Drama as PM Nabbanja, Otafiire clash in Cabinet

Photo combo showing Gen Kahinda Otafiire (left) and Ms Robinah Nabanja (right). PHOTOS/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • Sources say trouble started after Ms Nabbanja, who was making her submission on Covid-19 vaccination, faulted Health Minister Dr Ruth Aceng for the low Covid-19 vaccines uptake in the country.

There was drama in Cabinet on Monday as Internal Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire clashed with Prime Minister Robinah Nabanja.

Gen Otafiire, whom Cabinet sources described as “livid” at some point, switched to Kiswahili and questioned Ms Nabbanja’s methods of work.

At this point, sources say, Vice President Jesca Alupo, who chaired the Monday Cabinet meeting in the absence of the President, couldn’t control Gen Otafiire.

How it started

Trouble started after Ms Nabbanja, who was making her submission on Covid-19 vaccination, faulted Health Minister Dr Ruth Aceng for the low Covid-19 vaccines uptake in the country and explained that many people have not been vaccinated because the Health ministry officials are not taking the matter seriously.

Dr Aceng reminded the Prime Minister that she is the head of the National Taskforce and that a letter she had written in January, on the same matter, was only responded to in June.

After Dr Aceng struck back in self-defense, the Vice President picked Gen Otaffire to make his submission on the challenges in Covid-19 vaccination. Gen Otafiire would then accuse Ms Nabbanja of being unfair to Dr Aceng and Health ministry officials. He asked the premier to be patient with the team and reminded her that Covid-19 is new and that many countries are also struggling to contain the pandemic.  

This angered Ms Nabbanja, who demanded to know why Gen Otafiire doesn’t like her.

The Prime Minister also accused the Internal Affairs minister of fighting her in her Kakumiro constituency and in Cabinet. She sought to know what she did to Gen Otafiire.

Ms Nabbanja’s submission infuriated Gen Otafiire who, according to Cabinet sources, started banging tables and shouting in Kiswahili.

For some minutes, other ministers were silent, including the Vice President.

Attempts to speak to Ms Nabbanja, Gen Otafiire and Ms Alupo on what transpired in Cabinet failed as the officials didn’t answer repeated calls and text messages to their known numbers by press time.

When we contacted the Prime Minister’s private secretary, Mr Robert Mwanje last evening, he declined to respond to the matter and didn’t allow the Prime Minister to speak on the matter.

He, however, referred Daily Monitor to Dr Chris Baryomunsi, whom he said “can ably respond to the matter.”

“I am not able to share anything because when I shared with her (Ms Nabbanja) about that propaganda, there was no comment. Many media houses have called her on the same but she has referred them to Dr Baryomunsi because he is the one meant to share anything from Cabinet,” Mr Mwanje said.

When contacted for finer details on the matter, the ICT minister, Dr Baryomunsi, declined to divulge details of the drama in Cabinet.

Government’s position

While a number of Cabinet ministers Daily Monitor talked to confirmed the story, Dr Baryomunsi, who spoke to this publication at the sidelines of the weekly Cabinet press briefing at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala yesterday, denied the verbal exchanges in Cabinet and talked of “gossip.”

“There was no clash. I don’t know who generated that story, I also saw it on news but I was there from the start [of the Cabinet meeting] up to the end but I didn’t see the quarrelling or what,” Dr Baryomunis said.

Dr Baryomunsi had told journalists that a Cabinet meeting held on Monday at State House and chaired by Vice President Alupo discussed Covid-19 vaccination and, among others, measures on how to contain the growing positivity rate of Covid in the country.

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