Foreign Affairs staff, Envoys issued with new social media guidance

MOFA Ps Bagiire

By Pepper Intelligence Unit

In what appears to be a move to deescalate the ongoing undeclared war between government officials and among envoys, the new Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) permanent secretary, Vincent Bagiire has tasked, staff and all diplomats to exercise restraint while using social media.

In a no holds barred letter akin to a riot act, dated 13th September 2021 and addressed to all heads of Mission; Foreign Affairs Ministry, headlined “ENGAGEMENTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA”, Bagiire makes it clear that the “use of social media does not replace the necessity to conform to the official channels of communication including the need to address grievances.”

In his understanding, Bagiire further reminds all diplomats that the “Foreign Service values include among others listening more and talking less”. “This principle ought to be adopted by us all while engaging on Social Media,” he adds in a letter seen by this newspaper.

FULL LETTER

“I take this opportunity to thank you for the work that you are doing in our Missions to preserve and protect Uganda’s interests abroad. In doing so, it is important that we at all times avoid falling prey to the disadvantages of Social Media given our profiles as Diplomats abroad. Based on the above, I would like to caution and guide as follows;
1. That the use of social media does not replace the necessity to conform to the official channels of communication including the need to address grievances. 2. That you should at all times be aware that social media is prone to manipulation with devastating effects if not used with caution.
3. In my understanding, the Foreign Service values include among others listening more and talking less. This principle ought to be adopted by us all while engaging on Social Media. The purpose of this communication is to advise and caution on the extent to which we can use social media given the unintended consequences that we know.

HOW DID WE REACH HERE

A few days ago, a war of words erupted between diplomats and some government officials. It has been basically between the country’s representative to the UN and also President Museveni’s special envoy, Adonia Ayebare on one hand against some Uganda officials and as well diplomats.

Ayebare used social media platform twitter to lash at government official Duncan Abigaba, the deputy director of Government Citizen Interaction Center (GCIC) for calling a “foreign Head of State” names and he could not stomach it. “I am glad you have realized the folly of being a keyboard warrior when it comes to sensitive issues of inter-state relations, which are very complex. You being a GOU official calling a foreign Head of State names is out of order,” Amb. Adonia tweeted. Some Ugandans sided with him while others had no kind words.
That was not enough. Ayebare also through WhatsApp platform, reportedly had no kind words for Amb. Richard Kabonero of Tanzania (Dar es Salaam), after the latter alleged that he (Ayebare) was meddling in affairs of some neighboring countries to an extent of visiting them without designated ambassadors’ knowledge and even used strong language in the exchange.

Ayebare, retorted in equally strong language but reminded his colleague he was a special envoy to the President, on top of his New York mission duties. President Museveni in July 2021 promoted Ayebare, one of the country’s smartest diplomats to become Special Uganda’s representative at the United Nations in New York, a top assignment.

“Good evening Colleagues. Something has been troubling me for a while. We have all our missions of accreditation. Mine is Dar and 6 other countries of accreditation. It is NOT proper for an Ambassador from whatever jurisdiction to come to my territory without informing a f***envoy or not. Stay in your lane,” Kabonero reportedly wrote in a veiled jab to Amb. Ayebare.

Ayebare who previously served as Senior Advisor, Peace and Security at the African Union Permanent Observer Mission at the United Nations in New York hit back, and told off Kabonero that: “Richard I am special envoy of the President of Uganda, not “a f***envoy “ like you refer to me. I expect you to at least respect the title,” he wrote and continues “I will not dwell on terms of reference and how I do my work. But I can assure you that I do it to the satisfaction of the appointing authority,” Ayebare wrote in reply to Kabonero.

He added: “You talk about one staying in their lane. It is you who has strayed in a lane beyond your pay grade. Let me remind you that I became a Head of Mission in 2003 long before you, when you were in DC carrying VIP’s suitcases. I don’t enjoy this kind of pissing match you have provoked with the sole intent of attracting hate and ridicule from my esteemed colleagues on this forum. This is the last time you hear from me and stay in your lane.” Sources say it is this exchange that could have prompted MOFA Ps to intervene.

Ps’s letter guiding diplomats and MOFA staff

ENVOYS RESHUFFLE

We have also learnt that some envoys are silently fighting one another (pull him/her down syndrome) as the appointing authority ponders changes. We recently reported about these changes but when Pepper Digital leaked the list, it had to be delayed, according to sources revealing that President Museveni doesn’t like to be second guessed. We have been told some officials even had to be questioned about how the list leaked. So, those who were likely to be moved, retired, recalled or knifed are reportedly trying to clear their names and in the process counter accusations are the order of the day. Sources told Pepper Digital there has been pulling of ropes between those pushing for posting of career diplomats while others are pushing for political appointees. We have learnt among other reasons, this war reportedly sucked in former Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Patrick Mugoya who was reportedly pushing for the consideration of career diplomats.

