Sources: Museveni on retreat to nail ministers on mabaati in Cabinet reshuffle

Sources: Museveni on retreat to nail ministers on mabaati in Cabinet reshuffle
Museveni is expected to drop ministers Kitutu (top-right) and Lugoloobi

Museveni Museveni has been expected to reshuffle his Cabinet since April last year when he vowed “political action” against his ministers who had been implicated in diverting thousands of pieces of iron sheets meant for vulnerable persons in Karamoja sub-region.

KAMPALA - President Museveni has retreated to his Kisozi farm in Gomba District to make the final call on a long-awaited Cabinet reshuffle.

Museveni Museveni has been expected to reshuffle his Cabinet since April last year when he vowed “political action” against his ministers who had been implicated in diverting thousands of pieces of iron sheets meant for vulnerable persons in Karamoja sub-region.

The time has finally dawned, sources at State House say, with most of the ministers implicated facing the axe as Mr Museveni dots the I’s and crosses the T’s in a Cabinet that will likely champion his government’s bid in the 2026 general elections.

“Kitutu will not come back,” a source said in reference to Karamoja Affairs minister Mary Goretti Kitutu, one of the three ministers earlier arrested and charged in court over the theft of the iron sheet pieces.

The other ministers are Amos Lugoloobi (state for planning) – who had already roofed his animal shed in Kayunga District with the iron sheets – and Kitutu’s deputy Agnes Nandutu.

Nandutu became the first minister to be committed for trial by the High Court last April over the iron sheets scandal. She was charged with dealing in suspect property contrary to Section 21a(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2009.

The two ministers are understood to have also been nailed on the iron sheets and will not return to Cabinet – unless the gods intervene.

Other expected casualties include Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, who was also implicated in the iron sheets scandal. Nabbanja, who headed the “Cabinet of Fishermen” as Museveni called it, will be re-deployed.

She pays for failure to superintend over the OPM.

PM Robinah Nabbanja

The iron sheet scandal

In Financial Year 2021/2022, Parliament passed a Shs39 billion supplementary budget to OPM to among others support the disarmament process and support of livelihoods of vulnerable persons in Karamoja through provision of agricultural inputs like goats to improve peace and eliminate cattle rustling in the region.

Shs22 billion was used for the purchase of goats and 100,000 iron sheets at Shs8 billion were procured. However, only 650 iron sheets were distributed to the entire sub-region, with over Shs8 billion unaccounted for.

An angry President Museveni in April last year wrote to Premier Nabbanja, directing that the ministers who received and took the iron sheets for personal use were “thieves” who should be prosecuted.

“Those involved must both bring back the mabaati or equivalent value in money but also be handled by the police under the criminal laws of the country. I will also take political action once the police have concluded their investigations,” he wrote.

“If somebody took mabaati (iron sheets) meant for the Karachuna (Karimojong warriors) and gave them to people or institutions in his or her constituency, this is political corruption. It is like bribing voters so as to get political favours. In the case of the mabaati, it is at the expense of the Karachuna, but also at the expense of the security of the country.”

However, Director of Public Prosecution, Jane Frances Abodo, has cleared some top officials implicated in the scandal, citing lack of sufficient evidence.

Vice President Jessica Alupo, PM Nabbanja, Parliament Speaker Anita Among, and Finance Minister Matia Kasaija proved too big a fish each but Nabbanja’s fall could continue Museveni’s stance of dropping implicated ministers regardless of the size of the scales in their fish.

Although former Health ministry officials Alice Kaboyo, Jim Muhwezi and Mike Mukula have bounced back at various levels in Museveni’s government, they had earlier been dropped from Cabinet for their role in the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) funds scandal.

Former State minister for Labour Herbert Kabafunzaki was dropped after his 2017 conviction for corruption. Kabafunzaki solicited and accepted a bribe of Shs5 million from AYA group boss Hamid Muhammed.

Agnes Nandutu awaits her fate in Museveni Cabinet,

The bribe was an inducement to clear Muhammad of sexual abuse allegations made by a former employee, Jamila Opondo.

Former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya was in May 2011 sacked after he was indicted and briefly jailed in April that year on charges of alleged abuse of office and fraud related to the Commonwealth summit held in Kampala in 2007.

Ronald Kibuule lost the State minister for Water job in 2021 after his raft of public scandals, including assaulting a female guard in a banking lobby in Mukono, preceded his reputation.

In 2019, Aidah Nantaba lost the State minister for ICT seat after she reportedly ordered her guards to shoot a motorcyclist, Ronald Ssebulime, on suspicion that she was being trailed by an assailant.

Nantaba, who famously called the President “Daddy” and would call him up and put the phone on loud for all to hear their engagement, has since disappeared from the political landscape after Ssebulime’s killing.

President Museveni is expected to finalise his Cabinet in coming days, with the 2026 re-election agenda at the top of his decisions.

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