State House speaks out on Museveni’s ‘leaked’ cabinet reshuffle

President Museveni signs sugar bill into law
President Yoweri Museveni

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The Deputy Press Secretary to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Mr. Faruk Kirunda, has dismissed allegations of a cabinet reshuffle.

Refuting the circulating information on social media concerning a leaked list of reshuffled cabinet ministers, Mr. Kirunda has categorically deemed it false and emphasizes the importance of disregarding it.

“Ugandans should wait for the official communication from the Presidential Press Unit (PPU) in case we get such development,” the Deputy Press Secretary to President Museveni told the Kampala Dispatch.

Mr. Don Wanyama, the Chief Executive Officer of Vision Group, initially raised the issue, highlighting that a fraudulent account on X platform (formaly Twitter) under the handle “@newvisionwire” was spreading false information about a new cabinet reshuffle.

“Guys, this is FAKE NEWS. Our handle @newvisionwire didn’t tweet that,” Mr. Wanyama posted on his official X account.

The fake X account had posted, “JUST IN #Uganda’s President Museveni reshuffles cabinet, changes command of army. Full list to be posted here in 1hr.”

However, since April 2023, there has been anticipation for President Museveni to reshuffle his Cabinet. This expectation arose after he pledged “political action” against ministers accused of diverting thousands of iron sheets intended for vulnerable individuals in the Karamoja sub-region.

According to credible sources at the high table of the ruling NRM power politics at State House, the awaited moment has arrived. Mr. Museveni is reportedly finalizing a Cabinet reshuffle, and many ministers implicated in may face removal. The reshaped Cabinet is expected to align with his government’s agenda for the 2026 general elections.

Speculations abound that Karamoja Affairs Minister Mary Goretti Kitutu, one of three ministers previously arrested for the misappropriation of Karamoja iron sheets, might not return, as insiders claim.

Amos Lugoloobi, implicated in the same scandal, already used the iron sheets for roofing his animal shed in Kayunga District. Kitutu’s deputy, Agnes Nandutu, has faced legal proceedings over the scandal and is unlikely to return to the Cabinet unless unforeseen circumstances arise.

In April 2023, Nandutu became the first minister committed for trial by the High Court, charged with dealing in suspect property per the Anti-Corruption Act, 2009. Sources suggest that both ministers implicated in the iron sheets scandal might not regain their Cabinet positions without divine intervention.

Further revelations indicate that Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, previously linked to the iron sheets scandal, could be redeployed. President Museveni, referring to her as the head of the “Cabinet of Fishermen,” holds her accountable for overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister and perceives this as a failure.

President Museveni who has in the past publicly blasted his aides over intrigue is, however, known for treading carefully.

The iron sheets scandal

In the fiscal year 2021/2022, Parliament approved a supplementary budget of Shs 39 billion for the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). The funds were allocated to support the disarmament process and enhance the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals in Karamoja.

The allocation aimed to provide agricultural inputs, such as goats, to promote peace and eliminate cattle rustling in the region.

Of the allocated amount, Shs 22 billion was utilized for purchasing goats, and Shs 8 billion was spent on procuring 100,000 iron sheets. However, only 650 iron sheets were distributed in the entire sub-region, leaving over Shs 8 billion unaccounted for.

President Museveni, expressing displeasure in April 2023, directed Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja to address ministers who received and used the iron sheets for personal purposes, labeling them as “thieves” deserving prosecution.

He emphasized the need for those involved to return the iron sheets or equivalent value, and face legal consequences. Despite this, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Jane Frances Abodo cleared some top officials implicated in the scandal, citing insufficient evidence.

Notably, Vice President Jessica Alupo, Prime Minister Nabbanja, Parliament Speaker Anita Among, and Finance Minister Matia Kasaija faced scrutiny, signaling Museveni’s commitment to dropping implicated ministers regardless of their status.

The President’s historical approach of holding officials accountable, as seen in previous cases involving former Health ministry officials Alice Kaboyo, Jim Muhwezi and Mike Mukula have bounced back at various levels in Museveni’s government, they had earlier been dropped from Cabinet for their role in the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) funds scandal.

Also Read: President Museveni releases full cabinet list, who’s in and who’s out?

Former State minister for Labour Herbert Kabafunzaki was dropped after his 2017 conviction for corruption. Kabafunzaki solicited and accepted a bribe of Shs 5 million from AYA group boss Hamid Muhammed.

The bribe was an inducement to clear Muhammad of sexual abuse allegations made by a former employee, Jamila Opondo.

In May 2011, Gilbert Bukenya, the former Vice President, faced dismissal and subsequent brief imprisonment in April of that year. The charges against him were linked to alleged abuse of office and fraud related to the 2007 Commonwealth summit held in Kampala.

Ronald Kibuule, who held the position of State minister for Water, lost his job in 2021 amid a series of public scandals. These included an incident where he assaulted a female guard in a Mukono banking lobby, tarnishing his reputation.

Aidah Nantaba, in 2019, was removed from her role as the State minister for ICT after being accused of instructing her guards to shoot motorcyclist Ronald Ssebulime. The suspicion arose from her belief that she was being followed by an assailant.

Known for addressing the President as “Daddy” and publicly engaging in phone conversations with him, Nantaba retreated from the political scene following Ssebulime’s killing.

As President Museveni gears up for the finalization of his Cabinet in the coming days, the 2026 re-election agenda remains a pivotal factor in shaping his decisions.