Usually when President Museveni criticises you publicly or the office that you hold, it is an ominous sign that things are likely to get worse for you.
In this respect, Museveni’s tirade against Irene Mulyagonja should become a big source of worry for the Inspector General of Government, once seen as one of Museveni’s blue-eyed girls.
Delivering his state of the nation address, the president said the Inspectorate of Government no longer had the confidence of the people, that is why he has created a unit in State House to deal with corruption related cases especially within the public service.
Mulyagonja who was part of the dignitaries that attended the function at Serena Conference centre put on a sheepish smile and later tried to reassure journalists that her office still has the teeth to bite.
“I don’t think the unit would have capacity to investigate corruption. They don’t have the technical know how and experience or else will be swallowed by the corrupt,” Mulyagonja said.
One could not help but notice that Mulyagonja sounded like someone, holding onto the last straw, someone who appears to know that her fate could long have been sealed.
In truth, what is happening to Mulyagonja has happened to so many people, previously thought to be impeccable and in good books with the president.
Jennifer Musisi is one example.
There was a time when Museveni used to tout the executive director of KCCA as a beacon of hard work, honesty and fearless leadership.
Museveni once said that if he had 1000 Musisis, the country would be much better.
This praise turned into scorn the moment Museveni realized that some of the actions of Musisi in the city had driven people into the hands of the opposition.
In fact, during one of the rallies of the president in Kawempe division, Museveni said Musisi had done a fantastic job in turning around the city only that she had used so much zeal which alienated many people.
“Ayina obusagwa buungi. Bwetaaga kusabulula,” Museveni said meaning that Musisi needed to be diluted a bit.
Those close to Musisi have told this author that she felt betrayed by these words and the accusation that Museveni lost overwhelmingly in Kampala because of her work methods.
This could explain why she has been rather lukewarm, in her second term, leaving Beti Kamya, the minister of Kampala to run the show.
So one may ask: what went wrong for Mulyagonja that she now finds herself in the firing line of the president, who in 2016 gave her a thumbs up for apprehending Abraham Byandala, the former Works minister and who used to praise her?
A number of things.
First, Mulyagonja’s office has dragged its feet on a number of key investigations.
There is the case of Justine Bagyenda, the former executive director Bank of Uganda who was questioned by the IG but whose case appears to be heading no where.
Bagyenda was questioned in respect with how she had accumulated billions of shillings and amassed property which is not commensurate with her level of earning.
So in this sense, the president, according to those close to him, has not been satisfied with the way the IG and other security agencies has failed to nip corruption in the bud.
Last year, the president had to use the operatives Special Forces Command (SFC) to nab officials in the ministry of Finance who were allegedly trying to extort money from an investor and to arrest Herbert Kabafunzaki, the minister alleged to have solicited a bribe from Aya to quash some investigation.
Sources within State House have told this author that Museveni relied on the intelligence unit of SFC because; one he did trust other agencies including the IG to execute the arrests for fear that they will be easily compromised.
Since personnel of SFC have unwavering loyalty to the president (many call him father and will do anything including dying for him) they could not mess up.
Intriguingly, the other plausible reason as to why Museveni is going after Mulyagonja could have nothing to do with her performance.
It is also possible the president could just be pandering to the public that has been questioning whether his government has the political will to fight graft.
In this case, Mulyagonja could just be a pawn in the game, the same way David Chandi Jamwa, the former NSSF boss and Ezra Suruma, the former Finance minister, were sacrificed at the height of NSSF-Temangalo scandal.
Museveni has perfected this skill because it helps divert attention away from his shortcomings to other things, in this case we are all focusing on the IGG.
Whenever something goes wrong, the president rarely takes part of the blame. It is either a minister messing up things, a PS disobeying orders, a NAADS coordinator frustrating government’s programme, Kayihura failing in his job etc… It is never him because he is Mr Clean.
Whichever way you look at it, Mulyagonja finds herself in an unenviable situation.
Like other public officials before her who have faced Museveni’s fire, her future has become uncertain.
The author is The Editor of The Nile Post. He previously worked as Political Editor, Investigations Editor and Chief Reporter of The Observer and has covered three presidential elections (2006,2011 and 2016).