Weeks back, President Yoweri Museveni gave a directive sacking his press team and ICT unit for failing to represent him on social media.
We are told Museveni was angered by the fact that his rival, Amama Mbabazi, who is challenging him for the presidency in 2016 elections, is well represented on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube, among others.
For example, Amama announced his presidential bid on YouTube, a challenge to State House that rarely even tweets Museveni’s functions.
The infuriated Museveni reportedly ordered the State House Comptroller, Lucy Nakyobe, to get rid of the presidential press unit and hire fresh blood conversant with modern technology.
In their latest report, The Observer, quotes the executive director of the Uganda Media Centre, Ofwono Opondo, saying “the majority of the people in PPU are old people who should have been retired some time back”.
He added: “Many of them have failed to adjust to the new technology; this is the age of the internet, social media and email, but many of the people in PPU can’t use them.”
Opondo said they were spotting talent from media houses.
While Nakyobe told the newspaper that she was unaware of the development, the presidential press secretary, Tamale Mirundi, (on forced leave), claims that it was negotiated and those who want to go will be redeployed elsewhere.
“Things have changed, originally PPU used to recruit from UBC and they were getting civil service salaries but the new people are going to get fat and better salaries,” Mirundi said, adding, that he has “no future in NRM without Museveni.”
Meanwhile, with the panic of an impending exit, we have learnt that State House ICT department boss, Charlotte Turatunga, is currently running around shopping for digital managers from media houses to save her job.
Plan B: gauging alternatives
A week ago, the minister for the Presidency, Frank Tumwebaze, planned a dinner at Serena hotel in Kampala.
It was attended by select journalists and social media enthusiasts but no one from State House communications department was there.
I was revealed at the dinner that Social Media Analyst, Simon Kaheru, will be working as the new Consultant of NRM for communication.
He was also a facilitator at the dinner to show his enthusiasm for the party.
Don Wanyama, former Daily Monitor managing editor and Museveni’s Special Media Assistant, was the MC of the evening.
The plan was to drill those present on the tactics to use while discrediting Mbabazi ahead of 2016.
Someone even claimed that the famous social media critic, Tom Voltaire Okwalinga, was actually Mbabazi himself.
In a bid to increase their following, Don advised people to follow Ofwono Opondo, Rose Namayanja (who closed the event), Kiryowa Kiwanuka, himself and Kaheru who boasts of the highest number of followers on Twitter and Facebook.
Don said they would be sharing information on emails and by dropbox only to those they are sure are against Mbabazi “not moles”.
It was clear they were panicking about Amama prowess and the fact that Museveni has been complaining about how his social media is handled.