Connect with us



By Joshua Walakira

The war to replace Office of the President Secretary (PS) Deborah Katuramu has escalated with President Museveni taking on Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman Ralph Ochan. Even when prudent best practice would require conducting business in a manner that preserves PSC independence when it comes to making high level civil recruitment decisions, Museveni (who clearly knows the consequences) has insisted on having his loyal servant Hajji Yunus Kakande take the job. He has insisted, clearly in writing more than once, that his seasoned administrator Kakande becomes the new Secretary (PS) to Office of the President. He replaces Katuramu who in August this year moved on to deputize Head Public Service Mzee John Mitala. The much revered Kakande had since 2004 served as Undersecretary Office of the President under close supervision and mentoring of Katuramu and Teckla Kinalwa before her. When Katuramu left, Kakande who substantively was the Undersecretary (F&A) was tasked to fill the vacuum in acting capacity and did his work so excellently which further impressed the President with whom he has had close interaction for close to 20 years. At Cabinet secretariat, Katuramu succeeded Vincent Opio Lukone who deputized Mitala until his death in November 2016. Whereas theoretically, Secretary Office of the President equals a PS (vote controller or accounting officer in any other ministry), in practice the holder of the office carries much more clout. He is assured of close contact with the President in a manner counterparts elsewhere can only dream about. The big man gets to know you more closely and vice versa. “The occupant naturally becomes a super PS of sorts and that explains why PSC-favored Patrick Ochaillap would find it more prudent to abandon the Deputy PSST position at finance to replace Katuramu at Presidency,” said a knowledgeable insider. The office holder serves as the secretariat for all national ceremonies including independence, presidential swearing in ceremony and the NRM anniversary day just to mention a few. As accounting officer, the Secretariat controls all the budget and procurement of service providers at such ceremonies. Yet that isn’t all. Hajji Kakande has over the years made the office even more powerful by properly overseeing the appointment and deployment of RDCs and as well as Presidential Advisors. The President too has been receiving intelligence feedback that his RDCs and Advisory appointees have always had their welfare concerns adequately addressed and the person handling has always been Hajji Kakande. He has also been ensuring the timely disbursement of their emoluments and allowances with transparency levels the President rarely gets to see amongst his staff. Whereas this exemplary execution of the President’s assignments must have made Museveni happy, it has naturally sometimes won Hajji Kakande arch enemies here and there. And it’s widely believed these enemies have clandestinely been ganging up to intensify the lobbying of the mighty at PSC to ensure the job goes to Ochaillap and not Kakande. State House is understood to have become more curious as to why Ochaillap was being favored after the shortlist of the people to be interviewed (out of the original 28 applicants) was drawn up without Hajji Kakande’s name being included. This disturbed State House a lot and more so the President who was more than certain that no one would be more suitable to replace Katuramu than Hajji Yunus Kakande whose absence for just a few months is understood to have complicated the resolution of the ex-ISO workers’ compensation. “He is the man who selflessly knows our issues and we have made all this progress because of his prudent involvement. He has always acted in favor of the group that has suffered for so long,” one of the close to 1800 ex-ISO workers now pursuing payment of their Shs35bn recently said of Hajji Kakande in an interview this news website. “Willis