After sacking seven ministers and moving others to less influential positions, President Museveni went to Cabinet on Monday, and explained how he had successfully pulled off “a mini-surgical operation” in the fight against corruption.
The President acknowledged Daily Monitor’s continued reporting on corruption, a chronic problem in the country, and praised “the bad paper” for telling the truth about the objectives of his Cabinet shakeup.
Mr Museveni told the Cabinet sitting at State House Entebbe that he had read “very good stories” in the Daily Monitor of December 16, talking about his last week’s Cabinet reshuffle.
He said in the stories, “the bad paper” captured the truth and provided details on why he came up with a Cabinet line-up which he said sought to cut the hand of corruption in government, and streamline service delivery in the country.
“Even this bad paper, the [Daily] Monitor is happy with the Cabinet reshuffle…This bad paper has correctly reported that I have made the reshuffle to wipe out corruption… But this [reshuffle] is a minor surgery in the war against corruption.
I have brought in the young people to reinforce the fight against corruption. Cabinet must commit to fight this problem. I don’t want corruption in Cabinet,” a source quoted the President.
In the reshuffle, Mr Museveni dropped Ms Irene Muloni (Energy), Ms Ntege Azuba (Works), Janat Mukwaya (Gender), Idah Nantaba (ICT), Charles Bakkabulindi (Sports), Hajj Abdul Nadduli (Without Portfolio) and Mr Alex Onzima (Office of the Vice President).
He also moved some ministers and drafted in “new blood” to refresh his government.
The President neither named nor implicated any of the seven fired ministers in any corruption scandal.
However, he said his latest changes were intended to invigorate his war against corruption and fast-track service delivery in various government departments ahead of the February 2021 General Election.
Sources told Daily Monitor that Mr Museveni’s remarks came after ministers led by Prime Minister Dr Ruhana Rugunda discussed a “motion” thanking Mr Museveni for re-appointing them to Cabinet.
In the meeting, the President moved an amendment to the motion and asked ministers to kick corruption out of Cabinet.
The ministers, one after the other, reportedly thanked Mr Museveni for giving them a “second chance” and promised not to let him down in the war against corruption.
The President asked “survivors” to stop using government offices as “hunting grounds” and warned that “thieving ministers and other government officials” will not be tolerated in his pre-election line-up. He asked ministers to lead by example in the fight against corruption.
Museveni grills Otafiire
During the meeting, Mr Museveni reportedly ordered the outgoing Justice Minister, Gen Kahinda Otafiire, to explain how he acquired part of Njeru Stock Farm, one of the government facilities under the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank.
The facility measuring about 1,000 acres, hosts a government demonstration farm, a breeding centre and a research centre, among other facilities.
More than 500 acres of Njeru Stock Farm are in the hands of individuals, including Gen Otafiire.
Mr Museveni was “shocked” to learn that Gen Otaffire wants to evict a government department because he bought the government land.
When Gen Otafiire explained how he acquired the farm, his response reportedly infuriated the President.
He told Mr Museveni that he legally acquired the farm land from late Fredrick Kato and Christopher Lule, and that it was the former deputy Chief Justice, Steven Kavuma, who informed him about the land deal.
But the President retorted with dismay and warned Gen Otafiire: “If government had not paid ground rent, and you are part of government, you don’t take advantage of your own government.
You say you were attracted by Justice Kavuma, this was wrong because you are part of the government. Anyway, have you submitted the report on this matter?”
Gen Otafiire also explained that he had submitted the report and that Ms Joy Kabatsi, the junior minister for Animal Industry, had cleared him to take the land but the President interjected and said:
“I am going to read your report and if I you know that you are telling lies, it is not good for you.”
Mr Museveni promised to investigate all government officials named in the grabbing of the farm land.
In the Cabinet shakeup, President Museveni transferred Gen Otafiire from the head of Justice Ministry and to East Africa Affairs docket.
Although insiders had talked of a need for a “revolutionary” to deal with the geopolitics, some ministers have, however, blamed Gen Otafiire’s removal from the Justice and constitutional Affairs ministry on Njeru land deal.
Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, the former Tourism minister, will now take over the docket.
The House Appointments committee chaired by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga is expected to start vetting and approving Mr Museveni’s nominees this week or next one.
Some ministers, including all the seven sacked ones, did not attend the Cabinet meeting.
In May, Mr Museveni said the Inspectorate of Government (IG), “has been infiltrated by wrong elements who have made it difficult to wipe corruption out of Uganda.”
The President said as a result, he has created other units based in State House to help fight the vice.
The IGG, Justice Irene Mulyagonja, later hit back, saying most corrupt government officials hide behind the back of President Museveni and use their connection to the Head of State to defeat or escape justice.
Justice Mulyagonja said the corrupt are too powerful and whenever she attempts to pursue them they fight back and they often win the fight.
By Daily Monitor