By Our Reporters
Prof Pamela Mbabazi Kasabiti has been nominated by the President to become the new executive chairman for National Planning Authority (NPA). It has been reliably revealed that President Museveni made the appointment last month and sent the names to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga for ratification by the appointments committee of parliament which the Kamuli woman MP chairs. Pamela Mbabazi, who previously served as DVC Mbarara University of Science & Technology (MUST) deputizing much revered Prof Fred Kayanja, will be replacing Prof Dr. Wilberforce Kisamba Mugerwa, a veteran economist who headed the entity up to mid last year when he quit after exhausting his two terms mandate. He now chairs the governing Board for the struggling Microfinance Support Center. At NPA, it’s not only Kisamba’s position that is vacant but even that of Deputy Chairperson following the death of Dr. Abel Rwandeire. Besides serving at MUST, Mbabazi has also been an influential member of the Makerere University Senate which is the topmost organ when it comes to making academic decisions. Sources privy to the matter say that besides Pamela Mbabazi, Museveni used the same communication to notify to Kadaga his other preferred nominees for top board jobs at NPA. They include NRM veteran politician and CEC member Lydia Wanyoto, Ivan Lule and a one Enos Kiremire. The Museveni correspondence comes almost a year late and there has always been anxiety as to why the big man had taken so long.
KISAMBA REPORT IGNORED
When his term expired, there were proposals by State House that the rules be amended so that Kisamba stays on longer but the very principled old man from Bamunanika declined and made it clear to the appointing authority he wasn’t comfortable having rules of a public institution changed just to satisfy his desire to cling on. He was let go but knowledgeable sources say that, being one not used to people declining his views, the veteran Ugandan leader (Museveni) wasn’t exactly happy with Kisamba’s insistence to go. In the end Kisamba, who at the prompting of State House had prepared a report profiling eminent Ugandans he felt had the sufficient profile to serve on the NPA board, was grumblingly let go. And there was a pompous ceremony at Sheraton Hotel where government and NPA management bade him farewell. His peer Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda was chief guest at the glamorous event. In Kisamba’s assessment report, famed Makerere economics Professor Augustus Nuwagaba (also proprietor of Reev Consult) was rated best candidate for the post of NPA executive Chairman. In fact even his resume was solicited for security vetting but being himself, Museveni never runs out of surprises. Nuwagaba is highly exposed, intelligent and above all an NRM diehard supporter with significant support in Kabale Municipality. His NRM credentials notwithstanding, Nuwagaba can sometimes be too independent and almost big-headed, something Museveni isn’t known for liking people for. He prefers loyalists who do things his own way without asking questions or engaging him in arguments. Kisamba too would be assertive sometimes and there are many things on which he caused Museveni to alter his original position including resentment to family planning. Museveni originally believed in people producing very many children and it was the courageous Kisamba (at a time everybody else feared to publicly antagonize Sevo) that got the President to warm up to families producing limited (but highly qualitative) number of children. “Nuwagaba is way too unscripted sometimes and that must have made him the unsuitable person to shepherd the all-important NPA at a time Museveni prefers yes men and women,” says a Finance Ministry official which closely supervises NPA. Nuwagaba is in the league of the Emmanuel Mutebiles, the Oneg Obels when it comes to being assertive once convinced on the appropriateness of an economic position to be taken. A leading NRM ideologue, Nuwagaba has always been invited by Museveni to deliver orientation lectures as part of orientation of new NRM MPs at Kyankwanzi. Nuwagaba is also respectfully critical of certain things that government stands for when it comes to economic policy formulation, a thing that many thought enhanced his credentials as a suitable chairperson for NPA which is charged with long term development planning and specifically the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP II) in order achieve the transformation articulated in Uganda Vision 2040. Many considered him thick-skinned enough to write regular controversial reports (CoCs) that are critical of the government MDAs and the respective accounting officers just like Kisamba Mugerwa had been doing.
PAMELA JOINING CABINET
Kisamba had served as NPA boss for 10 years (2008-2018) and had very cordial relations with President Museveni and other cabinet members even when he was very critical of floppy government bosses that he perceived as derailing realization of Uganda Vision 2040. Besides Nuwagaba, in Kisamba’s report was Godfrey Bahiga who previously worked on the Plan for Modernization of Agriculture (PMA) when Kisamba was still minister for agriculture. Initially described by knowledgeable sources as “technically well qualified” for the NPA job, Bahiga previously worked on the UN project in the Horn of Africa on top of serving as a key policy research person at AU-secretariat in Addis Ababa. He possesses more technical and exposure capabilities than even Nuwagaba but in the initial vetting, the Kabale Professor had beaten him on politically being more suitable. The argument then was that Museveni always prefers appointing to such sensitive positions (NPA is the government think tank for dev’t planning) persons he politically knows and can trust. One of his influential State House aides often calls it “being possessed with a political line that is correct and amenable to Mzee’s liking.” That’s where Godfrey Bahiga was initially found to be deficient and Museveni was reluctant because he didn’t know him that much. Yet the original thinking at some point was that Museveni could make Nuwagaba NPA Chair and Bahiga his deputy. The current NPA ED, the highly capable and assertive Dr. Joseph Muvawala was also perceived by many as eligible and sources kept saying that even when his contract had just been renewed as ED, he is someone Museveni considered for a while as good potential for future NPA chairman. He is experienced, calm and well-possessed with the institutional memory having served as NPA Executive Director for some good years. He is also a talented mobilizer and politically correct making him one Museveni and other power brokers like Gen Salim Saleh and Rebecca Kadaga would be comfortable doing business with at NPA which ideally is at the apex of long term planning for Uganda. There are fears the NPA shoes could turn out too big for less prolific Pamela Mbabazi because Kisamba’s impactful performance raised the NPA profile to the extent that whoever becomes the new Authority executive Chairman will be sitting in cabinet as an ex-officio just like Kisamba did during his 10 years (2008-2018). On the vice chairman slot, it was at some point thought that ex-Usuk MP Charles Olweny stood high chance to replace Rwandeire but from what we now know, that hasn’t come to pass. As the Speaker takes her time to convene the appointments committee meeting, there is growing anxiety at the Finance Ministry whose technocrats rightly believe that the prolonged leadership vacuum (at BoD level) isn’t good at NPA given the entity’s strategic importance. For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.