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INSIDE THE STORMY MONDAY MEETING WHERE KASAIJA CRIED AS NABANJA PINNED MINISTERS EVELYNE ANITE & TUMWEBAZE

By Mulengera Reporters

For many State Ministers who were returning to the weekly cabinet meetings for the first time since Covid-related fears pushed President Museveni to keep them away fearing possible infection, the country’s chief executive had never exhibited as much anger as he did during the Monday session. Many were used to seeing the veteran leader from Rwakitura cracking jokes-and never this angry at such close range.

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As part of his communication from the chair, Gen Museveni registered his resentment towards Daly Monitor newspaper and his blue eyed Minister Evelyn Anite who he said had committed the unforgivable sin of haranguing his blue eyed investor Enrica Pinetti. The Ugandan big man made it clear that demonizing a well-intentioned investor like Enrica Pinetti was a red line no one would be permitted to cross in Uganda. That whoever dared demonize her would face “severe and unpredictable consequences.”  Sources say the anger with which the fire-breathing Gen Museveni spoke at the Monday cabinet session was meant to illustrate the thickness of that red line.

Mulengera News understands that Pinetti, who has been harangued in the past few days over the February 2022 instant coffee processing and exportation deal her Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd entered with the GoU/Finance Minister, had become stressed and overwhelmed by the widespread criticism and reached out to the all-powerful man from Rwakitura over the weekend crying and demanding to know why the Daily Monitor editors were continuing to authorize publication of very demeaning cartoons portraying her in bad light.

Indeed on the same Monday, Ms Pinetti skipped a Parliamentary Committee session where she had been summoned to respond to questions as part of the broader inquiry into the deal. Instead the Vinci Company lawyers Moses Matovu, Litz Annie Itaza and Patson Arinaitwe, who represented her, informed the fire-spiting MPs that their Principal was unable to personally attend because Gen Museveni had summoned her to State House.

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In the absence of the very offending Daily Monitor at the Monday cabinet sitting, Gen Museveni unleashed all the anger on Minister Evelyn Anite who he vowed to ruthlessly crush if she doesn’t stop menacing his favorite investor Pinetti. Having realized the fury with which her political papa was speaking, the pencil-thin politician from Koboko immediately ate a humble pie and went on her knees begging to be pardoned.

Anite inadvertently invited more trouble for herself when she ended up being the only Minster who dared answer back responding to the Monitor-related disappointment the man from Rwakitura had exhibited. Whereas all senior Ministers, including the ruthless Generals the public fears like nothing else, coiled and opted to keep quiet, Anite (perhaps convinced the Pinetti deal was very unpopular with the public) fearlessly sacrificed herself and stepped forward insisting to share information she believed the man from Rwakitura hadn’t become privy to regarding the terms and contents of the impugned Vinci MoU.

On being assured the man from Rwakitura (whose fury sources likened to that exhibitable by a wounded lion) hadn’t personally read the text as yet, Anite offered to share with him contents she found offensive, repugnant and unacceptable. She summarized these to include one relating to free importation of vehicles in Uganda by the Vinci company without being subjected to any taxation.

“Your Excellency, the MoU gives her a blank cheque on that because of the way it was worded. We have experience the same being abused in the case of Kapeeka and Mbale Industrial Parks. The supposed beneficiaries of such tax waivers in the past abused the same by importing into the country BMWs and other luxury vehicles as opposed to Land Cruisers meant to do company industrialization and value addition-related work,” she explained suggesting such generous MoU provisions ought to have been qualified/restricted in some way.

She also explained to the much infuriated man from Rwakitura some of the support the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), which she supervises, had extended to Pinetti regarding the Namanve coffee processing plant. That UIA had expeditiously granted her lease extension wish besides authorizing her to leverage on the 25 acres of land (granted to her at the Namanve Industrial Park) as mortgage security to access the required financing from financial institutions to roll off her coffee value-addition project. Anite stressed that with all this good will exhibited by the UIA, which she directly supervises, it would be unfair to categorize her to be as bad as Daily Monitor which stands accused of haranguing Pinetti.

“But in case I offended you, Your Excellency, I beg for your presidential pardon as my political grandfather so that you kindly don’t crush me.” The flamboyant politician from Koboko caused laughter at the meeting when she exhibited her vulnerability while assuring Gen Museveni she had nowhere to run to, to escape his wrath, except deep inside the DRC.

