What Museveni’s cabinet appointments mean ahead of 2016 general elections

The 8 presidential hopefuls began their countrywide hunt for votes about a week ago, despite their seemingly battle for crowds among the big three in the race, Mr. Museveni, Mr. Besigye and Mr. Mbabazi, the struggle seems to continue to woo voters in various parts of the country amidst the El nino rains.

During this search, President Museveni continues to surprise Ugandans and many are yet to happen. On Monday 16th November 2016, President Museveni, in exercise of Powers conferred on the President of Uganda by Articles 99, 108(A) (1), 108 (2), 113(1), 114 (1) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, made a cabinet reshuffle and appointed Hon. Kirunda Kivejinja Ali as third Deputy Prime minister, East African Affairs, a position that has been vacant since the death of Hon. Eriya Kategaya on March, 2 2013.

In his new appointments, Mr. Museveni appoints Bukedea woman Member of Parliament, Hon. Rose Akol Okullu as the Internal Affairs Minister, filling the position that fell vacant following the death of Gen. Aronda Nyakairima.

While Hon. Kafabusa Werikhe Michael the Bungokho County South MP in Mbale district has been appointed minister of state for industry.

These appointments should not be lightly taken especially during this campaign season. I have sensed sharpness in Mzee Museveni’s appointments and we are yet to see the way they will shape the 2016 general elections.

First forward, the appointment of Hon. Rose Okullu is symbolic and important at this political moment.  We have known president Museveni’s politics of balance of power and creating excitement among the voters.

Majority of Ugandan voters brag around with having ministers and of course we cannot down play the benefits that come along with being a minister including increased loyalty, excitement of voters presumably in having accessibility to the resources and mobilization for the president in the coming general elections.

Ms. Okullu comes from the historical Bukedea district which has a rich history in the Teso sub region on Museveni’s support.

If can reflect back, while much of Teso had voted for the opposition in 2006 including Amuria, Kumi and Katakwi, Bukedea’s residents remained stalwarts of the movement voted Mzee a thing they did also in 2011.

We can as well remember President Museveni’s visit to Bukedea and Kumi on July 12, 2009, Teso has always shown much love to the president through filling his vote banks always. They supported him for the 4th term and we do not know whether this is an appreciation to them or, if yes… why at this time?

Bukedea youth known as the Yellow Brigade to the streets of Bukedea to denounce former premier and presidential candidate Rt. Hon. Amama Mbabazi. We are yet to discover why she was appointed.

However many questions remain unanswered here. It is though believed that Teso sub region has predominantly been traditional opposition FDC’s strong hold that for many years had denied the ruling NRM the grounds.

Another exciting appointment is the one for Hon. Kafabusa Werikhe Michael.  Kafabusa comes from the Eastern region and specifically in Mbale. I wish to draw your attention that the East and specifically the Basoga were already feeling the momentum of change. If you can remember the excitement that these people had especially with Amama Mbabazi’s consultative meetings, if the crowds there mean anything, then Mzee should be worried about his presidency and I wish to argue therefore that Werikhe’s appointment was informed and could be intended to woo the voters in the East into supporting him as he begins with appreciating them.

Busoga has over the years given president Museveni some good headache and I think if you can remember it took courage of the president to even carry money in sacks to donate to the youth and as usual there are expectations. It is believed the Busoga region has been penetrated by Amama as evidenced by the recent Mbabazi nomination by NRM’s Kweeni county MP Abdi Chemaswet. The appointments therefore could be one way of mobilization of 2016.

Kirunda Kivejinja
Kirunda Kivejinja

With president Museveni’s appointment of Hon. Kirunda Kivejinja ALI as Third Deputy Minister & Minister for East Africa has a lot to communicate also. At the age of 80, Museveni finds a lot of wisdom from the former UPC political mobiliser.

Interestingly, Kivejinja also comes from Bugweri in Iganga in Busoga region an area which has been occupied by FDC’s Abdu Katuntu. The eastern region has since been a virgin land for the opposition. We can however not be surprised by these appointments especially the aged Kivejinja.

The appointments come at a time when the size of the cabinet is being criticized by some presidential contenders like Besigye. The cabinet is now 79 ministers. Many more shockers are yet to happen as 2016 draws closer.

By Davidson Ndyabahika, the writer is a Journalism and Communication student (year 4) at (Makerere University)