Why Museveni went for women in Cabinet jobs

Friday June 11 2021

(L-R) Jessica Alupo, Vice President, Robinah Nabbanja, Prime Minister, Rebecca Kadaga, First Deputy Prime Minister


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.

Cabinet Ministers



Jessica Alupo

 Vice president

Robinah Nabbanja

Prime Minister and Leader of Government Business in Parliament

Rebecca Kadaga

1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs

Lukia Nakadama

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)

 Monica Musenero

Minister, Office of the President Serviced by the State House Comptroller, in charge of Science, Technology and Innovation

Misi Kabanda

Minister for Kampala Capital City and Metropolitan Affairs

Kasule Lumumba

Minister, Office of the Prime Minister (General Duties)

Maria G Kitutu

Minister of  Karamoja Affairs 

Ruth Nankabirwa

Minister of  Energy and Minerals Development

Betty Amongi 

Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development

Jane Aceng

Minister of Health

Judith Nabakooba  

Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development

Rose Akello

 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)

Agnes Nandutu

Minister of State, Office of the Prime Minister (Karamoja)

Alice Kaboyo

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)

Hellen Adoa

Minister of State for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (Fisheries)

Huda Oleru

Minister of State for Defence and Veteran Affairs (Veteran Affairs)

Joyce K Moriku

Minister of State for Education and Sports (Primary Education)

Evelyn Anite

Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development (Privitisation and Investment)

Peace Mutuuzo  

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)

Hellen Asamo

 Minister of State for Gender, Labour and Social Development (Disability Affairs)  

Bangirana Kawoya

Minister of State for Health (General Duties)

Margaret Muhaanga

Minister of State for Health (Primary Health Care)

Joyce Ssebugwawo

Minister of State for Information (Communication Technology and National Guidance)

Persis Namuganza

Minister of State for Lands, Housing and Urban Development (Housing)

Victoria Rusoke

Minister of State for Local Government

Grace Mary Mugasa

Minister of State for Public Service

Harriet Ntabaazi

Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (Trade)

Aisha Sekkindi

Minister of State for Water and Environment (Water)

Beatrice Anywar

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