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The resultant laughter, following the humorous way Anite delivered her apology, got everyone in the room laughing including H.E. the President. She also assured the President, who admitted not having read the MoU as yet,  that there is no way she can be among those sabotaging his efforts aimed at amplifying value addition onto the Ugandan coffee which Pinetti insists is exactly what her Namanve project is all about.

Matia Kasaija, whose blood MPs and the public have been baying for insisting he must personally pay for committing the country to such anomalous contracting, took advantage of the Monday session to implore Gen Museveni to come to his rescue. “Sir those MPs say they are going to censure me and I’m indeed helpless and under a lot of pressure. I don’t have any sleep anymore at my home because of these endless threats from Parliament amplified through the media,” Kasaija said as Gen Museveni, remaining angry, exhibited sympathy for him. “Your Excellency it’s my prayer that you convene an urgent caucus meeting before Thursday and address those young Members of Parliament with the same anger and toughness you have showed in today’s cabinet.”

Indeed, having picked intel that the big man intended to forcefully express himself on the matter, many of the Ministers who had been invited and had been expected to contradict the Vinci MoU instead, shunned the Parliamentary Committee inquiry’s Monday session and instead drove to Entebbe to avoid being misunderstood. Those who Committee chair Mpaka Mwine had summoned and was expecting only not to turn up included AG Kiwanuka Kiryowa, Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze and Matia Kasaija himself.

NABANJA SWINGS

At a time everyone thought the dust raised at the Monday cabinet meeting had settled and that Gen Museveni was done haranguing Evelyn Anite (who had dramatically solicited for his presidential pardon), Prime Minister Robinah insisted on saying something only to end up making things even more complicated for herself and other cabinet colleagues. She supported Gen Museveni’s anger adding that the GoU had suffered a lot of public bashing and bad publicity because of the very scandalizing comments fellow Cabinet Ministers had publicly made demonizing the Vinci coffee deal.

Nabanja named trouble causers to include Evelyn Anite and Frank Tumwebaze who publicly kept his distance while categorically stating that (despite being the line/relevant Ministry), his MAAIF docket hadn’t been involved at all. Well-intentioned and truthful as this was, the same, according to Nabanja, multiplied public and media pressure on Matia Kasaija and his PS Ramathan Gobi who were portrayed as traitors who are insensitive to public interest.

Kasaija confessed feeling deflated and isolated as a result of the public and media bashing that resulted from refusal or failure by fellow Ministers to speak out in his defense. The truth is many Ministers consider the thing a bad deal but were just to fearful to express themselves before the President. Whereas Tumwebaze, who was already cowed like other senior Ministers, kept quiet and uneasily turned in his seat as Nabanja ranted out her things, Evelyn Anite fought back while insisting that her supposed boss Nabanja shouldn’t get away with such distortion.

“Your Excellency I’m very sorry on this. There is no way I’m going to argue with your Prime Minister because all the discussion and whatever I have said before was in the English language,” she contemptuously said leaving many confused as to what she was trying to imply. Nabanja wished to fight back but there was simply no ample time as the man from Rwakitura, who on Sunday had cheerfully celebrated his son Gen MK’s 48th birth day, adjourned the meeting shortly after.

“Rt Hon Nabanja please allow me enjoy the Presidential pardon that His Excellency has just extended to me,” Anite pleaded as majority of the other Ministers looked on very terrified to the extent that some wished the ground swallowed them just to escape the wrath President Museveni unleashed at the meeting. Defense Minister Vincent Sempijja contradicted Nabanja while defending Anite and Tumwebaze. He told the President the misinformation about the Vinci coffee deal had been propagated by the opposition and not any of the Cabinet colleagues the Premier was trying to implicate.

Anite also explained her opposition to the PAYE-related tax exemptions the impugned MoU bestows upon Pinetti’s Vinci company asserting that paying the same is statutory and can’t be left to mere contracting between the two parties to the contract. She told the President these were her honest views as the line Minister but exhibited readiness to abandon the same and once again apologize to the big man from Rwakitura in case her humble objections are considered offensive, repugnant and unacceptable. She said beyond these two concerns (the luxury car importations and PAYE), there wasn’t much else she was objecting to in the Pinetti coffee deal. (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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