TUMUKUNDE SACKING: How Museveni played `inner circle’ politics
Kampala, Uganda | HAGGAI MATSIKO | By the time he fired the former Minister for Security; Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde, President Yoweri Museveni had been resisting pressure from within his inner circle to act.
Tumukunde’s sacking was not an easy decision because he is married to Stella Tumukunde; a cousin to Mrs Janet Museveni, and, therefore, part of the first family.
Indeed, the very day he was fired on March 04, Tumukunde appeared at the funeral service of late Maj. Ian Kangaho, a nephew to the first lady, at All Saints’ Cathedral, Nakasero in Kampala.
President Museveni also attended the service together with other members of his family like his son, Maj.Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba. At some point, Tumukunde could be seen chatting with Kainerugaba, who is now Presidential adviser on special operations.
Insiders say because of these ties, Museveni had been expressing concerns about Tumukunde but had not taken action.
Some speculated that Tumukunde had remained in cabinet because he had a lobbyist in the First Lady and Museveni’s influential brother, Gen. Caleb Akandwanaho aka Salim Saleh. For others, Tumukunde was still serving Museveni’s mission – of clipping the wings of former police chief, Gen. Kale Kayihura.
The fight with Kayihura had driven the Security Minister to expose himself. Tumukunde had been nursing a personal grudge against Kayihura. The latter, insiders say, volunteered to arrest Tumukunde when he fell out with President Museveni in May 2005. Months later Kayihura was rewarded with the post of IGP. Tumukunde never forgot and when he bounced back to cabinet, his priority appeared fighting Kayihura.
Although Museveni wanted Kayihura’s wings clipped, however, he severally cautioned Tumukunde against openly criticising the former police chief and other colleagues in cabinet meetings but it did not stop Tumukunde. While police was largely to blame for the security crisis, it did not help Tumukunde much that Ugandans were seeing the worst wave of murders and crime under his tenure as Security Minister.
But others say Museveni did not sack Tumukunde earlier because he the president was following an old rule in his book on how and when to fire officials.
When the mouth stinks
A source privy to the inner workings at State House has told this reporter on condition of anonymity that, as is his habit before firing anyone, Museveni had been using an analogy to explain why he takes time to fire people after falling out with them.
According to the source, the president’s analogy is based on a disease that makes a person’s mouth to stink. In the president’s local language—Runyankore—the disease is called ‘omuhembe’. The president reportedly told those close to him that when a person close to you is suffering from this problem—omuhembe–, you do not chase them right away. Instead, you first let the mouth stink for everybody else such that by the time you act, everybody is wondering what took you so long.
The president has used this approach to fire many high-ranking officials. In the recent past, he has applied it on former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, who he did not fire until there was a near revolt against him over his management of the ruling party secretariat. Mbabazi created so many enemies within the senior party ranks to the extent that many party stalwarts were openly calling for his sacking.
Once Museveni got fed up of Kayihura, he did the same—started talking about how the police had been infiltrated. Indeed, while previously complaints about Gen. Kayihura came only from sections of the public, sections of police and sections of his inner circle, by the time he fired Kayihura, the police chief’s image had been badly tarnished by failures or the crisis in police.
Museveni applied the same approach on Gen. Tumukunde. He let him stink for everybody to the extent that, days before he fired him, Tumukunde was being avoided by almost everyone; even if he is a close member of the first family.
This became clear to critical observers who attended the wedding of the daughter of prominent businessman, Kananura in Mbarara District on Feb. 03 – a month before Tumukunde was fired together with Kayihura.
Kananura is a ruling party stalwart and a close contact of President Museveni. In September last year, Museveni attended his son, Moses Kananura’s wedding reception at Lake Victoria Serena Hotel and donated ten cows.
This time his daughter, Diana was marrying Castro Taremwa, the son of top businessman Banarbas Taremwa, who is a brother to Jovia Saleh and, therefore, a brother-in-law to Saleh..