Opinion: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni Tibuhaburwa doesn’t entertain an alpha male other than himself in his banana republic kraal. He not only believes he owns the carcass that is Uganda, but he is on record communicating the same by word of mouth for all to know.
Those who have proved to be deaf enough not to hear this warning, and consequently attempted to grab the carcass from the man who hunted it for himself, have ended up regretting embarking on such a useless venture..
Such day time dreamers include Museveni’s pals. One is Prof. Gilbert Baalibaseka Bukenya. Just because he had named himself Mahogany, breathed the clean air in the corridors of power and happened to be the dad of a military graduate. Bukenya who until then was a copycat of Yoweri’s mannerism of speech, gait as well as dress, thought quite wrongly that he had grown stronger enough to grab Yoweri’s yummy carcass from its avowed owner.
Well, the jolly medic yanked off the gloves, and walked off the ring as spectators were eagerly waiting for the showdown to proceed. Although Bukenya chickened out of the duel and proclaimed from the rooftops how Yoweri was the only man blessed with the vision of delivering the other clueless forty million Ugandans to the land of milk and honey, the owner of the carcass wasn’t amused at all by those olive branch gestures.
Yoweri quickly made up some criminal charges for his former number two in cabinet. And we all know well how Bukenya ended up changing addresses from Kakiri to Luzira prison where he chilled for quite some time. But, that was not enough reprimand for Bukenya. Museveni took the battle to Bukenya’s political base in Busiro North. That’s how the hitherto revered second citizen lost the constituency to the political rookie in Galabuzi.
The then scarcely known young man earned quite handsomely from this war of beef. Apart from the MP Job, Galabuzi joined cabinet as Bukenya started on his journey to political oblivion. We all know well the humiliation starting from losing the premiership which John Patrick Amama Mbabazi suffered when he attempted to engage Museveni in this battle of the game meat, to deserve further elaboration.
Suffice to state that Mbabazi lost the political glamour which was attracting stadiums of false cheerleaders and crumbs seekers to him upon losing the favor of Yoweri. The former so-called super minister is actually grappling with how to get rid of the political rust he has gathered over time and at the same time fighting harder to get back into the corridors of power as we speak.
The fact that Dr. Warren Kizza Besigye offered free medical services to Yoweri during their five year bush war was not worthwhile enough to spare him from the humiliation and hounding when he attempted to dip his long fingers into the cooking pot. To these ones above, you can add Gen David Sejusa formerly Tinyenfuza who, was once the all-powerful top spy, and Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde too.
Much as the duo were held in awe during their days in the sun as minders of the country’s intelligence, we all witnessed how they were shabbily handled after they were deemed to be eyeing the delicious game meat that is the preserve of Yoweri.
We are not going to waste a lot of time and space going through the hell experienced by the people from the opposition who literally committed the mistake which Mbabazi and others in NRM committed by vying for the national presidency. The bad experience they went through can be expected. They were members of the opposition who were even sleeping while the likes of Sejusa, Tumukunde and Besigye were risking their lives shooting guns in the bush to restore peace for the rest of us.
We now return our focus to the subject of this article, Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, the immediate outgoing Speaker of the Uganda Parliament. Yoweri had suspected for quite some time the woman from Busoga to be building networks in readiness to take his seat. That she was using her big budget in parliament to buy political support from MPs and their voters.
Those MPs who didn’t toe Kadaga’s line, were allegedly being denied chances to travel abroad thereby denying them an opportunity to partake of the fat per diem that comes with such foreign trips. She was also accused of offering the floor of parliament and much time to the opposition MPs, using it to dress down Museveni’s regime.
That her trick was to disparage Museveni and his administration while promoting herself as someone who fights for the causes of the common man and one more accommodative of contrary views in comparison with Museveni who doesn’t purportedly entertain opposing views. Kadaga did not help matters when in a fit of excitement revealed how she was actually interested in real power as opposed to something that looked like it.
To this end, Kadaga sneered at moves by the President to make her his deputy at the end of her ten year term as the speaker of the Uganda parliament. She noted how the vice presidency of Uganda is an amorphous thing devoid of any power. That actually the real power resides in the presidency.
She praised the office of speaker of parliament as a more powerful office than that of the vice president. She advised that such powerless offices should be reserved for people who don’t mind being white elephants so long as they get positions. Before dropping the above bombshell, Kadaga had dared Yoweri to explain why bad things were taking place under his watch.
One such thing which Kadaga required the President to explain was the invasion of parliament by the military during the divisive debate on the opening of the presidential age limit. Following the raid, Kadaga sent a strongly worded letter asking Museveni as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, to explain why he had let loose the military in parliament.
The Ssaabalwaanyi in Museveni doesn’t want to be treated in the manner Kadaga was treating him. He was obviously pissed by Kadaga’s missive which he did not respond to, but instead cast on the dustbin to gather dirt. The other time was when Celine Nebanda, the former legislator of Butaleja, died of what was rumored to be a dose of poison.
