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How Does the NRM Solve a Problem Like Anite?

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Around the 20th of April 2020, about a month into the most stringent part of the Covid-19 lockdown, Mr Francis Zzake, the Honourable Member of Parliament from Mityana Municipality, held a food drive in his constituency.

Not long afterwards, the junior minister for Investments and Privatization in the Ministry of Finance, Evelyn Anite, followed suite and had her own food drive in Koboko Municipality. Both members of parliament handed out a few cup fulls of rice and sugar to selected members of their community.

Their justification without a doubt was that they were supporting the vulnerable in their communities with food relief to help them through the lockdown. The cynics however, read an ulterior motive in their altruism. It seemed to many that the politicians were simply eager to jump the start gun on an election season that had been delayed by the lockdown. The token amounts of food relief that they handed out would support the latter theory.

Whatever the case, the problem they had to contend with was that food distribution drives had been banned during the lockdown. The Government had instituted protocols to facilitate the national fundraising and distribution of food relief, and both Members of parliament acted in contravention of those protocols.

The ban on food drives had been instigated by the President, H.E. Yoweri Museveni. In his own words he had stated that politicians who held food drives were ‘opportunistic and irresponsible’, and ‘a danger to the health of the people’. He had further called for the arrest and charge of all politicians engaged in food drives.

In accordance with the presidential decree, Mr. Francis Zzake, an opposition politician, was arrested and by his account tortured.

Nothing at all happened to Ms. Evelyn Anite, a government minister and member of parliament for the ruling NRM.

This was not the last time that Anite would flout the government’s Covid-19 rules with no consequences. Her impunity suggests that the Covid-19 rules are meant for everyone apart a select few in the NRM.

On July 11th, 2020, both Anite and the Minister of Health, Ms. Ruth Aceng, held events in their respective constituencies that attracted several hundreds of people and violated the standard operating procedures (SOPs) put in place to protect against Covid-19.

The president himself would later mount a spirited defence for the pardon of the Health Minister. He made the case that minister Aceng was a novice in elected politics and had exercised an error in judgement borne of this inexperience. However, no such appeal to pardon was extended for Anite. Her violation yet again passed unmentioned and unpunished.

Anite flexed her impunity again on the 8th of August 2020. She organized a procession with hundreds of people in her constituency to receive an ambulance she had donated to the community. The procession violated every SOP that the Government had put in place to regulate political activity in the pandemic.

Anite would later claim that she was well on her journey to Kampala when the procession arose, but a clever piece of journalism by NBS’ Canary Mugume provided video evidence of her official ministerial car marshalling the procession from its back.

This was not the first time the junior minister had been caught in an outright lie. Yet, the minister’s loose relationship to the truth was not the most troubling part of the events that took place that weekend.

On the 9th of August, a spontaneous gathering in Koboko Municipality began to coalesce in protest to the selective application of the Covid-19 rules which seem to allow Anite and her supporters free rein in political activity without consequence, but limit other political actors in the region from doing the same.

Anite, who in September 2017, had publicly warned opposition politicians that she had the army on her side, responded by calling the RPC of West Nile, SSP Okullu Richard, to report a gathering that in effect was doing what she herself had done the previous day. The police responded with typical force, and what had started as a gathering of a few people escalated into district wide skirmishes with the authorities that allegedly resulted in the loss of a life.

The junior minister is no stranger to controversy. She has long been dogged with allegations of corruption. In August 2019 a whistle-blower alleged to the Inspector General of Government, that the Minister had acted irregularly in trying to influence the sale of Uganda Telecom Limited to Mauritius Telecom.

The allegations stated that the minister had flown to Mauritius as part of a secret effort to ‘seal the deal’. In yet another example of the Minister’s attitude to the truth, she initially denied ever visiting Mauritius. However, when evidence was tabled that the Minister had indeed travelled to Mauritius using what appeared to be a surreptitious route, she recanted her position. She made the suspiciously spurious claim that she had visited Mauritius as part of a course she was undertaking in the United States. As has become a pattern, no official action was taken against the minister.

