On Tuesday, President Museveni named his new 81-member Cabinet, with notably more women than ever in his previous appointments.
Our count shows women number 37 in the line-up of ministers that currently total 81, with two possible additions of Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, presently vacant, and a new State minister slot that Parliament approved yesterday.
This means women so far constitute 46 per cent of total ministers.
In the previous Cabinet, there were 26 women.
The increase in the number of women in Executive appointment, including taking the second top position of Vice President and Prime Minister, has stirred excitement in some quarters, raised curiosity about President Museveni’s calculation and sparked discourse about quantity versus quality.
While women activists are happy that they now have a good representation in the Executive, others wonder whether the appointees will have impact.
Mr Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a senior lecturer of history at Makerere University, said debate about the number of designated female ministers is defective because one “gets everything wrong by considering quantity over quality”.
But for the Forum of Women in Democracy (FOWODE), a front liner in skilling women on political leadership, the appointments make a world of difference and increase visibility of their own in higher echelons of government.
“I am excited that the number of women in leadership has increased because we (FOWODE) have been doing some advocacy and drumming the fact that the number of women in leadership needs to increase,” said Ms Patricia Babiiha, the FOWODE executive director, citing Uganda’s international commitments.
She added: “But, also, it is not about gender, but capability of women. Yes, numbers are important but what the women in these spaces are able to do is as important as the numbers … We are also hoping that these women will use their respective positions to actually advance women’s issues as well as ensure lives of women in Uganda are transformed.”
However, Ms Cissy Kagaba, a lawyer and the executive director of the Anti-Corruption Coalition, raised a red flag.
“It is the reason why people would go on social media and make fun of former Vice President, Edward Ssekandi,” she said.
Mr Ssekandi, who was vice President for a decade, has been replaced with Ms Jessica Alupo, the Katakwi Woman Member of Parliament (MP), while former junior Health minister for Genral Duties, Ms Robinah Nabbanja, has been tapped as Prime Minister and Leader of Government Business in Parliament.
Other women in key Executive positions include Ms Rebecca Kadaga, the former speaker of Parliament, named the 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs, and First lady Janet Museveni, who has retained her Education portfolio while former Information Minister Judith Nabakooba takes charge of the Lands ministry.
In total, 14 out of the 32 full ministers are women as are 23 of the 50 state ministers.
Explaining the appointments yesterday, President Museveni said: “When Jesus started his movement, there were intellectuals like Pharisees. But Jesus went for the fishermen. So, when you see my (Cabinet) list, know that I am in the path of Jesus Christ.”
Ms Sandra Aceng, the programme manager, information sharing and networking at Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), was upbeat about the appointments despite reservations on the ability of the chosen women to make real difference, particularly on women causes.
“My only worry is whether these women will be able to speak for themselves or even make independent decisions. Only time will tell,” she said
Mr Ndebesa is sceptical too.
“I don’t know any of these women as women activists. I don’t think [Vice President-desginate Jessica] Alupo, [2nd Deputy premier-designate] Kadaga or [Prime Minister-designate] Nabbanja are anywhere near defending women rights,” he said
The Makerere lecturer asked, “Where are the women activists on this list?”
For Mr Fredrick Kisekka-Ntale, a researcher in politics at the Development Research and Training Institute, the big number of women in Cabinet evidences emancipation.
“Women for the past many years have been struggling to be noticed in politics and, so, this is kind of rewarding them in their efforts,” Mr Ntale said yesterday.
He added: “But, also, I think the President is trying to capture new areas of alliance and is trying to see whether bringing more women on board may actually make this work.”
Analysts such as Mr Crispin Kaheru, the executive secretary of the National Initiative for Civic Education in Uganda, said the appointments reflect reward for great mobilisers of the ruling National Resistance Movement party.
Prime Minister and Leader of Government Business in Parliament
1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs
3rd Deputy Prime Minister and Minister without Port-folio
Janet K Museveni
Minister of Education and Sports
Mariam D Babalanda
Minister, Office of the President (Presidency)
Minister, Office of the President Serviced by the State House Comptroller, in charge of Science, Technology and Innovation
Minister for Kampala Capital City and Metropolitan Affairs
Minister, Office of the Prime Minister (General Duties)
Maria G Kitutu
Minister of Karamoja Affairs
Minister of Energy and Minerals Development
Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development
Minister of Health
Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development
Minister of State, Office of the President (Ethics and Integrity)
Diana N Mutasingwa
Minister of State, Office of the Vice President
Esther D Anyakun
Minister of State, Office of the Prime Minister (Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees)
Grace F Kwiyucwiny
Minister of State, Office of the Prime Minister (Northern Uganda)
Minister of State, Office of the Prime Minister (Karamoja)
Minister of State, Office of the Prime Minister (Luwero Triangle-Rwenzori Region)
Jennifer K Namuyangu
Minister of State, Office of the Prime Minister (Bunyoro Affairs)
Minister of State for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (Fisheries)
Minister of State for Defence and Veteran Affairs (Veteran Affairs)
Joyce K Moriku
Minister of State for Education and Sports (Primary Education)
Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development (Privitisation and Investment)
Minister of State for Gender, Labour and Social Development
Sarah Mateke Nyiraba Shitsi
Minister of State for Gender, Labour and Social Development (Youth and Children Affairs)
Minister of State for Gender, Labour and Social Development (Disability Affairs)
Minister of State for Health (General Duties)
Minister of State for Health (Primary Health Care)
Minister of State for Information (Communication Technology and National Guidance)
Minister of State for Lands, Housing and Urban Development (Housing)
Minister of State for Local Government
Grace Mary Mugasa
Minister of State for Public Service
Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (Trade)
Minister of State for Water and Environment (Water)
Minister of State for Water and Environment (Environment)
1. Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, Vice President
2. Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister
3. William Byaruhanga, Attorney General
4. Sam Kuteesa, Foreign Minister
5. Ronald Kibuule, State Minister for Water Resources
6. Sarah Kanyike, State minister for the elderly and the disabled
7. Amelia Anne Kyambadde, Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.
8. Beti Kamya , Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
9. Mwesigwa Rukutana, Minister of State for Gender, Labour and Social Development
10. Rosemary Seninde, State Minister of primary education
11. Godfrey Kiwanda Suubi, State Minister for Tourism in the Ugandan
12. Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi Minister of State for Youth and Children.
13. Simon Lokodo , Minister of State for Ethics & Integrity.
14. Molly Kamukama State Minister for Economic Monitoring
15. Henry Aggrey Bagiire , State Minister for Agriculture .
16. Joy Kabatsi , State minister works
17. Agnes Egunyu Akiror, State Minister Teso
18. Julius Maganda ,State Minister for East Africa
19. Benny Namugwanya,State Minister for Kampala Affairs
20. Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, Minister of Science, technology and innovation.
21. Mary Karooro Okurut Minister of General Duties
22. Gen Elly Tumwine, Security Minister