KAMPALA – The Secretary General of the National Resistance Movement party (NRM) Ms. Justine Kasule Lumumba has trashed media reports claiming that she had it rough in a cabinet meeting chaired by President Yoweri Museveni on Monday. Sections of the media were awash with claims that Lumumba had been embarrassed by her colleague ministers with some booing and heckling her as the president looked on.
On May 5, 2021 the Daily Monitor published a story entitled, “Tempers flare as ministers discuss Museveni’s Shs7b inauguration.” The newspaper reported that, “As Ms Lumumba continued to push Ms (Esther) Mbayo (Presidency minister) and Dr (Ruth) Aceng (health minister) other ministers were infuriated and started booing and heckling her. Ministers reacted with consternation, and accused Ms Lumumba of trying to make the President’s swearing-in ceremony “miserable”.
Another online publication picked the story and reported that Lumumba had proposed that the president’s swearing-in be held virtually as happened with the NRM delegates conference to limit crowd numbers in line with standard operating procedures to curb the spread of COVID-19. Rather than host all the 4,000 guests at Kololo Independence Grounds, Lumumba, the media reported, suggested that the number be restricted to 200 and the other participants would take part virtually. Her argument, that was backed by some ministers, did not win.
Lumumba’s lawyers of Anguria & Co. Advocates have written to Monitor’s Managing Editor Mr. Tabu Butagira and asked him to produce evidence of the said incident as reported in the story. She also demands an apology, retraction of the story and prominent clarification in the newspaper. A similar letter that PML Daily has seen has been written to Mulengera News’ John Sserwaniko.
“Your reporter’s source sold “hot air” to her/him and your editors lent themselves to a nefarious plot whose ultimate aim was to prejudice our client’s reputation by purveying unverified information, and at the very least, denying our client the right to be heard,” the lawyers wrote to Monitor and Mulengera.
Lumumba contends that there was a free-flowing debate in cabinet on the issue of the number of guests invited for Museveni’s swearing-in on May 12, 2021 and other ministers weighed in and that, “the said cabinet meeting which happened in an atmosphere of mutual respect for and among colleagues and in accordance with the decorum of honourable members of cabinet,” did not have the drama as reported in the press nor was she ever the subject of a scathing attack. She blames the reportage in the newspapers on, “a nefarious plot’ to taint her otherwise good name in the hearts and minds of reasonable members of the public.”
Be that as it may however, the swearing-in ceremony draws sharp focus to the president and government’s commitment to keep their word and lead by example in terms of sticking to the Ministry of Health guidelines on containing the coronavirus whose infection rates are rising in the country. Minister of Health Ruth Aceng told the meeting that each tent would host up to 200 guests, socially distanced and that every precaution has been taken to manage the possibility of a super-spreader event.