Bashasha who is acting has no institutional memory to this issue and he is also indifferent and uncaring unlike Hajji Kakande who was determined to fast track our payment yet he never demands for anything from the leadership [of the claimants].” Another knowledgeable source in the Presidency said the holder of this office often gets additional assignments to handle big monies on behalf of the President and Museveni is determined to only have someone there who can be trusted to act honestly. The same Presidency office also oversees the appointment, promotion and deployment of all administrative cadres in government Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs). “And Hajji Kakande has always conducted business in a manner that preserves integrity and honor of the office. This must be one of the credentials the President favors him for. There have also been reports of some applicants offering big cash to be treated favorably during the recruitment process and all this only combined to make the President more apprehensive towards any PSC-conducted process that produces any other winner other than Kakande,” explains a source close to the recruitment process. But some other sources have ruled out any foul play to disadvantage Hajji Kakande because he is a close friend to PSC Chairman Ralph Ochan. “Because of their renowned long term friendship if there was to be any bias, then Hajji would only be a beneficiary and not a victim because his friendship to Ochan is legendary and well known to all in the service,” explained a source. “The President too knows about that friendship and was in total disbelief when he saw the list of finalists from PSC for the Katuramu job and his man Kakande was missing on that list. He hit the roof and determined to do all he can to salvage the recruitment process to normalcy.” The big man reportedly protested to people around him saying: “This recruitment must be handled properly because this is the only working office of the President and we can’t stand anybody coming to spoil it.” The President is also said to have wondered why the PSC would produce a process that favors Patrick Ochaillap, a man who has less than one year to clock the retirement age of 60. The man from Teso is currently 59. Just like the Lucy Nakyobe one dated 10th October, the President’s latest letter (dated 13th November) is forceful and leaves PSC with no option but to do as directed. Copied to Premier Rugunda, Presidency Minister Ester Mbayo and John Mitala, the two paragraph letter reads as follows: “In the exercise of the powers vested in the President by Article 174(2) of the 1995 Constitution, I have appointed Hajji Yunus Kakande as Secretary Office of the President. I’m therefore forwarding his name and curriculum vitae for your action.” It’s directly addressed to Ralph Ochan leaving him no option-unlike the Nakyobe one that was addressed to John Mitala and merely copied to Ochan. Nakyobe letter was as stern as the President’s because it directed Kakande’s appointment “with immediate effect.” She wrote: “The purpose of this letter is to communicate to you His Excellence the President’s directive. You are advised to submit this matter to the PSC to enable them prepare the instrument of appointment for His Excellence the President’s signature.” Having waited in vain for more than a month, Museveni decided to strike directly by himself on 13th November. “It’s clearly done now because the wording of the latest letter not only shows the belligerent mood the President is increasingly getting into on this matter but it’s a clear directive whose defiance will have terrible consequences for people at PSC. The best they can do is to do as instructed because Presidency is very close and dear to the President. It’s not like other dockets which are remote and easy to make the President forget about,” said a knowledgeable State House official when asked to make sense of the latest letter and the Nakyobe one that preceded it.


