Museveni’s cabinet will retain familiar, tired ministers

Although Uganda has been applauded for electing young men and women as parliamentarians, do not be surprised if Museveni retains old, tired ministers including those who contested and lost or who did not even try. He will also probably bring back former ministers who had been dismissed for corruption.

Museveni’s selection of ministers has been largely influenced by loyalty rather than competence so that he can make them do what he wants. In cases where he included educated people in his cabinet, he assigned them to ministries where they had no experience. For argument’s sake (for real examples do some home work) when you appoint a well trained and experienced medical doctor to be a minister of finance or a policeman to be a minister of education or health you make it difficult for them to discharge their duties with confidence. When you do not know what you are doing you are bound to keep your mouth shut to avoid making errors which could land you into trouble and lose your job. So keeping a job becomes more important than serving the people.

If a non-qualified or inexperienced minister has good support staff and is willing to learn, he or she can quickly grasp the intricacies of the job. Unfortunately, Museveni dismissed well trained and experienced Ugandans and kept others in the diaspora at the start of his regime in order to accommodate his largely poorly educated and less experienced NRM cadres many of whom have not made an effort to improve (I see some of them in international conferences).

To fill some skills gaps he recruited foreign experts most of them young with theoretical knowledge but little experience and insufficient knowledge of Uganda’s history and cultural diversity. Some came to experiment their ideas instead of serving the people of Uganda. The result has been deterioration in all areas of human endeavor – none can dispute this conclusion anymore including Museveni witness some sections of his inauguration speech!

Museveni is going to have a problem with his cabinet. He is likely to retain old and tired close friends and combine them with young and inexperienced ministers. The abandonment of structural adjustment and its replacement with the Five Year Development plan, a different development model from structural adjustment, will require an entirely new team at the policy formulation level and massive reorientation of public servants.

You will recall that the minister of finance and central bank governor were dismissed when he launched structural adjustment program in 1987 that had been hired on the basis of the ten point mixed economy program. Is he going to do the same now that he has introduced a new development model? Uganda now has a neo-Keynesian model which is different from structural adjustment which was based on the invisible hand of market forces and laissez faire capitalism of Adam Smith supported by neo-liberal economists including F. A. Hayek and Milton Friedman.

You can be sure that with disgruntled Ugandans, looming political and economic instability and decline in western donor support, Uganda is likely to get worse. It is already one of the worst destinations for business in the East African community. How the East African community is going to work with Uganda remains to be seen. Ugandans are going to watch how Museveni will be welcomed in the Summit club of heads of state when he is spraying tear gas and paint to and breaking bones of and killing peaceful demonstrators in exercise of their right to march, assemble and express their opinions about how they are being governed. We shall especially watch how the Kenyan government will work with NRM government which Kenyan senior government officials openly campaigned for in 2011 presidential and parliamentary elections.