Mixed Reactions In Kigezi As Rugunda Replaces Mbabazi Top story

3105 Views Kabale, Western Region, Uganda

In short
Kigezi sub region express mixed feelings in the wake of the sacking of Amama Mbabazi as Prime Minister and his replacement with Dr Ruhakana Rugunda.

Kigezi sub region express mixed feelings in the wake of the sacking of Amama Mbabazi as Prime Minister and his replacement with Dr Ruhakana Rugunda.
Both men hail from Kigezi and have been by President Yoweri Museveni's side for more than 40 years.  
In a letter dated September 18, 2014, Museveni informed the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga that he had appointed health minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda as Prime Minister and forwarded his name for parliamentary approval. In the same letter, the president thanked Mbabazi for serving in government.
The decision by the president to drop Mbabazi comes at a time an apparent power struggle between the two NRM allies threatens to tear the ruling party apart. Mbabazi was suspected of nursing ambitions to take on his boss in the 2016 elections, something the now former prime minister has always dismissed as untrue. At a ruling party legislators' retreat in Kyankwanzi in February this year several MPs accused Mbabazi of undermining his party chairman and moved to sign a resolution endorsing Museveni as the only party candidate. Mbabazi, the secretary general of the NRM, was among the last MPs to sign the petition.
Now in Kigezi, the news of Mbabazi's sacking are being received with mixed feelings. Hope Mwesigye, the Kabale District NRM chairperson, says that she is happy for Rugunda who now takes over from Amama Mbabazi saying that Dr. Rugunda has the capacity and that the reshuffle is normal. Mwesigye, a sister in-law to Mbabazi, says the appointing authority knows why he has made the reshuffle.
Mwesigye, a former Minister for Agriculture who was dropped from cabinet in 2011, told Uganda radio Network that the people of Kigezi only need to be calm about the decision taken by the appointing authority.
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Frank Byaruhanga, the District Councilor for Mpungu Sub County in Kanungu and the chairperson for the social services committee of the district, says he was shocked by the news.
Byaruhanga adds that Mbabazi has served the country diligently and made tremendous achievements which should not be taken for granted. He described his dismissal from cabinet as unfair. He believes that this is an opportunity that will give Mbabazi to get enough time to interact with the people of Kanungu and Uganda as a whole in his pursuit for the country's top seat.
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Byaruhanga says that dropping Mbabazi who is a Mukiga and replacing with Rugunda, another Mukiga,  has got some underlying factors.
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Leopold Twesigye, a resident of Kigongi ward in Central Division, Kabale Municipality, says that the President is only trying to frustrate Mbabazi's ambitions and that this is not the right action to be taken.
Twesigye says that the people of Kigezi are not surprised and that the president is exposing himself.
Mbabazi, who is also a long-serving Member of Parliament for Kinkizi West in Kanungu district, has been Prime Minister since May 2011. Before that he held several cabinet portfolios including Defence, Security, and Regional Cooperation. He also served in both internal and external security organisations.
Dr Rugunda on the other hand served as minister of health from 1986-88 and again from 2013 until his new appointment yesterday.  He also held several other ministerial positions including works, transport and communication minister from 1988 to 1994, foreign affairs from 1994 to 1996, information from 1996 to 1998, Presidency  from 1998 to 2001, water, lands and environment from 2001to 2003, internal affairs from 2003 to 2009, Information and Communications Technology from 2011 to 2013 and then Health. From 2009 to 2011, Rugunda was Uganda's Permanent Representative at United Nations in New York. He retired from elective politics in 2001 after representing Kabale Municipality in Parliament for 15 years.


About the author

Anthony Kushaba
For Anthony Kushaba, journalism is not just a job; it is a calling. Kushaba believes journalism is one of the few platforms where the views of the oppressed and margainalised can be heard. This is what his journalism aims to do: bring to light untold stories.

Kushaba is the Mbarara region URN bureau chief. Mitooma, Ntungamo, Bushenyi, Sheema, Isingiro, and Kiruhura districts fall under his docket. Kushaba has been a URN staff member since 2012.

Kushaba is a journalism graduate from Uganda Christian University Study Centre at Bishop Barham College in Kabale. Before joining URN, Kushaba worked with Voice of Kigezi (2008), Bushenyi FM (2010) and later on to Voice of Muhabura.

Kushaba's journalism interests centre on conflict, peace and electoral reporting. Kushaba occasionally writes on tourism, health, religion and education. He describes himself as highly driven and will pursue a tip until it yields a story.