Former State House staff has lashed at the First Lady, Janet Kataaha Museveni, for saying Ugandan women are poor because they are lazy.
Charles Rwomushana, a former head of political intelligence desk at State House, was responding to remarks made by the First Lady mid-August in Ntungamo district.
Janet, the minister for Karamoja Affairs, credited for transforming the region, says the rise in poverty levels across the country is due to laziness among women.
She told women at a Mother’s Union Conference in Ntungamo district that there are the driving force behind strong economies.
In a critical analysis, Rwomushana, categories her in the “Banyama”, a group of animals that eat fellow animals putting women in the “Baboga”, another group that eats grass.
“The Banyama eat those who eat grass. Some people [name omitted] have forced into their family stomach more than half of Uganda’s operating economy,” Rwomushana alleges.
He says with all the “monopolised State Corporations, co-operatives, the Luzira land of the insane, the lake Mburo park land of the beasts, the Global and Gavi Fund of the sick…sick of TB etc, money for Junk Helicopters…You then can’t be in short supply of the poor…”
He says when officials “steal from the poor and aver that the said theft is divinely sanctioned and justified then the proliferation of the poor and poverty should not shock the mother in the trinity”.
He wonders why when Janet sees the Ugandan poor women, “she can only understand their poverty as a yield of their laziness”.
In her book: “My Life’s Journey”, Janet shows that a woman can be successful in her own right, building on experiences from the earlier stages of her life and not just from the time that she meets that influential man [Museveni].
That is what she told Ntungamo women, to be independent of their husbands and earn side income to develop their homes.
Has Janet, served as an example?
The outgoing Member of Parliament representing “Ruhaama County”, Ntungamo District boasts of achievements such as being the founder of Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans (UWESO), an indigenous NGO which cares for war-related and HIV/AIDS-affected orphans in all the Districts of Uganda.
The first lady is also the founder and Patron of National Strategy for the Advancement of Rural Women in Uganda (NSARWU), an NGO which works with poor rural women to empower them economically through various interventions.
She is the founder and Patron of the Uganda Youth Forum (UYF) and NGO that engages the youth of Uganda for purposes of character and behaviour formation particularly with regard to HIV and AIDS prevention.
Still as minister for Karamoja Affairs, Janet is credited for transforming a backward region that everyone had lost all hope in.
She has been instrumental in the introduction of boreholes, health centres, self-help projects, institutions etc in Karamoja, a formerly violent region thather husband and president helped disarm to make peaceful.
Above all, says State House, Janet Museveni is a Professed and active Christian whose work and life is driven by faith in God.
Yet a critic wonders whether “Janet Museveni, the one God sent to be a minister for Karamoja affairs, apparently, was abandoned by God or so we must deduce seeing as Karamoja now needs food aid.”
“Museveni, can we say the First Lady failed in her duties?” he queried.
Janet in politics
Janet won’t be returning for Ruhaama County MP which she has served for two terms, according to guidance she recently sought from God.
President Museveni says he was opposed to her joining politics but she threatened to break away from the ruling party in 2006 and stand as an independent.
Appearing on KFM Hot Seat last week, Independent Magazine founder, Andrew Mwenda, said Museveni “feared public humiliation if Janet left the ruling party hence leaving her to contest for Ruhaama MP seat in 2006”.
“She threatened to run as an independent and Museveni feared the embarrassment. He then let her run as MP on the NRM ticket,” Mwenda revealed.
She defeated Augustine Ruzindana and has since served for two terms.
Janet later fell out with former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, who wanted to have her blocked from cabinet.
Mwenda also revealed that Janet picked nomination forms alongside her husband from Kyadondo to contest as Ntungamo district NRM chairperson.
John Wycliffe Karazarwe the former Ntungamo LC5 chairperson who led the district from inception in 1993 to 2010 and the pioneer party chairman told Daily Monitor that Janet “is coming in because leadership has been weak”.
It also said that Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, the FDC party president, being born in Kajara may sway voters to the opposition hence denying NRM a chance.
Janet is the lone contender for the NRM seat after Steven Tashobya bowed out.
Privileges versus sacrifice?
In his article titled: “What has Museveni sacrificed?” published on Tuesday, 07 April 2009, Mwenda quotes Museveni saying he appointed his wife as state minister for Karamoja because elites were rejecting the job (never mind only one person, Tom Butiime, turned it down).
“He also justified the appointment of his family members, e.g. his brother, Salim Saleh, to government positions as a sign of sacrifice, not privilege.”
“What special attribute does his wife, who has no professional accomplishments, possess that other Ugandans lack which makes her best suited to develop Karamoja? And how can God/nature be so mean to Uganda as to give these attributes to only his wife?” Mwenda asked.
In an equally charged document, first son in-law Odrek Rwabwogo, asked Mwenda to appreciate the sacrifices the first family has been making.
Rwabwogo says his mother-in-law and President’s wife sacrificed the comfort and instead accepted the Karamoja ministerial post that had been rejected, and seen by some as a demotion.
“The First Lady could be riding high [elsewhere] but she is making sacrifices fighting for [construction of] dams in Karamoja,” he says.
At the end of the day, the reader should be able to judge fairly whether the First Lady has served diligently and done her part in building the nation or whether she has served family interests as critics accuse her.