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NRM politics & tribalism

By Mubatsi Asinja Habati

An inside look at thetop positions in most government bodies

While opening the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party National Executive Council meeting at State House Entebbe on January 12, President Yoweri Museveni warned delegates that his government will not tolerate anybody propagating and practising sectarianism.

‘We defeated this (sectarianism) opportunism in the Luwero Triangle; that is why Uganda has had these 24 years of stability. We are not going to tolerate opportunism in the wider society of Uganda. It is incumbent on everybody to promote patriotism,’ the President said.

But in the afternoon, when delegates were reacting to his speech, a delegate from Adjuman, Angela Kebba, put the president on the spot. As other delegates cheered her, she asked Museveni why most people holding key government positions are from western Uganda and are closely related to him and yet he claims to be against sectarianism. Sectarianism refers to all forms of religious, ethnic or gender chauvinism. President Museveni’s wife, his younger brother, his son, daughters, in-laws hold top government positions.

Museveni laboured to explain that people from his ethnic group are dominant because of their individual contribution to the struggle that brought him to power in 1986. He said he bases appointments on the individual’s contribution to the NRA liberation struggle and their vote popularity. This is not the first time that Museveni was being confronted directly about alleged sectarianism in his appointments. During an NRM Parliamentary Caucus meeting in 2007, the NRM Vice Chairman for Eastern region, Mike Mukula told Museveni that his perceived sectarian tendencies were hurting the nation. The opposition jumped on it and MPs, Hussein Kyanjo (Makindye West) and Erias Lukwago (Kampala Central) demanded that the government reviews the national appointment policy as apart of wider efforts to curb sectarianism. Nothing has been done.

Museveni constantly speaks against sectarianism. However, people in and outside his party, appear unsatisfied. This is partly because, apart from speaking out against it, he has done nothing to correct obvious acts of sectarianism. In fact, many times people who have complained about sectarianism have ended up being punished instead.

In a significant incident late last year, the Education Ministry’s permanent secretary, Francis Lubanga, was accused of dismissing some employees at the ministry replacing them with his relatives. A whistleblower, in a 14-page dossier to the President, claims 30 people related to Lubanga have been employed in the key positions in the ministry. They include his wife, son, sister, uncle, nephew, in-laws. Many of these are said to have been irregularly hired, promoted or put in charge of the ministry’s projects worth millions of shillings. Lubanga said his relatives are employed because they are qualified. Nothing has been done about this case.

Contrary to what they claim to be the education policies and practices, the whistleblower alleges that Lubanga’s wife was irregularly promoted from a mere classroom teacher to headmistress of Kyambogo College School while still on probation.

Lubanga’s case is typical of what is going on in many government agencies. A survey by The Independent that looked at 20 government bodies revealed that most parastatals are dominated by people from one ethnic group. In most of the agencies if the head comes from a particular ethnicity, chances become high to have key departments in the parastatal headed by people from the head’s home area or ethnicity.

Bank of Uganda, for example, has eight of the 10 top-most bosses from the same corner of the country.

At the Uganda Bureau of Statistics all six key departments except that of Director of Business Industrial Statistics are headed by people who speak the same language as the bureau’s chief executive. And contrary to popular misconception, some ethnic cliques are not from western Uganda.

Most are qualified for the job but accusations of nepotism abound. Often one question is asked: do other areas not have people who are qualified to do the same work? The issue has sparked hot debates.

Prof. Edward Kakonge, chairman of Uganda Debt Network, says the public institutions should reflect what Uganda is. He says the leadership has failed this test and institutions are turning into some sorts of ethnic camps. Kakonge says he does not think even State House which is supposed to be a symbol of the nation can pass highly this test.

But Dr Narathius Asingwire, head of the Social Work and Social Development department at Makerere University, says there is no problem employing people from one ethnic group – provided they are qualified and competent.

‘Public institutions should reflect Uganda as a whole other than reflecting some ethnic groups as we see,’ says Prof. Kakonge, ‘It is not only for these parastatal bodies; it is a practice you find everywhere. You go for example to State House, does it reflect this nation? You can find that the bigger proportion of workers is from a certain part of the country. What message are you sending to Ugandans? ‘

Three years after it captured power in 1989, Museveni’s government enacted the anti-sectarian law.

