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The Amama Mbabazi story

The elevation of outgoing security minister, John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, the to the post of Prime Minister this week could be the biggest hint yet that President Museveni wants to make a big impression, as far as service delivery is concerned, in the next five years.

Like or hate him, Mbabazi, who is expected to resign the position of NRM secretary general, is an intelligent and hardworking individual who strives to ensure that things are done in a proper way.

In his new role, Mbabazi will be the leader of government business and will be expected to bring his strict work method to bear on ministers to ensure that Museveni’s manifesto is implemented. Edris Kiggundu and Hussein Bogere explore the possible reasons why Museveni appointed him to this influential post.

Loyalty and trust

Mbabazi is steadfastly loyal to President Museveni and there is no doubt that he is one of his most trusted lieutenants. According to a source that attended the Tuesday NRM caucus meeting at State House, the explanation Museveni gave for appointing Mbabazi was that having worked with him since 1972, he had come to know him as “well disciplined, hardworking and not a drunkard”.

The source added that there was neither opposition to Mbabazi’s nomination, nor to Edward Ssekandi’s (for Vice President) for that matter.

“They were both received with a standing ovation.”

While meeting a group of people from Kigezi last year, Museveni told them that Mbabazi is a clean man – a “mzungu” (white man) – after he had been accused of promoting divisions along religious lines in Kigezi.

Museveni has defended Mbabazi on several occasions, from as far back as the early 80s during the bush war. Then, some members of NRA’s Historical Command wanted Mbabazi (who was in the external wing) punished for allegedly diverting some funds meant for the war. Museveni stepped in and shielded him.

More recently in 2008, some NRM legislators were baying for Mbabazi’s blood over the NSSF/Temangalo saga and Museveni pleaded with them to forgive him.

“I know very well that this NSSF land issue is not about Mbabazi, but about [destroying] the party and I will not sit back and see my party being destroyed,” Museveni reportedly told the NRM MPs.

Not surprising to many, Museveni twice supported Mbabazi’s bid for the post of NRM secretary general amid significant resistance from within the party. In 2005, during a meeting at State House, the President tried to persuade other contestants – Crispus Kiyonga and Kahinda Otafiire – to quit the race.

During last year’s NRM delegates’ conference, Museveni told delegates to vote for someone “who will not spill party secrets” in a bar – a veiled support for Mbabazi’s bid.

Mbabazi was facing pressure from Otafiire and other delegates who accused him of being aloof and inaccessible. But just when many analysts thought his chances of keeping his job as secretary general, the party’s second most powerful office, were slim, Mbabazi won with a convincing margin.

While both Mbabazi and Museveni are teetotalers, the similarity extends to their spouses. Like First Lady Janet, who professes being a born-again christian, Jacqueline Mbabazi is pious and is a canon in the Anglican Church.

Mr fix it

Other than his proven loyalty, Mbabazi is known to be a workaholic who spends considerable hours in office. That is why he often has no time to meet people or take calls, according to one politician who has closely worked with him.

The fact that he has the ear of the President will make it even easier for him to get things done in his new role. Since he was declared winner of the 2011 elections, Museveni has been sending noises that suggest he badly wants to deliver this term.

He is humbled by the fact that for the first time in 25 years, he got the mandate of Ugandans across the entire country, including areas like northern Uganda and Teso, which previously rejected him.

Secondly, President Museveni has been pushed to the wall by the opposition over the rising fuel and commodity prices. So, the best way to respond is to deliver on his manifesto.

In doing this, the Prime Minister’s Office will play a crucial role. The office supervises other ministries, on top of directly implementing several government and donor funded projects such as the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) and the Northern Uganda Reconstruction Programme (NUREP).

The implementation of some of these projects partly helped Museveni to win in northern Uganda and Teso. Museveni’s interest in Mbabazi could be to get a man who will come down hard on technocrats who Museveni says jeopardise government programmes.

Almost every time Museveni has had a major political, legal or security related challenge, the assignment has gone to Mbabazi. Museveni tends to put Mbabazi where he desires utmost performance.

In 2004, Mbabazi briefly held three ministerial portfolios of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Attorney General, earning the tag of ‘Super Minister’.

“My lords, I am the Attorney General of Uganda. I was appointed AG last week, but I retain the portfolio of Defence,” Mbabazi told the Constitutional Court then when he appeared, all draped in an advocate’s robes, to represent the state in the appeal against the Constitutional Court case ruling that had nullified the 2000 Referendum Act.

