President Museveni and his former ‘super minister’ Amama Mbabazi will for the second time meet as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa takes oath of office on Saturday.
Mbabazi and Museveni are among foreign dignitaries who have joined the over 30,000 people set to witness the ceremony at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.
Museveni arrived at Lanseria International airport on Friday evening, where he was received by Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Hon Reginah Mhawule and Uganda’s High Commissioner to South Africa Barbara Nekesa.
Mbabazi on the other hand, arrived a little earlier in company of his wife Jaqueline.
This is the second time Museveni and Mbabazi have met under one year, the first being in August 2018 during the give away of the latter’s niece at his residence in Kololo.
Museveni and Mbabazi fell out in 2014 after the former premier developed presidential ambitions. To head him off, ruling party MPs were whipped into passing a resolution declaring Museveni as NRM’s sole presidential candidate for the 2016 elections. This was during a retreat at the National Leadership Institute in Kyankwanzi.
Later in the year, Mbabazi was sacked as prime minister and one year after, he was ultimately kicked out of government, ousted from the powerful position of NRM secretary general. The party constitution was quickly amended, placing the powers to appoint the secretariat leadership in the chairman’s (Museveni) hands.
The two then went head to head during the 2016 elections with Mbabazi scoring a miserable result and retiring peacefully to ‘goat farming’. Mbabazi now has opened ties with Ramaphosa thanks to his niece getting married into the family, this has opened up a route of meeting with Museveni.
Last year, Ramaphosa was seen as a mediator candidate between the two formerly great friends.
Ramaphosa was unanimously elected by parliament after his African National Congress (ANC) won legislative elections on May 8, winning 230 of the 400 seats.
The victory was earned with 57.5 percent of the vote — the party’s lowest share of the ballot since it overturned apartheid 25 years ago.
Ramaphosa is a trade unionist who played a prominent part in the struggle to end white-minority rule before becoming a successful businessman.
His inauguration speech will be scrutinised for clues as to how he plans to tackle the country’s many problems.
They range from a sickly economy in which more than a quarter of the workforce is jobless to entrenched crime and corruption and land ownership that remains overwhelmingly in the hands of whites.
Many solutions will require him to inch his way across the high wire, balancing leftwing calls for radical change with demands by investors for caution.
In his acceptance speech to lawmakers on Wednesday, Ramaphosa vowed his government was all “about change, and you are going to see the change.”
“We have been given this responsibility on an overriding basis to revive our economy, to create jobs, to not only bring hope to the masses of our people, to actualise that hope and make sure that indeed their aspirations are met.”
– Cabinet test –
Ramaphosa’s first test as he starts his new five-year term will be choosing a cabinet — a task beset by rival factions within the ANC.
He is expected to name his new cabinet within days after his inauguration, but his choice of vice president hangs in the balance after his deputy David Mabuza said Wednesday he would defer taking his seat as a lawmaker.
An ANC integrity commission report has alleged Mabuza — the party’s No. 2 — “prejudiced the integrity of the ANC and brought the organisation into disrepute”.
Ramaphosa first took power last year when the ANC forced Jacob Zuma to resign after nine years in office, and vowed to root out corruption.
“The clean-up is ongoing, the cabinet will be broadly clean and meet some notional standard or threshold the market is looking for,” predicted Peter Attard Montalto of the British-based advisory service Intellidex.
– Stadium ceremony –
Breaking with tradition Ramaphosa’s swearing-in ceremony has been moved from the amphitheatre of the Union Buildings — the seat of government, where Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country’s first black president in 1994.
All other leaders after Mandela have taken their oaths at the Union Buildings, whose grounds can accommodate only up to 4,500 people.
But this year the event has been moved to the 52,000-seater Loftus Versfeld rugby stadium, a move organisers said is more inclusive and will allow more people to witness the event.
More than 2,500 police are being deployed for security, while a battalion of soldiers will be inside the stadium to perform ceremonial parades.
The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has castigated government for what it called “wasteful” expenditure of 120 million rand ($8.3 million) for the ceremony.
“It is no secret that the South African economy is in dire straits,” said a senior DA lawmaker, John Steenhuisen.