SAM KUTESA, TWO FEMALE MINISTERS CLASH WITH SG LUMUMBA OVER M7’S SWEARING-IN CEREMONY CROWDS
By Mulengera Reporters
Those Gen Museveni considers to be very essential Ministers on Monday attended a serious cabinet session as a group of “non-essential State Ministers” were locked up and made to wait in another room at Entebbe State House. In the group of the “non-essential Ministers” were the likes of Joy Kafura Kabatsi, Ronald Kibule, Haruna Kasolo, Kasirivu Atwooki, Nakiwala Kiyingi, Peace Mutuuzo, Sarah Kanyike, Beatrice Anywar and others who were only permitted participation in the luncheon and the group photo session the man from Rwakitura subsequently had with all the cabinet members.
And strangely, the truth is many of these State Ministers were coming to Entebbe State House for Cabinet business for the first time in more than a year. This was so because Gen Museveni had trimmed the size of Cabinet, requiring many of those whose dockets he considered “non-essential” to keep away lest they crowd State House and increase his susceptibility to catching the very unforgiving Coronavirus. The restrictions were proclaimed in March 2020 and have remained in force since that time.
Gen Museveni used the strictly closed Cabinet session (in the absence of the non-essential Ministers) to listen to Cabinet members who had some very critical issues and pending business to abreast him about before going for the luncheon and photo session. This being the very last Cabinet meeting under the current term of government (2021-2026), the President believed it was prudent for such Ministers with pending business to be given chance to present papers updating him with how far they had gone with certain things. Esther Mbayo, being the Minister for Presidency, had a lot to do with everything that fellow Cabinet Ministers engaged themselves with inside Entebbe State House which some pessimistic Ministers doubted they would ever visit or have access to again.
Indeed it was Mbayo, aided by Cabinet Secretary John Mitala, who was in charge of both the luncheon and the photo shoot which enabled Ministers have those memorable pictures (in case Gen Museveni doesn’t reappoint them back for the 2021-2026 term). When the closed Cabinet session where serious business was discussed and resolved upon came to an end, Mbayo sent one of the Cabinet Secretariat assistants to go and call the “non-essential Ministers” to come and join the rest of the cabinet members for the luncheon and photo session during which the Ministers dine & wined besides cracking all manner of jokes.
INSIDE THE MEETING
The closed session from which the “non-essential Ministers” were excluded reflected on many things including an update from Presidency Minister Esther Mbayo regarding preparations into the President’s upcoming inauguration/swearing in ceremony slated for Wednesday 12th May 2021 (to cost Shs7bn). Mbayo briefed Cabinet that everything was going on smoothly and thanked the leaders of the security agencies for investing plenty of time and resources to ensure the event is comprehensively secured without any incident.
She also revealed they had planned to host up 4,000 invited guests since the Kololo grounds is expansive enough to enable the strict observance of the SoPs aimed to circumventing the spread of Covid19. She signaled her Ministry of Health counterpart Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng to take to the floor and corroborate on some of the Covid19 spread prevention measures that organizers had put in place.
Responding to the assurances the two female Ministers had given, the ruling NRM SG Justine Kasule Lumumba (who supporters claim is slated to replace Edward Sekandi as VP) disputed the fact that the President and his guests can be adequately secured and placated against Covid19 in a gathering of 4,000 people (17 delegates per district, all 2021 Presidential Candidates, Ministers, NRM CEC members, EALA MPs like Mukasa Mbidde, private sector leaders, clergy, cultural leaders & foreign dignitaries including the 41 Presidents/Heads of State who have been invited). She suggested a maximum of 200 before proceeding to explain how the rest of the country and the larger public would be enabled to participate without feeling alienated from the celebration of Gen Museveni’s very big day.
The Secretary General proposed an arrangement similar to the manner in which the NRM National Conference and NEC meetings were convened in August last year as tens of thousands of party members converged at their district headquarters and electronically participated in the electing of their CEC leaders. The proposal was immediately shot down by Esther Mbayo who asserted that the problem was that the SG came after a lot had been discussed. She implored the SG to calm down and first acquaint herself with the details of what she and Aceng had presented illustrating the safety and mitigation measures that had been put in place to shield the President and his guests that day.
The SG wasn’t done. She insisted that 200 are enough for Kololo and that instead a lot of effort should go into facilitating a grand media blitz to enable widespread participation into the events by all NRM bosses scattered across the country. That virtualizing the swearing in ceremony would electronically bring Gen Museveni closer to millions of NRM leaders who worked day and night to ensure the man from Rwakitura secured reelection. The SG portrayed the whole thing as an opportunity to reenergize such cadres who would be happy seeing the whole country engrossed into the swearing-in festivities. Such would increase the NRM party’s visibility in the districts and the resultant fanfare would reenergize the party’s big men residing in the different districts of Uganda.
Gen Museveni was the first to object to this saying he wasn’t prepared to be dragged into things that would require him to spend billions as had been the case during the NRM NEC meetings last year as CEC members were being elected. “I have heard about that proposal of the virtual swearing in ceremony before but I’m not buying it and I have been very consistent with my no,” Museveni said clearly registering his discomfort with what the NRM Secretariat was proposing through the SG.
Aceng weighed in wondering “why my honorable colleague the Secretary General still doubts our capacity to secure a crowd of 4,000 guests that day at Kololo as if she doesn’t know that I, Jane Ruth Aceng, I’m a professional and a very good one in these things.” The emphasis with which Aceng asserted her credentials as a professional medic livened up the mood and sent everyone into prolonged laughter as the man from Rwakitura signaled her to leave it at that.
The President then signaled Sam Kutesa, who is handling the invitation of the foreign heads of state that are supposed to be part of the ceremony, to abreast cabinet on the latest progress. And in his submission, SK (renowned for his humility) inadvertently occasioned more misery on the Secretary General when he reported that 21 out of the 42 HoDs that were being targeted had confirmed attendance. “And I don’t see how we can have so many heads of state coming to join our President in celebrating his day and then we talk of just 200 people,” Kutesa said prompting Gen Museveni to burst out saying “that’s very good, fantastic and I don’t see why anyone would want the President’s swearing in ceremony to be like a funeral.”
Elsewhere, in his speech, as he saw off Cabinet member, a jovial Gen Museveni recognized his ministers while humorously referencing on those “who worked hard and those who did nothing in the last 5 years.” And as he signed out, the NRM national chairman said “and you will always be my comrades all of you.” (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).