Kampala — President Museveni single-handedly picked the list of government officials in the delegation accompanying him to a three-day State visit to oil producing Qatar in the Middle East, according to highly placed sources.
The President, who left for Qatar on Tuesday afternoon with his wife Janet, sources said, threw out a list of officials from the ministries of Labour, Agriculture, Energy and the usual long line of protocol officers who had lined up for the trip, opting to unusually travel with a lean team comprising select officials from Foreign Affairs and Finance. The President's delegation usually varies from time to time depending on the nature of the trip and assignments at hand.
A technical team was in Qatar much earlier shuffling back and forth over the MoU paper work but sources intimated the President could have dropped some officials premised on his "Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo" (era of no-compromise) sloganeering, in which he signaled government starting to show some seriousness. During this year's Liberation Day celebrations, the President rapped officials for excess travels, even where assignments can be executed by a small team, a practice he said should stop.
At the Hamad International Airport in the capital Doha, Mr Museveni was received by out-going ambassador to Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) Dr Ssemuddu Yahaya who was reassigned to Tehran (Iran), and Qatari minister for Municipality and Environment Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Rumaihi.
Yesterday, the President held bilateral talks with the Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani at his residence, who expressed interest in exploring investment opportunities in Uganda and proposed that the two countries create a coordination team led by two ministers to oversee this prospect.
"We can work in two ways, through government and the private sector," President Museveni was quoted in a statement issued by his press secretary Linda Nabusayi.
"The private sector can invest and process food, textiles, minerals and tourism while government cooperation can look at energy, roads, technical education, innovations and industrial parks."
The President, who specifically tapped junior Finance minister in charge of Investment Evelyn Anite to coordinate the Qatar-Uganda business interests, said the two countries could as well cooperate in the fields of Energy and Infrastructure.
Premier Abdullah bin Nasser, according to the statement, indicated that with his country hosting the World Cup tournament in 2022, Ugandans could as well take advantage of the migrant labour wave sweeping into the country to tap into the immense jobs available, especially with construction of stadiums and other amenities.
Earlier, the President held a meeting with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, where they witnessed the signing of four MoUs between Uganda and Qatar in the spheres of defence signed by Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa and Qatari defence minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah, and on political consultations also signed by Mr Kutesa and his Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.
Other MoUs, on reciprocal cooperation in the protection of investments was signed by Finance minister Matia Kasaija and Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al-Thani, the Qatari minister for economy and commerce, and cooperation in agriculture also signed by Mr Kutesa and Sheihk Mohammad Al Rumaihi, the minister for Municipality and Environment.
Later, Mr Museveni and his wife held a meeting with Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser, the chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, a non-profit organisation.
The meeting discussed investments in Uganda, especially in education. The Foundation previously, has been working with the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, founded by US Actor Forrest Whitaker, in empowering youth in Northern Uganda.