State House comptroller Lucy Nakyobe’s letter directing Hajji Yunus Kakande’s appointment

President Museveni’s letter firmly directing Public Service Commission Chairman Ralph Ochan to give the job to Hajji Yunus Kakande

On getting the Nakyobe letter, the PSC made things rather complicated by daring the President in their reply. They informed him interviews had already been conducted and a list of the most appropriate candidates drawn up excluding Kakande. According to Sunday Monitor the curious interviews (widely believed to have aimed at getting Ochaillap the job) were conducted on 2nd and 3rd October. The same PSC letter inadvertently crossed the red line by accusing the big man of conduct that amounted to weakening and making PSC irrelevant in future recruitment processes. Sunday Monitor quotes Ochan as saying his letter was merely advice to the President whose response was being awaited by the PSC. The much awaited response has since come and clearly the President shows only more resolve to have Kakande replace Katuramu.


Knowledgeable sources say Museveni knows that PSC is currently weakened and not very popular among civil servants. Many of them have previously been aggrieved with its decisions including the controversial recruitment of Victor Nkeramihigo for the position of Undersecretary. “He clearly knows that standing up to them will only increase his appeal amongst seasoned civil servants who have previously been antagonistic to PSC. The Commission’s moral authority on procedure and enforcement of recruitment rules has greatly been diminished over the years and not many can condemn the H/E for taking them on,” said one of the seasoned civil servants we spoke to for this article. “The Nkeramihigo saga was total breach of procedure and prudent practice.” Another source said, notwithstanding allegations of order from above, the recruitment of the latest new crop of Permanent Secretaries left PSC’s image as an independent body greatly battered and eroded. “The way PSs like Stephen Isabalijja of Energy, Benon Mutambi of Internal Affairs, Pius Wakabi Kasaijja at MAAIF, Ben Kumumanya at MLOG and the one at Water Ministry were recruited didn’t manifest a strong PSC. They tried to resist the appointment of Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwire as PS Public Service Ministry but gave up without any fight the moment the President insisted on having her there. They equally tried to resist Molly Kamukama’s ascendance as PPS and gave all sorts of reasons to show she was unsuitable but they caged in and the big man got his way. So there is nothing knew and we are all wondering why they are mobilizing all their arsenal in the false hope that the President can give up on Hajji Kakande,” explained a source in the cabinet secretariat. “They went as far as disputing some of Molly’s qualifications but they eventually gave up.” Another source that has for years been privy to Public Service appointments defended the Ralph Ochan PSC by arguing that the President has always got it his way even during the days of Prof Fred Muzaale. The source gave the example of Hope Nyakairu who became the State House Undersecretary (F&A) despite strong opposition by Muzaale’s PSC. The insistence was that she was inappropriate for lack of experience and relevant qualifications. Referring to her Hotel management qualification from Utali Hotel Institute in Nairobi, the Muzaale PSC members argued she was at best fit for appointment as Assistant Secretary. The big man stood his ground and in the end she was interviewed alone and eventually appointed Undersecretary. Convinced the Kakande appointment is a done deal, top civil servants spent much of Sunday sending him congratulatory messages on one of their very exclusive whatsapp chat platforms. They say whereas in principle the big man is wrong to bulldoze PSC, many similar precedents have been set of the big man getting his way and the successive PSCs didn’t do anything to stand up to him and they wonder why the Kakande matter is being treated differently. The other option for the aggrieved PSC bosses would be to get a proxy applicant to put things to test by challenging the big man’s actions (overlooking PSC’ independence) but nobody can risk as that will be perceived as humiliating the President who appoints even the PSC itself.


Prince Nakibinge

Sam Kutesa


Yet there are other crude considerations Museveni must have considered for his own politics-beyond just the popular Hajji’s great credentials. Insisting on Kakande kills many birds with one stone for the political tactician from Rwakitura. Having loyally worked in Presidency since 2004, Kakande brings with him institutional memory that is required to ensure continuity in the post-Katuramu era. Secondly, the President has always come under pressure from Muslims at public functions and even during Idi feasts organized for them in State House. They have always cried of marginalization saying there are few Muslims in cabinet and elsewhere in MDAs. They for long lobbied for the post of Deputy ED KCCA but their candidate Hussein Nakabale was posted at URBRA. So Kakande’s posting increases visibility of Muslims in powerful positions-and generally the power corridors. He is also a Muganda whose posting makes a lot of sense at a time when much of the State effort has gone into countering the political surge of Bobi Wine, a very popular young Muganda politician from the populous central region. “Much as the Buganda factor is high on the agenda, Hajji Kakande has also done a good job and has handled the RDCs and advisors especially their welfare in a manner that has greatly satisfied the President,” explained one of the sources that offered to analyze the Kakande saga for us. And beyond PSC, there are many recent instances that have seen the President get his way once he is determined at getting something. He famously stood up to Speaker Kadaga and prevailed when MPs objected to his appointment of Gen Aronda and Aidah Nantaba as Ministers. At Foreign Affairs, wealthy Sam Kutesa is feared for being very powerful but Museveni sometime back stepped on him and got away with it when he released a list of new ambassadors with majority of them political appointees at a time Kutesa had insisted on career diplomats. The understanding was 40% goes to political cadres and 60% be reserved for careerists. Museveni made it the other way round and was ready for anything including a Kutesa resignation in protest. Kutesa had to adjust to new reality and carry on being Minister. Years earlier, Museveni insisted on Andrew Mwenda’s brother-in-law Micheal Mugisa becoming the ED NFA. The Board and as well as parliamentary objection amounted to nothing. At the Finance Ministry, Maria Kiwanuka had to eat a humble pie for Museveni-backed Richard Byarugaba to resume his job as MD. Kiwanuka had vowed to give the job to someone she insisted had been the best at interviews but Museveni had to get his way. This partly explains why realists like MP Peter Sematimba famously refer to Museveni as nyini nsi eno [the owner of Uganda]. For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.



Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in NEWS