Respected

Mbabazi is widely respected and feared within the NRM, military and other circles. He is the only civilian who wields Museveni-like respect in the army.

Mbabazi draws his respect in the military partly from the fact that he has been in security circles for most of his career in government. First, he was Director General of the External Security Organisation in 1986, before becoming minister of Defence in 2001, and later minister of Security.

Museveni had jealously held onto the Defence portfolio for a long time and when he was ready to give it up, he chose to hand it to Mbabazi. His political clout has at times overshadowed the positions he holds. Give him a small ministry and he will make it big.

When Mbabazi was appointed minister of state in the President’s Office in charge of Political Affairs in 1996, it was not seen as major position, but his clout and pompous style quickly transformed it into a powerful one.

When he became minister of Security, it was a relatively small position occupied by NRM outsider, Betty Akech, who had succeeded another light weight, Muruli Mukasa. But Mbabazi has since transformed the portfolio into a major one, whose minister now moves with a route opener and army escorts, privileges his predecessors did not enjoy.

Parliament linkman

Article 108A of the Constitution makes the prime minister leader of government business in Parliament. The holder is responsible for the coordination and implementation of government policies across ministries, departments and other public institutions.

These are the tasks that lie ahead for the Kinkizi West MP, who has already been Museveni’s unofficial listening post in Parliament. At times of controversy in Parliament or elsewhere, Mbabazi is always at hand to keep Museveni abreast.

Whenever there has been a controversial bill to be passed or major decision to be made by Parliament, Mbabazi has had an enormous input. As Prime Minister, he will now become the perfect link between the legislature and the executive – and officially do what he was doing unofficially.

Just recently, Museveni appointed him to head the six-man committee that was tasked to draft an amendment to the constitution denying bail to suspects of rioting, economic sabotage and murder, among other offences.

Possible successor?

In Mbabazi’s appointment as Prime Minister, others see Museveni as moving to address the succession issue. For starters, Museveni has not been known to appoint anyone with know presidential ambition in a position as strategic as prime minister.

His first premier was the elderly Samson Kisekka, who could not have aspired to become president because of advanced age. Kisekka was succeeded by John Cosmas Adyebo, a hardly known politician who had just been elected Kwania county MP. Next was Kintu Musoke, who was looking towards retirement.

Most recently, Prof Apolo Nsibambi, in his seventies, who has never stood for any elective political office, has occupied the position.

Picking Mbabazi, some analysts believe, might be a statement that Museveni is finally comfortable with a presidential hopeful, particularly one that shares his vision and ideology, near him. The fact that Mbabazi hails from western Uganda, the first prime minister under Museveni from this region, shows how strongly he felt about giving him the position.

Previously, the position has been used as a regional balancing tool, mainly reserved for Buganda, apart from the brief Adyebo period. In 2016, Museveni will be 72, three years short of the constitutional limit of 75 years for one to stand for president.

Mbabazi will be 67. Many analysts believe that Museveni will seek re-election, but just in case it doesn’t happen, Mbabazi who famously said that FDC leader Dr Kizza Besigye had jumped the succession queue when he contested for the presidency in 2001, might just have a chance.

Moreover, the former vice president, Prof Gilbert Bukenya, who was perceived as Mbabazi’s rival in the ‘queue’, is out of the way, for now.

Mbabazi’s political career at a glance

John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, Member of Parliament for Kinkizi County West, has served Uganda in many capacities in a career spanning more than 35 years.

Born in 1949 in what is now known as Kanungu district, Mbabazi studied at Kigezi High and Ntare schools ahead of joining Makerere University to study law, after which he attained a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre.

On completing and being enrolled as an Advocate of the High Court of Uganda, Mbabazi served as Secretary of the Uganda Law Council, alongside various positions on boards of several parastatals and private business ventures.

He joined the Attorney General’s Chambers as State Attorney in 1976 and later on became Director of Legal Services of the Uganda National Liberation Army in 1979.

In 1981, Mbabazi became partner in the law firm Kategaya, Mbabazi and Tumwesigye Advocates, by which time he was already deeply involved in efforts to liberate Uganda from a period of turmoil and deterioration.

He played a key role during the NRM/A war of 1980-1986 as one of the key people in the External Wing based in Nairobi, Kenya. He has been chairman of the Historical High Command of the NRM since 1986 to date.

Mbabazi’s efforts have been nationally recognised with the highly coveted Nalubale medal of honour for distinguished service in the struggle against bad governance in Uganda.

