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INSIDE THE M7 DILEMMA TO OUST RUGUNDA FROM THE OFFICE OF PRIME MINISTER TO ACCOMMODATE JPAM

By Mulengera Reporters

As of April/May last year, burning with a rage, President Museveni considered having Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda go and get indicted along with PS Christine Kintu Guwatudde and other top OPM officials who had to lose their jobs regarding the COVID19 relief food, posho and beans procurement scandal that was ostensibly unearthed by Col Edith Nakalema.

Sources familiar with what happened and generally with the workings of government intimated to Mulengera News that Gen Museveni was furious that, as the political leader for the OPM, the ever very amiable Rugunda had failed in his supervisory role upon Guwatudde and other technocrats involved in the inflated COVID19 food relief procurement. It was only after some reflection that President Museveni opted to let Rugunda (who must occupy a high government position to enable the ruling NRM neutralize his fellow Bakiga critics like Besigye, Tumukunde, Mbabazi etc) carry on with his job.

RINGS THE KABAKA

That as he pondered finding a lasting solution to the ineptness with which the soft-spoken Rugunda has steered the OPM business, the very tactful man from Rwakitura reached out to the Kabaka of Buganda and the Anglican Archbishop Dr. Kazimba Mugalu separately asking them to suggest names of candidates they preferred to occupy the very lucrative Premier position. Whereas the Kabaka of Buganda fronted his right-hand man Counsel Apollo Makubuya, the Archbishop fronted the workaholic Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa Sentamu (who is also the long-serving Kiboga Woman MP). Sources say that haters got wind of this impending appointment and resorted to investing in demonizing the two (Makubuya and Nankabirwa) using all manner of media platforms during that period.

Even when Gen Museveni didn’t immediately act on the two names seconded to him, the ultimate plan to oust the good-mannered Rugunda from the OPM to a more appropriate posting isn’t yet off the table. Indeed, posting a new PM will be key preoccupation of the President after securing reelection on Thursday. The idea is to get Rugunda a diplomatic gig without making his Bakiga co-ethnics to feel that their Ndugu has been demoted and thrown under the bus. “With the current Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa clearly cracking because of the UN scandal involving the Chinese philanthropist, there is a huge vacuum on Mzee’s foreign policy front and it’s something Rugunda can fill very well even without being directly named the Foreign Affairs Minister. Mzee is actually considering designating for him a Special Envoy role in which he can comfortably serve without appearing to be demoted but be seen as the defacto Foreign Affairs Minister,” says a knowledgeable State House source privy to the Rugunda dilemma.

IN COMES JPAM

Then you also have ex-Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi in the picture. The very cautious man from Kanungu has already corroborated what has been a media rumor for years that he is indeed a well-reconciled man now and potentially on his way back to government and the ruling NRM bureaucracy. He recently made a non-publicized appearance at a low-key political event in Kawempe where he said he had been delegated to represent Gen Museveni and the broader interests of the ruling party on the eve of the Thursday general elections. Having been Premier already, there aren’t many apex level positions Gen Museveni can give him without seeming to be deflating and undermining him. Having been Prime Minister, in order to avoid being seen as deflating him, Museveni can only cede or get him into the Presidency or Vice Presidency.

Sources close to the President say that the man from Rwakitura, renowned for the tokenism of things like regional balancing, is reluctant making JPAM VP because the Western region, from which they both hail, will instantly be accused of eating too much to the exclusion of people from other regions. Some had imagined Museveni making JPAM Vice President but with more clout and political power than the current Edward Sekandi who doesn’t seem to have any qualms being a ceremonial VP. With that not being a possibility, replacing Rugunda to bounce back as PM seems to be the thing Gen Museveni will end up doing for JPAM. It’s a slot JPAM can have without causing Gen Museveni any criticisms relating to ethnic or even regional imbalance.

With Sekandi very unlikely to secure reelection (if latest intelligence reports are anything to go by), the VP slot could go to incoming Bukomansimbi Woman MP Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi or even Dr. Sarah Nkonge in case she succeeds defeating Cissy Namujju to become the Lwengo Woman MP. The two ladies have similar credentials as Sekandi’s; both being devout Catholics from Buddu which politically is a very significant component of both Buganda Kingdom and the Catholic faith. They also have DP background just like Sekandi some of whose supporters are already mutedly blaming his impending defeat on Speaker Rebecca Kadaga who they say could potentially lose  her speakership to him should he bounce back as Bukoto Central MP.

Such Kadaga accusers are reflecting on the original proposal within top echelons of NRM requiring both Kadaga and Jacob Oulanyah to keep away from the Speakership on the account of being CEC members, a thing that theoretically makes them too partisan to make an effective Speaker of Parliament. Even when returning to Speakership is something some are mooting within the corridors of State House, the elderly Sekandi has privately indicated he wouldn’t be comfortable resuming such a complex role likely to subject him to plenty of direct public pressure, condemnation and social media scrutiny.

Ruth Nankabirwa is another key personality within the NRM who is being rumored to have credentials and appetite too for the Speakership job. In fact, there is paranoia even within the Kadaga circles that the graceful politician from Kiboga could make an attempt on the position making herself number three (3) in the national hierarchy of Uganda. And yet such calculus works well for Gen Museveni because having Nankabirwa replace Kadaga enables him overcome a combative figure (that the Kamuli Woman MP continues to be) while continuing to appease the women constituency. The Nankabirwa posting does at the same time appease her currently very disgruntled Baganda co-ethnics that their own is after all heading one of the organs of the state (which currently isn’t the case).

And more remarkably, Nankabirwa (renowned for being very ambitious) can ably stand in the position of Sekandi who is very reluctant to resume the position of Speakership. Nankabirwa is also loyal, predictable and sufficiently subservient, the kind Gen Museveni would require in such a sensitive office at a time he wants to marshal through many controversial legislations aimed at paving way for whoever turns out to be his preferred successor as President. Kadaga, whose supporters say is being targeted for political humiliation through a proxy called Salaam Musumba, could then have to eat a humble pie and accept taking up the VP Slot which she has consistently been reluctant to accept despite relentless efforts by the President to get her buy in. Where Kadaga has been an assertive Speaker often turning her back on Executive and State House ostensibly to serve the broader interests of Uganda, Nankabirwa will be prepared to do many “politically correct” things even without being asked to. She only needs to know what the President wants delivered through Parliament and will deliver it regardless of the broader political consequences to the country.     (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at mulengera2040@gmail.com).

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