DR Kizza Besigyeâ€™s lady wife (what a duo by the way, so well suited) announced she gave President Museveni only two days to change his tactics or else she would expose him to the world. Oh the world shivered! By â€œchange of tacticsâ€ she was presumably referring to Museveniâ€™s stated fear that Besigyeâ€™s health condition might affect his performance were he to attain the arduous job of president.
This of course is very different from Museveni castigating Madame Besigyeâ€™s husband on his state of health, whatever that might be.
As for the Mrs Besigye threat, I am reminded of what happened in England years ago when one of the newspaper barons was being blackmailed, the threat being that if he did not comply, the blackmailer (another woman, if memory serves) would go to the papers.
The peer reflected for about a minute, saw endless repeats of such blackmail, and came out with the immortal words, â€œPublish and be damned!â€ The matter died there.
What is in the pistol Mrs Besigye is holding to our leaderâ€™s head? The feeling in my bones is that it wonâ€™t stop the sun coming out as usual the next morning. Does this venomous and undignified female think she stands a chance of frightening the President, who has fought wars a thousand times mightier? Crucial about blackmail, which it shares with, say, virginity, is that once it is spent it is spent. The intended victim will say to Madame, with fruity Runyankole words and proverbs, that she should do as threatened, and afterwards jump in a lake, fuller than current Victoria! Still on Besigye, I must say whoever thought up the new trick of questioning his academic qualifications must be a closet FDC supporter. With Besigyeâ€™s visage waning each succeeding day, why throw him any rope to win him media attention again? Even if the preposterous story were true, that Besigye falsified his primary school results, what about his medical training? I first met this then young man in the Bush, and very attractive he was too; and also known as Museveniâ€™s personal doctor. Whoever brought us this current saga should have a stamp affixed to the forehead and returned to sender: publicity hungry FDC.
I promised further personal disclosures about Museveni (as unlike as could humanly be from the promised secrets exposure by the leaking Mrs B). Years have passed since I first met this singular man, introduced to him at the old Nile Mansions by my old friend Perezi Kamunanwire; in 1979 or 1980. If I had heard of him it had not stuck; how funny is life! It struck me that he looked taller than he actually was, and his gaze was formidable. I tried to answer in kind.
The next time I was in his presence was at Kabale, towards the end of 1985 when I visited the Bush, arranged by a friend to this day, none other than Eriya Kategaya. It would have taken God to foretell that today I play my smallish part in the Movement, with Kategaya outside the tent. How funny is life, and sad beside. By now Museveni was the embodiment of leadership and power, and it sat easy on his shoulders. You could tell his word was law, and myself as an unabashed alcohol enjoyer, was surprised at how all (not myself) hid their drinks immediately Museveni unexpectedly returned to the room where we were relaxing after travelling by road from Kigali that day.
Three years later, on the eve of my 50th birthday, by now President Museveni invited my cousin Nsibambi and me to Rwakitura at a belated victory party for the Movement top brass. Wow! The person who drove us there was Amanya Mushega, still a friend today. As evening fell Museveni bid his friends (or should that be â€œcolleaguesâ€?) farewell and announced that he invited me and Nsibambi to stay for supper. When we were seated he asked if we minded Mushega joining us.
(Should he read this I can imagine Mushega grinding his teeth!) We were offered alcohol, which we accepted with alacrity. Mushega, a hardened drinker, and our host, not, sipped milk. I couldnâ€™t help wondering, looking back also to Kabale, whether Museveni didnâ€™t rule his men with a rod of iron. And now the main war had been over for three years! What I can say with every conviction is that as a general rule he is mostly indulgent to a degree. Certainly I have been a beneficiary of this.
Ten years ago, almost to the day, he invited me to join his office. Some think it was because of my â€œskull campaignâ€ for the 1996 presidential elections. But actually that preceded my appointment. I did not ask my new Boss for permission or guidance. I am intensely proud of having reminded Ugandans how short their memories are. Museveni himself has thrice generously acknowledged the part played in that election by the skulls. Let some bay for my blood, but â€œfrankly my dearâ€, as Clark Gable said towards the end of Gone with the Wind, â€œI donâ€™t give a damn!â€
Another thing: I find the lengths to which Museveni goes to hide his relatively soft centre rather endearing, but not convincing. My copy of his book, Sowing the Mustard Seed, says: â€œTo my friend John Nagenda from Y K Museveni 13/1/â€™97â€. He has friends. When his friend Garang died in the air-crash, donâ€™t believe Museveni when he says he wasnâ€™t devastated. He was, I saw it with my eyes. Mr President, you are but human, and thatâ€™s fine.
Publish and be damned Mrs B!