Museveni’s cabinet reshuffle highlights his deep bonds to corruption
By Charles Kamya Ssentamu
There is an old adage that, “you dance with the one that brought you to the dance.” President Museveni apparently will never let corruption down. He will never dance with any other partner!
After three and half years he finally announced a long-anticipated cabinet reshuffle over the weekend.
But true to his oft-repeated slogan of “no change”, the changes don’t amount to change in a substantive manner and instead largely demonstrate the ruler’s deep commitment to corruption, and the corrupt. Although he shuffled a number of corruption kingpins, the moves in many ways simply conserve the graft network of which Museveni thrives, and are designed to extend his control over new growth areas.
A few of the appointments and sackings stand out.
Just like Kahinda Otafiire who has been moved from Justice to East African Affairs, Mwesigwa Rukutana and Frank Tumwebaze who now take over the Labor Ministry are people that in normal circumstances should be in jail. During their tenure at Justice, Otafiire and Rukutana presided over massive theft through fast-tracking settlement of fictitious claims against the state.
Otafiire, who is not only a smuggler but also one of the biggest land grabbers and appropriators of public property, used his office to enforce illegal claims on property, and to subvert justice. Rukutana, one of the major human traffickers under the guise of labor exports, used his position to frustrate complaints against fellow human traffickers.
Janat Mukwaya, who has been shown the door, has been sacked for trying to reform the industry and stop the export of Ugandans into slavery.
Museveni wants his trusted operatives to be in charge of the gender and labor ministry for two reasons. His family and inner circle are the biggest players in the human trafficking organized crime racket. As a result Museveni needs people he can trust to oversee the first family’s gory interests.
Secondly, workers are clamoring for control of the National Social Security Fund – whose worth stands at US$ 1.5 billion – to be returned to labor, from the Finance Ministry. That would change the profile of what was once considered a “dry” ministry into an extremely “wet” one.
Add to that the youth livelihood fund, which is a good way of funneling money from the treasury to Museveni’s covert activities, and one can begin to see just how corrupt Museveni’s latest reshuffle is.
Another indicator that Museveni cannot completely renounce corruption is the way he has positioned those he has previously sacked, such as former energy minister Irene Muloni whom he has retained as an advisor. Ms Muloni has presided over a lot of corruption in the energy sector where she’s overseen the poor implementation of power generation projects in exchange for bribes.
The two power stations: Karuma, 600Mw and Isimba 183Mw, have been signed off with major defects. Despite the works being awarded to different contractors, it is only one, Sinohydro that executed the actual works at both power stations. A firm recently hired to supervise the contractor has reported major defects in the physical works that they say cannot be remedied at this point.
One immediate outcome is that the lifespan of the overpriced projects will be very short indeed.
In recent times, Muloni had even begun to charge investors for her time. Her husband was the handler, collecting as much as US$ 25,000 for a single appointment. This is probably how a little known South African outfit secured her signature to construct a power station over the iconic Murchison Falls.
Yet rather than completely expunge this thoroughly corrupt woman from public service, Museveni has retained her as one of his multitudes of advisors.
Betty Among who used her time at lands to effect grabs of private property in Kampala, has now been moved to the Kampala City docket where she will directly be dealing with the municipal affairs of the capital. Commenting on the reshuffle, a seasoned lawyer in Kampala has compared it to a court injunction.
“This reshuffle is in a reality a series of conservatory orders. It preserves the status quo in many respects and extends the guard to previously overlooked areas but which have now become strategic in the wider scheme of things,” he said.