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TUMWEBAZE DARES NABANJA: WHY ARE YOU ANTAGONIZING ME WITH THE PRESIDENT?

By Mulengera Reporters 

Mulengera News has become privy to contents of a furious exchange Gen Museveni’s cabinet Ministers had immediately after the Monday Cabinet meeting during which Premier Robinah Nabanja had complained against a number of colleagues. Those who suffered the Premier’s verbal wrath during that Cabinet meeting included Kampala Minister the harmless Minsa Kabanda, Gender Minister Betty Amongin, Investments/Privatization Minister Evelyn Anite and Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze.

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As we reported earlier (https://mulengeranews.com/inside-the-stormy-monday-meeting-where-kasaija-cried-as-nabanja-pinned-ministers-evelyne-anite-tumwebaze/), Nabanja portrayed Tumwebaze and Anite as being responsible for the bad publicity and public bashing Gen Museveni and his entire government had endured because of the now infamous Vinci/Enrica Pinetti coffee processing and exportation deal.

Whereas Tumwebaze issued a statement on his twitter notifying journalists not to bother him with phone calls seeking clarification because his MAAIF ministry had been sidelined from the deal, Evelyn Anite (renowned for taking no prisoners) had made her resentment towards the same known through granting newspaper interviews. She had also indicated that even when she is the Investments Ministers (supervising Uganda Investments Authority which had previously facilitated Pinetti with land and investment licensing), she hadn’t been involved in the impugned Vinci coffee agreement that was signed in February this very year.

Nabanja castigated the two Ministers during the Monday cabinet meeting, in front of the President, while asserting that their outspokenness (as opposed to silence) had amplified bad media publicity for the government regarding Vinci which has since become the subject of Parliamentary investigations. Anite, who Gen Museveni had threatened to crush along with Daily Monitor which publicized her anti-Vinci views during the Monday session, fought back in a way that portrayed Nabanja as not sophisticated enough to merit much response. Tumwebaze, sophisticated as always, never responded.

Instead the long-serving Kibale County MP took to the Cabinet’s official whatsapp forum-dubbed “CABINET 2021” which ordinarily is supposed to be used to coordinate and update key Cabinet assignments and tasks. Polite as it was, the wording of his long message was construed by many fellow Ministers as an indictment of the much-loathed and resented Robinah Nabanja. “She [PM] is vastly unpopular among the Ministers she is supposed to coordinate and supervise largely because of the abrasiveness, almost disrespectful, way she approaches things. She likes barking at and reporting Ministers to Mzee. She also doesn’t entertain dissent which she takes for disrespect and insubordination,” explained one of the Ministers Mulengera News spoke to for this article.

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And this is how a demonstrably aggrieved Tumwebaze registered his displeasure: “Hon Nabanja as a Christian, I have left Cabinet [today] with a heavy heart & humbly allow me to say this here since we are a team. Be fair to us as our leader. I have never opposed the coffee agreement. All I did was to tell the media to ask the Ministry of Finance because I hadn’t seen the agreement. I was not in any way complaining about anything. It’s the media that called me severally thinking that I knew.”

He added: “So really to portray me as one of the people fueling the de-campaigning in the media was nothing but malice. I’m hurt. Why do that? For the last 10 years, I have been in Cabinet, I have never gone against any position of the President leave alone being controversial. The record of Cabinet must [be] set straight. If need be, I’m ready to put my explanation in writing. The tweet I made is there and can be printed. Frank Tumwebaze.”

The eloquent Minister, who never unnecessarily comments on the Cabinet whatsapp forum, stopped there and held his peace. He subsequently received support from fellow Ministers like Attorney General Kiwanuka Kiryowa who posted his solidarity statement reading as follows: “My senior worry not. At least all we need to do is to always be with information that can be used to defend our position as Government. Actually, it was today [Monday that] I got an opportunity to really understand the whole coffee issue from first Hon Sempijja [and] then the President!!”

Next to register sympathies for Frank Tumwebaze was fisheries Minister Hellen Adoa who, just like KK, cautiously made her point without attracting the wrath of Nabanja who is naturally belligerent. “Ooooh sorry my Minister [he supervises her at MAAIF]. When you don’t feel good, it affects all of us at the Ministry. We pray this coffee issue will be sorted,” read Adoa’s message. Jennifer Namuyangu (Bunyoro Affairs) called for de-escalation while imploring colleagues to reflect on the doctrine of collective responsibility among cabinet Ministers.

Before Nabanja could marshal any response or get any of her supporters do the needful, that same Monday evening, another bombshell came from her ally-turned foe Betty Amongin. The Gender Minister, who was absent at the Monday Cabinet sitting, had been one of those the Premier complained to the President about. And her complaint concerned the newly-unveiled Parish Development Model (PDM) which, in the thinking of Gen Museveni, is supposed to be the magic wand against poverty-leading the rural Ugandan masses into prosperity and economic transformation.

Nabanja’s point at the Monday sitting was that Amongin was among the saboteurs trying to incite Parliament and Civil Society organizations to undermine the PDM simply because she never wanted the close to Shs40bn available to her Ministry under the UWEP intervention (meant to emancipate rural women) to be scrapped as a way of strengthening and expanding the resource envelope available for PDM. Nabanja had told Cabinet that Amongin, who she discussed in absentia, had failed to move on following the proposal to scrap UWEP, a thing that would leave her Gender Ministry deflated and with diminished clout.

