African business, politics and lifestyle
How much longer for Museveni?
Covering Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni for four years as the Reuters correspondent in Kampala was seldom dull.
When he was in a good mood, the former rebel would banter with journalists long after his aides wanted him to leave. In a bad mood, he would scowl and growl back answers in return.
He was often charismatic and regularly very funny.
At one meeting with then International Monetary Fund boss Rodrigo Rato in August 2004, he had participants in stitches as he described a panel of portly finance ministry officials as “not typical Ugandans”.
“These ones are eating for others,” Museveni joked as the civil servants squirmed.
The cattle herd boy turned guerrilla commander portrays himself as a tough but humble man with simple tastes.
Reporters in the scenic capital Kampala soon learned that one way to cheer him up was to ask about his extensive cattle herds, or better still, anything to do with the armed forces.
More than once, he called for a whiteboard and marker pens so he could explain Uganda’s military structure in detail to “criminally ignorant” journalists.
At the weekend, state media confirmed that the 64-year-old — who has already ruled the country for 22 years — would be running for re-election at polls in 2011.
The news cheered investors who like his record of steady economic growth and are hungry for opportunities in emerging markets.
But it will frustrate critics, including some Western donors, who have criticised his increasingly autocratic leadership style.
What do you think? Is economic stability or political change more important in a fast growing nation like Uganda? Has one of the biggest characters of African politics overstayed his welcome already?