MP Anite: Loyal cadre or opportunistic politician?

Northern Youth MP Evelyn Anite (kneeling) reads the resolution by NRM MPs to endorse President Museveni as their presidential flag-bearer for 2016 last Tuesday in Kyankwanzi. Front row (L-R) Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, Vice President Edward Ssekandi and MP Sam Engola. PPU PHOTO

What you need to know:

Northern Uganda Youth MP says her mother raised her to work for President Museveni.

Thursday February 6, 2014: President Yoweri Museveni appoints Allan Kajik, a public relations practitioner, as deputy Resident District Commissioner for Kampala Central. Kajik is husband of the northern Uganda Member of Parliament for Youth, Evelyn Anite. Sunday February 9, 2014: Anite moves a motion in the NRM Caucus, endorsing Museveni as the party’s sole presidential candidate for the 2016 polls, effectively cementing a 35-year-old hold on power.

Of course, it may be stretching it too far to assume a connection between the two events. But it does offer ground for the political arithmetic of cause and effect, where observers put two and two together, to get five.

Ms Anite has this past week been the buzzword in most of Kampala’s political talk. This discourse has been informed by the raw, sheer zealousness with which she went about endorsing the President. Down on her knees, she knelt and begged; she danced and chanted in praise of Museveni, acts that bordered on human worship with she, the faithful believer, beseeching her messiah not to let go.

Political rise
In studying Ms Anite’s actions, one finds the contrast in description, between a politician known for unwavering loyalty, and, a schemer who can tell an opportunity to exploit with her eyes closed.

Anite’s political rise to spokesperson for the NRM Caucus by 2011 would seem a little high for a then 27-year-old. That could be testimony of just how much ambition drives her, an ambition that can at least be traced back to her university days.

It is while she studied Mass Communication at Uganda Christian University (UCU) that she debuted on the tense radio political talk-show scene, a breeding ground for NRM cadres, many of whom have now earned themselves RDC slots.

“To me, that was a platform to not only appreciate the politics of the country, but to also network with employers,” she told this newspaper last year. Thus began a journey that by 2011, left her speaking on behalf of the parliamentary caucus of the country’s biggest party.

At UCU, Anite is remembered for having shunned active university politics. She, however, vibrantly campaigned for friends who sought office. This, some of her former classmates recall, stemmed from a deep sense of loyalty she felt to a given individual.

But were Anite’s gimmicks in Kyankwanzi a continuation of this vein of loyalty, this time to President Museveni, or is it the opportunist in her? Anite tries to assert that it is the former. Sources familiar with her situation tell this newspaper that Anite hails from an Arua-based family, with a decades-long collaboration with Mr Museveni, offering him a shelter of support in northern Uganda during the times when it was an opposition stronghold. He even attended her wedding.

Her father, Steven Dravu, was a Gombolola Internal Security Officer in Arua.
“My mother raised me to work for President Museveni,” she says, reflecting on a tale her mother, Sarah Wokoru Dravu, told her, of a time back in the 1990s. Her mother was unable to contest for a parliamentary seat for a lack of needed qualifications; so, she (mother) offered Anite to the President. “Instead, I will give you my daughter. I will educate her and when she is grown up, she will work for you,” Anite quotes her mother.

Anite speaks with a certain intensity about President Museveni, noticeably searching for adjectives that can communicate ultimate praise, with which to refer to him. She rubbishes any thoughts that she was influenced to make the endorsement, or that she was induced by some form of political gain.

Better pay
About her husband’s RDC slot, she said, “By the time he was made RDC, he was employed by a reputable organisation. His former job as deputy public relations officer of National Medical Stores, paid better than the RDC slot. We only took it because of our loyalty to the President.”

About whether she is eyeing a ministerial appointment, she said, “It is not one of the items on my agenda.” I am still young, she said. My future is bright; I am not rushing, she added.
For the foreseeable future, Anite has set her sights on the Woman MP seat for Koboko District.

Could her actions have been aimed at catching the President’s eye, and win his support in unseating the incumbent Margaret Baba Diri? No, she retorts. “I do not need to do that. People love me.

In Koboko, I am known as the MP who speaks with actions,” she says.
After helping the President deliver a knockout punch against any in-house competition, eyes will be cast on the ladder Anite climbs from now onwards. Any appointments henceforth, as and when they come, will likely be seen as a token for helping deliver this coup. To her though, it is simply a question of loyalty.

Anite’s education background
Age: Born on November 11, 1984.
Education: Attended Arua Hill Primary School, St Mary’s Ediofe Secondary School for O-level, and Muni Girls Secondary School for A-level.
Higher education: Studied Mass Communication at Uganda Christian University