Barya: Uganda Needs Orderly Political Transition

By Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba

The majority of Ugandans, health salve I inclusive, order belong to the post independence era. I was born seven years after independence. As a young curious boy, I witnessed Idi Amin’s rule and the failed political transition following the 1979 liberation war.

I also recall the start of the war that followed the contested elections of 1980, which later delivered our incumbent president into power in 1986.

Since then, I have been able to participate in the elections of 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011. For all these elections, the outcome has been the same leader. Museveni has been in power for twenty nine years. For many young people, he is the only president they ever knew.

While the majority of Ugandans have been quite comfortable with the status quo, the issue of succession and orderly political transition is increasingly becoming a worry amongst Ugandans in power and the common man. Most big organizations always have succession plans.

In governance, we equally need succession plans. The difference is that with governance, succession plans must be transparent and when it comes to high profile offices like the presidency, such plans should give the electorate a wide variety of choice.

In countries like Uganda where leadership is not hereditary there is need to put in place institutional structures that can enable succession. Looking at the United States of America (USA) as an example, we can appreciate that in USA serving as either Governor of a State or Senator in the Federal Senate prepares one to serve as President of USA. The Presidential Candidates of

The Democratic Party and the Republican Party are normally Governors and/or Senators. The best performing governors and senators interested in the Presidency usually win the presidential party nomination. So in this case past performance is critical in coming up with tested leaders.


Within East Africa, the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides for Governors of Counties and Senators of the upper house of Parliament of Kenya, known as the Senate. With these in place, Kenya will have good grooming grounds for its future Presidents.

In Universities world over, most Vice Chancellors/University Presidents once served as Deans of Colleges/Schools/Faculties. So these Colleges/Schools/Faculties are actually breeding grounds for future Vice Chancellors/University Presidents.

Likewise, any organisation or state must always plan for orderly succession. In the case of Uganda, we don’t have clear institutions that can prepare potential candidates for the Presidency.

Even within the political party hierarchy we don’t have persons being groomed to compete for party leadership positions. Uganda as a country needs to focus on orderly succession as the country can easily sink with bad leadership as has happened in other developing countries that never planned for succession.

The districts of Uganda are too small and too many to act as grooming grounds for the Presidency. Again Uganda’s Cabinet Ministers would have been potential Presidential Candidates if the Ministers were empowered to serve as the Executive Heads of the Ministries with both administrative and accounting powers.

Just like Kenya has come up with counties, Uganda needs to seriously consider adopting a federal system type of government with 5 regional governments i.e. Central Region, Eastern Region, Northern Region, Western Region and Southern Region headed by Governors. Governors would enrich the pool of potential presidential candidates. There is also need to introduce an upper House of Parliament, the Senate that would comprise of senior and experienced politicians. Again Senate can serve as grooming ground for future Presidents of Uganda.

With these institutional arrangements, Uganda would have institutionally planned for succession just like is the case in USA and other developed countries.

 The book: THE IDEAL UGANDA: MY PERSPECTIVES BY PROF. VENANSIUS BARYAMUREEBA is available at Millenium supermarket Kisemente, Kamwokya, Kampala and Mukono Bookshop. Mukono Bookshop is located in Kampala City Center on Plot 4, Pilkington Road, Kampala

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