KAMPALA (AA) – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni reshuffled his government on Sunday in what some experts described as a “new old cabinet.”
“In more disciplined countries, a cabinet reshuffle is more a statement of a new policy direction,” Godber Tumushabe, a lawyer and policy analyst, told The Anadolu Agency.
“Now what you see is a status quo and not policy change,” he said. “The changes are fairly inconsequential.”
Tumushabe, the associate director of Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies, cited the promotion of Matia Kasaija from state minister in the finance ministry to finance minister.
“He is a good movement cadre who can always make things happen for the President, but there will be no policy change,” he insisted.
Tumushabe, who has advocated for slashing the number of ministers from 77 to 21, said the same applies for new Health Minister Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye who was state minister for health.
“All those titles and ministers are irrelevant, if you have taken time to understand Museveni and the way he works, he makes a big joke out of cabinet positions,” he suggested.
“In fact now I think all we need are 15,” Tumushabe said.
Museveni brought in six new ministers and changed the portfolios of 13 ministers.
Lebo Julius, a political don at Makerere University, says the reshuffle was expected.
“President Museveni usually rewards his loyal supporters,” he told AA.
Julius recalled how Evelyn Anite, now state minister for youth and children affairs, knelt down in 2014 begging Museveni to be the sole ruling party’s candidate in the 2016 elections.
He also suggested that David Bahati, now state minister for planning, has always been favored by Museveni.
“And he needs some kind of reward,” Julius said.
He also suggested that new Information and National Guidance Minister Jim Muhwezi was rewarded for siding with Museveni against former prime minister and ruling party leader Amama Mbabazi.
Mbabazi was sacked in September 2014 as Prime Minister and later forced to leave the position of party secretary general on suspicion he was harboring presidential ambitions.
But Museveni’s Private Secretary on Political Affairs, David Mafabi, defended the reshuffle.
“The president will not carry out reshuffles on whims,” he told AA.
Mafabi also defended Museveni’s new choices.
“Bahati has been the deputy NRM caucus chairperson for five years. He has shown exemplary leadership, consistency and he is steadfast,” he said.
Mafabi added that Muhwezi, a member of the ruling party’s Central Executive Committee, is a very senior and experienced leader.
He insisted that the cabinet reshuffle was inevitable from the time the ruling National Resistance Movement party amended its constitution to provide for a new secretary general.
“We had three ministers leaving,” he said.
Justine Lumumba, the former government chief whip, became the NRM secretary general; Richard Todwong , a former minister without portfolio, became NRM deputy secretary general; and Rose Namayanja, the former information and national guidance minister, became the NRM treasurer.
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