If all goes according to plan, President Museveni will swear-in on May 12, for the sixth time since Uganda enacted the 1995 Constitution.
Traditionally, the president has selected the cabinet days after swearing in and it is expected that he shall continue with this practice.
Over the last ten years, cabinet appointees have averaged 60 years of age. There has always been a sprinkling of young people in the sea of old men and women.
Yet given the divisive and chaotic election that 2021 was and Museveni’s poor performance in Buganda, the next cabinet is expected to be different in many ways, including in age.
Analysts predict that the next cabinet could be much younger generally and that the president could appoint a sizeable number of opposition members to fulfil two key objectives:
- First in the face of growing international hostility, Museveni’s appointment of opposition members could appease some foreign powers and as a pacifist.
- Secondly, it could be a strategy by Museveni to “kill” the opposition by appearing to be extending an olive branch to it.
The Nile Post looks at the possible exits and entrants as Museveni gears to name a new cabinet in May.
Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi is current vice president having served in that role since 2011. In effect he is the longest serving vice president in Uganda’s political history.
Like his predecessor, Prof Gilbert Bukenya, Ssekandi was appointed to appease two important constituencies: Buganda and Catholic Church.
Yet having lost his parliamentary seat in the recent elections, his chances of coming back appear slim.
Matters have not been helped by talk of former Premier, Amama Mbabazi bouncing back to cabinet and possibly in a much bigger role.
Secondly, Museveni could offer the position to one of the NRM contestants for the speakership of the 11th parliament. The race has already become divisive as supporters of Rebecca Kadaga and Jacob Oulanyah, both senior NRM members, hurl insults at each other.
Handing the vice presidency to Kadaga or Oulanyah could be one of the ways of healing the divisions.
Ssekandi is walking on egg shells.
Dr Ruhakana Rugunda
Dr Ruhakana Rugunda was appointed prime minister in a mini reshuffle in 2015. Rugunda replaced Mbabazi, who had declared presidential ambitions.
It is believed that Rugunda, a Mukiga, was appointed to counter Mbabazi’s perceived support in Kigezi sub region ahead of the 2016 election.
With Mbabazi no longer a threat to Museveni in Kigezi or other parts of the country, is Rugunda’s time in the post over? Probably.
Nankabirwa has served in cabinet since 1998. Yet she did not become a senior cabinet member until five years ago. As chief whip, she had done a tremendous job in mobilising NRM MPs to support party causes.
However, she seems to have rubbed many people the wrong way and following her defeat in Kiboga, she could be headed out of cabinet. Yet she could be saved by her loyalty to the party.
Anite entry into cabinet was unconventional although not wholly surprising. A young, some say, excited legislator, Anite led the charge to clip the wings of Amama Mbabazi in Kyankwanzi in 2014.
A year later, she was named into cabinet where she ended up clashing with some colleagues. Having lost her Koboko Municipality seat, Anite may be on the verge of exiting cabinet. Or is she?
Kamya joined cabinet in 2016 after spending more than 15 years criticising the excesses of President Museveni. Her appointment was intended to mollify the opposition in Kampala and help grow NRM support and she once promised Museveni that NRM would capture at least 80% of the votes in Kampala in 2021. It did not.
Matters were not helped by her crushing defeat in Rubaga North to NUP’s Abubaker Kawalya. Her political value to Museveni has waned and she could be in the departure lounge of cabinet.
Beatrice Anywar and Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, are in the same boat as Kamya.
Kyambadde has worked with President Museveni since the late 1970s, when he served as minister of Defence in Prof Yusuf Lule’s short-lived government. But she made her mark as Museveni’s longest serving Principal Private Secretary before joining elective politics in 2011. For ten years, she has served in cabinet as minister of Trade, Cooperatives and Industry.
Kyambadde lost her Mawokota North seat in January and conceded that “some voters were tired of NRM and wanted change.”
That change could come both ways: she could exit cabinet.
Others who face an uncertain future in cabinet are: Ronald Kibuule, the minister of state for Water; Elioda Tumwesigye; Molly Kamukama, Isaac Musumba and others.
LIKELY ‘NEW’ FACES
If appointed, Amama Mbabazi would not exactly fit the description of new.
However having fallen out bitterly with Museveni in 2015, stood against him and even took Museveni to court contesting his victory, it would be a new lease of life for the Kanungu man, if he were re-appointed to cabinet.
Indeed, a year in politics can seem like an eternity.
Yet question is: Would he come back as prime minister or would he be elevated to the vice presidency?
How much influence will he have?
Bukedea Woman MP, Anita Among, has already thrown her hat in the ring in the race for deputy speakership. Yet what she really wants, sources said, is a place at the executive dining table.
In fact, since the president is likely to plead with some people to step down from the race, Among could use her candidature as a bargaining tool to join cabinet.
She is already influential and is said to meet the president regularly.
Abdu Katuntu has been in Parliament since 2001. In his early years, he was very critical of Museveni to the point that the president once referred to him as a “poisonous mushroom.”
A former supporter of FDC, Katuntu has since become a “moderate” and won January’s election in Bugweri as an independent. Given his vast knowledge and experience in parliamentary and legal matters and his “objective” thinking nowadays, sources say he could be appointed to cabinet come May.
In any case, Katuntu has been doing “special assignments” for Museveni.
Other likely ‘new’ entrants: Thomas Tayeebwa, the Ruhinda North MP, Jesica Alupo who bounced back in Katakwi; Jim Muhwezi and Irene Muloni.