By Mulengera Reporters
In making DP President Norbert Mao a Minister, Gen Museveni has added quality to his Cabinet and has also deepened his political relationship with his Acholi co-ethnics. Mao is now the new Minister for Justice & Constitutional Affairs and his posting has been unveiled in the same instrument along with that of new Government Chief Whip Hamson Obua, new Sports Minister Peter Ogwang whose position as Economic Monitoring Minister has been taken by the Agago Woman MP Beatrice Akello Akori who hails from Acholi-land just like Mao.
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The Justice docket, which will see Mao lead the marketing of all the upcoming Constitutional amendments besides frequently interacting with Uganda’s donor partners while exercising some supervisory mandate over his friend CJ Alfonse Owiny Dollo, had previously been rumored to be Abdul Katuntu‘s, another political giant and veteran leader from the opposition. He these days openly embraces Gen Museveni and his cronies.
Quite predictably, Mao’s posting has sparked a lot of debate on social media with many, including MPs from his own DP, claiming they saw it coming. Even when this is the claim, Gen Museveni still caught many off guard through this recruitment of Mao and other DPs who will be falling suit in the coming days, weeks and months. Besides the rent-stricken DP Secretary General Gerald Siranda, whose EALA MP bid Gen Museveni is likely to bless, Tochi County MP Peter Okot (the only one DP has outside Buganda and the only one from Acholi) will most likely be following his party President and mentor and get something for himself in the end. This could take some Cabinet posting or even a change in the rules at the Legislature to get him into the lucrative Parliamentary Commission.
Lulume Bayiga, one of the senior members of the DP caucus which Peter Okot has been leading, says their leader Mao promised to get for them juicy perks too from Museveni on condition that they don’t contradict or demonize the deal between NRM and DP. Even when they are from Buganda, whose DP members Mao says disliked him, some of the DP MPs have been ambivalent and reluctant to unleash verbal artillery on their leader who many have dismissed as treacherous.
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The Mao posting, as Lulume says, gives extremist Museveni haters within DP an opportunity to converge and reorganize the Party in the hope of using its structures and good will to deepen the frontiers of the anti-Museveni struggle. It’s also okay for them to now strengthen it as a Buganda region party which is okay and shouldn’t be something for anyone to be guilty about because just like Mao himself observed onetime, there is nothing wrong with a party identifying its stronghold and holding on to that.
Lulume & Co don’t have to spread thin their human and financial resources just because they need to demonstrate that DP isn’t a Ganda party. It’s very likely that once they reorganize and align DP as a party capable of unconditionally working with other change-seeking forces, some of the members currently sheltering under Kyagulanyi‘s NUP can return and rejoin since many of them cited ‘Mao’s unfitness and unsuitability’ as the reason for their departure. Even Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago‘s had a lot to do with Mao-related frustrations.
A reconstructed DP coming at a time Kyagulanyi’s NUP is beginning to develop some cracks, with some MPs and other elected leaders beginning to become antagonistic towards the Principal, could potentially tilt the political equation in Buganda region. Already some of the seasoned political actors who have been coalescing under DP bloc have been toying with the idea of decamping from NUP back to DP, and some of them like Abed Bwanika have never stopped considering themselves to be Presidential material. Mao’s departure could lure such ambitious characters back to the new DP in the hope of filling the leadership vacuum at the very top.
Mao’s departure has also emboldened those who profess the defiance or activism strategy which the outgoing DP President has always despised in favor of the Muntu-ish structure formation approach which some dismiss and despise as mere utopia and ambiguous. Some are already making reference to those who once served as Principals in the TDA project of 2016. By some coincidence, almost all of them have since eaten a humble pie and embraced Musevenism. Examples include Go-Forward’s Amama Mbabazi, IGG Beti Kamya, Gilbert Bukenya and now Norbert Mao. The others still standing are Olara Otunnu, Mugisha Muntu and Kizza Besigye who has consistently epitomized activism.
