The politics of sharing the national cake notwithstanding, in assembling his fifth term Cabinet line-up, President Museveni probably focused on having a team that will deliver the country to middle income status in less than four years.
In a new Cabinet line-up of 80 ministers, up from 79, the President has restructured some ministries and departments, axed old hands and brought on board some young blood.
The President has restructured Defence docket, adding on Veterans affairs. Kampala City docket, formally a department under the Presidency, is now an independent ministry with two ministers. The Information and National Guidance ministry has now been combined with ICT. Privatisation and Investment was also combined. Senior Presidential Press Secretary, Mr Don Wanyama, said these changes aim at ensuring efficiency and improved service delivery.
“The President has clearly spelt out the task for this Cabinet; get Uganda to a middle income country by 2020,” Mr Wanyama said yesterday. “On whether they can deliver, of course they will. They have no alternative. They must deliver. It’s business unusual this term and the President has made it clear.”
The task ahead
President Museveni has previously said his former Cabinet nearly took Uganda to the middle income status and has asked the new Parliament and Cabinet to ensure that this task is accomplished by either 2019 or 2020. However, to achieve this ambitious goal, analysts expected the President to reduce the size of Cabinet so as to reduce the cost of public administration and wastage.
To political observers like retired Supreme Court judge George Kanyeihamba, in the eyes of the President, the essence of appointing a new Cabinet is not so much about service delivery, but to reward loyalists to ensure “regime survival”, adding that the more Cabinet changes, the more it remains the same.
“The President has rewarded his supporters and it’s obvious he was not thinking about development, not even sharing the national cake,” Prof Kanyeihamba said. “You cannot have a cabinet with people like Kivejinja who is more than 80 years old and expect performance. Mr Kivejinja is just a philosopher. We needed a fresh injection of new blood in Cabinet, not loyalists and novices who have to learn on the job for the next five years.”
Himself a former minister, the retired judge also noted that: “What I served was a Cabinet of principled individuals who agreed to serve under Mr Museveni but advise him on matters of national interest. What we see today is a hotchpotch of cadres whose main purpose is to appease the appointing authority.”
Mr Wandera Ogalo, a city lawyer and others observed that for, “egotistical reasons” the President dropped 81-year-old Henry Kajura, the former public service minister but kept Mr Kirunda Kivejinja, the 80-year-old minister for East African Affairs. Mr Kajura was replaced by Mr Muruli Mukasa (63), who was running the Gender docket.
However, according to Dr Salie K. Simba, a senior lecturer of political science at Makerere University and Dr Fred Muhumuza, a development analyst, the Cabinet appointees are mature people with capacity to deliver as long as they have competent and qualified technical teams under their respective dockets. Dr Simba’s concern with the new Cabinet is that “it’s big”, which means a bloated budget will be needed to run it, hence eating away at funds meant for development and social services such as education and health.
“Why do we need a minister for fisheries when a director can do the job,” Dr Simba asked. “I am in for a thin government. An effective Cabinet should have only 40 ministers, including state ministers. With decentralisation, you need 80 ministers for what? This has increased the cost of public administration at the expense of social services.”
Explaining what it takes to achieve a middle income status, Prof Augustus Nuwagaba, a development expert and a don at Makerere University, said the government should transform the economy through structural reforms, focusing on three sectors; ─ agricultural, industrial and service sectors and transforming human resource from classroom education to skills and turning raw materials into agro-processing.
“The new Cabinet is a mixture of both new and old, the hope is that they do things differently,” Prof Nuwagaba said. “The challenge is to ensure that there is increased productivity and demand because income status must come from high demand. If the ministers continue with the status, quo nothing will be achieved.”
The number of minister in the new Cabinet line-up.
The number of ministers in the old Cabinet.
What they say
“The President has rewarded his supporters and it’s obvious he was not thinking about development, not even sharing the national cake,” Prof George Kanyeihamba, retired Supreme Court judge.
“The President has clearly spelt out the task for this Cabinet; get Uganda to a middle income country by 2020,” Mr Don Wanyama, Senior Presidential Press Secretary.
“The new Cabinet is a mixture of both new and old, the hope is that they do things differently,” Prof Augustus Nuwagaba, development expert
“The Cabinet appointees are mature people with capacity to deliver as long as they have competent and qualified technical teams under their respective dockets,” Dr Fred Muhumuza, development analyst