From 1986 to 1992, Mbabazi was Director General of the External Security Organisation. In 1992, he was appointed minister of state for Defence, during a time of numerous conflicts and threats of external attacks on Uganda, and served till 1996, when he was appointed minister of state in the Office of the President in charge of Political Affairs.

Mbabazi was also Constituency Assembly delegate representing Kinkizi West County, playing key roles in the drafting of Uganda’s Constitution.

From 1997 to 2001, Mbabazi was minister of state for Foreign Affairs in charge of Regional Cooperation during the critical years of the revival of the East African Community. He also served as chairman of the Permanent Tripartite Commission for East African Cooperation, and chairman of the Political Committee for Countries involved in the Congo conflict.

Thereafter, he was appointed minister of Defence from 2001 to 2006, during which time he was also assigned the role of Attorney General of Uganda.

From 2006 to 2011, Mbabazi has held the position of minister in the Office of the President in charge of Security, alongside serving as Secretary General of the National Resistance Movement Party.

Over the years, Mbabazi has served the people of Kinkizi County West as Member of Parliament, representing them in the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Parliaments.

However, in 2001 court nullified his election after his main challenger, FDC’s Garuga Musinguzi, alleged that Mbabazi had engaged in election malpractices. He won the by-election after Musinguzi surprisingly opted out.

Mbabazi’s ‘Mr Clean’ record has taken a knock in recent years following the controversial sale of his land in Temangalo to NSSF, and the CHOGM inquiry in which his name, again, came up. In both cases, he has been absolved of any wrongdoing.

Mbabazi is married to Canon Jacqueline Mbabazi and they have several children.

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Comments

 
0 #1 Jim Kamezza 2011-05-25 20:22
Govt will run like NRM has been run , remember in Namboole , the chaos at the delegates conference , Amama wants to be president of Uganda after all he is the one who stole the elections
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0 #2 kizito 2011-05-25 20:50
Super thug in company of commander of looters self imposed dictator of Uganda useless as toilet waste!It is a game of thieves and shameless killers.
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0 #3 Teddy Kyeyune, Va., USA 2011-05-25 21:12
Mbabazi is just a shrewd politician who manouvers his way out using every available resource at his disposal. He is so corrupt that even Nsereko an NRM MP,could not stand his approval in parliament. The Temangalo scandal has tainted his image.There is nothing "super" about him except corruption.
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0 #4 Mukalazi 2011-05-25 21:53
Mbabazi is one single man in the Cabinet who knows how to deal with M7. He has openely told the son of Kaguta that the day he dismisses him they will go together bse he is one of the few people who have all the details of M7's dark side - so M7 has to keep Mbabazi protected in order to protect himself.
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0 #5 OMODING JAMES -MBEYA, TZ 2011-05-26 02:14
THE SUPER MAN BY ALL MEANS HAS EARNED HIS APPOINTMENT THROUGH YEARS OF HARD-WORK. UGANDANS SHOULD GIVE HIM DESERVED SUPPORT. GO GO BWANA MBABAZI. THE SKY IS THE LIMIT.
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0 #6 mulzac 2011-05-26 05:30
Right, i had held this fellow in high esteem ignoring all the shenanigans over his shoulder. But when he calls another honorable member of parliament an idiot( as he did to Honorable lukyamuzi), then he sincerely doesn't deserve to hold that office of premiership.

Anyway ,this just amplifies his aloofness as other people who have came across him did attest. Alternatively, all these so called ministers are typical of their masters kind of behavior who calls past leaders swine. Sorry, but at times am ashamed of this country
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0 #7 Edward 2011-05-26 05:46
Despite not being an ardent movement/Museveni suppouter, am actually the direct opposite, the appointment of Amama Mbabazi as PM is plausible. Being politically ambitious and the fact that he ingratiates Museveni with amazing results, we can all admit, with relief and some reasonable anticipation, that he is one hell of a hardworking fellow, and that cabinet will be whipped into some oreder......which could mean better handling of government business, resulting into better service delivery and overall performance.

Besides our clamors for this government to be more democratic, and have greater respect for our civil liberties, we want them to deliver not just on their promises, but on basic civil services, and I think, if Mbabazi doesnt spend so much time dreaming about how to keep Movt/M7 in power, we may see some good changes.

