Finance Minister Matia Kasaija is angry fellow Ministers have continued to behave defiantly towards his invitation to attend very important public engagements organized by his sector.

Kasaija, who rightly considers himself powerful because he determines financial allocations to different MDAs using the budgeting process, first showed his bitterness on Wednesday at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds when he realized Ministers had shunned his otherwise well-attended ceremony to launch the three day Service Excellence Exhibition.

Apart from Evelyn Anite, David Bahati and Haruna Kasolo who Deputize Kasaija at Finance, only Philemon Mateke (Deputy Foreign Affairs) graced the colorful Kololo ceremony. This didn’t escape Kasaija’s notice and he publicly complained. “I can’t believe I wrote letters inviting all fellow Ministers here and they are nowhere to be seen. I salute comrade Mateke for diligently responding to my invitation,” Kasaija said as he asked the man from Kisoro to stand up for recognition.

At Kololo, Kasaija (who had previously threatened sanction against MDAs that shun his exhibition) didn’t reveal what he was to do but seemed satisfied that his protestation had been registered in presence of Premier Ruhakana Rugunda who was guest of honor. Ironically there was no official communication from the respective MDAs as to why the Ministers were absent. Renowned for being very amiable and reluctant to upset anyone, Rugunda stuck to his scripted speech and didn’t say anything about elusive Ministers Kasaija had complained about.

Next day Thursday, the same (even worse) embarrassment awaited Kasaija at Golf Course Hotel where he presided over the launching of the all-important EPRC report on “Agro-Industrialization Agenda in Uganda.” The report makes a case that for inclusive economic growth and development to be achieved in Uganda, agriculture must be at the center of the industrialization strategy that will be the core objective under the NDP III which NPA will soon be unveiling.

Kasaija considered it important that all the relevant ministries (concerned with implementation of the EPRC report recommendations on agri-industrialization) attended the launching ceremony. They didn’t. Whereas at Kololo he at least had Mateke around, at Golf Course he was the only Minister present.

Being a free-spirited Minister, Kasaija didn’t hide his contempt for the defiance fellow ministers exhibited regarding the Golf Course event. He said he was going to write to Rugunda suggesting relocation of the coordination mandate (for the agri-industrialization program) from his Finance Ministry to OPM.

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“It’s the Prime Minister who will manage these people because I don’t understand their way of working. We shall continue to actively participate and playing central role as the Ministry of Finance but let the coordination mandate go to the OPM. I have done my best and colleagues aren’t cooperating,” Kasaija told an audience that mostly comprised of private sector representatives, EPRC staff and technocrats from his ministry.

REPORTING TO M7

Kasaija separately explained to Mulengera News on the sidelines of the Golf Course event that he was going to lodge a formal complaint at the subsequent cabinet meeting on Monday. “Of course I’m disappointed because my colleagues would have learnt a lot firsthand if they had attended and participated in the Kololo ceremony yesterday and this one here. Now they have chosen to stay away and remain ignorant about these things. It’s really very demoralizing because I invited all of them in writing and none of them came,” Kasaija said. He added it’s even more frustrating when fellow Ministers don’t have the courtesy to communicate their absence.

Indeed during the EPRC report launch, private sector actors used the plenary session to raise many grievances and questions (especially about the trade Ministry and UDC) that Kasaija felt deserved instant response and there was nobody to give the answers.

Patrick Kamara, who was the MC, specifically pleaded if anybody was in the audience representing the trade Ministry or even UDC and nobody stepped forward. “You can see honorable Minister how frustrating your government is to us as we seek services from them,” said one of the private sector leaders from the audience.

Kasaija gathered his guts and made his speech and also tried to explain some of the things that had been raised and begged to be pardoned in case his answers turned out unsatisfactory because he was just trying to stand in for the absentee Ministers. We asked him why he didn’t call the Ministers to understand their absence and this is what he said: “They are very many and I wrote to each one of them. The courteous thing to do would be communicating to us that I’m minister so and so and I’m delegating officer so and so.”

He said he was taking the matter to cabinet and that is where fellow ministers will have the opportunity to explain themselves. At the Golf Course event, a lonely Kasaija was bombarded with many service delivery-related complaints by angry private sector actors from the audience including former Minister Henry Banyenzaki and Gen Charles Angina who deputizes Gen Salim Saleh in OWC. (For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755).

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