Whether or not there is credence to the allegations that the minister is corrupt, she has certainly assumed the tell-tale characteristics of a corrupt official in this campaign period. Take for example, that the minister conducted her personal campaign event on August 8th in her official Government car, which means that at the very least the cost of the fuel, the wear and tear on the vehicle, and the driver and his allowances were borne by the tax payer.

Secondly, the minister seems to draw from a bottomless resource bag in her effort to win back her seat. Anite bought an ambulance that costs anywhere between UGX 200 – 350 million, and two double cabin pick-ups valued at UGX 180 million each to support her campaign. All the vehicles are ostentatiously branded with her face. In addition to the fleet, she has doled out cash and food, both of which fudge the Electoral Commission regulations on campaigning.

Even if it is the case that Anite has come by these resources honestly, it does raise the question of how Anite hopes to recoup this outlay if she is re-elected. In her defence, some members of her team have stated that the fleet was paid in full or partly by friendly persons in the business community. Yet, this in no less problematic. It is troubling that the minister in charge of overseeing investment concessions and handling the privatization of government assets is openly receiving support for her private campaign from investors. If these ‘gifts’ are not outrightly illegal, they are at the very least very irregular.

It is worth dwelling a bit on the ambulance. In Uganda, the ambulance has become an election season trope. Every 5 years the car bonds are stocked with ambulances to supply a glut of demand from members of parliament who have underperformed or have nothing to show for their 5 years in

office. The intention seems to be that the ambulance as a gift to the constituency, is supposed to make-up for the lacklustre showing. If this is the case, Anite’s has a lot of making-up to do.

The most recent parliament score card which assess Members of Parliament on their attendance of plenary and committee sessions, and their performance in their constituencies ranked Anite among the worst performing members of parliament with a score of 26%. The official line from her team has been that Anite’s official ministerial duties handicapped her performance in parliament. However it is worth noting that some of the best performing members of parliament were ministers, with the overall best performer being a fellow minister of state in her own Ministry of Finance.

The government has gone to extreme lengths to defend the restricted environment under which the forth coming elections are to be conducted. It has become imperative that the government demonstrates that the new restrictions are in the interest of the people and not an opportunistic ploy to favour incumbency in the forth-coming elections. To this effect the president and the rest of the party leadership have appealed to their members to go above and beyond in being exemplars of SOP conformity.

In addition, there is a general election to be won against an opposition that is intent on campaigning on the grounds that the ruling party has fostered gross social inequality. The effect the Covid-19 lockdown has had on the base of the population has lent credence to the opposition message. The lay person has borne the brunt of the economic turndown ushered in by the lockdown. The ruling party has moved to counter this message by positioning itself as the party of the people. The planned 2021 party manifesto aims to hammer home this message by focusing on making capital accessible to the base.

Anite who is quick to claim that she is the preferred candidate of the president, presents a problem for the ruling party. In conducting her campaign as an entitled, dubiously wealthy, party insider with the security service at her beck and call, she is in effect flying against the image the party wants to portray and validating the opposition’s claims against the government.

The situation is quickly coming to a head. The ruling party can no longer afford to keep turning a blind eye to Anite’s flaunting of rules and the whispers of irregularity that seem to follow in her wake without appearing complicit. At some point the party has to act in its own self interest and bring the maverick minister to order.

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Source – thetowerpost.com

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Politics

Making sense of a thick neck Museveni cabinet

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President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

 

 

A thick neck isn’t defined by a certain measurement. Rather, it’s measured in proportion to the rest of your body in terms of height, weight, and composition.

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Accordingly, the same description can be said of the latest cabinet reshuffle by President Yoweri Museveni.

The naming of former Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence operative and a one term Education Minister Maj. Jessica Alupo, Vice President and Robinah Nabanja, the Kakumiro district Woman Member of Parliament as Prime Minister perfectly suits the above description.