Kadaga following the demise of Nebanda insisted on an inquiry into the cause of the death to be conducted by parliament led by her even when the President demanded the same to be conducted from outside the country. So serious the rope pulling between Kadaga and his party chairman was that the latter vowed how the former was going to do what he was insisting on doing over his dead body.
Nebanda’s death was suspicious given how she had put up a spirited fight in parliament to the extent of questioning views Museveni sought to insert in the law relating to the country’s oil. A furious Nebanda is understood to have even asked the First Lady to shut up when she (First Lady) raised to deliberate on the debate. Janet Museveni was an MP at that time.
This is presumably why the rumor mill went into overdrive with claims that her death could have been work of the government. But the court found Nebanda’s boyfriend culpable for her death. Kadaga would also awe the country and annoy the President when she chided the military for shooting dead a total of fifty four Ugandans during the just ended presidential elections.
Museveni doesn’t want to hear anyone likening his army to the past armies which he says were murderous. He can at least stomach such talk if it is directed towards the Uganda Police Force which he routinely labels a good-for-nothing force. These brave incidents and a host of others, much as they endeared Kadaga to Ugandans, consequently placed her right within the firing range of Museveni.
He waited patiently for the opportune time when he was going to pull the trigger and finally deflate the ego of the first female to hold the office of the speaker. That opportune moment arrived when Kadaga’s term of the speaker of parliament finally expired and she returned to the NRM party to seek an extension of the same.
The baptism of fire which Museveni and his lieutenants unleashed on Kadaga during the process of asking for the extension of her term, is still fresh in everyone’s memory, one need not go through it all over again. That Kadaga lost the office of speaker together with the power she was yearning for, is common knowledge by now.
But the President did not stop there. He has dealt another blow to Kadaga’s ego by appointing people far below her political stature as well as experience to be her bosses. Going forward, Kadaga’s bosses in cabinet will be Jessica Alupo and a certain Robinah Nabbanja. Alupo is Museveni’s new Vice President while Nabbanja is the new Prime Minister.
Kadaga will now be taking orders from Alupo much as she has been despising her office as a toothless one. She will also be answering to Nabbanja, the new leader of government business in parliament, since she (Kadaga) has been appointed merely as the deputy premier.
Kadaga will also have to appear before her former deputy of ten years in Jacob L’okori Oulanyah to seek approval for her new cabinet job. Oulanyah got the job of the speaker of parliament after embarrassing Kadaga in an election that was held at Kololo airstrip. Now, this is not only funny, but humiliating to Kadaga who became a legislator way back in 1988 when Alupo and Nabbanja were still in their teens.
She has managed to scale the political ladder going on to clinch the speakership of parliament. Before that, she had served in cabinet at different levels at a time when Alupo and Nabbanja were unknown in the world of politics. Kadaga’s profile is intimidating. She is a graduate of law and one of the finest legal minds around. She boasts of a first class Masters in law from the University of Zimbabwe.
She is credited for having been the first female lawyer to set up the law chambers in Uganda where the likes of Abdu Katuntu cut their teeth in legal practice before turning into one of the fine legal minds as well as acclaimed legislators. Her admirers in fact advise how the President should have appointed Kadaga to the post of attorney general as opposed to Kiryowa Kiwanuka and Kafuuzi who aren’t as experienced and grounded in law as her.
But, Kadaga herself misread the signs regarding the political tsunami that had encircled her and was moving in to drown her. For one, she insisted on running for the speaker of parliament as an independent candidate as opposed to Museveni’s advice who wanted her to leave the floor for Jacob L’akori Oulanyah.
Museveni doesn’t fancy defiance. He was not going to entertain defiance just because the author of it happened to be Kadaga. Kadaga has been around for a long time to learn and never ever forget this. As if rebelling against his boss wasn’t treasonous enough, Kadaga uttered other uncharitable statements that stirred Museveni’s ire a lot more.
She not only advised that a speaker isn’t appointed by Museveni five years in advance, she also elucidated that MPs aren’t supposed to be herded together in the same way a cattle keeper herds his cows. She was of course talking in parables. But, even people of average knowledge know she was sending the strong message to Museveni who is the biggest cattle keeper in Uganda.
Museveni treated this as further contempt by Kadaga. Little wonder he elected to deflate her ego once and for all when the opportunity finally arrived. Failure to take action he took would have encouraged other members of NRM to engage in defiance which Kadaga engaged in knowing their boss was incapable of taking such action.
To cap it all, Kadaga will have to appear before her former deputy of ten years in Jacob L’okori Oulanyah to seek approval for her new cabinet job. Oulanyah got the job of the speaker of parliament after embarrassing Kadaga in an election that was held at Kololo airstrip.
- Mr. Stephen Kasozi Muwambi is a seasoned crime investigative writer, majoring in judicial-based stories. His two decades’ experience as a senior investigative journalist has made him one of the best to reckon on in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected]
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