BY VENENSCIAS KIIZA
President Yoweri Museveni on Sunday evening released a new list of Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Deputy Ambassadors he believes can amplify, promote and ably handle Uganda’s interests beyond the borders. A total of 11 ambassadors were dropped. According to knowledgeable sources close to the president we talked to over this story, the 13th ambassadorial appointment list has been in making for the last one year. A lot of calculations had to be at hand akin to a chess game. The president reportedly even distanced himself from those who wanted to have an input. We are told some line ministers tried to propose some names but albeit unsuccessful. In today’s briefing we analyse why some envoys were dropped; and in the next publication we shall reveal factors that shaped these appointments.
Museveni replaced this seasoned diplomat in Dar-es-Salaam with a former Member of Parliament for Nyabushozi County Col Fred Mwesigye. One would expect Kabonero to be rewarded for playing a vital role in Uganda’s oil journey. As a representative of Uganda’s interests in Tanzania, Kabonero was involved in every discussion as far as the development of a Crude Oil Export Pipeline from the Albertine Graben in Uganda to the East African Coast-Tanga (Tanzania) route is concerned. Sources however, told us that Kabonero’s public spat with Special envoy and New York UN mission Ambassador Adonia Ayebare a few months ago, may have spelt doom for the former. “He [Kabonero] made a mistake to openly fight Amb Adonia. It was a bad thing. He indirectly undermined the president himself!” a source told us, although Adonia has some weaknesses, a reason he is not a foreign affairs minister.
For the uninitiated, a few months ago, Ayebare through WhatsApp platform, reportedly had no kind words for Kabonero 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.
“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 continued “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.”
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.” This exchange even led the new Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) permanent secretary, Vincent Bagiire to intervene by asking 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 publication.
The letter reads verbatim: “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.”
Apart from Adonia spat, Kabonero was also a loyalist of former MOFA PS Ambassador Patrick Mugoya which reportedly worked against him.
JULIUS PETER MOTO
He has been replaced with Nimisha Jayant Madhvani as the High Commissioner at Uganda High Commission London, UK. The former has been an Ambassador to the Nordic Countries Denmark, Finland and Iceland. Sources told us that the appointing authority has on his desk many complaints from Ugandans living in the UK, matters he expected to be handled by the Uganda High Commission in London. The president reportedly asked for answers but was not satisfied. We are told that many Indians of Ugandan origin (especially those expelled by Amin in 1971 and never returned) based in the UK had also all along been complaining. Some have even gone ahead to scoop political positions. Some are extremely rich and ready to invest in Uganda. We are told the president had to tap into their own- Madhvani, who can leverage on those who have become politicians to defend and advance Uganda’s interests in the House of Commons and at the same time convince the rich to come and invest in Uganda, just like the Sudhirs’ did some time back. We are also told that Moto’s health has been fragile and yet his position required someone who is physically fit and available all the time.
Elderly Mull Sebujja Katende has been serving as Uganda’s Ambassador to the United States of America, based in Washington, DC. Sources however, say he has not done enough to protect Uganda’s image in the US. That actually his ‘productivity had gone to zero.’ Pictures of activists in the diaspora protesting against the NRM government and sometimes using pictures of Uganda’s leaders did not please the regime in Kampala and yet he was expected to detect and counter them early. Opposition leaders like Bobi Wine also reportedly roamed freely in the US without countering them using pro Kampala regime diasporans. That even when some US congressmen went on to say nasty things about the Kampala regime, Katende did little to go on a diplomatic charm offensive to counter them through other friendly congressmen. That because he lacked some sophistication, the US even went ahead to slap sanctions on some Ugandans like CMI boss, Gen Abel Kandiho on things to do with democracy and human rights.
Uganda’s ambassador in China, Dr. Crispus Walter Kiyonga has also been dropped. He resigned from this post to contest in 2021 polls but failed miserably. Sources now say the president has realized Kiyonga is good at local mobilization but can’t pull many strings when it comes to international diplomacy and engagements.
He has been Uganda’s Ambassador to Paris, France. He however, a few months ago requested to be retired and concentrate on his private business. The President in response granted the retirement and thanked the ambassador and former minister for his service. “I have received your letter…informing me of your intention to retire and concentrate on your private business. Consolidating your private efforts when you still have the energy is correct,” Museveni wrote back. “I thank you for the long term service to the NRM and welcome your office for future part time contributions.” Dr Nduhura, before being sent to Paris, had served as Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2012. Prior to that, he served as State Minister for Health (General Duties).
He has been Uganda’s Consul General in Guangzhou, China. However, the reason he was dropped is that a few months ago, he was elected as Secretary General of the Inter African Coffee Organisation. The fifty-two-year-old diplomat was elected at the 60th General Assembly of IACO held virtually from November 17 -20 in Accra, Ghana. He succeeds Fredrick Kawuma, another Ugandan who has been at the helm of the continental coffee body for the last 8 years. Rutega, who holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University, has been an active participant in the coffee sector for the last 29 years.
She has been the Ugandan High Commissioner in South Africa. However, in June this year, she was recalled and appointed National Treasurer of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). We are told she is the president’s ‘ear and eye’, or ‘strategic confidant’ at Kyadondo based NRM secretariat. That she was purposely sent there to clean up the rot ahead of 2026 polls with preparations already in high gear as far as incumbent President Museveni’s candidature is concerned. Whereas there are some reports that she initially preferred retaining her ambassador job, sources say that’s not true because she has unfettered access to the president which is every politician’s dream in our Uganda.
She has been Uganda’s ambassador in New Delhi, India. Insiders say her dropping has to do with balancing political interests of all regions in the country. She is from the Lango region which already has four envoys.
She has been Uganda’s ambassador in Berlin, Germany. We are told she has been one of former MOFA PS Ambassador Patrick Mugoya loyalists and this may have worked against her in bid to be retained or re-deployed somewhere.
OLWA JOHNSON AGARA
He has been Uganda’s Ambassador in Moscow, Russia. Uganda is Russia’s strategic partner especially on arms, and sources say a more prolific-negotiator-envoy was needed. Given that some envoy’s calibre and assertiveness can define some countries’ relationships with Uganda, sources say the appointing authority factored this while dropping Agara.
BETTY AKECH OKULLU
She has been Uganda’s ambassador in Tokyo, Japan. Recently there has been increased support from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a governmental agency that delivers the bulk of Official Development Assistance for the government of Japan. It is chartered with assisting economic and social growth in developing countries, and the promotion of international cooperation. We are now told that with all monies pouring in, the President reportedly thought it wise to post there someone who can listen to the Japanese ably. We are told that the Japanese at one time expressed their dissatisfaction with Okullu, a political appointee, and the appointing authority reportedly took note.
He has been Uganda’s envoy in Kinshasa, DR Congo. Because of the ongoing UPDF war against ADF, sources say, it was paramount to bring in new faces who can handle this important political, economic and socially strategic mission.
He was dropped from Riyadh. Because of so many Muslims who have been appointed, insiders say, he had to be let go to pave the way for fellow Muslims to ‘eat’ or also ‘represent their country’. We are also told that the Saudi’s did not feel comfortable working with Kisule.
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