In a draft seen by Pepper Digital, former Members of Parliament aspirants, fired ministers, opposition members, members of the business community and relatives of top politicians in Uganda like Minister Evelyne Anite’s husband were being considered. Pepper Digital further reported that the president is also set to retire eleven envoys and as well recall another eight.

TRIMMING NUMBERS

We have also learnt that the number of staff working for different Ugandan missions across the world will be reduced to only three. Currently, Uganda has 35 Missions that employ between 6-10 staff. These include the Ambassador, Deputy Ambassador, Defence attaché, Deputy Defense Attaché, First Secretary Political Affairs, Second secretary commercial and diplomacy, second secretary social and humanitarian affairs, third secretary, Financial Attaché, counsellor diaspora and consular services. Others are Administrative Attaché, drivers and House helps for the Ambassadors among others.

This means that, government is footing a lot of bills amounting to billions of shillings to facilitate the missions.
And as a way of reducing on the expenditure, the government will reportedly prioritise their posts—an ambassador (head of mission); secretary with legal and trade knowledge who will as well serve as Minister Counsellor, Head of Chancery and also to handle immigration affairs; and the third will be a defence attaché who will also serve as an accounting officer. There will also be two security officers, one medical personnel and other three staff members. The government is planning to adopt the Vietnam or Cuban model where only two or three staff are deployed in embassies and consulates. In the Vietnam model, only the Ambassador and First secretary are deployed while other staff can be on contract and a driver can be hired on contract only on official duties.

THE LIST

According to the draft list seen by Pepper Digital, politicians being lined up include former PPS and Kazo woman Mp loser Molly Kamukama(COPENHAGEN- DENMARK), former tourism minister and EALA by-elections Mp loser Godfrey Kiwanda(ANKARA-TURKEY), Nakaseke South Mp loser Nsereko Charles Kawuma(ABUJA-NIGERIA), former water Minister and Mukono North Mp loser Ronald Kibule Ronald(KIGALI-RWANDA), Northern youth Mp contestant Daniel Obal(GENEVA-SWITZERLAND), former minister Maganda Julius(BURUNDI-BUJUMBURA), former EALA Mp and Speaker Daniel Kidega(NEW DELHI-INDIA), Arua municipality Mp loser Nusura Tiperu Omar(TEHRAN-IRAN), Galabuzi Denis Soozi and Sam Engola. Others being considered include Dp President Nobert Mao (BERLIN-GERMANY) and NUP’s secretary general Lewis Rubongoya (AMBASSADOR SPECIAL DUTIES, OFFICE OF PRESIDENT). The two however, when this newspaper first reported about it, swore never to accept any appointment in the NRM government. Pepper Digital insists they were being considered.

Businesswoman Margi Margaret Blick Kigozi(WASHINGTON-U.S), Dr. Sam Oledo and Minister Evelyine Anite’s hubby, Allan Kajik (OTTAWA-CANADA) are also reportedly being considered. Army officials on the draft list seen include recently promoted Brig. Gen. Godfrey Sambwa Kimbowa(JUBA-SOUTH SUDAN), Major Gen. Denis Asiimwe(MOGADISHU-SOMALIA), and Brig. Ronnie Balya(CAIRO-EGYPT).

RETAINED

According to the draft list Museveni is retaining James Mbahimba (KINSHASA-DRC), Dickson Ogwang (KHARTOUM-SUDAN), Napeyok Elizabeth Paula (ROME-ITALY), Rebecca Otengo (ADDIS ABABA-ETHIOPIA), Prof. Joyce Kikafunda (CANBERRA-AUSTRALIA), Ayebare Adonia (NEW YORK-U.S) and Richard Kabonero (DAR ES SALAAM-TANZANIA).

RETIRED

President Museveni has also considered eleven envoys for possible retirement and these include Sam Male Sebulime(CAIRO), Dr. Chrispus Kiyonga(BEIJING), Wonekha Oliver(KIGALI), Nduhura Richard(PARIS), Dorothy Hyuha(KUALA LUMPUR), Katende Mull Sebujja(WASHINGTON), Maj. Gen. Matayo Kyaligonza(BURUNDI), Grace Akello(NEW DELHI), Dr. Kisuule Ahmed(RIYADH), Phoebe Otaala(NAIROBI)and Blaak Mirjam (BRUSSELS)

RECALLED

Those who maybe recalled include Prof Sam Turyamuhika (MOGADISHU-SOMALIA), Nekesa Barbara Oundo (SOUTH AFRICA), Mubiru Stephen (ANKARA-TURKEY), Nsambu Alintuma ALGIERS-ALGERIA, Betty Akech Okullu (TOKYO JAPAN), Moto Julius Peter(LONDON-UK) Tibaleka Marcel (BERLIN-GERMANY) and Ruth Aceng (OTTAWA-CANADA).

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