While the #UgDebate16 was trending on Twitter on Friday evening, something else was struggling desperately to replace the hashtag that has been raging for weeks now.
That “something else” was a letter written by President Yoweri Museveni’s Private Secretary for Secretarial duties, Maj Edith Nakalema, to Justice James Ogoola, the chairperson organising committee of the presidential debate 2016.
The letter dated January 13, 2015 sought to explain why President Museveni had opted out of the debate which, according to reports, he had earlier confirmed to attend.
“Thank you for the invitation for the presidential candidates’ debate,” Nakalema writes.
“Unfortunately, it arrived after our candidate’s campaign schedule had been drawn. Secondly and most importantly he realised that the majority of our voters may not be able to watch the debate.”
“Consequently, he had to weigh the two either cutting down his schedule which includes addressing four rallies a day and reaching every constituency in the country or reaching only a segment of our society through the T.V debate on this one day. He opted for the latter.”
“Therefore, I regret to inform you that, candidate Y.K. Museveni will not be able to attended the proposed debate,” signed Maj Edith Nakalema Asizua for the Principal Private Secretary.
The letter was first shared by the ruling party on their Twitter handle @NRMOnline last evening.
Arinaitwe Rugyendo, Red Pepper director and Pan-Afrikan Journalist, shared it on his Twitter handle @RugyendoQuotes.
“This letter shows @KagutaMuseveni had confirmed he would attend @UGPresDebate,” he tweeted.
According to Rugyendo, the “He opted for the latter” in Nakalema’s letter meant that Museveni had agreed to attend the debate.
Yet while the other seven candidates gathered at Serena conference center in Kampala for the debate, Museveni was campaigning in Ishaka town, Bushenyi district.
As the debate raged, Museveni was at his country home in Rwakitura meeting NRM women’s league.
Joshua Kitakule, secretary general of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), told VOA that Museveni’s assistants have been attending their meetings and they confirmed his attendance but alas!
Some analysts are still wondering why the letter to Justice Ogoola was not written by the NRM Secretary General, Kasule Lumumba, since it was inviting the NRM candidate and not the president of Uganda.
It was, for example, they argue, Lumumba who confirmed to NTV that Museveni would not attend their debate.
Government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, told NBS TV that President Museveni was eager to participate in the debate but that “we as his handlers had advised him not to waste time.”
This leaves the question as to who President Museveni’s real handler is.
Nakalema’s letter that is now trending on social media for its alleged grammatical blunders had been interpreted as a confirmation that Museveni would attend the debate.
Tweeps suggest that Ogoola based on the same letter to tell FDC’s Kizza Besigye [who had withdrawn from the debate] that Museveni was going to attend it, curtsey of Nakalema’s miscommunication.
Some have even started claiming that Nakalema was taught by the same teacher who taught candidate, Joseph Mabirizi.
One social media enthusiast suggested that “Nakalema’s English teacher” is now “chewing at her chair cushions”.
Sources at State House insinuate that Nakalema’s command of English is questionable to the extent that she never understands the president’s directives when given in the Whiteman’s language.
In October 2014, Twitter suspended President Yoweri Museveni’s second unverified Twitter handle @YoweriKMuseveni.
The handler of the account was consistently “murdering” Queen Elizabeth Regina’s language, English.
The suspended account was being quoted by then Deputy Presidential Press Secretary and now full PPS, Linda Nabusayi.
Trouble started when tweeps kept complaining that the handle was seriously “buffalo hunting”, a phrase referring to use of broken English.
The mistake-infested handle became the talk of social media until Twitter intervened.
It is not clear whether the account was being handled by Maj Nakalema herself.
Still, tweeps have for long been concerned about the grammar and quality of the president’s official handle @KagutaMuseveni’s tweets.
Who is Nakalema
RO 08654 Major Edith Nakalema is a soldier under Museveni’s SFG and a Private Secretary to Museveni.
She hails from Kashari in Mbarara District and is married to Major Jimmy Ansizua.
Though born decades after Uganda gained independence, she was awarded an Independence Medal.
When she was a Captain, she together with the First son’s wife Charlotte championed Mama Kazi – a scheme to enhance income of SFG soldiers whose commanding officer is the first son Brig. Muhoozi.
There has been several complaints from both military and civilian staff of State House over Nakalema’s high-handedness.
She also terminated the employment of civilian cooks before disgracefully chasing them from all State House installations including Rwakitura.
It is said that one of the tasks of Maj. Nakalema is to keep off ladies from getting close to Museveni as directed by the First Lady, Janet Kataaha Museveni.
Museveni’s inner security circle is manned by the most trusted soldiers. Major Nakalema could be one of them.