Uganda: Anywar's Long Walk to Museveni's Cabinet

15 December 2019

On Saturday, President Yoweri Museveni announced his new Cabinet where he appointed Kitgum Municipality MP, Ms Beatrice Atim Anywar as Minister of State for Environment.

Ms Anywar came to the limelight when she participated in a campaign to oppose the giveaway of Mabira Forest to Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited for sugarcane growing.

That's how she acquired the Maama Mabira moniker.

She entered Uganda's elective politics by contesting for the Kitgum Municipality Constituency parliamentary seat in 2006.

She was elected, defeating the Ms Santa Okot, who stood in the ticket of the ruling National Resistance Movement candidate.

She was appointed as the shadow minister for environment, during her first term in parliament, due to her environmental activism.

During the 2016 parliamentary election cycle, Ms Anywar lost the Forum for Democratic Change primaries. She contested as an independent political candidate and won.

In December 2017, during the parliamentary vote to remove presidential age limits from the Constitution, Ms Anywar voted "Yes".

The vote that was supported by majority MPs [mainly NRM members] amidst acrimony, paved Mr Museveni's road to contest in 2021, since by that time, he would be above 75 years, the upper age cap for presidential candidates.

In April 2018, President Museveni explained how he used his strategies calculatedly to lure the Kitgum Municipality Member of Parliament, Ms Beatrice Anywar, from the Opposition to the ruling National Resistance Movement party.

He told a gathering at Boma Grounds in Kitgum Municipality that Ms Anywar despite being in the 'useless' Opposition, was sensible, a reason he moved to bring her closer to the NRM party.

Ms Anywar was a member of the Opposition Forum for Democratic Party (FDC) stalwart and a critic of Mr Museveni's 32-year regime, who is December 2017, surprised many people when she voted in favour of the removal of presidential age limit from the Constitution.

"I am a good poacher. If I see a good animal from the park I go for it. I have been calculating [how to get] Beatrice Anywar, because I would go to address the Parliament and the Opposition will be seated here and the NRM be there... and then the Opposition will be abusing me but when I looked at them I realised one (Ms Anywar) looks reasonable," Mr Museveni said.

Punished Anywar

He noted that he also punished Ms Anywar during the 2007 anti-Mabira forest giveaway riot, which Ms Anywar started.

"I locked her up in Luzira because she had gone too far for starting a riot in Kampala. I later called her and asked her how Luzira prison was," Mr Museveni said, boasting that it was another step towards winning her over. On April 12, 2007 Ms Anywar, nicknamed Maama Mabira, led a protest against the then planned giveaway of Mabira forest. The protest turned violent, with the targeting of individuals of Asian origin.

The police arrested Ms Anywar and she spent a short while in jail. On her time in jail, Ms Anywar spoke of sleeping in cells that were like toilets, of spending the entire night without food, without bathing and of male inmates, who she said peeped at female detainees as they bathed.

Mr Museveni, however, said he is disappointed with his NRM cadres for failing to poach potential people from the Opposition.

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