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Why Museveni shook up his envoys, RDCs

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MAN-IN-CHARGE: President Yoweri Museveni

Over the weekend, President Museveni made fundamental changes in the Ugandan Foreign Service, appointed more advisors and shuffled Resident District Commissioners and their deputies.The latest changes come on the heels of a cabinet shake-up last week and together they have given the President an opportunity to overhaul the NRM secretariat leadership as well as his State House office.

The President has been on record blaming the poor performance of the NRM in recent by-elections on weaknesses at the party secretariat, which is headed by Secretary General Amama Mbabazi. Many in NRM had expected Mbabazi, who is also Prime Minister, to resign his coveted party job upon his appointment as Premier last year but he has not done so.

This prompted President Museveni to declare recently that he would appoint another officer to oversee the party’s day-to-day mobilisation, even if such a person would not be called a secretary general. In the cabinet changes last week, the President named Richard Todwong, the Nwoya MP, as Minister Without Portfolio in charge of Political Mobilisation.

It’s believed that Museveni wants Todwong to play the role of secretary general. In Saturday’s changes, the President went further and removed the deputy secretary general, Dorothy Hyuha, dispatching her to Dar-es-Salaam as high commissioner. The President is therefore likely to appoint a powerful deputy secretary general soon, to replace Hyuha and also work with Todwong to revive the fortunes of the NRM as the ruling party faces yet another by-election in Butambala County in the near future.

Turning to State House, the President has not had a substantive Principal Private Secretary since trusted and long serving Amelia Kyambadde left the office to join active politics in 2010. Alongside the cabinet changes, the President indicated that he had appointed Mary Amajo to be his new Principal Private Secretary.

In the Saturday reshuffle of ambassadors, the President completed the overhaul of that office by sending Grace Akello and Kintu Nyago, who were both serving in that office as acting PPS and deputy PPS respectively, to ambassadorial duties abroad. Akello goes to Rome, Italy, as head of mission, while Nyago goes to New York as deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Besides attempting to fix his party and his house, Museveni also used the appointments to give a lifeline to supporters who failed politically, reward loyalty, as he has always done, provide a soft landing for cadres he has fallen out with, and give a salary to those who have fallen on hard times. The appointment of Alintuma Nsambu as head of mission of the newly created embassy in Asmara, Eritrea, is one such case.

Only last month, Nsambu failed in his bid to become the Bukoto South MP in a heated by-election. Also on the list is Stephen Mubiru, the former LC-V chairman for Kamuli, who will lead the mission in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Franklin Katungwe, who was persuaded to stand down for Nasser Basajjabalaba in the Bushenyi-Ishaka municipality by-election that the NRM still lost to FDC’s Odo Tayebwa recently, has been appointed deputy head of mission in Brussels, Belgium.

While campaigning for the ruling party candidate in Bushenyi, the President had promised to appoint Katungwe a deputy ambassador if he quit the race, which he has now done.
President Museveni has in the past borrowed a biblical verse to tell NRM leaders that there are many places in his father’s house. The President’s intention is to comfort supporters who lose political contests by assuring them of slots elsewhere if they can remain disciplined.

Among the recalled diplomats is Joan Rwabyomere, who has been Uganda’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom for a long time. She has been appointed Senior Presidential Advisor on Cultural Affairs. Rwabyomere is to be replaced by Prof Joyce Kikafunda, who is credited for nurturing the Department of Food and Nutrition at Makerere University.

Rwabyomere’s removal comes weeks after it was reported that Uganda’s mission in London was involved in a Shs 8bn tax fraud scandal. The UK’s revenue officials reportedly unearthed a shady deal in which Ugandan diplomats had abused the privileges accorded to the High Commission to access tax free goods.

After realising that the High Commission had collected duty free goods worth two million pounds (about Shs 8bn), the revenue officials stormed the high commission and tasked the diplomats to explain why they needed such goods. Apparently the goods were being sold on the open market. It is believed that her recall is connected to this investigation, among other things, that paints Uganda in bad light, moreover occurring at what is arguably the country’s most important mission.

