Reign of the generals
But Museveni’s survival instinct by leaning back into the armed forces was on display. Out of the 32 top positions in the cabinet, 10 or 30% are held by people with a background in the forces. Up to six of them are generals; PM Maj. Alupo, Gen. Moses Ali, Maj.Gen. Jim Muhwezi (Security), Gen. Jeje Odongo (Foreign Affairs), Gen. Kahinda Otafiire (Internal Affairs), Gen. Katumba Wamala (Works and Transport), Inspector Judith Nabakoba (Police), Lt. Col. Bright Rwamirama, Col. Tom Butime and Museveni himself. There is another very important new minister, the current Chief of Defense Forces (CDF), Gen. David Muhoozi and a Senior Presidential Advisor, (Security), Gen. Elly Tumwine. It would be an interesting photo if these soldiers show up in cabinet in full military uniform to take a major decision. Museveni likes to do that sometimes.
The return of 70-year old Jim Muhwezi to the same role of streamlining the security service as he did 35 years, when he was head of the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) is revelatory. Museveni has rescued Muhwezi from a six year fallow as he was last appointed a Minister of Information in 2015. But what is his mission this time? If he links up with Gen. Kahinda Otafiire who is Internal Affairs minister, and Amama Mbabazi who is out but is constantly rumoured to have a foot in, Museveni’s 1986 security line-up will be complete.
Museveni named Bamulangaki Sempijja, Jacob Oboth-Oboth and little known Oleru Huda to the defense slot but that is of little consequence because Museveni has always handled that slot any way.
But can these tired generals battle the new era of assassins who recently attempted to finish off Gen. Katumba Wamala? Even the appointing authority, Museveni, appears not to think so. That is possibly why he had brought in current CDF, Gen. David Muhoozi, as minister of State for Internal Affairs. Some commentators have said that is a demotion for Muhoozi; a sort of punishment.
Who will fill that slot now, many have been asking? But that is to forget two things; first Museveni can lower and raise any of his pawns for no apparent reason. Ask Maj. Jessica Alupo about that. Secondly, Museveni appears to have a strategy that involves having a general in that internal affairs slot. Another former CDF, the late Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, was in that position.
Looking for loyalty
In the same cabinet Museveni has ditched many long-term comrades whose loyalty to him has recently become questionable in the context of succession politics. Many of these are insiders in Museveni’s State House. Former Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa, former Principle Presidential Private Secretaries Amelia Kyambadde and Molly Kamukama, former head of the legal department in the President’s Office, Joy Kabatsi; Mwesigwa Rukutana, William Byaruhanga, who are lawyers with close links to Museveni, and Gen. Elly Tumwine.
Museveni had made a habit of shuffling ministers, even putting some to fallow for years, before resurrecting them. Therefore, it is difficult to say with certainty why he ditched many of those listed. In any case Museveni ditched 22 minsters from the 79-strong previous cabinet. And he shuffled the remaining 55 around with only about five remaining in their old positions.
Powerful former ministers who were possibly eyeing higher appointment saw their stars dimmed instead. David Bahati was swung from Finance to Trade, Frank Tumwebaze to Agriculture, and Ruth Nankabirwa from powerful chief whip to Energy.