22nd September 2005
Museveni a backstabber

SAM KALEGA NJUBA, 64, was minister for Constitutional Affairs between 1986 and 1994. He tells EDRIS KIGGUNDU his recollection of the Museveni he knows:-

First meeting with Museveni

I first met President Museveni in Dar-es-Salaam [university] around 1967-1968. We never interacted much. He was very much involved in political activities. I was very much concerned with my degree because I was in my final year.

We met again in strange circumstances when Paulo Muwanga arrested me in 1980 at Makindye [military barracks] and in an effort to get me released one of the people my wife [Gertrude Njuba] contacted was Museveni. He was then deputy to [Paulo] Muwanga [on the Military Commission].
I had to go and thank him for assisting me. I found he had started UPM [Uganda Patriotic Movement] and I joined him.

Sam Njuba fact file

Born: Febraury 22, 1941
Home area: Gayaza, Wakiso
Education Career: Gayaza Boys Primary School, Wampewo Primary School, Makerere College School, Government Secondary School, Mbale,
Dar Es Salaam University (LLB) and Queens University, Belfast, N. Ireland (LLM)

Political career
Secretary NRM/A External Committee (1984-1986), Minister of State for Constitutional Affairs (1986-1994), NRC member (1989-1994), CA Member Kyadondo East (1994-1995), MP Kyadondo East (1996-2001); Chairman, Elect Kizza Besigye Task Force (2001), Executive Coordinator FDC (2004 to date)

Professional career
Lecturer, Makerere University (1969-1972), Chief Magistrate Buganda Road Court (1972), President Uganda Law Society (1978-1979), Advocate, Njuba & Company Advocates (1994 to date).

When I left prison in 1980, Museveni persuaded me to join politics. He told me if I did not join politics, there would always be suspicion that I was doing underground work. So I decided to come out and be politically active.
I had looked at UPC and its historical record was bad. Obote had abrogated the constitution [in 1966].

DP was docile… I am sorry to say. They thought everything could be done by the grace of God. So I wanted to find a new party.
Museveni gave me the impression that he was brave and I thought he was determined to put right what had gone wrong. He was not sectarian [and] tribalistic.

After 1986…

As minister [for Constitutional Affairs] I did interact with him closely. I remember when I was setting up the Constitution Commission [a.k.a Odoki Commission], each time I would select someone he would appoint him or her a minister or something else. He wanted to know each and every detail in the department.

Secondly, he was a sadist. For instance, whenever a minister would fight a fellow minister, he would enjoy that. He would not act.

Museveni in cabinet

Museveni used to chair Cabinet meetings regularly but in his absence, the prime minister [then Dr. Samson Kisekka] would sit in. I think Museveni is very funny. You must learn him to enjoy him. At one stage, he used to be very blunt. He would call you and say so and so said something about you. Then as time went on, he became reserved. He would get a report and keep quiet.
Then some ministers were of the view that they should tell Museveni only what he wants to hear. He learnt of this and he became stubbornly negative. In other words, people got to know what he wanted and they would keep that line.

I opposed him

I opposed him [in cabinet] on the issue of commissioners co-owning cars. [When opposed], he would find a way of subduing you. He did not want to be opposed particularly when there are other people around.

His weaknesses

He would get information about you [behind your] back. At first, he was very honest. I remember when he had just come to power, the World Food Programme was trying to bring in powdered milk, tinned fish and things of that kind and he said why don’t you give us drugs for animals? We would be able to sustain ourselves. Until recently, I did not believe he was corrupt.
He is [also] a backstabber. He gave us the impression that he meant well… that people would be given freedom to choose and do what they want as long as it is in the law.

One time in the early days of Museveni, soldiers fired bullets so much in the air. The incident was in Kampala. So I went and asked a few soldiers the cause of the riot. They said they are not happy with the way they eat, the way they dress. I went and told Museveni that these young men are not happy about the way they are treated.

He asked me which people? I told him they are many. So he insisted and I told him a name of someone X who had cleared me to tell the president his name. Then the person X who was assistant [District Administrator] was dropped to katebe (sidelined) and I heard that he later died.

Another time is when [Andrew] Kayiira died. I called State House and I was told he [Museveni] was having a bath. They told me to call after ten minutes. I called him again; they said he had gone to Kanungu.
Earlier, we had been at the Conference Centre and Kayiira had been acquitted of treason.