Under the Penal Code Act Section 41, promoting sectarianism refers to (1) A person who prints, publishes, makes or utters any statement or does any act which is likely to ” (a) degrade, revile or expose to hatred or contempt; (b) create alienation or despondency of; (c) raise discontent or disaffection among; or (d) promote, in any other way, feelings of ill will or hostility among or against, any group or body of persons on account of religion, tribe or ethnic or regional origin commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

The same section adds in (2) that it shall be a defence to a charge under subsection (1) if the statement was printed, published, made or uttered, or the act was done with a view to exposing, discouraging or eliminating matters which promote or have a tendency to promote sectarianism.

However, the law which was framed to promote a level playing for all tribes and religions appears to be used mainly to gag those who criticize sectarian tendencies, especially journalists. Most of these write about sectarianism with a view of eliminating it. Charging them in courts of law, therefore, amounts to promoting it by attempting to silence debate on the issue.

Among those who have been either quizzed by police or charged are: Andrew Mwenda, Managing Editor The Independent magazine, James Tumusiime; the Managing Editor The Observer newspaper, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, the Political Editor The Observer newspaper, a Luwero farmer David Ntege, Beti Kamya; MP Lubaga North, Hussein Kyanjo; MP Makindye West, Issa Kikungwe; MP Kyadondo South, Betty Nambooze Bakireke; DP Spokesperson, Meddie Nsereko of CBS Radio, David Mpanga, Buganda’s Research Minister and Daudi Ziwa.

At the height of the so-called Buganda riots last year, the government forcibly shutdown four radio stations allegedly for promoting sectarianism.

Impact of sectarianism

In his book titled, Ethnicity, State Power and Democratisation Process in Uganda, Dr Juma Okuku, a political scientist and senior lecturer at Makerere University, argues that the implementation of Structural Adjustment Programmes in Uganda led to reforms in the civil service which led to creation of new specialized agencies like URA, Civil Aviation Authority, Privatization Unit, UIA, etc. He says: ‘The negative side to the creation of these organizations was that the NRM saw it as an opportunity to reward its political and ethnic clients from the south-western part of the country with jobs. This ethnically based recruitment has raised concern,’ Okuku states in his book.  The answer to these complaints about the alleged preferential treatment within government bodies; be it in the army has been that those from the western region were more educated and contributed a lot to the NRA struggle. But one wonders whether after two decades of liberation this argument still holds.

Prof. Kakonge says the implication of the ethnic camps in most public institutions is manifested in how deep corruption has sunk into society and how remorseless it has left people.  He says this slows down service delivery. This results in marginalisation of certain areas and people. Women, for example, are not well represented in top government bodies at management and decision making levels. Where does this leave the issue of women empowerment?

‘Even if government had good intentions of developing a certain area, development does not take place for a simple reason that you don’t have dedicated civil servants to do a good job for Uganda,’ says Kakonge.

In some organizations the top departmental managers may be from different regions and tribe but a big number of workers under them are of the same ethnicity as the CEO. Having department managers from different regions may be meant to make it appear as if there is regional balance in administration of the government body; possibly to diffuse sentiments that the public may have about employing same ethnic groups in the organization.

MP Reagan Okumu, who chairs the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises, says it is a bad signal to the country arguing that when you talk of distribution of resources it also applies to employment. ‘Even employment should be equally distributed because no region has a monopoly over administration,’ he said. He says the practice is extremely unfair and adds that it is being reflected in the army where we have top army commanders coming from the same area or village.

Asingwire says there should be concern if people get the job because they have a ‘godfather’ in the work place.

‘When you come into the organization through the backdoor, you will tend not to be conscious of how you are performing because you will think all the time you are protected. In a way you are not answerable to the organization. And people who are recruited like that normally do not have the competences though they may have qualifications. And professionally they leave a lot to be desired that is why you find much abuse of office today.’

Way forward

Kakonge says hope to change this situation should be put in the youths. He says the youths have a bigger stake in this country than the old generation and thus they should be ‘given opportunity to shape the Uganda we want’. But Kakonge is skeptical that total transformation of this attitude may come easily because ‘the youths are part of the corrupt society and many of them are marginalized and used as political tools’. He says the government should open more opportunities to the young generation to prepare a better Uganda. But Okumu says it is only political change that can solve this. The experience of the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) shows that accountability is a factor in curbing sectarianism. For a long time, URA had been accused of employing people from only one tribe. However, the Commissioner General Allen Kagina produced a list of top employees of the organisation. Although the accusations persist, it is clear from the gesture that the organisation is sensitive to the claims.

