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Muhoozi tipped PLU team about cabinet jobs in 2023

Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba

Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba

Last week, President Yoweri Museveni appointed Balaam Barugahara and Lilian Aber, known for their loyalty to his son, to key positions in the cabinet.

Balaam was designated as the state minister for Youth and children’s affairs, succeeding Sarah Mateke, who now serves as Minister of state for Defense and Veteran Affairs.

Meanwhile, Aber was assigned the role of state minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness, and refugees. Additionally, Phiona Nyamutoro was appointed state minister for Mineral Development. These appointments were widely anticipated, as Balaam and Aber were reportedly involved in and knowledgeable about the selection processes that led to their ministerial roles.

Sources suggest that their appointments were influenced by Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the first son and chairman of the Patriotic League of Uganda (PLU). Balaam and Aber serve as deputies to Gen. Muhoozi in western and northern Uganda, respectively.

According to sources, Gen Muhoozi requested academic documents from some of his associates to facilitate their consideration for cabinet positions ahead of the reshuffle.

One source revealed, “Gen Muhoozi asked for my academic documents, and I provided them. After submission, we were confident that our appointments were assured.”

The source further emphasized that President Museveni recognized their loyalty, determination, consistency, and ability to deliver, contrasting them with individuals perceived as opportunists and self-serving individuals seeking political gains.

“Museveni saw our dedication and competence, distinguishing us from mere speculators and opportunists seeking personal benefits,” the source added.

Speaking to The Observer shortly after the president’s announcement on X (formerly Twitter), Balaam applauded Museveni for appointing him minister and pledged to work towards improving the lives of young people and ensuring that their rights are respected.

“Museveni has done great work. This appointment is a vote of confidence. All in all, I applaud Muhoozi, who saw my worth and fished me. I will start with the Muhoozi Kainerugaba (MK) football match on Easter Monday in Ma- sindi while the Labour Day celebration will be my first assignment. I am going to be more aggressive,” he said.

He noted that upon his appointment, he received hundreds of phone calls and messages congratulating him for joining the cabinet. To his surprise, he received calls from people he had never heard of and prominent figures that he had never called or interacted with. Balaam claims that he will use the ministerial office to reach the youth and ask them to join PLU.

However, Aber refuted claims that she knew about her appointment and Gen Muhoozi never asked for any documents from her. She said they will continue pushing the agendas of PLU forward and balance the work of both the ministry and the movement.

Speaking about her appointment, Aber said it is good to be trusted by the head of state. That means that he believes in your abilities, and it is upon us to never disappoint him and deliver what is expected of us. PLU aims at working towards reviving Ugandans’ spirit of good citizenship, national pride, national service, protection of vulnerable persons, combating corruption and wastage of public resources, and protection of the environment.

Igara West MP Michael Mawanda, who is also a member of PLU, claims that the league will contribute, in a civil capacity, towards mobilizing Ugandans to fulfill their civic duties as citizens of this land, for the benefit of society as a whole, and to jealously guard the unique natural and social harmony that makes Uganda.

“We commit to ensuring that the Patriotic League of Uganda’s efforts toward reviving patriotism will remain non-partisan, non-denominational, and non-sectarian,” he said.

GENESIS OF BALAAM, ABER’S APPOINTMENT

Speaking during the NRM retreat in Kyankwanzi in June 2023, Museveni addressed the issue of frustrated youth turning to the MK group due to perceived weaknesses within the NRM.

“The issue of a standby generator (Muhoozi), I am handling it with Muhoozi and his group. The issue of Muhoozi is partly due to the weaknesses of the NRM. I remember when Muhoozi celebrated his 48th birthday, there were some soldiers and youths from Kampala and other areas, and when I analyzed it, I could see that because of the weakness of our systems, some of the frustrated youth went to the MK group, thinking that there was hope. Some of them are looking for their own interests. Some are looking for this, some are looking for that. What I did, I called and I talked to them,” Museveni said.

“It is not a good thing. You should only fight with those against your ideology. So, I am helping them. Don’t create unnecessary contradictions among yourselves.”

This publication learned that last year, Generals Museveni and Muhoozi met after the latter was criticized for allegedly indulging in politics before retiring from the army. It was after this meeting that the idea of rebranding the Muhoozi Kainerugaba (MK) movement was born.

The president later met a section of leaders of the MK movement, which included General Muhoozi, Kasambya MP David Kabanda, Balaam Barugahara, Michael Mawanda, Andrew Mwenda, and others. It has since been reported that during the meeting, Mu- seveni guided them and promised to bring them on board.

OTHER NOTABLE CHANGES

Meanwhile, the former state minister for Karamoja, Agnes Nandutu has appealed to President Yoweri Museveni for forgiveness following her removal during the mini cabinet reshuffle, which saw her replaced as the state minister for Karamoja.

Nandutu, a first-timer in both parliament and cabinet, was succeeded by Florence Wamala Nambozo. Her superior, Mary Goretti Kitutu, who also served as the Woman MP for Manafwa and was the minister in charge of Karamoja Affairs, was replaced by Peter Lokeris.

The dismissal of the two ministers is linked to the Karamoja iron sheets scandal that rocked the Office of the Prime Minister in 2023. However, other beneficiaries retained their cabinet positions. The reshuffle also saw Vicent Bamulanzeki Ssempijja, who served as the minister of Defense and Affairs, being replaced by Jacob Markson Oboth.

Oboth, who was elevated from the state minister for Defense, played a key role in the age limit debate that removed Article 102(b), which barred individuals above 75 years from standing for the presidency. At the time, he chaired the legal and constitutional affairs committee of parliament.

Dr Kenneth Omona, formerly the private press secretary to the President, was appointed state minister in charge of Northern Uganda, while Wilson Mbasu Mbadi was appointed state minister for Trade.

Speaking at parliament last Friday, Nandutu expressed her gratitude to President Museveni for appointing her among the 100 most important people in the country, stating, “I thank President Museveni for appointing me among the 100 most important people in this country, and I have done my best to serve this country.”

Despite facing challenges during her tenure, she expressed a desire to have served even more effectively, stating, “I want to congratulate my colleagues who have remained in the cabinet. I want to wish them well. I am also happy for the newly appointed ministers. Where 1 have gone wrong, I ask President Mu- seveni to forgive me.”

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