New leader of Opposition in Parliament, Betty Aol Ochan has made changes to shadow cabinet including appointing Muhammad Nsereko to the security docket. Ochan, whose appointment in August last year by Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president, Patrick Amuriat Oboi, threatened to spawn a rebellion by a section of Opposition lawmakers, especially from Kiiza’s Kasese district, is seeking to have a team whose loyalty is beyond reproach.
Although the former teacher turned politician avoided the temptation to sanction wholesale changes, the new appointees and those dropped mirror the current contestations inside FDC as Uganda’s biggest Opposition party grapples with the recent decision by its former president, Gen. (Rtd) Mugisha Muntu to lead a break away.
The notable new faces include Joy Otim Ongom (Lira district) of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) and Kampala Central’s Nsereko. With UPC’s party president, Jimmy Akena entering into a memorandum of understanding with the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) on the cusp of the 2016 general elections, its lawmakers have endured a whispering campaign that they are ‘double agents.’ The UPC-NRM ‘alliance’ has since seen Akena’s wife, Betty Among, appointed minister for lands in the NRM government and Maxwell Akora (Maruzi County) appointed deputy chairperson of Parliament’s ICT committee.
For Nsereko, his appointment raises eyebrows on account of his high-profile tango with former FDC president, Dr Kizza Besigye and Opposition chief whip Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda in the wake of the highly contentious 2016 presidential polls. Nsereko came under withering attack from the duo and other hard line FDC supporters for deriding calls by Besigye to form a parallel government, dubbed the ‘people’s government’ describing it as a recipe for fanning the embers of avoidable violence.
And besides, NRM has for long regarded Nsereko as its own, having joining the Ninth Parliament on its ticket. However, in an interview with Saturday Vision yesterday, Nsereko downplayed the significance of his appointment.
“This is like any other duty to help my country grow. I will offer alternative policies and opinions to those in government. There is no need for excitement” Nsereko said.
Other notable independents appointed include Joshua Carter Anywarach, Bernard Atiku and Kato Lubwama. However, Ochan’s decision to drop Herbert Ariko as shadow minister of public service and Robert Centenary might be interpreted as evidence of emerging fault lines inside FDC as the duo are deemed as unapologetic Muntu sympathisers.
Since Muntu decided to break away from FDC, a number of opposition MPs and Opposition leaning independents have not been shy to throw their weight behind his cause by gracing the activities of his New Formation. These include Paul Mwiru, Ariko, Angelline Osegge, Ibrahim Kasozi, Gerald Karuhanga, Elijah Okupa and Kassiano Wadri.
And save for Kasozi, all the aforesaid are missing on the list of the new cabinet. Other conspicuous absentees include Odonga Otto, Nabillah Naggayi and Jack Wamai Wamanga.
“This appointment takes effect immediately. We need to be united and work hard to serve all Ugandans,” Ochan told the House.
Ochan’s decision to appoint Kasozi and Nsereko might point to her readiness to hold out an olive branch, yet the dropping of Centenary and Ariko might is proof that FDC is willing to jettison those whose royalty is questionable.
|Shadow cabinet ministers (2016–2021)|
|Wilfred Niwagaba||Attorney General||INDEPENDENT|
|Lubega Medard Ssegona||Justice and constitutional affairs||DP|
|Lucy Aciro||Gender Labour and social Development||INDEPENDENT|
|Anne Adeke||Youth and children affairs||INDEPENDENT|
|Jonathan Odur||Public service and presidency||UPC|
|Francis Barnabas Gonahasa||Agriculture||FDC|
|Peter Okot||Animal industry and fisheries||DP|
|Mathias Mpuuga||Education and sports||DP|
|Allan Ssewanyana||Sports and creative arts||DP|
|Bernard Atiku||Defence and veteran affairs||INDEPENDENT|
|Muwanga Kivumbi||Internal affairs||DP|
|Joshua Anywarach||Human rights||INDEPENDENT|
|Betty Nambooze||Kampala Capital City Authority||DP|
|Godfrey Katushabe||Foreign affairs||FDC|
|Francis Zaake||East African community||INDEPENDENT|
|William Nzoghu||Works and transport||FDC|
|Simon Oyet||Energy and Minerals||FDC|
|Charles Abacacon Angiro||Tourism wild life and antiquities||FDC|
Rabii Gershom Sizomu
|Rehabilitation , relief and disaster preparedness||
|Paul Luttamaguzi Ssemakula||Lands housing and urban development||DP|
|Ibrahim Kasozi||Physical planning||FDC|
|Fred Turyamuhweza||Trade and industry||FDC|
|Betty Muzanira||Local Government||FDC|
|Joy Atim||Special regions affairs||UPC|
|Denis Oguzu||Science technology and innovation||FDC|
|Florence Namayanja||Water and Environment||DP|
|Lubwama Kato||Culture and performing arts||INDEPENDENT|
|Anthony Akol||Finance planning and economic development||FDC|