KAMPALA – Journalist Andrew Mwenda has said that President Museveni appointed Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire minister of East African Affairs to send a message to Rwanda.
Gen Otafiire was appointed to the position in a Cabinet reshuffle announced last Saturday, a day after Uganda and Rwanda failed to reach a consensus during talks held in Kampala last Friday.
But according to Mwenda, Kahinda’s appointment was not a coincidence.
“The reshuffle has taken more than three years. He then brings in Otafiire and announces the day Uganda and Rwanda government had deliberations. I think this was deliberate,” he said.
“Appointing Otafiire as the Minister for East African Affairs means President Museveni was sending a message to Rwanda and I am sure President Kagame got the message. If he wanted to amend relations to Rwanda, he would make appointments that in a way please them,” he added.
Gen Otafiire, who is known for his no-nonsense approach, has often criticized President Paul Kagame for deliberately frustrating efforts aimed at normalizing relations with Uganda.
Relations between Rwanda and Kampala are currently strained following accusations and counter accusations of supporting rebel groups to overthrow each other’s governments.
Mwenda also said that the Cabinet is not meant to fight corruption.
“In Uganda, you don’t earn a salary as a minister. You get it because you are an MP. I don’t think the primary aim of the cabinet reshuffle was because of corruption because that is the way Museveni repays his ministers,” he said.
Kenneth Anderson Lukwago, a journalist, also said that the Cabinet reshuffle is not meant to change anything.
“Apart from Magyezi, the other appointments don’t seem like they could shake the ground. Nothing was shocking about the reshuffle. It was just about President Museveni rewarding a few people and bring people on board whom he can give directions without so many questions,” he said.
“Beatrice Anywar gets appointed to the position of State Minister for the environment when the environment is being degraded. We all know the people who are occupying the wetlands. I am waiting to see what she will do when it comes to those people,” he added.
But Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said that the President, in making appointments, considers loyalty first.
“The president must get people who are 100% loyal to him. Matters of competence is debatable. If this cabinet can help the president to maintain stability, it is part of competence. At the end of the day, it is the president who knows why he appoints and disappoints. If this is the team that will make the president finish the manifesto and galvanise support, what is wrong with that?”