Uganda: MPs Approve Another Ministerial Position

Parliament yesterday yet again approved creation of another ministerial docket, this time the State minister for information communication and technology.

The move comes a few days after President Museveni asked the House to approve an extension by one docket.

On both occasions, the mover of the motion has been Fox Odoi, the Member of Parliament for West Budama North County. While the first motion was seconded by Cecilia Ogwal, the Dokolo Woman Member of Parliament on Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) ticket, yesterday's motion was seconded by Abdu Katuntu, the Bugweri County MP, who came back to parliament on independent ticket after parting ways with FDC.

Mr Odoi said the move to create more positions in the Cabinet is for regional balance in sharing the national cake and that supporting it is in the best interest of Ugandans who continue to yearn for better services.

While supporting the motion, Mr Katuntu said this would give a better chance for a region like Kasese that did not receive a single ministerial position in the Cabinet announced last week.

Heput up a spirited and passionate plea to the legislators to support the motion, saying it would heal the disappointments the people of Kasese had suffered after the announcement of the Cabinet last week.

However, the motion faced resistance from the Opposition parties who said Mr Museveni was appeasing the people he deliberately neglected.

Mr Anthony Akol, the Kilak North County MP, wondered whether the new docket would only be ring-fenced for Kasese people.

"It is an indication that the President forgot Kasese and this is a disappointment. We are just rubber stamping in this House. It is unfortunate that we are setting a precedent that a region gets minister by extension. Does it mean that this ministry will only be for Kasese people, even when Cabinet reshuffle is done? We need to move beyond this," he said.

However, Busongora County North MP Kitawanywa Sowedi said any other legislator from another region would back the same if opportunity was given to them.

"What would you do if meat was given to you? Would you refuse or accept it? I think this is good and we gladly accepted it," Mr Sowedi said.

However Mr Joseph Ssewungu Gonzaga, the Kalungu West County MP criticised the Kasese MP for crying for a ministerial position instead of fighting for their king who is facing multiple charges of treason and other offences.

"You must fight to end injustices meted against your king who cannot even be allowed to step back to his kingdom. He is in forced exile ad you need to fight for his rights," Mr Ssewungu said.

With the numerical numbers, the NRM legislators prevailed and the new ministerial position was approved bringing the number of Cabinet and state ministers to 81.

Mr Gerald Ibanda Rwemulikya, the MP for Ntoroko County, Ntoroko District, said:

"Having one minister may not really traverse the entire country but having the state minister can help. So having more ministers might help in reaching to other parts of the country because we have many districts which need to be covered too."

He added: "Yes it has a financial implication on our coffers but we are looking at service delivery. This is because we need leaders who can get to the people on ground."

Mr Paul Nsubuga, the MP for Busiro North, while he was not against the creation of the state minister for the elderly, he was opposed to the new creation and that some of the redundant ministries should have been replaced.

"For instance the without portfolio docket. My take is that we would have deleted one of them and replace it with one of more importance," Mr Nsubuga said.

Reported by Franklin Draku, Arthur Wadero & Esther Oluka

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