Museveni: The all-time disciple of Mwalimu Nyerere

IT has become a norm for Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to mention Tanzania’s Founding Father, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, in his addresses, particularly when he visits Tanzania.

In most of his speeches, you would hear him memorising the Mwalimu Nyerere era, as he has been pushing for observance of principles and ideologies of the Tanzania’s first President.

President Museveni has always been a preacher of Mwalimu Nyerere’s ideologies and principles that he believed suited the African continent to liberate and consequently prosper socially, politically and economically.

His latest revelations as to why he wanted to be near Mwalimu Nyerere and follow his principles and ideologies was in last week when he graced the 100th anniversary of Makerere University at the institution’s Freedom Square in the capital Kampala.

During his address, the Ugandan President explained why he declined to seek admission to Makerere University, the Uganda’s largest and oldest institution of higher learning.

Currently aged 78, Mr Museveni joined the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) in 1967 and graduated with Bachelor of Arts Honors Degree in Political Science and Economics.

His earlier schools included Kyamate School and Ntare School.

Last week, he revealed why he had chosen the UDSM instead of Makerere University.

As expected, the reason had everything to do with the politics of the time; his ideals and a great desire to study near Mwalimu Nyerere, whom he admired.

The then President of Tanzania, anti-colonial activist, politician, and political theorist, Mwalimu Nyerere was Prime Minister of Tanganyika from 1961 to 1962, President of the same state from 1962 through 1964, and later as President of Tanzania from 1964 until 1985.

Born at Butiama village, Mara region on April 13, 1922, Mwalimu Nyerere died in the United Kingdom city of London on October 14, 1999.

Mr Museveni joined UDSM just three years after Mwalimu Nyerere was declared President of Tanzania, Tanganyika’s successor state. He peacefully handed over the power to President Ali Hassan Mwinyi.

A year after Mwalimu Nyerere handed over presidency, in 1985 after ruling for 23 years, General Museveni took over power in Kampala, following a five-year bush war.

So, why did Museveni refuse to study at Uganda’s Makerere, opting for Tanzania’s UDSM instead?

President Museveni disclosed that his intention was to be closer to President Nyerere because of his love for the East African region integration.

“I am one of the people who refused to come to Makerere for my higher education. When we were putting choices, all my choices were Dar es Salaam because I wanted to be near Nyerere who was being talked about as someone who wanted East African integration,” Museveni revealed.

“If the production of goods and services can only be realised when you sell what you produce, what is the plan here in Africa we should be talking about economic integration. If we don’t talk about it how shall we build prosperity?”

On April 28, 2020, when President Museveni addressed his nation, on the country’s response to Covid-19, he also remarked on the work of the late Mwalimu Nyerere, in forging the building blocks for East African Federation and his current role in galvanising the East African Community (EAC) towards achieving this vision.

The desire to achieve regional integration on the African subcontinent is rooted in the post-colonial struggle for political and economic independence, buttressed by a belief that regional cooperation is vital to tackling development challenges that cannot be solved at a national level and strengthens the bargaining power of developing African nations with their developed Western counterparts.

Thus, regional integration has long been high on the agenda of African countries, captured in the great dream of a United States of Africa, as articulated by Pan Africanists such as Mwalimu Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana) , Leopold Sedar Senghor (Senegal), Patrice Lumumba (Congo) and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

These visionaries saw Africa’s future through a global perspective and envisaged a united and self-sufficient Africa as the ultimate objective.

The EAC was formed in 1967. However, 10 years later, the community broke down over political and ideological differences, fuelled by protectionism and nationalistic tendencies.

One can only wonder where East Africa would be today; perhaps in the same breath as India, had the Community succeeded forging forward.

Nonetheless, at the dawn of this century, efforts to revive the Community started and eventually led to the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC that entered into force on 7th July 2000 following its ratification by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, with Rwanda and Burundi joining in 2007.

This was followed by a Customs Union in 2005, although still includes many exceptions and is thus not fully implemented and, in 2010, the EAC established its own Common Market for goods, labour and capital within the region.

On the latter, a Political Federation is the ultimate goal, the fourth step after the Customs Union, Common Market and Monetary Union.

It is provided for under Article 5(2) of the Treaty for Establishment of the EAC and founded on three pillars; common foreign and security policies, good governance and effective implementation of prior stages of the regional integration.

To achieve a full federation, a common constitution is needed. As a result, an 18-member Committee of Experts, chaired by Justice Dr Benjamin Odoki, the Chief Justice of Uganda, was established to conduct research, consultations and eventually draft the East African Political Confederation Constitution.

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