BY HENRY MULINDWA
President Yoweri Museveni last week made a cabinet announcement taking many people by surprise. The president among other surprises, gave juicy seats in cabinet to ladies something which has been welcomed by gender activists.
For example, he appointed a female vice president, a female prime minister and a female minister for the presidency in addition to other sectors like education, energy, water and many others.
In this expose, we reveal what you didn’t know about the new presidency minister Milly Babirye Babalanda and why her sector is loved but also loathed by many people.
In 1989, Milly Babirye sat for her O’level exams. However, sources said her performance was annoying.
Like many other students who never performed well that year but chose to repeat, even Babirye did the same.For her case however, she didn’t go back immediately. And yet, the president seemed to have interest in her but she was limited by books.
Therefore, according to sources the president ordered her to return to the blackboard and re-sit O’ level. This was after 28 years particularly in 2017 when she sat again her S.4 on Mature age. By this time, she was already a presidential assistant and also working in the office of the NRM national chairperson.Unlike in 1989 when she was registered as Milly Babirye, in 2017 she adopted the hubby’s name Babalanda, the same names she used when doing her A’level in 2019.
“We’re prepared for the job. Milly has all papers and those who have doubts are free to write to Uneb to get these facts. She’s ready to work and deliver on her assignments” says Faruk Kirunda the special presidential assistant on media.He added that Milly very much wanted to enroll for a degree only that the Corona invasion ruined her hopes.”She had wanted to join Bugema university but this failed because Coronavirus struck the country. But good thing, she has basic requirements and the experience needed in public administration and affairs” Kirunda added.
Milly’s appointment to the presidency took many by surprise. To begin with, she has never been an MP to be known. This therefore explains why when her name came out, some bigwigs allegedly coined plots to fail her on grounds that she was an academic dwarf.
“We are ready to fight and win even this front. If anyone thinks has a good case, go to Uneb. The president can’t appoint someone without having done the necessary background check. They will be shocked” Kirunda said.
Milly has all along been a staunch defender of Museveni and many in her home region, refer to her as Mama Busoga. She has managed the chairman’s office since the days Molly Kamukama left for cabinet and she’s the reason Museveni won back his seat as president.
“Milly is a good mobilizer and will always ensure that there’s proper accountability for the funds released for a particular assignment. This is why the president still wants to keep her around by posting her to the presidency” a source said.
WHY PEOPLE FIGHT FOR PRESIDENCY MINISTRY
To some people, this ministry is the most powerful of all ministries. It controls all sectors and above all, it coordinates the president’s activities. In addition, this docket makes the occupant have a direct access to the president.”This ministry is also good for any dubious deals. If the occupant is a crook, then he or she will make any money he or she wants.
Extortionists normally use this office to fleece their targets promising to take them to the president. Even land grabbers hide under the same ministry. So, it is a place which everyone would wish to sit in depending on what he or she wants” a source said.
In fact, in the run up to the cabinet announcement, many names had been suggested for this ministry among which included that of state house comptroller Lucy Nakyobe. Others were Mary Gorreti Kitutu while dejected Esther Mbayo also wanted to keep around.
When it comes to appointments, the minister here has powers to appoint Resident District Commissioners and also oversees the operations of the presidency. On national ceremonies, it is usually the presidency minister who acts as mistress or master of ceremonies.
All such freebies give the occupant a direct link to the president meaning she or he is always in touch with him unlike other ministers who take ages minus seeing the president apart from watching him on TVs and in cabinet meetings.
“The minister for the presidency has a mega budget. He controls many departments. This therefore, means if someone is money minded, he or she will be rich within a week’s time” says the source.On the other hand, the ministry is full of political risks. Sometimes it is actually referred to as the suicide ministry.
It is politically well involved that the occupant if not careful, can lose his or her seat with disgrace.
“An enemy may want to have you fired and he or she leaks some crucial documents by the president. Not all staff there are straight. There is a lot of fights one must watch against” the sources said.
Indeed, a close analysis of the people who have occupied it indicates that most ministers (female) who have been here have left with tears rolling down their cheeks.
For example, Dr. Beatrice Mukaye Wabudeya the former woman MP Sironko district left this place a wounded lady. It so happened that her Master Museveni penned a ‘disturbing’ letter to Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi sometime prior to the Kayunga riots.
The letter was directly handed to Wabudeya from the then PPS Amelia Kyambadde. It was in other words a confidential letter between the two principals.
However, Museveni was shocked to see the letter in the media and he summarily suspended Wabudeya whom he accused of having leaked the letter.A furious Museveni appointed James Nsaba Buturo as acting presidency minister.
From this situation, Wabudeya has never seen cabinet room again although she now works as Museveni’s farm doctor since she’s a vet.Another minister to leave disgracefully was Kabakumba Masiko, the former MP for Bujenje county.
In 2012, she was knifed from cabinet after she was named in a shoddy scandal of stealing a government microphone and a mast from national broadcaster UBC. Museveni replaced her with Frank Kagyigi Tumwebaze who proved to be powerful at the time.He also controlled KCCA and occasioned a lot of political misery on Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago.
However, Tumwebaze too was nearly censured by MPs accusing him of mishandling the KCCA affairs. Led by Kisos Chemaswet, the MPs however, failed in their attempt after failing to get the required signatures to facilitate this censure motion. Tumwebaze survived the storm.
In 2016, Museveni was at it again. He appointed Esther Mbayo who is also woman MP Luuka district. Sources said if anyone wants to test Museveni’s negative reaction, let him or her mention the name Mbayo in his eyes.We are told Museveni feels that Mbayo could have been part of the kawukuumi that wanted to dislodge him from power.
His alleged rhetoric stems from the November 18 2020 insecurity that was started in Mbayo’s Luuka district. Apparently, Museveni already had Intel that Mbayo was politically struggling after an NUP gal had laid a good political ambush against her. Using her position as minister for presidency, Mbayo allegedly looked on as security forces went out of their way and started causing mayhem by arresting Bobi Wine. Out this mess, over 50 people were mercilessly killed and the world turned against Museveni to date, the latest being a recent documentary dubbed ‘The 3 killings in Kampala” which aired on BBC.
She allegedly made matters worse after she accused Mengo and Catholic church of backing NUP boss Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine which led to NRM loss in Buganda and Busoga. The president thinks his top politicians were to blame for not performing well to translate this into votes.Sources actually said that because of this anger, this is why Mbayo was fired without even being named a presidential advisor.
“I am sure she won’t even be named a committee chairperson. It will be a miracle. She needs to do some homework if she’s to restore her confidence towards Museveni” the sources said.
Now Museveni has brought his longtime assistant Milly Babirye Babalanda as the presidency minister. Congratulations!