In Uganda, the second week of December came with what most Ugandans have been waiting for in almost three years: the cabinet reshuffle finally took place. It coincided with a particularly bad week in our regional diplomacy, particularly in regards to efforts to resolve the crisis with our southern neighbor, when Friday, December 13, Uganda hosted a meeting of the Ad hoc commission on the implementation of the Angola MoU in which, to the surprise of many, no joint communiqué was issued by the parties.
According to a source that attended the meeting, Uganda’s delegation was overwhelmed by the evidence that their Rwandan counterparts presented. “President Kagame sent his team well prepared with every detail on every claim, which was difficult for our delegation to refute other than simply denying,” the source said.
I hope Minister Kutesa took good notes so that he briefs President Museveni honestly how his regarding how he was embarrassed in-front of the facilitators. The source says that Rwanda’s junior minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Olivier Ndugungirehe, was “forthright” in pressing their case that “our team could hardly respond.”
After learning about this, Museveni’s reaction was to nominate Gen Otafire as the minister for Regional Cooperation, an appointment that is likely to complicate and stall the ongoing talks. Gen Otafire is known for controversies, ranging from intimidation to assault. He once accosted Jennifer Kutesa (RIP) and pulled a pistol on her after their chat degenerated into nasty exchange. This was way back in 1989. Jennifer Kuteesa was not a nobody. She was the wife of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kuteesa. Kahinda never stopped his ways, having recently intimidated his fellow MP, a member of the opposition, during a motion on land grabbing.
When MP Francis Mwijukye intervened and showed how Gen Otafire used his position as a minister of lands to acquire the land in question and how he is using his position as minister of justice and constitutional affairs to formalize ownership, Gen Otafire angrily replied, “repeat what you said outside this house!” Will Otafire do to this to Minister Olivier Nduhungirehe of Rwanda if they disagree as is likely to happen?
So this is the challenge for the 69 year old Otafire. How will he keep his cool while representing a side that doesn’t seem able of responding to evidence leveled against it?
Although pro-regime media houses have tried to push a narrative that it’s President Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart to solve the conflict, they still need sober representatives to workout modalities, deal with accusations and counter accusations, respond to the evidence and propose solutions. This question of sober representation is where the worry of every Ugandan lies, especially with the addiction of Otafire.
Sources say that Rwanda has been articulate, consistent and unwavering when it comes to her accusations and evidence. “If the recent Munyonyo talks were to be considered a court hearing, Uganda would be found guilty of denial, insincerity and bad neighborliness,” my source revealed that attended the meeting, before adding “if the facilitators were a jury with a mandate to deliver a verdict, we would be in trouble.”
As if it wasn’t already embarrassing, at one point Brig Kandiho tried to prompt Kuteesa by passing a note when the latter seemed lost and no longer able to continue lying for his country.
When the story reached State House a livid Museveni started pondering about either a replacement or an addition to counter Nduhungirehe’s punches. Could it be the frail Philemon Mateke who is already combatting against Nduhungirehe without actually denying that he was in contact with the assailants that attacked Rwanda? No, Nduhungirehe would have him for lunch.
Not one to trust his officials outside the Bahima, Otafire came to Museveni’s mind.
But Museveni didn’t get all the story. What made Nduhungirehe impressive is that the facts were on his side. He wasn’t merely blabbing away, which is what anyone expects Otafite to do. If that fails we should expect some angry acoustic and choose words like Mavi ya Kuku.