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Minister Tumwebaze gets death threats

Frank Tumwebaze, the minister for the Presidency and Kampala, revealed in an interview yesterday that there are people who “want to kill me.”

He said he is targeted for being a vocal activist of the ruling NRM and a defender of President Museveni. Tumwebaze said that some members of his family, including a son, have been threatened. He said his son was once threatened by a stranger at a school playground.

“This whole thing [of trying to kill me] has been there for a long time. Sometimes we survive because of the mercy of God,” he said.

Asked whether he has informed the police, Tumwebaze said he had instead stepped up his personal security, becoming more careful about what he eats and where he hangs out. The Kibale county MP also said he is more careful about the people he meets and how he relates with them.

The people behind the death threats, he said, are the same people circulating reports on social media, that he has been suspended for his role in the purchase of Usafi market by KCCA. The reports claim that Tumwebaze financially benefited from the transaction to a tune of Shs 10 billion.

“There is a plan to create a big scandal around me such that I am discredited in the eyes of the president,” Tumwebaze said, adding that with a cabinet reshuffle looming, some people believe this could be the perfect time to “manufacture such reports.”

Yesterday, Wilson Muruli Mukasa, the minister for Security (who is also sitting-in for Tumwebaze acting as minister for the Presidency) and Kampala rubbished claims that Tumwebaze was under any kind of investigation. He clarified that Tumwebaze is on annual leave, which was granted on December 19 by the prime minister. He is expected back in office on February 3.

“Members of the public, staff and all clients of the presidency are therefore encouraged to ignore reports that Hon Frank Tumwebaze is on forced leave and is being investigated by the security ministry over any case. These allegations are totally untrue and should be treated with the contempt they deserve,” Muruli Mukasa said in a statement dated January 29.

Tumwebaze declined to reveal the identity of the people who want him dead. But on his Facebook page on Wednesday, he hinted that his detractors are working for a “political master who schemed unsuccessfully to achieve his political maneuvers.”

He wrote: “He [political master] now sees Frank Tumwebaze and some others as his biggest obstacle. My assurances to him and his agents, however, is that; no amount of their cheap blackmail and mudslinging will silence me into submission. I am happy they feel me as a pain in their crumbling political infrastructure. I am not about to desert the NRM struggle.”

Intrigue

Speaking anonymously, another senior government official said that intrigue in government and NRM had reached record levels as people jostle for political influence. The official said he had also been a victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by people within the government that he serves.

“People think that the only way they can climb up is by fighting you,” the official said.

The official added that there is competition to catch the eye of the president, leading people to use any avenue. The official further disclosed that infighting had taken a new twist, leading to a categorization of some ministers as either “activist” or “passive.”

Ministers like Tumwebaze, Richard Todwong (Mobilisation), Kasule Lumumba (Chief Whip) and Rosemary Namayanja (Information) are generally regarded as “activist” because they are vocal about NRM matters. While they easily stand out from the pack, they are easy targets for political attacks, the official said.

There are those like John Nasasira, Sam Kutesa and Adolf Mwesige (Local Government), who are NRM supporters but are regarded as “passive” because they prefer to work quietly and not to draw attention to themselves.

Yet the back-stabbing, the official said, is not only limited to politicians. Technical people, jostling for the attention of the president (such as commissioners or undersecretaries) in some ministries have authored dossiers against one another. Many of these dossiers reach the president through the intelligence services.

ekiggundu@observer.ug

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