Politically both ladies are suitable for their positions but will they match the game of the day?  A quick look at Maj. Alupo, she has been politically struggling to make a return from political oblivion after she was beaten by Violet Akurut who defeated in 2016 Katakwi district Woman seat, Alupo, apart from her spying skills, she hasn’t gained much experience that comes with job of Vice President. Yes, she could be loyal to her party but in terms of real state craft, Alupo can’t match the likes of Prof. Gilbert Bukenya and Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe. In picking Maj. Alupo, Museveni could have wanted to deflate Busoga politics by bringing in a Catholic and from Teso also in Eastern Region since the Teso overwhelming voted for him. Anyway, that said but what is the job of VP? And perhaps President Museveni wanted amuse the Iteso with presidency convoy that comes with VP status as described by Maj. John Kazoora in his book.

President Museveni talking to Akurut and Alupo at his campaign in Katakwi last year. (Picture by Godfrey Ojore /NV)

Enters Robinah Nabanja, the Kakumiro/ Kibaale iron lady, is a loyal servant of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) having started as a mobilizer, Resident District Commission to Member of Parliament, State Minister of Health in Charge of General Duties and now Prime Minister.

Nabanja is assertive and a go-getter. She is a mobilizer but little is known about her in matters of boardroom politics. The Office of the Prime is the second highest department in government after presidency, it is vital and coordinates key ministries and government agencies and therefore, with Nabanja being named PM, will she be up to the task given that the office she is given needs someone of a critical thinker and a leader?

The PM is the leader of government business in parliament and is mandated to coordinate all government interests. The previous PMs that have served in the same position have proven that indeed one must be equal to the task as demonstrated by late Prof. Apolo Nsibambi, John Patrick Amama Mbabazi and Ruhakana Rugunda. But it is never too late, let’s accord PM Nabanja her time.

 

Rebecca Kadaga as 1st Deputy PM and Busoga politics

Rebecca Kadaga

The former Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has been nominated as 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Affairs. She takes over the affairs of the East African region. The slot of 1st Deputy Minister has been unoccupied with Ministry of East Affairs being run separately. She is deputy to Nabanja. However, her appointment is surprising given that she is a former Speaker, could it be that it was her own downplaying of VP position that Museveni didn’t name her VP?

Still in Busoga, Museveni named former Gender State Minister Lukia Isanga Nakadama as 3rd Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Without Portfolio, she replaces late Kirunda Kivejinja a fellow Muslim. She is from the greater Iganga district and has wide network of Muslim networks. Political experts believe that the reentry of Isanga to cabinet as 3rd Deputy Prime Minister was to balance the politics of day given that Kadaga who previously served as Speaker had been reduced to 1st Deputy PM and remains a popular figure in the region.

Busoga further saw the entry of NRM Secretary General Justine Lumumba as Minister of General Duties office of the Prime Minister, Mariam Dhoka Babalanda as Minister of Presidency replacing a fellow Musoga Esther Mbayo.

Lukia Isanga Nakadama

 

Sanctions/ ICC factor and historical factors

 

With reported Untied States travel and economic sanctions looming on heads of individuals that were listed by United States government, President Yoweri Museveni hasn’t taken a gamble with those threats. And that is why is so.

General Elly Tumwine the outgoing Secretary Minister is among the names that were listed as to have violated rights of Ugandans during the just concluded elections. Coupled with arrogance in which he exhibited himself to the public, it was prudent that Museveni had to send Tumwine home though he has gone back to his docket of Senior Presidential Advisor on Security.

Gen. Elly Tumwine, security Minister.

Sam Kutesa He is another former Minister whose name has been soiled with bad scandals and publicity for a long time. Kutesa has maintained that he has been a target by his colleagues and detractors because of his closeness to the first family but that hasn’t helped as his name keep on coming in many alleged international scandals. However, sources say Kutesa had opted to retire from mainstream politics and this could be explained why he never contested for his parliamentary seat.

