of Uganda on January 29th, 1986, after leading a successful five-year liberation struggle.

He has since grown to be one of the most revered and respected world leaders both on the African continent and worldwide. This may be attributed to his pragmatic ways of handling state issues, good relations with other countries, experience and extensive knowledge on an array of issues.

Also, being a skilled orator, his sense of humor on several occasions appeals to the people and often times, his dramatic speeches awe his listeners. 

Recently, he was picked to oversee the political confederation process in the East African region after handing over Chairmanship of the East African Community of which he headed since May 2017. The decision was taken by East African leaders while meeting in Arusha, Tanzania for the 20th Heads of State summit of the EAC on 1st Feb 2019. A joint communiqué issued after the summit states that President Museveni was charged with providing political guidance to the exercise.

This decision by the East African Community portrays a level of respect Museveni’s fellow leaders have for him in regard to political leadership and governance.

Moreso, President Museveni was recently ranked among the best presidents in the world, in terms of influencing economic growth. This was according to New York University and World Bank experts who ranked the President 12th among the 24 leaders ranked.

He has a unique understanding of the economy which enables him to easily find solutions to economic challenges in the country despite issues such as corruption which weigh heavily on the economy. 

In highlighting Museveni’s contribution, the report states that infrastructural development is at its peak now with 5,350km total of paved roads compared to 987km of 1986. 

The report further highlights the employment sector with unemployment rate dropping from 11% to 8% and access to electricity grid significantly increasing to 22% in 2017 from 14% in 2013.

Museveni inherited an economy that had totally collapsed due to the political instability and turmoil that had engulfed the nation at the time. He, however, employed support from the international community in order to revitalise it. He initiated economic policies designed to combat key problems such as hyperinflation and the balance of payments. 

This has been achieved through several programs including grassroots-based programmes in health, safe water provision and mass education among others.

Under his leadership the NRA (now renamed the Uganda People’s Defence Forces) had sophisticated organisational principles including discipline for managing both soldiers and civilians, which enabled them to handle the turbulent times they were operating in at the time. 

It is on this that Museveni and his comrades-in-arms built a force that would turn around the history of Uganda when it came to power.

The NRA, which he commanded, is unique in Africa for being the only guerrilla force to take overpower without much external support and a rear base in a neighbouring country. 

As part of his election manifesto in 2001, President Museveni and Commander in Chief of the Forces promised to professionalize the UPDF, a decision originally birthed in 1996. 

The main objective was to build an effective, efficient, accountable and professional national defence force. Since its inception, the army has moved from being merely a rag tag force to a highly professional and disciplined army.

As part of professionalization, the army has taken lead in several developmental projects with many stemming from their commercial arm known as the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC). Through NEC, the UPDF has been able to engage in several projects for the good of the country through their different subsidiaries. Such major projects include the Bulambuli Ressettlement Project, NAADS programme and Operation Wealth creation among others. 

The army now also has a co-operative society established in 2015 where members can access funds to engage in productive activities to improve their welfare.

However, on the other hand, Museveni’s regime has come under scrutiny from some quarters for allegedly overstaying his welcome. This issue in most instances has been re-echoed by the opposition parties in Uganda and political rivals such as FDC’s Kiiza Besigye and NUP’s Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine. 

This however has instead put a spotlight to his person as the critiquing has made him more popular among the people.  

Despite these concerns raised consistently, the National Resistance Movement Members of Parliament endorsed a resolution to have President Museveni as their sole candidate for the 2021 presidential polls which saw his re-election.

The President responds, “Some people think that being in government for a long time is a bad thing. But the more you stay, the more you learn.  I am now an expert in governance.”  

Generally, Museveni’s work as president is seen as having helped bring stability to the country after what seemed like an eternity of war, suffering and instability, a legacy that can hardly be forgotten.

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