Museveni can’t marry from all corners of Uganda, so he’s got to have a fat cabinet

Moses Odokonyero_closeup pix

The people of Rukungiri, so we are told, are unhappy about the dropping from cabinet of their son, Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi.

The people of Bunyoro, we are also told, are sulking because their son, octogenarian Henry Muganwa Kajura, a permanent fixture in cabinet for donkey’s years is no more.

“I only delivered a message from the Banyoro who are saying that they have been having a deputy Prime Minister and that is what they want,’’  Buyaga member of parliament, Barnabas Tinkasimire, he of the ‘‘it is going to be bloody’’ fame was quoted as saying( Sunday Monitor, June 7).

Even ‘‘we’’ in Acholi are beginning to develop ideas about sinking our canines into something beefy after years of licking bones, if only it weren’t for a jolt of reality from  Prof Ogenga Latigo who wondered:  ‘‘If I am to ask, did the Acholi fight in the Bush war that brought Mr Museveni to power?’’ (Daily Monitor, June 11).

Whining also came from inside the kitchen (read NRM).  NRM members of parliament from Lango couldn’t understand why the president side-stepped them for Ruth Achieng of the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC).  The appointing authority heard their weeping and in a last minute act yanked the ministerial drumstick from Achieng before she could make it to parliament’s appointments committee.

For a long time, the creation of new districts was touted as the equivalent of ‘‘bringing services’’ closer to the people.’’ But tiny Uganda’s womb is now fatigued from being forced to give birth to gaunt and malnourished districts.

The other ‘‘eatery’’ –parliament –is bursting with numbers (427) in total.  The House does not even have enough space to accommodate members.

With ministerial positions filled up, the NRM caucus proposed that the constitution be amended to give the president powers to appoint more cabinet ministers.   This was like a monkey being a judge in a case involving the burning of a forest.  The constitution, as expected, was easily amended to fatten cabinet from 80 to 88.

Museveni has unified Uganda’s political class at the eating trough. For some reason, he equates this to national unity.  But the two are not the same.

During the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of parliament, President Museveni defended the fat parliament as necessary for Uganda’s unity. The obese size of public administration, the logic goes these days, is necessary to accommodate Uganda’s diversity.

In ancient Africa, kings (including in Buganda) married from the nook and cranny of their kingdoms. It was partly a unification strategy and partly a strategy to keep tabs on treacherous whispers about the King’s crown. Museveni the modern king can’t marry a wife from all the corners of Uganda, but he can politically marry off the likes of Jimmy Akena, Betty Amongi and Betty Kamya with no negative consequence on him.

Having been ‘‘in things’’ for 30 years and still counting, Museveni has ‘‘eaten’’ to his fill. He faces no immediate threat in the NRM. He only has the menace of beggars to deal with. So he can afford to firm his grip by fishing in external waters.

For an Opposition already facing a credibility crisis, Museveni’s snatching of their hitherto assumed members is a reputational setback especially for genuine moderates like Mugisha Muntu and Norbert Mao.  It makes the Opposition comes across as souls floating about without values, waiting for the slightest beckon for them to hastily join the NRM eating house without any questions on principles, policies and ideology.  The beneficiaries of this arrangement are Museveni and his nemesis Kizza Besigye (he has distinguished himself as distinctively opposed to Museveni).

Mr Odokonyero has interest in media development, communications & public affairs

modokonyero@gmail.com