KAMPALA- President Museveni yesterday made his much anticipated Cabinet reshuffle with all signs pointing to a calculation for the forthcoming 2016 general election.
Although he retained a big chunk of his current ministers, Mr Museveni rewarded some ‘outsiders’ largely seen as supporting his 2016 bid for President.
Take, for instance, his most notable appointment of Ms Evelyn Anite, the Northern Youth MP, who last year while kneeling read a resolution by NRM legislators to endorse President Museveni as their presidential flag-bearer.
Appealing to a majority of Ugandans who are repugnant of homosexuality (MPs are representatives of the people and majority do not support it), President Museveni appointed Mr David Bahati, the Ndorwa East legislator and a leading anti-homosexuality activist, to be in charge of planning at the Finance ministry.
Mr Bahati authored the anti-gay bill, which criminalises homosexuality.
Dr Sabiti Makara, a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Makerere University, describes President Museveni’s appointments as a Cabinet for 2016.
“Young people like Bahati and Anite can win Museveni the youth vote. But his Cabinet appointments also show that if you are a free thinker, you cannot serve in Museveni’s government and that is why people like Maria Kiwanuka had to leave,” Dr Makara said.
Mbabazi and 2016
When Mr Mbabazi was sacked, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the Kinkiizi East MP, who had been a critic of Mr Museveni’s government, especially in the wake of the death of the then Butaleja District Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda, told the Observer newspaper that “the day he (Mbabazi) was sacked, the people in Kanungu District consumed all the alcohol and it got finished; so, that shows you that to a large extent, people were happy with (Museveni’s) decision”.
By appointing Dr Baryomunsi a minister, President Museveni has created another power base in Mr Mbabazi’s Kanungu backyard.
President Museveni also appointed as Information and National Guidance minister, Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi.
The Rujumbura County MP was dropped from Cabinet following a judicial commission of inquiry into the alleged mismanagement of Global Fund to Fight HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
While he has in the past denied having any personal vendetta against former prime minister Amama Mbabazi, the Rujumbura County MP was in charge of security and vetting at the December 15 NRM delegates conference.
But President Museveni retained Mr Asuman Kiyingi, who was painted as close to Mr Mbabazi. He, however, transferred him from the Regional Affairs docket to State minister for Works.
Corruption and Supremacy
The corruption and confusion around the construction of Mukono-Katosi road and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) did not spare Mr Abraham Byandala as he was booted out of the Transport ministry and posted to the Minister without Portfolio docket.
Replacing Byandala with his deputy John Byabagambi, perhaps signals an end to a battle of supremacy in the most funded ministry.
Mr Byabagambi had lately taken lead in the ministry, for example, President Museveni tasked him to bring the construction of Mukono-Katosi road back on course after Mr Byandala was implicated in inappropriate conduct in the procurement process of the road project.
Mr Byabagambi was also taking a lead on SGR project. On behalf of government he (Byabagambi) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China Harbour Engineering Corporation worth Shs20 trillion after terminating one with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation which was signed by his boss Mr Byandala.
Without an NRM constituency, Mr John Chrysostom Muyingo, the Independent legislator for Bamunanika County, was moved from State minister for Higher Education to minister of state for Primary Education.
Like Byandala, Dr Muyingo also hails from Luweero District where the NRM last year suffered defeat at the hands of a joint Opposition candidate Ms Brenda Nabukenya in the Luweero Woman parliamentary by-election.
President Museveni could have seen the appointment of the senior educationist as a political liability to the NRM fortunes ahead of 2016.
Mr Muyingo was replaced with Prof Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa, the principal investigator, KIIRA EV Project which produced the Kiira EV car in 2011. His appointment propagates President Museveni’s quest for the teaching of science as opposed to humanities in Uganda.
Unconfirmed reports indicate Ms Maria Kiwanuka, the erstwhile Finance minister, who was named Senior Presidential Adviser for Finance (Bretton Woods Institutions) asked to leave Cabinet.
The other strand to the story is Ms Kiwanuka having no political constituency was also a liability to President Museveni’s 2016 fortunes.
While rejecting an application by Attorney General Peter Nyombi to excuse himself from a case involving Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Justice Yasiin Nyanzi described Nyombi as a man who was ‘groping in legal darkness.’
Mr Nyombi, who reports indicate is in India for an operation, will hold the AG docket no more after he was replaced with his deputy Mr Fred Ruhindi. Mr Ruhindi, who since 2006 has been deputy AG, is said to be very loyal to President Museveni.