ACHOLI SUB REGION:
Under Mao‘s stewardship, Gen Museveni is having his eyes on continuing to consolidate his political gains and political stranglehold over Acholi-land where Jacob Oulanyah‘s death left a conspicuous vacuum. Dr. Mwaka Lutukumoi, the former DP publicist who served under NRM too after departing DP protesting Mao’s leadership, is a respected opinion leader among the Acholi people. Currently based in the Diaspora, Lutukmoi has taken to social media to call on fellow Acholis not to disparage but to understand Mao and support his political decision which he says is a step getting Northerners closer to the Presidency just like the Kenyan Handshake increased Raila Odinga‘s chances to become Uhuru Kenyatta‘s successor.
The Mao Cabinet posting naturally leaves those still remaining in the anti-Museveni lobby among the Acholi people vulnerable, scattered, deflated and more isolated. At the same time, it emboldens the likes of the Aruu mad man Odonga Otto, who started contradicting the opposition much earlier on.
But the posting is also an opportunity for Norbert Mao to personally access groceries and materially live a much better life than what being DP President (since 2010) had condemned him to. This was always the wish of his fallen friend Jacob Oulanyah who was buried barely 5 months ago.
The Mao deal also reveals the extent to which Gen Museveni is determined to consolidate his NRM politics in the Greater North as he buys time to craft some workable strategy to regain Buganda and Busoga regions which he fatally lost to Kyagulanyi‘s NUP during the 2021 elections. The Mao defection also helps Gen Museveni to create some cowing effect he badly needs to lure lower level opposition defections as his party candidates face some formidable opposition ahead of impending by-elections in Soroti City, Kasese’s Busongora and to an extent Kisoro.
There is a lot more we could state and analyze about the new Mao political path but let’s stop here as we prepare to do more in the coming days and weeks.
Let’s now say something on the youthful politician Peter Ogwang whose political career and self-cultivated national limelight a naturally perturbed Gen Museveni has deliberately constrained. The maverick young man from Katakwi had proved skeptics wrong when he defied the obscurity his posting at the Economic Monitoring Affairs was supposed to condemn him to.
Operating with no budget, Ogwang acted innovatively and hit the ground running at a time many expected him to be sour grapping and grumbling having been ousted from the more coveted ICT docket.
Ogwang, whose innovativeness Gen Museveni publicly acknowledged during a public function at Kololo two weeks ago, made himself relevant by vigorously driving around the country while going against the corrupt using the mandate of the docket his predecessors had lamented over as lukewarm and unappetizing.
His countrywide crusades against the corrupt, in especially local governments, was beginning to cow rogue-minded accounting officers while emboldening hitherto apathetic whistle blowers to volunteer information unearthing those looting public funds.
The truth is that in such a short time, Ogwang, a self-made politician from Teso, had managed to get his office trusted by the whistle blowers more than that of the IGG and the State House Anti-corruption Unit combined. And during the Kololo event, Gen Museveni personally took note of this fact and one wonders why he would take or divert away his blue eyed cadre Ogwang at a time when consolidating and resourcing him to carry on would ideally have been the most appropriate thing to do. The same would have amplified the anti-corruption fight even more in this current term of government (2021-2026).
The truth is that in the Sports docket, where Gen Museveni has taken him, Ogwang won’t access significant resources just like has been the case at the Economic Monitoring Ministry. Even at the GCW office where his predecessor and close friend Hamson Obua has been taken, a mobilizer of Ogwang‘s credentials would have done better moving mountains for the ruling party, coordinating the legislative work, than Obua will ever.
At the Sports Ministry, the naturally very flexible and adaptive Ogwang will naturally fit in and still do something for his country. The fact that Moses Magogo is President for FuFa and that his political ally Anita Among is the Speaker of Parliament will combine to make work and delivery of the Sports docket mandate easier for Ogwang who will also equally be proud to be directly supervised by First Lady Janet Museveni. Yet it’s very unlikely that Agago Woman MP Beatrice Akello Akori, who has replaced him at Economic Monitoring Ministry, will be able to do even a fraction of what (the momentum) Ogwang had accomplished in such a short time. (For comments on this story, get back to us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734 & 0200900416 or email us at email@example.com).