Let the work begin!
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0 #8 Njaka 2011-05-26 05:47
With his tainted past, one can not be surprised that he is the best candidate in a dying era of despotism. Just watch the space...
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0 #9 Balaba 2011-05-26 06:04
it is well known that in uganda govt is a one man's show. VC, prime minister, ministers these guys have no power to make any decision. they are just cheer leaders

so the writer must not fool anyone that mbabazi will enforce service delivery etc. he himself has been found wanting in a case of embezzeling public funds & conflict of interest in temangalo saga. Sekandi has connived with the executive or M7 for that matter, to kill the independence of parliament.

in short these two individuals & any others to be appointed do not have the moral ground to be appointed officers in any govt.

nothing will ever change in M7 regime. no service delivery & corruption will increase. watch the space
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0 #10 Stephen Kakooza 2011-05-26 08:07
Africa will never develop if the west just looks on when Mafias take centre stage in managing the affairs of the continent.

It puts me at loss when NATO decides to destroy Libya the only stable economy in present Africa, when dictators like Museveni are busy pushing masses into abject poverty just because of corruption. The day AO will die and the criminals being paid salaries in ethiopia to run the African Union can also face the tune.

Where is the Union?, its unfortunate that present day African leaders like Mbabazi dont think beyond their families. I salute Mohamed Nsereko NRM MP Kampala Central for walking out when he saw the mafia taking up the highest office that is supposed to surpevise all ministries. Bravo Nsereko and shame to NRM sleeping dogs who have decided to sucrife the future of our country in exchange of BREAD.
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0 #11 Kabakasman 2011-05-26 08:39
Museveni just wanted to silence critics by appointing mbabazi for this is the last person one would expect to be given that node.

Imagine having an alleged thief on your village and all over a sudden he lands a big appointment.then is when the baganda say 'byampuna, nga nanyini mu yaba enva'. at that moment anyone sensible just keeps quieta and decides to watch things do themselves.

May be now some gal known as nina will keep quiet but all signs are we are headed for worse times for if mbabazi could manipulate coarse faced sekandi and aged brain Nsibambi while still just a minister then what should we expect when he is leader of government business in the house.
Anyway the clock is ticking away whatsoever for the mafia and their projects, i can feel the winds of change, in a matter of time they will be blowing full thrust.
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0 #12 Nsinjo Goretti M., Ca., USA 2011-05-26 10:12
Mbabazi is a thug and he is promoted because he knows how to steal and doesn't get caught. In a law abiding society he would now be in BI in Luzira for the Temangalo scandal.
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0 #13 Turyagyenda Elisha 2011-05-26 11:38
Mbabazi as the Minister of Security and the Secretary General of the Party was more powerful and this status scared M7 who simply lied to him to be the Prime Minister, in the hope of succeeding him.

Mbabazi knows that the NRM Party and M7 usurped the leadership position of the country by massively rigging the February 2011 elections and fearing that he could pull the rug under him, he convinced him to be the Prime Minister with more futile promises of succeeding him.

The current Political turmoil of our Country is an indication that even the Security as well as Political situaion are tenterhooks and time bomb, so Mbabazi was quickly moved from that level to defuse the situation.
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0 #14 Balaba 2011-05-26 12:22
it is well known that in Uganda govt is a one man's show. VC, prime minister, and ministers these guys have no power to make any decision. They are just cheer leaders.

so the writer must not fool anyone that mbabazi will enforce service delivery etc. he himself has been found wanting in a case of embezzling public funds & conflict of interest in temangalo saga. Sekandi has connived with the executive or M7 for that matter, to kill the independence of parliament.

So it is just a case of M7 arrogance and lack of interest and plan to have a clean, accountable government. It is unfortunate the Ruling NRM MP’s just accept sh***t. what type of party is this? Whose membership behaves like infants or morons! It is high time the elite in Uganda begin to use their heads rather than their heart.

in short these two individuals & any others to be appointed do not have the moral ground to be appointed officers in any govt.

Nothing will ever change in M7 regime. No service delivery & corruption will increase. Watch the space
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0 #15 Mugisha Petero 2011-05-26 16:16
"In Mbabazi’s appointment as Prime Minister, others see Museveni as moving to address the succession issue. For starters, Museveni has not been known to appoint anyone with know presidential ambition in a position as strategic as prime minister."

very good Amama, show us the presidential material in you. i hope you are worth the hype. hate you or love you, i know you are better than m7 in many aspects.
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0 #16 zake 2011-05-26 19:15
In a nation of 30 million people why return the old corruption tainted timers, where is the will to improve performance,how does M7 to do the same things with the same people and expect different results, is it gullibility, ineptness or insecurity?
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0 #17 Omwouganda 2011-05-26 21:06
So what? This is the usual boring stuff: the master of politics of intrigue playing musical chairs with his docile, palace courtiers. The NRM titanic is teetering on the edge of precipice, to an inevitable tragic end. Does Mubarak ring a bell?

