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INSIDE OTAFIIRE’S KAKUMIRO TRIP WHICH ANGERED PM NABANJA  

By Mulengera Reporters 

It’s a fact that Internal Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire, as we reported Monday evening, lost his cool and told off Prime Minister Robinah Nabanja during the Monday Cabinet meeting. Otafiire put off his gloves after Nabanja branded him a saboteur because he recently traveled to Kakumiro and presided over a public function without first notifying or seeking permission from her.

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Otafiire, a social man who likes attending public functions whenever he gets time, was recently in Kakumiro which Nabanja represents as Woman MP. Mulengera News has established that he had been invited by a doctor friend whose elderly mother was celebrating her 91st birthday. Otafiire was the guest of honor during the birthday celebrations.

Nabanja got wind of it and felt sabotaged that the veteran politician from Mitooma would preside over a function in her area of political jurisdiction without notifying her. She took it as sabotage aimed at propping up those seeking to undermine her reelection chances in 2026. She kept quiet but anger kept bottling up inside her.

An opportunity to vent out that anger presented itself during the Monday Cabinet meeting when VP Jessica Alupo, who was chairing Cabinet in the absence of Gen YK Museveni, permitted members to respond to a Covid19 management paper which Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng had just presented.

The gist of the paper was how Uganda can design the appropriate interventions to manage the 3rd wave which the Ministry of Health says is already upon us. One key intervention that was unanimously agreed upon was amplifying citizens’ vaccination whose slow pace Nabanja blamed on what she called the ineptness of the leaders at the Ministry.

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The truth is Nabanja has always had a borne to pick with Minister Jane Ruth Aceng and PS Diana Atwine because she believes they sometimes didn’t treat her with enough respect and courtesy for the years she worked at the Wandegeya-based Ministry as a State Minister. As such, her views on anything relating to the provision of health social services have always been interpreted or construed by Cabinet colleagues as an illustration of vendetta and desire to revenge against the duo.

Quite rightly and appropriately, Nabanja (who the President one time rebuked for talking too much and wanting to talk about everything) would be asked to keep quiet and allow scientists talk during top management Ministry of Health meetings, something she took personal as if being asked to listen to those with better ideas would amount to being gagged and mistreated. Sources say that the naturally very paranoid Nabanja has never moved on since.

So, in the Monday Cabinet session, people perceived her criticisms of the Health Ministry as an attempt to get back at Aceng. Some even wondered why she doesn’t lead in doing the needful since as Prime Minister, she heads the highest level GoU taskforce on COVID19. It’s this taskforce actually that is mandated to advise the President on all matters to do with Covid19 response and management.

Otafiire responded to Nabanja politely telling the Monday Cabinet session how COVID19 was a very complicated problem not only for Uganda but the whole world. He demanded to know what more Nabanja wants the Ministry of Health to do against a disease and vaccine fatigue which is a problem even for scientists in the developed countries where they have access to technology and more than adequate human and financial resources.

Nabanja imploded before even Otafiire would finish his point. She asserted that the man from Mitooma wasn’t speaking in good faith because he has always been out to get her. She demanded to know what Gen Otafiire personally has against her or wants from her. “The other day he was in my constituency without my knowledge and now is here fighting me again,” she said implying Gen Otafiire (who has been and closely worked with Gen Museveni for more than 50 years) is working with others to bring her down.

Otafiire, thundering like an active volcano, exploded in Kiswahil and leveled off Nabanja within just seconds like no one else has done before. Exhibiting extreme contempt for the PM, Otafiire said he didn’t even know the constituency or district Nabanja represents as Woman MP or hails from. He admitted he indeed was in Kakumiro but he didn’t know it’s the area Nabanja represents. He said even if he were to know, he wasn’t aware that he had to first seek and obtain permission before traveling there.

Otafiire, who is very generous when it comes to supporting friends’ social causes, had been invited to attend and preside over birthday celebrations of an old lady (aged 91) whose name he couldn’t even recall during the Monday Cabinet session. He accused the PM of self-importance and told the cheering Ministers how he has never encountered an inept Prime Minister like Robinah Nabanja. He spoke in Kiswahil and implied the PM “doesn’t know and will never know” anything. He said he prefers people who know that they don’t know many things and be humble enough to learn from those who know.

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Some elderly Ministers tried to implore Otafiire, who thundered in Kiswahil as colleagues cheered for close to 30 minutes (while Nabanja looked for a handkerchief to clean her tearful face), to let go because it’s not good to be belligerent towards a lady moreover in public, said respect is earned adding that, much as he is a humble General who treats everyone with respect, the Kakumiro Woman didn’t merit any. He said he only respects those who respect themselves and not everyone. To him, Nabanja has to earn his respect as opposed to taking things for granted simply because she is the Prime Minister of Uganda.