Top officials in some of the key government bodies

Bank of Uganda: 

Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile-Governor

Patrick Byabakama ‘Kaberenge-Ag. Deputy Governor

Johnson Mubangizi – Executive Director-Administration

Mr. Patrick Kagoro-Executive Director, Finance

Mrs. Justine Bagyenda-Executive Director, Supervision

Mr. Elias Kasozi-Executive Director, Operations

Dr. David Kihangire-Ag. Executive Director, Research

Mr. George Nyeko-Bank Secretary

Ms. Deborah Kabahweza-Ag. Chief Internal Auditor

Dr. Polycarp Musinguzi-Executive Director, Gen. Duties

Dr. Martin Brownbridge -Economic Advisor to Governor

National Planning Authority 

Kisamba Mugerwa ‘Chairman Board

Tasasirano Longino ‘Executive Director

Francis Ojek ‘Human resource Development

Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets:

James Kahoza ‘Chairman Board

Edgar Agaba ‘Executive Director

Joshua Mulera ‘Director Procurement, Audit and Investigation

Benson Turamye ‘Manager

Mary Sozi ‘Director Finance and administration

Fionah Kanyike ‘Manager

Asaph Mugisha ‘Human Resource Manager

Etiang Joseph ‘ Internal Audit manager

Conelia Kakooza Sabiiti ‘Legal Compliance director

Milton Tumutegyereize ‘ Director training and capacity building

Uganda Bureau of Statistics,

J.B Male Mukasa -Executive Director

James Mubiru -Deputy Executive Director

Johnson Kagugube -Director Statistics/ Capacity

Andrew Mukulu -Director Population & Social Statistics

Seth Mayinga -Director Business industrial statistics

Mathew Sewanyana -Director Macroeconomic policy)

National Agricultural Advisory Services

David Kantaale Kazungu -Board chairman

Dr Silim Nahdy ‘Executive Director

Francis Byekwaso -Deputy Executive Director, Planning and Monitoring manager

Andrew Kilama ‘Finance and Administration manager

Joseph Oriokot ‘Technical Services manager

Uganda Coffee Development Authority

Henry Ngabirano ‘Managing Director

Julius Madira -Principal Monitoring and Evaluation officer

Fred Luzinda-Mukasa -Board secretary/head of finance and administration

Michael Wasswa -Principal Administrative officer

Nina Nassuna -Principal accountant

David Kiwanuka -Manager Quality, regulation and information

Cotton Development Organisation

Richard Parwot ‘Chairman Board

Jolly Sabune ‘Managing Director

Apollo N Makubuya ‘Board Secretary

Willy Owachi ‘Finance manager

S.B.K Biraaro ‘Market Monitoring and information manager

  1. Ntandayarwo ‘Technical manager

Electricity Regulatory Authority

Ben Dramadri ‘Chairman Board

Dr Frank Sebbowa ‘Chief Executive Officer

Patrick Mwesige ‘Director Finance and Administration

Mary Kansiime Mwine.- Human Resource & Admin. Officer

Eng Robert Semitala ‘Director technical regulation

Benon Mutambi ‘Director Economic regulation

Johnson Kwesigabo ‘head legal department

National Water and Sewerage Corporation

Dr William Muhairwe ‘Chief Executive Officer

Walusimbi Irene Sarah -Chief Manager, Manag’t Services

Proscovia Aketch Lubowa -Chief Internal Auditor

Dr. Eng. Silver Mugisha -Chief Manager, Institutional Development & External Services

