KAMPALA – When President Yoweri Museveni announced the 2021 cabinet, it was full of surprises, one of them being the appointment of Owekitibwa Joyce Nabossa Sebugwawo as minister of state for information.
She had been fished from where nobody expected given the fact that she was one of the founders and top officials of the Forum for Democratic Change Party.
Many, including myself, thought Rubaga’s former Mayor would reject the offer and go into retirement in the most honourable manner but it appears history always escapes through the window without teaching us anything.
She accepted the position, appeared for vetting and later took the oath of allegiance to the President and to Uganda as Minister. Part of Sebugwawo’s reasoning in accepting the offer was the quest to push Buganda Kingdom’s pending promises now that she is near President Yoweri Museveni and that she had spent more than half of her life opposing the government in vain and it was time to sign out.
In her own words, Sebugwawo while appearing on a CBS radio last week is quoted to have said that from what she knows, there is a lot that indicates to her there isn’t any serious opposition remaining to oppose Museveni.
“I have been inside there as you know and there is a lot that I know and I have been seeing which I can’t reveal right here on air but just know there is a lot”. She is probably aware that many of her former colleagues in the opposition have already crossed to the NRM but have stayed back to safety. Could this mean that the Reform Agenda which later became FDC was created as an opposition arm of the NRM?
They say if you cannot beat them, you join them, that is what Joyce Nabossa Sebugwawo did exactly and in effect quit her position at the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). Her demeanor after the appointment was not that of a surprised woman, it is apparent that she had been on talking terms with Museveni for long time and she was consulted before being appointed. It is clear she stayed in FDC for purposes of gathering information from FDC and disseminating the same to Museveni. She must have been an inside informer and she must have performed well enough to be made Ministry of information in Museveni’s Government.
The first time NRM lost its members to an opposition party was when Reform Agenda was being formed which later metamorphosed into FDC.
It was understandable at the time because all the founders of Reform Agenda were disgruntled NRM members. However, it appears many of them remained NRM even when they had formed what later came to be known as FDC.
It is not the first time Museveni is fishing from the opposition parties and at this rate, he has made it a habit which the opposition has done nothing to curtail.
Previously, he took Badru Wegulo, Henry Mayega, Wang’wor Osinde, Aggrey Awori, Muhamed Kezaala, Sarah Kanyike, Beti Kamya, Nasser Ntege Sebagala, Betty Anywar among others. Most of these harvests have since been dumped with no chance of going back to their former parties. Having scooped the above, Museveni’s focus shifted to those still standing with their heads high as opposition.
In his maiden speech after being declared winner of the disputed 2016 elections, Museveni announced he would wipe out the opposition by 2021. One wonders why a President would dedicate time and resources to wipe out the opposition yet claim to be democratic at the same time. I think Museveni had no idea that a new political party could emerge with a new force called Kyagulanyi. The promise to wipe out the opposition was a follow up plan that Museveni had made to his Kenyan counterpart and Parliament in August, 2015.
From his statement, it is evident that Museveni has never been tolerant of the Opposition but only allowed multiparty dispensation to boost his democratic credentials mainly to appease the donors who often condition aid on democracy and rule of law. Many in the opposition have often asserted that the return to multiparty politics was a fallacy that only sought to guarantee Museveni’s stay in power, with periodical elections to appease the western world. If he had a chance, he would outlaw opposition political parties.
One of the strategies Museveni has employed to destroy the opposition is by creating an opposition within the same political party. Jimmy Akena owes his occupation of Uganda house and the UPC Presidency to Museveni and that explains why State agencies helped his group to evict the Olara Otunnu faction. No wonder Akena’s wife Betty Amongi was appointed Minister and continues to serve as Minister to date despite being an opposition member.
It is clear that Museveni has read his bible so well and manipulated some of the scriptures to suit his selfish agenda of wiping out the opposition. What Museveni has done to the opposition is akin to the story of the Tower of Babel where God created a language barrier for the people who were building the tower so that they could not communicate effectively to each other. According to the bible, a breakdown in communication resulted into confusion and the plan to build the Tower of Babel towards heaven collapsed.
When there were leadership wrangles within Uganda People’s Congress, a section of members led by Bossa and Walubiri went to court and defeated the Akena group. Sadly, they could not execute the decision of Justice Yasin Nyanzi because a cadre judicial officer had been directed to intervene and ordered the parties to maintain the status quo. Aggrieved by the decision to stay execution, the Bossa led faction wasted a lot of time fighting the Akena group and appealing instead of joining the other opposition members to fight Museveni’s tyranny.
We ought to be reminded that NRM only came to power in 1986 but has stayed in power longer than any other political party in Uganda, thanks be to the double standards, disorganization and intrigue among the opposition members. Parties like the Democratic Party which was formed in 1954 and Uganda People’s Congress which was formed in 1960 as well as FDC formed in 2004 are all shadows of the past. The majority of their members have one leg in the opposition and the other leg -together with the rest of the body in NRM.
The likes of Betty Nambooze and a group of DP members who have since joined the National Unity Platform always accused DP President Norbert Mao and other members of being in bed with NRM for monetary gains. The elections of Members to the East African Legislative Assembly said it all with UPC’s Opoka and DP’s Mukasa Mibidde allying to defeat FDC. Almost at the same time, Museveni appointed Muhammad Kezaala as a deputy ambassador-designate aware that he was Democratic Party National Chairman.
It has been speculated over and over again that the majority of the so called opposition stalwarts especially in FDC are in bed with the NRM and many have remained in the opposition to save face and to remain relevant on the political scene. Others have openly crossed to NRM having accomplished their spying missions with the latest entrant being Sebugwawo herself. So as we await Sebugwawo’s exit at the next reshuffle, we can only wish her the best in her plans.
Rogers Wadada Musaalo is a Lawyer, human rights activist, researcher, and politician