How Uganda’s dictator Museveni uses IMF and World Bank loans to maintain regime

Gen. Museveni presides over an IMF and World Bank-financed family military regime. His brother and son are top generals of the army.

By Kakwenza Rukirabashaija


The ability of an autocrat to keep the national Army loyal to him and not to the nation is a key factor for dictatorship to bloom uninterrupted. This is what the vicious Ugandan tyrant Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has done ever since he installed himself into power 35 years ago.


All the security forces have always backed the National Resistance Movement (NRM) political party over the opposition and regular citizens of Uganda. This is done openly by the same partisan officers through vicious attacks against the opposition and also reckless partisan comments the officers blurt out in the media in favor of Gen. Museveni’s rogue regime. They have never been neutral and serve the tyrant rather than Ugandan citizens and taxpayers.


Dictator Museveni heads the army; his brother Gen. Salim Saleh wields power; and Museveni’s son, junior dictator Gen. Muhoozi Kaenerugaba led the Special Forces Command (SFC) which is behind the recent spate of kidnappings, torture, and killings campaign. SFC also acts as Museveni’s praetorian guard. The force was also behind the massacre of more than 100 people on November 18 and 19, heading into the January election stolen by Gen. Museveni.


Just a few weeks ago, Museveni made new appointments in the army. Junior dictator Gen. Kainerugaba was elevated to overall commander of Land Forces.


Gen. Museveni’s abiding and legitimate fear is that one day, security services when ordered to violently suppress opposition or a popular uprising will split or simply disobey orders. This could then ignite a power struggle that undermines the regime. He has mastered the art of keeping his military loyal to him through superficial promotions to keep officers involved in corruption, while strategically retiring others. Officers whose loyalties became questioned met untimely deaths, including Gen. James Kazini, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, and others. Many see the recent botched assassination attempt against Gen. Katumba Wamala—his daughter ended up being killed—as part of this scheme.


Nominal army commanders and even the Inspector General of Police practically have no power to change or transfer the smallest unit commanders. Gen. Museveni makes all key decisions with his key advisors being Gen. Saleh or junior dictator Gen. Kainerugaba.

Katilina Georgieva, Managing Director of the IMF. (Wikimedia Commons)


Case in point. After the 2016 attack by the Ugandan military and massacre at the palace of Charles Wesley Mumbere, the traditional king of the Rwenzururu people, in Kasese district, Gen. Wamala who was then commander of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), said he didn’t know who issued the order. More than 150 unarmed people, including women and children, were killed. They were later buried in mass graves. Gen. Museveni has refused several calls including by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for an independent investigation of the massacre.


Gen. Museveni later boasted in an Al Jazeera interview that he ordered Gen. Peter Elwelu to head the operation.


This state militarism and suppression comes at a high real and opportunity cost for Ugandans. That’s why Ugandans at home and diaspora have protested the recent loans by the International Monetary Fund—nearly $1.5 billion since last year—and the World Bank’s $300 million, without mechanisms to prevent corruption, to the regime. Funds have reportedly been diverted to classified accounts controlled by the regime and the armed forces. This means the IMF and World Bank are financing the tyranny.

David Malpass, World Bank president. (Wikimedia Commons)


Just last week, the dictator directed that all government contracts in construction will be taken up by UPDF, the national army. This is a way to divert corruption from the civilian sector to the military to maintain their loyalty.


The living standards of Ugandans, the healthcare system, and the fight against the raging Covid-19 pandemic are neglected.


Historically there have been dictatorships that seemed infallible, including Joseph Stalin’s, Adolph Hitler’s, Augusto Pinochet’s, Hosni Mubarak’s, Omar Bashir’s, and others.


A dictator’s reign rises and falls like the sun.

Columnist Kakwenza, a survivor of Museveni’s torture chambers, can be reached via kakawenzarukirabashaija@gmail.com


This article was published by Black Star News.