Alex Gisagara -Chief Manager, Engineering Department

Okiidi Alfred Okot -Chief Manager, Finance & Accounts

Mr. Amayo Johnson -Chief Manager, Planning & Capital Development

Uganda Communications Commission

Patrick Mwesigwa ‘Ag. Executive Director

Hodge Semakula ‘Commission’s Secretary/ Director Legal Affairs

C.M.D. Mutyaba ‘Director human resource and administration

Quinto Ojok ‘Director Finance

John Bantulaki ‘ Ag. Director Technology and licensing

Bob Lyazi ‘Director Rural Communications Development Fund

Uganda National Roads Authority

Eng Peter Ssebanakitta ‘Executive Director

Ben Ssebuga ‘Director Operations

Dan Alinange ‘Spokesperson

Uganda Investment Authority

William Kalema ‘Board chairman

Maggie Kigozi ‘Executive Director

Tom Buringuriza ‘Deputy Executive Director

Issa Mukasa ‘Director Investment promotion

Lawrence Byensi ‘Director Investment Facilitation

Arthur Bwire Tukahirwa ‘Director Industrial Parks Development

Joel Byaruhanga ‘Director Finance and administration

Barnabas Tumwesige ‘Director Lands development division

Uganda Wild Life Authority

Andrew Kasirye ‘Board chairman

Moses Mapesa ‘Executive Director

Eunice Duli ‘Director Tourism Services

Lillian Nsubuga _PRO

National Drug Authority

Dr Frank Mwesigye ‘ Chairman Board

Dr Apollo Muhairwe ‘Executive Secretary

Emmaline Susan Mbabazi ‘Head human resources and administration

David Nahamya ‘In-charge Post Market Surveillance

Mrs Kikule ‘Chief Inspector of Drugs

Helen Ndagije-Byamire ‘Head of Drug Information

Uganda Revenue Authority

Ibrahim Kabanda ‘Board chairman

Allen Kagina ‘Commissioner General

  1. Kabway-Deputy Commissioner General, Administration

Justin Zake-Deputy Commissioner General, Revenue

Mike Chibita-Executive Assistant to Commissioner General

Magoola Kalyebe-Assistant Commissioner, Modernisation

Sarah Birungi Banage-Assistant Commissioner, Public and Corporate Affairs

National Social Security Fund

Vincent Ssekono ‘board chairman

Martin Bandeebire ‘Ag. Managing Director

Julius Ishungisa – Chief Finance Officer
Barigye Geoffrey – Ag. Chief Internal Auditor
Francis Baryahabwa ­- Ag. Chief Operations Officer

Grace Isabirye ­- Chief Investment Officer
George Kyarikunda – Chief Administration Officer

Barigye Geoffrey – Ag. Chief Internal Auditor
Charles K Muhoozi – Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Peter Kahiigi – Chief Information Systems Officer
Dennis Ochieng – Chief Risk Officer

National Medical Stores

Moses Kamabere ‘General Manager

Edith Kakuba ‘head Finance and accounts

National Environment Management Authority

Aryamanya Mugisha ‘Executive Director

Gerald Musoke Saula ‘deputy executive director

Onesmus Muhwezi -Director Environmental Monitoring and Compliance

Beatrice Adimola -Director, District Support and Public Education

Aristarco Kasekende Mujuzi -Director Finance and Administration

Jolly Kamwesigye ‘Human Resource manager

Telly Eugene Muramira -Dir. Policy, Planning & Information

Inspectorate General of Government

Raphael Baku Ag. IGG

Bageya Waiswa ‘secretary to the IGG

James Penywi ‘director of operations

Elizabeth Musoke ‘Director legal affairs

J.J Rwereza ‘Director of education and prevention of corruption

Muzamil Abor -Director regional offices and follow up

Uganda National Bureau of Standards

Dr Terry Kahuma ‘Executive Director

Dr Ben Manyindo -Deputy Executive Director

Mackay Aomu ‘Deputy Executive Director Manag’t service

Davis Ampwera ‘Finance and administration

Gyavira Musoke ‘Head of imports

Abdul Ndibuna -Head of certification

David Kiragga -Quality manager

Patrick Ssekitoleko ‘Manager Quality Assurance

Population Secretariat

Charles Zirarema ‘Ag. Director

Edith Kangabe ‘Ag. Head Policy and Planning

Dr Betty Kyaddondo ‘Head Family health

Hannington Burunde ‘Head Information and Communication

Andrew Tondi  ‘Head Monitoring and Evaluation

Hassan Musinguzi ‘Head Finance and administration

National Enterprise Corporation

Col Fred Mwesigye ‘Managing Director

George Odongo ‘General Manager NEC works

National Forestry Authority

Hudson Andrua ‘Ag. Executive director, Director Natural Forests

Paul Drichi ‘Director Plantations

Ernest Kaddu ‘Director Finance and administration

Paul Buyerah ‘Director Corporate Affairs

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