Jack Wamai Wamanga, a former deputy ambassador at Uganda’s Beijing mission, who is now MP for Mbale municipality, said many of the scandals at Uganda’s foreign missions have a lot to do with the calibre of the officers in those positions.

“The career diplomats become frustrated because they should be the ones getting promoted and so when the politicians go there, they fight,” Wamai said.

Besides Rwabyomere, three other long serving envoys were recalled and appointed presidential advisors. These are Francis Butagira, who has been head of mission in Brussels, and is now a Senior Presidential Advisor on retainer, and Joseph Tomusange, who is now senior presidential advisor on retainer as well. Ibrahim Mukiibi also returns home to serve as senior presidential advisor on retainer.

Meanwhile, Maj Gen Robert Rusoke, who has been Joint Chief of Staff, goes to Juba as Uganda’s first substantive envoy in one-year-old South Sudan, while veteran economist Prof Sam Tulya-Muhika goes to Mogadishu in the same capacity. On top of that, Kirunda Kivejinja, the former Internal Affairs minister has been appointed Senior Presidential Advisor (Veteran Affairs), while former Kampala mayor, Nasser Sebaggala, has also been appointed Special Presidential Advisor (Special Duties).

For Kivejinja, it’s an opportunity to remain close to the corridors of power, while for Sebaggala the appointment might do little to extinguish his agony at being denied the position of minister without Portfolio by Parliament’s Appointment Committee last year.

As for the RDCs, some of the notable appointees include Agaba Abbas, former NRM Youth League chairman, who has been posted to Serere, and Herman Ssentongo, the former LC-V chairman of Sembabule, who is now RDC for Yumbe. Margaret Mbeiza, who was rejected by Parliament’s Appointments Committee when she was appointed minister a few years ago, also makes the list as RDC for Mayuge.

Who is new Deputy IGG?

The President also appointed a new deputy Inspector General of Government, previously little known Andrew Munanura, paving way for the inspectorate to be fully constituted in accordance with a court decision for the first time since it was formed. Munanura, the son of retired Supreme Court judge Alfred Karokora, joins fellow deputy IGG, Raphael Baku, and recently appointed IGG Irene Mulyagonja to complete the composition of the ombudsman office as envisaged by the constitution.

Although there were murmurs to the effect that he would be appointed a few days ago, Munanura’s actual appointment came as a surprise, considering that he is hardly known beyond legal circles, and is considered light on experience.

“At first we thought it was Alfred Karokora, the retired judge,” a member of staff in the inspectorate said.

Munanura recently represented Tamale Mirundi, President Museveni’s press secretary in a defamation case filed by Charles Muganzi, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Works. Munanura, aged 43, studied at Ntare School in Mbarara before joining the University of Dar-es-Salaam where he obtained a law degree. He returned to Uganda to pursue a diploma in legal practice at the Law Development Centre before joining the University College of London for a master’s degree in law.

Currently a partner in Munanura Mugabi & Co. Advocates, Munanura previously lectured at the Law Development Centre and also worked at Uganda Revenue Authority as deputy registrar of the Tax Appeals Tribunal.

Outgoing envoys’ fate unknown

However, the appointment of new ambassadors leaves the fate of at least ten  envoys unknown. The new list mentions new office bearers but does not indicate where the outgoing officers have been re-deployed.

It is also not clear whether they have been dropped altogether. The Permanent Secretary in the Foreign Affairs ministry, James Mugume, when contacted to comment today, told The Observer to contact State House. “Please contact State House because it where the list originated from,” he said.


Former station

New office bearer

Katenta Apuuli Brussels Miriam Black
Deo Rwabita Rome Grace Akello
Umar Lubulwa Migadde Cairo Richard Anguakia
Wasswa Biriggwa Tokyo Isamat Abraham
Kweronda Ruhemba Pretoria Peter Julius Moto
Adonia Ayebare New York Dr Richard Nduhuura
Aziz Kasujja Riyadh Rashid Yahaya Semuddu
Prof Perez Kamunanwire Washington Oliver Wonekha
Prof. Semakula Kiwanuka Abu-Dhabi Persis Florence Wekiya
George Marino Abola Ottawa Suzan Adong Odong



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