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Africa News of Wednesday, 9 June 2021


Uganda president appoints women as Vice-President, Prime Minister

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has appointed two women to top government positions of Vice-President and Prime Minister.

The development was contained in a new cabinet list released yesterday, June 8, 2021.

Museveni named Jessica Alupo, a former Education minister and retired army Major, as Vice President whiles outgoing junior Health State Minister for General Duties Robinah Nabbanja is now Prime Minister to lead government business in Parliament.

Local Monitor newspaper noted that the President announced the new Cabinet after an inordinate delay. Former Vice President Edward Ssekandi, lost his parliamentary seat and now his VP post whiles immediate past Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda has been redeployed as an envoy at the presidency.

Highly-placed sources told this newspaper that the President altered some of the names at the last minute after leak of some of the nominees’ in the original list to this newspaper, Monitor added.

In Uganda, the vice-president is supposed to be the second in command but the role is largely seen as ceremonial given that Museveni is known to have a strong grip on power.

Job description of the VP

The primary responsibility of the Vice President of Uganda is to be ready at a moment's notice to assume the Presidency if the President is unable to perform his duties.

This can be because of the President's death, resignation, or temporary incapacitation, or if the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet judge that the President is no longer able to discharge the duties of the presidency.

The Vice-President is second in Uganda’s command chain. Below the Vice President is the Prime Minister who is Co-Coordinator of Government and Head of Cabinet in Parliament.

Other cabinet appointments

A number of ministers were driopped whiles others were deployed to the ruling National Resistance Movement, (NRM's) office.

Mr Thomas Tayebwa and Mr David Bahati, both of whom we reported were pending deployment, have been named NRM Chief Whip and State Trade Minister, respectively, while MP Margaret Muhanga made it to Cabinet as we reported, but to a different docket.

Ms Nankabirwa, who lost her Kiboga Woman seat in January, has been named Energy Minister as Finance Minister Matia Kasaija retains his portfolio, unlike what we reported yesterday, while the Foreign Affairs, long held by Mr Sam Kutesa, goes to Internal Affairs Minister Jeje Odongo, a military general.

He is replaced at Internal Affairs by Kahinda Otafire, a retired army major general, to be deputised by the Gen David Muhoozi, until now the chief of defence forces.

The other surprises include the return of former spymaster and Health Minister, Maj General Jim Muhwezi, after years in the political cold, as Security Minister, replacing Gen Elly Tumwine, who argued that security forces were justified to kill civilians during the November riots.

Dr Monica Musenero, who gained national visibility as presidential advisor on epidemics during the pandemic, has been given the docket of Science, Technology, and Innovation but will be bankrolled by State House Comptroller.

The position of Justice Minister remains vacant while former Daily Monitor newspaper and NTV-Uganda Reporter Agnes Nandutu has been tapped as State Minister for Karamoja in a Cabinet with a significant presence of women and not particularly aligned as a reward to the voting pattern in January.

Former Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who publicly denounced the VP job, has been named as First Deputy Prime Minister under Ms Nabbanja, but given the additional docket of East African Affairs – a position which until his death was occupied by Kirunda Kivejinja.

President Museveni reached out to Mr Igode Makuya, a former director at NRM secretariat and historical, to understudy Ms Kadaga on East African Affairs, bringing in the vast revolutionary experience and calmness of late Kivejinja to the docket.

Prominent NRM lawyer, Mr Kirowa Kiwanuka, has been named the Attorney General, adding to the number of increasing younger people in Cabinet.

Gen Katumba Wamala, who was shot by assassins on June 1, retained his Works and Transport docket.

Mr Matia Kasija will also continue to superintendent over the Ministry of Finance.