This Mbabazi man doesn’t particularly have a stellar career except of course being a ridiculously loyal sap to Museveni, who they have being following around like sheep following the shepherd. He was a super minister, including security minister; so that means he is the one who knows where the bodies and moneys are buried. He sure will have a lot of answering when they time inevitable runs out.
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0 #18 Lawot 2011-05-27 01:34
According to the above article, Museveni told a group of people from Kigezi last year that Mbabazi was a clean man – a ‘mzungu’ (white man) – to refute allegations that the latter was promoting divisions along religious lines in Kigezi.

According to Museveni then, being a white man is synonymous with being ‘clean’. So how much does Museveni know about white men in general? I think it’s safe to say ‘very, very little’. He demonstrated that amply during the early years of his rule.

In his quest to attract foreign investment (or was it merely to express his utmost adoration of the un-pigmented (read white) skin?), Museveni rolled out a red-carpet every time a white man strayed across our borders. It didn’t seem to matter that the foreigner was a diplomat, a fast-food employee or a panhandler back in his home country.

Indeed Museveni once told a group of European dignitaries that he, Museveni, was in fact a white man. The only difference, he told them, was that they migrated north while he stayed behind. Talk about having pride in one’s own race!

I’m still researching on the black men whose actions helped trigger the two World Wars, and those who went about colonizing other countries. When it comes to these matters, I believe that even Idi Amin was a lot savvier than the son of Kaguta.
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-1 #19 Donn joseph Mukasa 2011-05-27 02:51
Mbabazi is Nrm's super rigging machine that's why i pray every day he never becomes president,and that's why M7 loves him very much and one day some one will flee from the Nrm and tell all his rigging and "ballot stuffing" you don't have to look far go back to Nrm primaries,how about trying to rigg an election in mayor elections for sematimba and all was exposed at Bat valley and Sorowen was suspended for a while because he did not arrest Segona and stop him exposing them.
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-1 #20 Tibesigwa Bainenaama 2011-05-27 08:12
Hold your breathe...Mbabazi being appointed a PM by his friend means more than what meets the eyes.It could be some ridence.The super Minister has a long history of working relationship closely with M7 and if we have real historians in our Country, they should unearthen what this relationship made/unmade in the Politics situation of Uganda.

He was tried in absencia by the bush fighters of the NRA and sentenced to death, and when he and Katabarwa were recalled to report to Luwero after the trial, he (Mbabazi) refused to go and only Katabarwa reported to the bush. Katabarwa perished mysteriously.

Whatever taints Mbabazi politically is always brushed aside by M7, why? During the Temangalo scenario, it was reported that Mbabazi warned M7 that if he did not protect him from the harsh judgement of the people of Uganda, and he fell, M7 too would fall and we now witness the outcome of that.

Anyway, in a nutshell, M7 must have cajoled Mbabazi that he is the next President as he(M7) was preparing to leave the Office in his hands.Mbabazi is aware that M7 no longer has the mandate of the people of Uganda, but he is just thriving on rigging his way to the Presidency.

That must have been the only message he was fed on to accept to leave the two lucrative positions of the Minister Of Security and the Secretary General of the NRM Party.Being the Minister of Security, he must have been in an enviable position and privy to security information indicating the waning of the power base of M7 and I can i assure you that he must have been working day and night to take the advantage of this.

Also M7 is a man who never trusts his own shadow, sensed this and had to move faster to stem the tide from bursting his political bunks which are in place to groom his son Muhoozi to be the successor. Even Mbabazi could have been told that he will be the next President and be served by Muhoozi until he leaves power to Muhoozi,thus completing the circle of protecting their loot.

Being appointed a PM as we all know how M7 works, is in away to deny Dr. Karyaburo the formidable Political/Military clot he has been building around himself for a long period to come to fruitation.In this, he had both Politicians as well as Military officers backing him.Actually Mbabazi's wings have been clipped and is now like a lame duck.

Also, our historians should find our what is hidden in the closets of both Museveni and Mbabazi which one time Mbabazi warned M7 with that if he falls, he (M7) also falls.The way M7 colors Mbabazi is really suspect.
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