KAMPALA – The outgoing vice president, Edward Ssekandi’s advice to incoming Vice President Jessica Alupo indirectly revealed what it means to be a Vice President in Uganda and I hope she took the admonishment in good stride.
No wonder Rebecca Kadaga refused the number two position and opted for a lesser position The President himself is aware of Alupo’s short comings as he has previously told the nation that Alupo is a quarrelsome woman.
Ssekandi is said to have told Alupo while handing over office to remain obedient to President Museveni at all times and apologise whenever she finds herself at collision course with the man from Rwakitura.
Looking at Ssekandi’s face during the hand over, one would tell that he was speaking from the bottom of his heart having served as Vice President for 10 years. He has certainly accumulated a lot of experience and was not shy to share the same with Alupo whose quarrelsome character is already an issue.
In his own words, Museveni is quoted to have said, “Alupo is a hard worker and listens to my advice. I started with her when I told her to solve the issue of enterprise selection.”
Museveni however said he dislikes Alupo for being quarrelsome and mentioned some incidents in which he had to intervene as she was quarrelling with colleagues.“Alupo likes quarreling and at one time I said, if you like fighting I will send you to Somalia.” He cited an incident where Alupo was quarreling over a disagreement with Justin Lumumba.
In his own words, Ssekandi told Alupo that given the nature of the office, she should help the president to fulfill his promises to the people of Uganda. Obviously Sekandi was lying to Alupo since he of all people is aware that the office of the Vice President is just ceremonial with no work. “You should try your best to do the best and if you have made a mistake, try to correct it and go and apologise and then you move forward. Basically I want her to use her energy and knowledge to do the best for the country,” Ssekandi advised without mincing his words.
Ssekandi was in effect telling Alupo that the only way to work in harmony with Museveni is by taking instructions without questioning akin to a dictatorship. Indeed that is what Ssekandi did throughout the 10 years he occupied the office of the Vice Presidency.
But from her pledge to help drive Uganda to middle income status, I was able to conclude that her statement was wishful thinking. I suspect she did not consult Ssekandi on whether or not he had achieved anything as Vice President for the entire 10 years. If I were Alupo, I would have begun by looking at Ssekandi’s score card as a Vice President. No wonder Ssekandi did not highlight any achievements in his handover speech, for he had specialized in running around like a ball boy, reading Museveni’s speeches and attending burials to deliver condolences.
Apart from giving women more positions, Museveni will not give any tangible duties to them to perform. They will find themselves performing duties that are outside their mandate hoping to continue catching the eye of the appointing authority. Alupo should eliminate the issue of service delivery as one of the key issues on her agenda. She is not the one who will determine what to do, how to do it and with whom to work.
The writer, Mr. Roger Wadada Musaalo is a Lawyer, human rights activist, researcher, and politician