In the same cabinet sitting, the PM (celebrated by her supporters for being hands-on) also complained about Kampala Affairs Minister Minsa Kabanda for failing to make the appropriate recruitment decisions as Parish Chiefs/Ward Coordinators were being enrolled to oversee the implementation of PDM for Kampala City.

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So on being told of the attack, Amongin (burning in a rage) decided to take on Nabanja by posting her protest note on the same whatsapp forum. “I have been briefed of the allegations made against me in cabinet by the Rt. Hon Prime Minister. Coincidentally, while she was making that submission, I was having a meeting with staff of UWEP & YLP to work on reducing the numbers of staff and counseling them to know that UWEP is gone!”

Amongin went on: “To the extent that I’m being blackmailed for being against women, Rt. Hon PM, the pressure I’m containing resulting from scrapping UWEP from Women Councils all over the country, UN & CSOs and MPs who threatened to censure me for being against a program that has worked and you accuse me of mobilizing MPs! As if that debate was simple, a simple debate with the Speaker having a strong position and not wanting to listen to anything contrary on UWEP. AM SHOCKED!”

On realizing things were running out of hand, the Vice President Jessica Alupo typed and posted a brief message on the same Cabinet whatsapp forum proposing de-escalation. This prompted Amongin (who declared immense respect for VP) to declare ceasefire only to be prompted into it once again after Nabanja posted bragging how she has her proof implicating the veteran UPC legislator from Oyam. She claimed the Hansard of Parliament was clear and implored Amongin to leave those things of sabotaging government programs to colleagues she left in the opposition.

As Amongin registered her denials, Nabanja posted what she called contents of the Hansard implicating Amongin. She also threatened to unleash audio recordings of Amongin conniving to undermine the government program of PDM simply because her personal interests (the PM claimed are embedded in UWEP) had been circumvented. Not one to go down without a fight, Amongin said the popularity of UWEP among CSOs, MPs and Women Councils was well known to the extent that the PM herself had recently suffered the wrath of the same women groups when she went to preside over their event at a hotel in Kampala.

Unsophisticated as always, Nabanja (who until recently was a very good friend of Amongin who had assumed the role of her chief advisor and would delegate her to do many tasks as if the Deputy Premiers didn’t exist) implied this was the additional proof that the UPC first lady was a backstabber of fellow women in leadership. Amongin responded by asserting that, in her case, Nabanja specializes on abusively using the platform available to her as PM to “bark at and report” fellow female Ministers to the President even when they haven’t done anything wrong.

Still stuck on the issue of being treated to extreme resentment during the women’s event regarding the scrapping of UWEP, Nabanja asserted that, contrary to the picture Amongin was portraying, she had been received heroically and cheerfully by women councils’ leaders when she went to preside over their event at the Kampala hotel.

Besides Alupo who kept posting reconciliatory messages calling for ceasefire, the elderly Hillary Onek tried to divert the verbal and ugly exchanges by posting a message congratulating Ugandan engineers who had won a coveted trophy at some international event. However, the resentment between Nabanja and Amongin was simply too much and wasn’t about to stop. Amongin was to carry on the rant by making reference to the struggles she went through on the NSSF issue regarding legislation and stakeholder mobilization relating to the mid-term payments. She said there was proof that the PM (who likes bad-mouthing others before the President) had sometimes not adequately been supportive of the government position on the National Social Security Fund matter.

Amongin, whose friendship and Nabanja advisory role has since been taken over by Kasule Lumumba, narrated what she went through to succeed, securing a win-win on the NSSF issue.  Perhaps having recovered her facts and figures, Nabanja returned to illustrate why no genuine leader, wishing fellow women well, could insist on preserving UWP visa-vee the PDM under which a lot more money is being availed. Advising Amongin to learn to let go of certain things, Nabanja argued that the UWEP Shs32bn that was annually being availed ostensibly to transform rural women was nothing compared to Shs300bn that would initially be available for the same women groups under PDM. She bragged this was simple mathematics and demanded to know why her Gender colleague was obstinately refusing or failing to correctly appreciate very plain things.

This is how Nabanja, whose figures and argument Amongin later returned to contradict, delivered her parting shot for the evening: “As leader of government business in Parliament, my role is to monitor government positions [sic/programs] starting with Ministers. Let’s not play in the hands of the opposition on the floor of Parliament who vowed to de-campaign PDM because they know it’s the NRNM game-changer. Please note: that UWEP had only 32bn & now with 30% women [having] more than 300bn under PDM, including the youths, PWDs and [the] elderly women. [The same] can go up to 500bn in a financial year at parish level. Some of you have told me that de [sic] reason could be operational budget which is not clear under PDM unlike UWEP. Colleagues Ministers then budget for PDM in your respective MDAs. Thank you all for your positions.”

With the two women (Amongin and Nabanja) done rolling themselves in the mud, the discussion subsequently shifted to each Minister being required (by VP Alupo) to prepare some useful information (based on research and latest stats) that would be used to back up Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and AG Kiwanuka Kiryowa who were supposed to aid the President as he rationalized and popularized the much-resented Enrica Pinetti/Vinci instant coffee processing and exportation agreement at the NRM caucus meeting that was slated for Tuesday (26th April) which was the next day. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at mulengeranews@gmail.com).

 

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