This week our person vis-à-vis Bedroom Democracy is none other than Janet Museveni the wife of Ugandan long-time ruler Yoweri Museveni who is another king maker. Mrs Musevni came to limelight after running from Member of Parliament of Ruhaama constituency which she captured easily thanks to being first lady. Once again, a big name Museveni paid dividends. She became a first African sitting first lady to become an MP which is arguably lesser position compared to being first lady. Thereafter, Mrs Museveni’s husband appointed her a minister responsible for oil-rich area of Karamoja Affairs. Rumours in Uganda have it that Janet is groomed to take over after her husband shall he step down or anything happen. Many people related to Mrs Museveni including her sons in law were once accused of trying to secure plots in the area. She became a first sitting first lady to become a minister in her husband’s government. Again, for the first lady to be an MP or/and minister doesn’t it create conflict of interests? Who cares in countries were bedroom politics are rife? Who can stop such a first lady if at all she shares bed with the big man whose weakness and strength she knows too well?
For worse or better, Mrs Museveni, just like Mrs Mugabe created a precedent which in the future-if this dangerous move is not stopped-many first ladies are likely to draw from and benefit from Bedroom Politics. Trying to find a solution of how to do away from or completely halt this new development of Bedroom politics, we need to study and understand the phenomenon. One important aspect of this phenomenon is the fact that most of first ladies who use their spouses to seek power unconstitutionally seem to be the wives of long time rulers. Therefore, to make sure that democracy is introduced and followed in Africa is the first step to foil this power grab using the bedroom.
If the first lady can become an MP, and a minister, what’ll stop her children, friends and cronies to vie for various political positions in the government and party of her husband? Many would wrongly think that Mrs Mugabe manipulated and used her husband because of old age. This might be true save that in Uganda the story is different. Some first ladies are more powerful than their husbands as it once happened in Romania under Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu whose wife Elena was in 1973 became a member of politburo of the Romania Communist Party, and thus, becoming the second most important and influential person after Ceausescu himself. Elena is believed to have more desire for honour than her husband. It is said that she used professors to write her a Dissertation which culminated in being awarded a PhD in polymer chemistry though she did not have even a single undergrad degree. Elena is said to have dropped out of school at age 14.
Despite all maneuvers by Elena, just like another controversial first lady Jiang Quing or Madame Mao the mistress to Chairman Mao of China, did not grab power as she was destined. For her husband’s government was brought down by mass unrest culminating in the capture of Ceausescu and Elena who later were sentenced to death and faced a firing squad on 25 December 1989. As for Madame Mao, she was later expelled from the party after showing disrespects to revolutionaries. Thereafter she was tried and convicted and sentenced to death before commuting her sentence to life imprisonment in 1983. Qiang served her term till 1991 when she was released under medical grounds after being diagnosed with throat cancer