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State House social media fight deepens

Rival Facebook, Twitter accounts emerge

Two months after State House comptroller Lucy Nakyobe proclaimed the job rivalries amongst the president’s staff had been sorted, The Observer has learnt the feud is far from over.

Instead, the infighting has escalated with the creation of parallel social media accounts. This is the direct result of State House staff failing to agree on who should manage Museveni’s Twitter and Facebook platforms.

Museveni’s verified Twitter handle is @kagutamuseveni, which was created in April and currently has 63,600 followers. His official Facebook account, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, has 154,000 subscribers.

Both platforms are managed by Sarah Kagingo, the special presidential assistant for communications. She also manages the State House Facebook account, State House Uganda, and associated Twitter account, @StateHouseUg.

At the centre of the initial fight on who manages these social media accounts was Kagingo on the one side, and deputy presidential press secretary Lindah Nabusayi and head of the State House ICT department Charlotte Turatunga on the other (See: State House: row erupts over jobs).
The primary source of conflict was their overlapping roles.

At the time, Nakyobe told us that the rivalry had been resolved after Kagingo was assigned to be in charge of the social media, Nabusayi in charge of the print media and Turatunga the website.

Rival accounts

However, the rivalry has apparently continued as Kagingo and Nabusayi competed to post updates on Museveni’s activities. While Kagingo updated the official platforms, Nabusayi carried related posts on her private accounts.Recently, a new Twitter account emerged under the handle @yowerikmuseveni.

This was not a parody account and neither was it created by a random individual; it claimed to be official though it did not have the verification tick. The wording of the tweets was in the first person and also contained details and images of the president’s various engagements.

Similarly, a rival Facebook account was also opened to compete with Museveni’s official account, further making a mockery of the social media strategy. The two accounts were created in August but by Monday, October 20, when the rival Twitter account was suspended, it had attracted only 266 followers. Our sources indicate that the accounts emerged after Kagingo decided to keep the passwords to the official accounts only to herself.

Nakyobe, in an interview on Tuesday, explained that President Museveni currently has three Facebook and Twitter accounts, managed separately by Kagingo, Nabusayi and Turatunga.

“All the three created separate [social media] platforms for the president, and each one of them updates the accounts they are in charge of,” Nakyobe said.

“We don’t see any problem with it, and it followed a meeting we had internally and it was resolved that way,” the State House comptroller added.

Asked why the three rival accounts are not harmonised to avoid confusion, Nakyobe said: “We are trying to iron it out such that they all post on one account but that does not mean that there is a rivalry.”

Nakyobe further explained: “It is just like you at The Observer, I don’t think you are the only reporter there. What we are having is these people trying to outdo each other in contributing to the social media.”

Nakyobe also revealed that State House schedules had changed, requiring Nabusayi and Turatunga to take on new roles as assistants to Kagingo in the management of the president’s social media accounts.

“Kagingo was being overwhelmed [by the work] and she needed somebody to help her,” Nakyobe said.

Assault case

On August 24, as this quarrel threatened to explode, Kagingo filed a case of threatening violence and physical assault against Maj Edith Nakalema, Museveni’s assistant. The case had been handed to the special investigations unit (SIU) because of its “special” character, but police sources have intimated to us that the police are stuck.

Nakalema has reportedly declined to record a statement, and efforts by the police to seek the assistance of the Special Forces Command (SFC) haven’t born any fruits. It is feared that the case file will end up being closed without any action taken.

sadabkk@observer.ug

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