After the Monday Cabinet meeting, Ministers lined up to receive their phones back (they are never allowed to enter with them/Gen Museveni is that paranoid) and after picking them, they joined another long queue that was meant for those wanting to hug and congratulate Gen Otafiire for helping them bell the cat. The truth is Nabanja‘s belligerence has afflicted many fellow Ministers who resent her for barking at them like little children of the kindergarten.

As a clearly isolated Nabanja found her way out of the State House enclosure, Ministers commended Otafiire for being truthful about the Empress’s nakedness and refusing to be remorseful about the same. Some Ministers are playing hard that Nabanja reports to the President so that Otafiire, who is one of the historicals and longtime friends Gen Museveni values alot, gets the opportunity to say more. And being who he is, Otafiire will most likely be out to defend himself as opposed to being cowed.

Renowned for taking no prisoners, Otafiire is on record using the church pulpit to even dispute the existence of God. “Nabanja stepped on the wrong one because a man who can even question God can’t be expected to fear anymore merely because you are Prime Minister,” remarked a civil servant who started out doing diplomatic work with Kahinda Otafiire in the early 1970s when they were first deployed to work at foreign missions abroad immediately after completing University.

Nabanja‘s Monday Cabinet woes have equally excited some at the OPM where majority technocrats and fellow political leaders don’t like her that much. The technocrats are uncomfortable with her ‘tell it as it is’ language or approach without exhibiting any courtesy.

One famous incident stands out. During her orientation as new Prime Minister, Nabanja came across Under Secretary Collins Dombo, a very bulky man with a huge belly. Without reflecting on the consequences, the paranoid Nabanja who thinks everyone is a thief, suggested that the huge tummy Dombo had was a result of either some strange pregnancy or engagement in too much corruption. People laughed it off but Dombo (brother to Emmanuel Dombo) felt very humiliated and kept quiet.

BROADER IMPLICATIONS:

The larger picture of things is that much as she is hardworking and determined to move mountains in the time she will be serving as Prime Minister, Nabanja needs to sit down and reflect. She must scale down a bit and learn to go slow on especially historicals like Otafiire because those are guys who even Gen Museveni would be reluctant to annoy even when he is the overall boss of the country.

Gen Museveni has always been clear about the respect some of those guys deserve because of the role they played and the revolutionary history behind them. Nabanja had better create exceptions in her calculus and begin to treat them with respect even in instances where they are obviously wrong.

Knowledgeable Cabinet sources say she ought to learn from the experience former Speaker Rebecca Kadaga that combativeness towards colleagues can become counterproductive in the end-and deescalate. This is the case because open war with a colossus like Otafiire can embolden her other adversaries who might be burning quietly because they fear open confrontation. It also vindicates and validates those who have already been complaining to Gen Museveni about being verbally brutalized by the PM who is supposed to be their boss and mentor.

GRACE AKELLO WOES:

To understand the extent to which Gen Museveni values fellow historicals and old friends especially those who have remained loyal to him despite his fallibities, Nabanja needs to reflect on the circumstances under which one time PPS Grace Akello lost her job in State House. Gertrude Njuba, another historical and old friend who Gen Museveni greatly values, onetime stormed Rwakitura demanding to say hi to him. She was on her way from Mbarara and realized Rwakitura wasn’t very far. She got onto Kaguta Road (those days when it was still a very bad road) and pulled up at Rwakitura. “I was on my way from somewhere and felt like I shouldn’t just pass without saying hi to Mzee since he is in,” Mrs Njuba told the President’s security handlers.

They preferred to consult with Grace Akello who was the PSS and she firmly said no on grounds that Gertrude Njuba wasn’t on appointment. The truth is Gen Museveni was there and not very busy. A clearly humiliated Gertrude Njuba reluctantly drove away to carry on with her journey back to Kampala. Gen Museveni learnt about it shortly after and rang Gertrude Njuba with an apology saying “come back I’m here and ready to see you.”

As he waited for her, the veteran leader from Rwakitura rebuked Grace Akello thus: “How can you be a PPS and you don’t know our history in the resistance? Do you know the person you have sent away just like that? What you have done is very wrong. How do you stop a historical like Mrs Gertrude Njuba? Don’t you know her history in the resistance war?” Two weeks later, there was a reshuffle and Grace Akello didn’t survive the Museveni wrath. Today she serves as Uganda’s Ambassador to Rome which doesn’t have as much clout compared to being PPS. (For comments on this story, get back to us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734 & 0200900416 or email us at mulengeranews@gmail.com).

 

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