Sam Kutesa

Ruhakana Rugunda popularly known as Ndugu, is the outgoing PM who has finished his five years as Prime Minister smoothly. He leaves the show a clean as he came. He has been appointed as Special Envoy for Special Duties Office of the President. With Rugunda, Kutesa and Tumwine out, this leaves Museveni with only two historical in government and these are Major Generals Kahinda Otafiire incoming Internal Affairs Minister and Jim Muhwezi, Security Minister.

Former Prime Minister Dr Rugunda.

 

Entry of Gen. David Muhoozi the outgoing Chief of Defence Forces has been appointed new State Minister of Internal Affair, he replaces Obiga Kania who has been moved to Lands. Muhoozi’s appointment has received warm welcome among his peers who see him as clean and young man who is likely to being new energies with new strategies in government that is mostly dominated by the old guards.

Gen David Muhoozi

Muhoozi distinguished himself a strict observant of the law and that can explain why his name has never surfaced among those that violated human rights as alleged by US.

 

Kiryowa Kiwanuka also known as KK is another smart chap that comes in as Attorney General. He has previously played behind scenes in major legal battles regarding President Museveni and government.

Kiryowa Kiwanuka

So, the thick neck cabinet which has been named will be associated with power and strength. it is large enough but nothing much will be gotten out of it as described by the two individuals above (Vice President and Prime Minister).

 

 

 

 

 

 



Source – eagle.co.ug

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NUP endorses Nalukwago Judith as Makerere University Guild Presidential aspirant

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Nalukwago Judith

The National Unity Platform (NUP) has endorsed Judith Nalukwago as Makerere University Guild Presidential aspirant.

Nalukwago was endorsed shortly after the young Makerere strike machine; Obed Obedgiu Derrick opted out of the race. Obed announced that he will not be offering himself as a candidate in the highly anticipated Mak guild elections as the new election roadmap is yet to be released.

“Salutations to you friends, I shan’t offer myself as a candidate in the forthcoming elections as was the case earlier. Thanks to all and sundry for the unwavering support,” Obed wrote on Facebook.

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Although Obed had won the flag bearer primaries early before the closure of the University due to the Covid-19 pandemic break-up, he has decided to give way to the fellow people power member Judith Nalukwago to aspire and promises undying support for her.

In a series of posts on her social media handles, Nalukwago announced that she will be running for the position of Guild President. She says that the seat of the Vice Guild President offered her an opportunity to assert her beliefs and push more for affordable education and education reforms.

“The Vice Guild Presidency presented to me a great opportunity to assert those beliefs and push more for affordable education and address systematic injustice against students in general and women in particular. This struggle is always a work in progress,” Nalukwago said.

She added, “The task before us is an uphill one, but the power of our resolve will be the steam that gets our train moving. In the coming days, I will share broadly about this noble aspiration and what I have in plan for us all.”

Makerere University might get a female guild president after seven years. Anne Adeke Ebaju is the Youth Female Representative in Parliament.

The University now has four candidates in the race; Tumusiime Joseph (independent), Ogutti Aaron (independent), Muhwezi Maczxxon (NRM) and the only lady Judith Nalukwago (NUP). However the competition is between the NRM flag bearer and the NUP aspirant as they wait for the date of 30th March to decide the new elect Guild President.



Source – eagle.co.ug

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FDC’s Ibrahim Ssemujju Declares Bid for Speakership

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Kira Municipality Member of Parliament and opposition Forum for Democratic Change – FDC spokesperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda has declared his bid to challenge incumbent Rebecca Kadaga in the race for Speaker of parliament.

Ssemujju, a vocal opposition strongman made his bid public on Tuesday March 9th while appearing on local television, NBS.

Ssemujju becomes the third person gunning for position after reports about deputy speaker Jacob Oulanya also planning to challenge his boss Kadaga.

This story is still being updated.

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Source – thetowerpost.com

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