KAMPALA – The proverbial goose comes home to roost when 2022 closed like an annus horribilis with two unrelated political developments turning heads.
First, the reported censure petition against state minister for lands (Housing) Persis Namuganza was delivered to the Speaker of Parliament for further management and Gen Caleb Akandwanaho aka Salim Saleh missive delivered to Erias Lukwago to which we return later.
Hopefully, President Yoweri Museveni who now has the petition will reach out to Namuganza’s adversaries in parliament to drop their swords. It all started with probe into alleged Naguru estate land bonanza where she was accused of impropriety, which later morphed into alleged slander against parliament and its leadership with inflated ego.
And because Namuganza is sometimes needlessly combative, when asked to respond to the accusations, and probably apologise, she instead charged at Speaker Anita Among with a salacious and slanderous private matter unrelated to the probe. She then ignored Prime Minister Robinah Nabanja’s pleas to refrain because people who trade in strongman image cannot afford to look weak before her adversaries and so the fight goes on. Many MPs accuse Namuganza of crude arrogance and habitually invoking Museveni’s name and protection. It now remains to be seen if she defies the laws of political gravity because whenever she opens her mouth on these matters, it’s like a river depositing silt into muddy land.
MPs could learn humility by recalling that 6th parliament (1996-2001) censured two then State ministers Jim Katugugu Muhwezi (Primary Education) and Sam Kahamba Kutesa (Investments) on false grounds of political and financial impropriety but President Museveni kept them in cabinet until parliament expired. Later, Kutesa and Muhwezi returned stronger than before.
Muhwezi was censured on a rather dubious ground unrelated to his docket for allegedly having business relationship with property mogul Sudhir Ruperelia. Fictitious property lists and valuations were done by a group of MPs unqualified to be valuers of any standing and presented to parliament as the basis for censure. At the time a section of MPs led by Winnie Byanyima (Mbarara municipality) and John Kazoora (Kashari) using political sidekicks Nathan Byanyima (Bukanga) and Emmanuel Lumala Dombo (Bunyole) as lead petitioners respectively giving a false impression they had President Museveni’s tacit approval to fight ministers over alleged corruption.
Mathew Rukikaire (Privatisation) and Alley Muwabe Kirunda Kivejinja (Transport) sensed danger and jumped before being pushed. Much later Johoash Mayanja Nkangi (Attorney General, Syda Bumba (Finance) and Kiddu Makubuya (Attorney General) variously survived the storm over the 142Bn compensation to businessman Hassan Bassajjabalaba over a controversial Nakasero market deal that then Kampala Mayor and DP President John Ssebaana Kizito had sealed.
Now, Gen Saleh’s revelation in a handwritten note dated 31 December, 2022 that he has been rendering political support to the often aggressive but cowardly Erias Lukwago, the Kampala Lord Mayor in name, isn’t entirely surprising because many in opposition are fickle. After using proxies to wage unsuccessful media offensive laced with invectives to clean him up, Lukwago eventually came out after five days with Deputy Mayor Doreen Nyanjura in tow calling the dossier a ‘crap’ believing the lull provided him a pathway. But only Lukwago and Saleh’s handlers know the depth of that support.
However, knowing what Ugandans now know about many vocal opposition figures, it shouldn’t surprise if Lukwago has enjoyed support from Saleh or any other Museveni protégé. During many of his unending battles at KCCA, Lukwago had snubbed meeting anyone linked to President Museveni for possible reconciliation but has met Saleh on numerous occasions starting at Serene Hotel in Mutundwe 2016/17 because Lukwago possibly believed Saleh could be of help, after all, Lukwago says that Saleh is part of Uganda’s “deep state.”
Lukwago had been impeached by KCCA councilors and thrown out of office, had nasty working relationships with then KCCA Minister Frank Tumwebaze, and Executive Director Jennifer Musisi with his wings heavily trimmed. Lukwago was indicted on eight charges and acquitted on four by the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Tribunal, and had stalemate in courts. Partly due to Saleh’s efforts, Lukwago after a protracted wait got back his office, salary arrears and other perks.
His recent outburst against Saleh, his self-confessed political benefactor is most likely motivated by paranoia because Saleh is deeply involved in effort to expand the Greater Kampala metropolitan area to include Wakiso, parts of Mukono and Luwero districts which in Lukwago’s very narrow view may deny him political grandiose he currently enjoys.
Am meant to understand that there is a legal mantra which states “The fact which is not denied is admitted,” and so Lukwago’s delayed response which required a yes or no, is affected by the doctrine of leaches. Lukwago is acting like someone found at a crime scene of crime and chooses to flee first in order to plan a response.
Now this Lukwago note, or rather Saleh’s, the press have an opportunity to redeem themselves after all their perennial failures over the years to hold apposition elements to adequately account. They should follow Lukwago everywhere, and many cannot stop laughing.
The writer is the Director –Uganda Media Centre