Last weekend, Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa surprised many people when he declared at a function in Sembabule District that he was retiring from elective politics. Locals had gathered at the event organised for the promotion of good hygiene and green environment.
Mr Kutesa, a lawyer and astute politician, is ready to vacate the Mawogola North seat for his daughter Shartis Musherure Nayebare.
Some people were surprised because they did not see Kutesa’s retirement coming, leading some to speculate that probably there are political forces pushing for his early retirement. Additionally, the residents were caught off guard since they were not expecting Mr Kutesa to endorse a family member to succeed him in the constituency.
The announcement comes months after the Foreign Affairs minister was mentioned in a corruption scandal that saw Chinese politician Patrick Ho Chi Ping jailed in the US in March for allegedly compromising Mr Kutesa with $500,000 (Shs1.8 billion) bribe, a claim Mr Kutesa refutes.
By and large, the announcement astonished many residents who stated that they were not aware that Ms Nayebare was nursing political ambitions since she had been quietly managing her father’s Sembabule-based Mbabule FM radio station.
By contrast, Mr Kutesa’s political journey started about 40 years ago when he in 1980 as a member of the Democratic Party (DP), contested against Mr Yoweri Museveni and won the Mbarara North seat.
Mr Kutesa would later abandon DP and cross over to the National Resistance Movement party. Mr Kutesa was also later part of the delegation to the Constituent Assembly that drafted the 1995 Constitution.
At the international level, Mr Kutesa was supported, endorsed by the government of Uganda and the African Union Executive Council and subsequently voted the president of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly from 2014 to 2015.
As he exits the elective politics stage after four decades, Mr Kutesa thinks his daughter Nayebare is the one to take Mawogola North forward.
“This is the time for the Shartis’ (youth). You can see how she has managed to mobilise for this campaign (Keep Sembabule clean and green). l trust her, she will do a lot for the area, build on his foundation to take the constituency to another level,” Mr Kutesa said at the rally over the weekend.
But positioning of family members to take up positions of influence is not unique to Uganda. In January, United States president Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, and former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley were rumoured to be among candidates floated to replace outgoing World Bank president Jim Yong Kim when he abruptly cut short his tenure at the World Bank.
Ivanka was in 2017 the driving force behind a $1 billion Saudi-supported World Bank fund to promote entrepreneurship by women. But the World Bank’s board issued a statement declaring that its selection process would be “open and merit-based for all candidates”.
However in Uganda, the suspicion is that some elections are normally pre-determined, depending on how much money you can “invest” in the process. If this is true, then what does this endorsement mean for the people of Mawogola North?
Ms Victoria Nyeko is a media commentator.