President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

President Museveni
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has emerged as a model of modern African leadership. He has been a force for stability, not only in Uganda, but in the Great Lakes Region, a fact that was underscored by President Clinton's 1998 visit. President Museveni has made it his mission to ensure peace and stability, adequate social services, support for farmers and diversification of the economy.

Museveni became president of Uganda in 1986 after a prolonged struggle against the regimes of Idi Amin and Milton Obote. When he took power as president, Uganda was in ruins. President Museveni faced the huge tasks of revitalizing the country's agricultural economy, bringing a powerful but completely undisciplined army under control, reestablishing relations with bilateral and multilateral donors, developing social services for the country's 18 million people and rebuilding Uganda's economy from the ground up. Economic growth reached 10% in 1995, with inflation cut to 5%.

He has led the continent in confronting the scourge of AIDs – launching massive public education campaigns which have cut the death rate in Uganda by 25 percent.

Breaking traditional "top-down" patterns of development planning, Museveni is committed to investing the nation’s resources in ways that benefit and support small-scale farmers, whom Museveni calls "the backbone of our economy." He has worked tirelessly to build markets – not simply for cash crops such as coffee, tobacco, and tea, but for Africa’s staple food crops such as maize, beans, oilseeds.

At a time when most agricultural inputs and resources still focus on men, Museveni has emphasized the critical role of women – who grow 80% of Uganda’s food. He appointed the first woman as Minister of Agriculture. And his leadership in bringing women into the mainstream has gone far beyond agriculture. His Vice President, Dr. Speciosa Kazibwe, is a women. New laws reserve 30 percent of local government seats for women, and address women’s rights to land, property, and credit.

He has also made an unprecedented investment in education – raising teacher salaries more than 900 percent – and introducing for the first time government-supported universal primary education – for boys and girls.

For President Museveni, the path to a hunger-free Uganda includes something new for much of Africa – a major emphasis on decentralized democracy and popular participation in governance. He has built a political movement around the involvement of ordinary citizens at all levels in elected local councils that are assuming increasing responsibility for running the nation. He proudly practices what he calls "the politics of inclusion and reconciliation" – incorporating members of prior regimes, of the traditional monarchies of Uganda, and of all ethnic, religious, and tribal groupings – into his government.

Read the acceptance address: Remarks by Mrs. Janet Museveni, First Lady of the Republic of Uganda