Photos of President Museveni and former Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi in a private meeting on New Year’s Eve stirred an intense political debate on social media.
The meeting happened at the president’s Kisozi ranch in the central district of Gomba. The presidential team that posted the photos on social media didn’t provide any detail stirring up a speculation frenzy. To some, the meeting had actualized a long-held rumour of Mbabazi’s possible return to cabinet or to the NRM where he was the all-powerful secretary general until his ouster in December 2014 when he declared his presidential run against Museveni.
Mbabazi’s 2016 presidential challenge scarred his four-decade friendship with President Museveni. At Kisozi, Museveni took Mbabazi on a tour of the farm before resting under a tent.
Mbabazi is seen in photos holding an envelope. The envelope, according to well-placed sources, contained correspondences Mbabazi had shared with Museveni about the Brazzaville Foundation – a UK based international charity, where Mbabazi serves as a member of its advisory board.
“About three weeks earlier, Mbabazi had sent Museveni an invitation to join other African heads of state in Lomé [Togo] for the launch of the Lomé initiative on fake drugs and drug trafficking. Originally, Museveni had scheduled to meet Mbabazi over the invitation on January 4 but pushed it forward to December 31,” a source said.
Museveni reportedly called Mbabazi in the morning on December 31 and asked him to find him at Kisozi.
Mbabazi had been expected to issue a statement about the meeting but changed plans and “decided to enjoy” the speculation on social media. He went as far as joking at a gathering that everything was set for him to become a Resident District Commissioner (RDC) for Nakapiripirit district.
THE LOMÉ INITIATIVE
The Observer at the time was however told that Mbabazi’s mission was to follow up on the Brazzaville Foundation’s invitation to Museveni to attend the heads of state summit, which was held last week in the Togolese capital Lomé.
Mbabazi sits on the organisation’s advisory board together with José Ramos-Horta, a Nobel peace prize winner, Olusegun Obasanjo, former Nigerian president, Kgalema Motlanthe who served as President of South Africa between September 2008 and May 2009 and Kabiné Komara, the former prime minister of Guinea.
Others are philanthropist Cecilia Attias, Pär Stenbäck, the former general secretary of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Sundeep Waslekar, the president of the Strategic Foresight Group, Mathews Phosa, the former general treasurer of South Africa’s ruling party ANC and Amara Essy, Ivory Coast’s former Foreign Affairs minister.
Prince Michael of Kent, a paternal first cousin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is the organisation’s patron. According to a statement released by the organization, its primary objective is to develop economic, environmental and conflict prevention initiatives to promote sustainable development, strengthen the rule of law, and facilitate peaceful cooperation on the African continent.
“It takes its name and inspiration from the Brazzaville Accords, signed in the Congolese capital on December 13, 1988. A key moment in modern African history, the Accords are an example of Africans taking the lead, negotiating a peaceful resolution to the South African conflict, thereby paving the way for the end of Apartheid,” reads a statement issued by the foundation.
Museveni attended the summit with presidents; Macky Sall (Senegal), Mahamadou Issoufou (Niger), Nana Akufo-Addo (Ghana), Adama Barrow (The Gambia), Denis Sassou-Nguesso (Congo) and the host Faure Gnassingbe (Togo).
The summit discussed the growing global threat posed by the trafficking of fake medicines. It is estimated that between 10 and 15 per cent of all pharmaceutical products sold around the world are falsified.
The situation is said to be worse in Africa, with some regions recording as high as 60 percentage of falsified medicines, which has caused the death of nearly 122,000 children before the fifth birthday.
The foundation took up the fight against fake medicines in March 2017 in Oyo, Congo, leading to two major operations by Interpol in 2018. Meanwhile, Uganda’s beef will have ‘space’ in the United Kingdom market, thanks to a commitment by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Addressing the UK-Africa investment summit in London on Monday morning, Johnson displayed unusual charm to the African leaders, underlining the need for closer business with the UK.
On Uganda, he said “I told H.E Kaguta Museveni that his beef cattle will have an honored place on the tables of Britain.”
Immediately, State Minister for Investment Evelyn Anite, also attending the summit, called this an opportunity tweeting “Big thanks to PM. Boris for this great opportunity for the Ugandan beef farmers.”