Uganda: Janet Museveni and the Making of Modern Kaguta-stan

Janet Museveni
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Janet Museveni. God's "gift" to Uganda. Photo: Twitter. 

The First Lady of Uganda, Mrs. Janet Museveni, has been reported as saying, “If I was not qualified to head the Ministry of Education and Sports, I would not wait to be told by others, I would not even accept the appointment, neither would President Museveni appoint me, for I do not have to be in government.” 

This statement would’ve been okay if stripped of the context which points to a clear nepotistic state of affairs. 

To be clear, the commander of the land forces of the Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF), the national army, is Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, son of dictator of 35 years Gen. Yoweri Museveni.

The Chief Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) is Gen. Museveni’s brother retired general Caleb Akandwanaho Salim Saleh, who has also served as army commander for a year, from 1988-89, senior presidential advisor on Defense, commander of the army’s Reserve Force and Minister of State for micro-finance. 

Gen. Museveni also recently appointed his son-in-law Odrek Rwabwogo as a presidential advisor for special duties. Retired general Jim Muhwezi Katugugu serves as Minister for National Security; he is Gen. Museveni’s in-law. His wife Susan is Janet Museveni’s cousin. 

Alice Kaboyo, another cousin of Janet Museveni, was appointed Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister for Luwero Triangle-Rwenzori Region, despite being initially rejected by Parliament's Appointments Committee over past corruption sins.

Gen. Museveni’s track record clearly plays to the false strengths of the First Lady’s puny insinuation that she has her job on merit. The First Lady should realize that Uganda’s government is not a technocratic government. Such a government is one in which the ministers are not career or careerist politicians; in fact, they may not even be members of political parties at all. They are instead supposed to be “experts” in the fields of their respective ministries. 

If this were a technocratic government, the First Lady would have zero chances of being appointed, even as a teacher in a nursery school. Uganda’s government, as everyone knows, is a monocracy which means it is ruled by a single person: Gen. Museveni. Since the government belongs to him, he is completely unencumbered in choosing the ministers he wants in cabinet including ones rejected by Parliament. This is why Kaboyo is a minister. This is also precisely why the First Lady is a minister. 

A primary school class room. Photo: Is this really the best God's minister of education could do for Uganda?

However, let us go beyond the obvious and look at what else the First Lady said: “I also know with no doubt in my mind that God put me at the Ministry of Education and Sports and He is using me to rebuild the education of this country.” Apart from reading like something the Taliban would say—if you substitute the word “Allah” for “God”— the statement reveals two things. 

One, the First Lady seems to think Uganda, like Afghanistan, is a theocratic state. A theocracy is a state in which leaders rule in the name of God. And thus, by extension, those who oppose such rule are opposing the will of God. That’s why the Taliban were applauded by Al-Qaeda for the “liberation” of Afghanistan from the “clutches of the enemies of Islam”. And this is why the First Lady described the words of those who believe she doesn’t deserve her appointment as “filthy”, the same word the Taliban equates to “infidels”. 

Two, and this feeds off the first, such self-entitlement reeks of a self-righteousness that often leads to turmoil. 

For, if God appointed her, she is likely to do God’s will by dealing in whichever manner she wants with those who oppose “God’s appointment”.  

Forget Afghanistan. Welcome to the Republic of Kaguta-stan. 


Columnist Matogo can be reached via 

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