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Briefing: Museveni Moves to Release ‘Referendum Cabinet’

This is Monday’s morning Intelligence Briefing on events making headlines in the East African region. For hot story tips please email us on info@chimpreports.com.

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Museveni Moves to Release ‘Referendum Cabinet’ 

President Yoweri Museveni

President Museveni is set to release what officials have described as a “referendum cabinet” which could see supporters of his continued leadership scoop ministerial positions.

Ugandans will this year vote on proposed seven-year term for the office of the President.

Housing Minister Chris Baryomunsi recently said cabinet had approved the decision to hold a referendum to “ask people of Uganda to harmonize the term of the president with that of the rest of government and this has been discussed in cabinet and later in the year it [referendum] will be held.”

Parliament late last year passed the Constitution Amendment (No.2) Bill, 2017 with lawmakers agreeing to extend their parliamentary tenure with immediate effect from the current 5 years to 7 years, scrap age limit and restore presidential term limits and also agree to extend the presidential tenure.

Officials have told ChimpReports that President Museveni is set to announce a new Cabinet that would popularize his position ahead of the referendum.

“The President is looking for popular figures to serve in his cabinet. While we may not necessarily get a youthful cabinet, those who have supported the Constitution amendment that scrapped the presidential age limit will be rewarded,” said an official briefed about the progress of the planned Cabinet reshuffle.

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On the proposed Cabinet list is Beatrice Anywar, the Kitgum Municipality MP Beatrice Anywar.

Anywar has since confirmed the possibility of officially joining the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), stressing however, that this has not yet happened.

“I am an independent Member of Parliament, I have not picked the membership card of the NRM, but it has not and will not deter me from working for him,” said Anywar as she spoke to journalists in Kitgum during President Museveni’s tour of the area.

“But if it is the appropriate time and I find it fit, why not?”

Anywar, one of strongest opposition voices in the country in the past years, is now openly opposed to the Forum for Democratic Change, and good friends with her former nemesis, President Museveni.

Speaking to locals, Museveni praised Anywar, who he said, had “caused a psychological shock to the opposition”

He described Hon. Anywar as a reasonable politician whom he had engaged for years but noted that in most of their engagements, Hon. Anywar was always bothered about the development of her constituency unlike most opposition politicians who spend most of their time on politicking and peddling lies.

By appointing her Minister, Museveni hopes to kill two birds with one stone – demoralizing the opposition and winning support from Anywar’s political base in Northern Uganda.

Gen Katumba

Gen Katumba Wamala is expected to be elevated to Minister of Works and Transport.

Ever since he was removed from the position of Chief of Defence Forces and deployed as State Minister, Katumba has maintained a low profile.

It’s understood President Museveni has received complaints about the alleged inefficiency of Works Minister Monica Azuba Ntege. Azuba served as a board member of UNRA before being nominated for Minister.

“She would later turn out as a weak leader. To realise key infrastructural projects needed to enhance Uganda’s global competiveness, you need a stronger Minister of Works and Transport. Azuba can’t handle that docket,” said a state official.

Katumba is expected to take this position.

Strangely, officials said the Vice President Edward Ssekandi is not about to leave.

“The President trusts Ssekandi because of his efficiency. He is not so political but thorough on paperwork. He is one of the president’s biggest legal assets. Unless he asks to quit, we don’t see why Museveni will drop him,” an official told ChimpReports.

Ssekandi maintains a good relationship with Buganda Kingdom and the Catholic Church which the President would need to appease.

Raphael Magezi

Igara West Member of Parliament Raphael Magezi is expected to scoop a Cabinet post for leading the age limit crusade.

Magezi had his farm and plantations destroyed by angry locals for supporting the scrapping of the presidential age limit. The UPDF had to deploy at his residences to secure his life and property.

Apart from being rewarded for his loyalty, Magezi will have to popularize NRM’s position during the referendum.

William Byaruhanga

Attorney General William Byaruhanga could be axed, according to informed officials.

Byaruhanga took this position in 2006 at a time Museveni wanted to see seriousness in handling government cases. Byaruhanga’s performance ratings remain unclear to us. But we are informed he is not returning to the Cabinet.

Evelyne Anite  

State Minister for Privatization Evelyne Anite is bouncing back. The President is keen on revamping Uganda Telecom which Anite fully supports.

The Ugandan government has since been warned by majority shareholders in Libya of court action should it go ahead to nationalize the corporation.

Anite is a renowned NRM mobiliser who led a secret campaign to neutralize former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi’s presidential campaign.

Ruth Nankabirwa

The NRM chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa who recently said Museveni’s IQ is next to God’s also is set for a Cabinet post.

The Kiboga MP’s mobilisation abilities were on display when a massive rally was held to celebrate the success of the age limit bill.

The President also is keen on winning popularity in the Luweero Triangle, a stronghold of the ruling party.

Chris Baryomunsi

A physician, public health specialist, demographer, and politician, Chris Baryomunsi is expected to be elevated to a Minister.

The State Minister for Housing usually deputises Information Minister Frank Tumwebaze whenever the latter is out of the country.

He remains vocal and supportive of government programmes on television and radio stations across the country.

He also was very active during the fierce debate of the controversial age limit bill.

Kyambadde

The current Cabinet Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde’s fate remains unclear.

Officials had earlier suggested that Kyambadde’s relations with the President had hit an all-time low.

That was after the Minister said the First Family members would sometimes defy him on meeting the president.

But it’s understood Kyambadde’s relationship with Museveni remains solid and could either retain the post or be moved to another Ministry.

Gen Kayihura

With the crime preventers currently under the supervision of UPDF and his former aides in jail, Museveni could rehabilitate the former Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura and appoint him Minister.

Gen Kayihura works like a horse and the president recently praised him as a ‘loyal cadre’.

Due to his work methods, it is unlikely that Kayihura will be appointed to serve in the security docket in the near future. He also will have to prove his innocence against accusations against him.

Gen Tumukunde

The sacked Security Minister’s fate remains unclear.

But it will be recalled that Tumukunde was instrumental in drafting and implementing the mobilisation strategy that delivered victory for President Museveni in the 2016 elections.

With the referendum drawing closer, Museveni will need Tumukunde not only for mobilisation but also winning the hearts of the people of Rukungiri.

The hotspot remains a stronghold of the opposition which recently organized relentless street battles with security forces.

“Tumukunde had through mobilisation managed to help NRM make significant inroads in the district but his removal from Cabinet will worsen the situation,” said an informed observer.

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