Museveni stood up and said: “Although he has been acquitted, I know he is guilty. He wanted to overthrow me.” I had to tell him after we finished that the courts have decided; if you say that, then it will show that you have no confidence in the judiciary. I naturally do not like driving a point too hard.

According to the law, I was supposed to receive the draft constitution and recommendations. The commissioners went behind my back…I think with his encouragement and took it [1995 draft constitution] to Mbarara where he was. I was told to go to Mbarara. But when he received it, he passed it to me.
I knew he was getting a lot of information about me from the commissioners. I am glad I did not go to prison because there were some allegations against me.

I did not agree with Museveni calling the commissioners for briefing even after he had made a submission [to the commission].
Looking back, I discover that he had a programme, a set agenda that he is now following. People say he is surrounded by people who advise him poorly. But I am beginning to doubt this. He sent away all those people who had the capacity to advise him and he has surrounded himself with weaklings, people he can use to do his business.

Moments with Museveni

One day I asked him to bring water to my area (Kyadondo East) and he agreed. I followed it up, and it was implemented. But I did not believe Museveni or the president was the source of all goodies. I knew the line ministers and if I wanted anything, I would go to them and say I want this and this.

But I know colleagues he would embarrass. He would go to a function and when people ask him about something, he would call the minister to explain yet the minister had already told him what the problem is.

Fall out

[My fall out with Museveni] was a gradual process. First, I [don’t] know why I was appointed minister of Constitutional Affairs. I think he did this principally to make me unpopular. Coming from a region which was very much interested in the constitution and was making some demands, if I was anti-federo (federalism), he knew this would make me unpopular [among the Baganda] and if I was for federo then I would be unpopular with him.

I decided that I would remain very neutral and ask the people of Uganda what they want. I set up the commission; I wrote a paper, which was gladly accepted by government. To make me minister of Constitutional Affairs was a challenge. I could have refused [the appointment] but I think…I did not have the opportunity to say no because I was even told by someone that he had heard my name over the radio.

For example, there were certain commissioners who told him bad things about me. [Foster] Byarugaba told him that I was against his idea of decentralisation. He thought rightly or wrongly that I was more on the Baganda side.

My sacking…

[Being dropped from cabinet] did not take me by surprise. I was expecting it. You see unless you are an idiot, which I am not… I have also got my intelligence. I know we were not particularly friends from the start. I knew I was outliving my usefulness to him.
When I left government, I knew we were heading for problems.

Museveni’s agenda

With [due] respect, I think he has exhausted his programmes. He is a prisoner…you see I have a theory I am trying to develop. You come with a very good agenda. You put that agenda to your relatives, friends…to your immediate family. They think you are giving them that opportunity to serve their kin, to enrich themselves. So they do that and give you a bad name. But because they are your relatives and friends, you cannot immediately discipline them, so it continues. Because you can no longer discipline them, you become a prisoner of your people. And it is too late now. You become corrupt because you have to stay.

Secondly, it did not take Europe five or ten years to become industrialised. It took ages. What Museveni is telling you is that he will stay on and on and until…I don’t know. God will decide. Unless a miracle happens, we are heading for very bad times.

Museveni vs past leaders

You cannot compare the opportunities they were given and the opportunities he has been given. The man had goodwill. It is as if the others were prisoners. Can you compare me [in a race] - with my legs and hands tied - to [Dorcus] Inzikuru? The comparison is not necessary. He has been in government for twenty years and you think you will compare him with others? To compare him with Idi Amin is an insult. He had more facilities than Idi Amin had.
About army MPs

It was not a good idea but again you must remember the nature of the Movement. This country was built on the blood of the people. They should have stopped at the CA [Constituent Assembly]. From the CA the soldiers would have gone back to the barracks. They would have become professional soldiers.
We cannot continue with army representation in the multiparty system.

About districts…

We have more districts than counties. This has brought in a lot of tribalism. We have never fought to make tribalism thrive as we have done this time. Every little corner is a district based on tribal sentiments and this is the most disservice Museveni has done to this country.


I want to be remembered as an advocate and gentleman who put off his professional amour to liberate this country and once this was done he returned to his profession.