Sunday June 1 2014

I predict no Cabinet reshuffle and Amama Mbabazi to remain

By Prof George W. Kanyeihamba

It will not be the first time that my prediction is wrong but I love predictions. Knowing what I do and being familiar with the politics of my country, I believe that there will be no major Cabinet reshuffles or dropping of Amama Mbabazi from government before the holding of the 2016 general elections.

One of my golfing friends, Fr Peter Sutton, now posted to West Africa, once proved my prediction wrong. We were playing golf together during the time when the Pope visited Uganda.

On a certain day of the week, all the priests and bishops of the Catholic Church in Uganda were summoned to either Entebbe Airport or Rubaga Catholic Centre for the pontiff’s arrival and welcome. I predicted quite reasonably that Fr Peter would not honour our appointment to play golf on that day.

I was mistaken, Fr Peter appeared on the golf course that time and he joined me and our mutual friend and golfing colleague, Mr Paul Kadoma, as agreed in the previous meeting.
On arrival, the Father simply explained why he had decided to join us instead of going to the airport to meet the Pope. “My children, I prayed over the matter and God revealed to me the right decision”.

“The Holy Father is going to be met by thousands of priests and hundreds of bishops on the other hand, the sheep, my golfing friends will be alone with no one to guide them on the spiritually as they play golf. That is why I volunteered to join you instead of joining the religious crowd that is thronging at the airport and Rubaga”. Paul won our round of golf but Peter and I thoroughly enjoyed the walk together.

At the end of our play, we sat at the picturesque balcony of the golf course overlooking hole number 18 and enjoyed some refreshments. While we relaxed, Fr Peter taught us the difference between believers and non- believers.

He philosophised, “When you believe, no explanation is necessary. When you do not believe, no explanation is possible”. He then referred us to the Holy Trinity and the Virgin birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Consequently, since I believe that there will be no reshuffles and Amama Mbabazi will remain in Cabinet, the reader does not have to believe my reasons but I will give them all the same.

Firstly, the close political and governmental relationships the President and Amama Mbabazi have had since the liberation movements commenced in the early and late 1970s and 1980s, both have had love and hate relationships in between the years they have intensely shared. They are like Siamese twins joined with the same heart and brain. They will survive or perish together.

Many political observers who know and understand the NRM party well believe that the recent reports of the widening gap between the two senior politicians are either exaggerated or are exercises in shadow boxing that will dupe Opposition parties in believing that 2016 will be an easy ride for them. Nothing could be further from the reality.

Secondly, most ministers and government cadres will support Museveni in any contest with anyone else. They will on the principle that he who pays the piper calls the tune and that where two powerful generals are fighting a civil war, it is advisable to side with the eventual winner than with the loser. My considered opinion is that nationally Museveni would easily defeat Mbabazi in a presidential election.
President Museveni, utilising state machinery will triumph with a comfortable working majority and then plunge Uganda into more murky waters of undemocratic rule, devoid of integrity and honesty. He will need the likes of Amama Mbabazi to survive and prosper politically.

Lastly, the President must realise that a reshuffle now will leave him and his party little time to reorganise and campaign effectively for the 2016 elections. He will still need Amama Mbabazi for the 2016 elections. When the US President Lyndon Johnson was challenged on his appointment of his political colleague to Cabinet, he said: “I would rather have him inside pissing outside than outside pissing in”. Those were his and not my words. I therefore won’t apologise for their vulgarity.

Prof Kanyeihamba is a retired Supreme Court judge.