Museveni prizes loyalty over regional balance
President Museveni’s announcement of a new Cabinet on Wednesday did little to mask the rancour and bitterness amongst the masses that have rejected the NRM in the six recent by-elections.
The announcement also coincided with a bizarre crash of three UPDF Mi-24 combat helicopters in the Mt. Kenya ranges. With a trail of misfortunes, perhaps the news of the new cabinet was meant to relegate the accident to the back-burner.
In fact, whereas Museveni treads carefully when making his appointments, this time he cast caution to the wind by ignoring the lexicon of regional balance. Syda Bbumba and Dr Khiddu Makubuya, who held the Gender and General Duties dockets respectively before they resigned amidst graft accusations, were expected to be replaced by politicians from Buganda.
Instead, the Gender and General Duties dockets went to politicians from the west, already boasting the lion’s share of Cabinet posts. The Muslim fraternity that has often agitated for parity in Cabinet will also be vexed.
Muyanja Mbabaali, Saleh Kamba and former Mayor Nasser Sebaggala, who were all rejected by Parliament’s Appointments Committee on grounds of lacking prerequisite academic qualifications, were replaced by non-Muslims.
The new appointments will do little to silence malcontents within NRM like Muhammad Nsereko and Wilfred Niwagaba, who have often agitated for a new guard of effervescent Young Turks if the ruling party is to regain popularity.
Critics contend that in reshuffling his cabinet, Museveni yet again dispensed patronage. All the three ministers who had briefly stepped aside as a result of graft charges were re-appointed, after the Anti-Corruption court gave them the all clear on grounds that the Inspectorate of Government was not fully constituted.
Sam Kutesa, who is part of the closely-knit kitchen cabinet, returned to the powerful docket of Foreign Affairs while John Nasasira, another close ally of the President, was transferred from the less-influential post of Chief Whip to the docket where he will be in charge of General Duties in the Prime Minister’s office.
Rukutana, meanwhile, returned as junior Labour minister. Amongst the new comers are Young Turk and loyal cadre Frank Tumwebaze, now minister for the Presidency, and Richard Todwong, the new minister without Portfolio.
Tumwebaze’s political career began at the grassroots as an assistant resident district commissioner for Iganga district, before he was appointed a special presidential assistant on research. In 2006, he was elected MP for Kibaale County.
Alongside Kabarole Woman MP Margaret Muhanga, Tumwebaze wrote, with such brutal candor, a dossier on why NRM performed dismally in the 2006. Tumwebaze and Muhanga argued that it was trivial for Museveni to attribute NRM’s poor performance on the rains that supposedly kept away some voters on polling day.
Interestingly, Todwong was recommended by Tumwebaze to work as one of the commissioners on the Prof. Fredrick Ssempebwa’s Constitutional Review Commission. When chairman Ssempebwa wrote a minority report against lifting term limits, Todwong was amongst those that took a contrary position.
He would later be rewarded as presidential advisor for northern Uganda. In 2011, Todwong was elected MP for Nwoya, in Acholi, a sub-region previously hostile to his NRM.
Our sources tell us that Todwong, a brother to the intelligence boss for Northern Uganda, Brig Charles Awany Otema, will use his appointment to further thaw relations between Acholiland and the ruling party.
The appointment of Shem Bageine, as the junior minister for East Africa Affairs came as a surprise as the former Ndorwa East MP is deemed as a politician beyond his sale-by date. A source, however, told us that Bageine was brought into Cabinet to perhaps bring sanity in Kigezi’s restive politics.
Bageine and former Privatization Unit minister Manzi Tumubweine, are the godfathers of Ndorwa East MP Wilfred Niwagaba; Rubanda East MP Henry Musasizi; Kinkizi East MP Chris Baryomunsi; Kabale Woman MP Rhona Ninsiima and junior minister for Economic Monitoring Henry Banyenzaki.
Another analyst, however, says Bageine’s appointment could have been aimed at undercutting the clout of Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi who heads another echelon in Kigezi.
We understand that newly appointed junior minister for Lands, Aida Nantaba, who has been vocal against land grabbing in the districts of Mukono and Kayunga, could have been appointed as a way of silencing her. She will now be handicapped to speak out freely.
Our sources further tell us that Ernest Kiiza, the Masindi Municipality MP, was appointed after the locals demanded that their kinsman should head the Bunyoro Affairs docket. But Kiiza’s political career has not been a bed of roses.
In 2001, alongside the exiled former Masindi LC V chairman Steven Birija, Kiiza was a coordinator of Dr Kizza Besigye’s Reform Agenda in Bunyoro. When government threatened to withhold business to his publishing firm, Ernest Publishers, Kiiza denounced Besigye.
In 2005, he was sacked as Speaker of Bunyoro kingdom, after he invited former spy boss David Pulkol to speak to an audience. Pulkol’s acerbic tongue had turned him into one of the government’s most vocal critics.
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