rumour mill

Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, still alive and tweeting, despite Covid

By Damien Glez

Posted on June 17, 2023 06:00

Museveni, by Glez
Museveni, by Glez

At the sprightly age of 78 and with a nonchalant 37-year grip on power, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has swatted away death rumours as one might an irksome mosquito, announcing instead his second “enforced holiday” in 53 years.

In an amusing twist of fate, despite Uganda having generously swept aside all Covid-19 travel restrictions since 7 March 2023, it is precisely this virus that has coaxed the president into his temporary retreat.

While two out of three samples taken proved negative, the third played the villain, proving positive on 7 June. The Health ministry, not typically known for its frivolity, reports Uganda’s pandemic tally standing at 170,255 cases and a sombre 3,632 deaths.

While state heads often balk at health disclosures, Museveni found it necessary to put a swift end to death-knell rumours ringing out across social media. He soothingly reassured, peppering in details of his condition for added dramatic effect: “Initially, there was also some mild muscle soreness, typical of the usual flu” and “Last night, I slept very well up to the 10th hour of the night, what the Europeans call 4AM. The dull headache was not there and neither was the mild throbbing on top of the head.” He further clarified on his official Twitter, mentioning that any lingering effects of an earlier throat infection had faded away.

In a nation where the oppressive thumb on dissidents and activists is palpable, and the constitution conveniently tweaked to keep the president comfortably ensconced in power, Museveni’s illness drew mixed social media reactions. But then, what doesn’t these days?

Much like other long-serving heads of state with opaque governance styles, Museveni is no stranger to the macabre whispers of death. The United Congo site had glibly announced his death in May 2021. What’s a little death rumour among friends?

For now, the sequestered leader advises everyone to get the Covid-19 jab and says, “By God’s grace, all is well.” Last month, the World Health Organization downgraded Covid-19 from a global health emergency while admitting the virus will continue its mutation game. But isn’t that just like life, full of ups, downs and occasional mutations?

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