A lot has been said about President Museveni's new Cabinet choices. Some names have attracted criticism while others have been praised. In explaining his choices, the President made mention of a “cross-generation” Cabinet that was picked on the basis of unity, mobilisation ability and expertise.
One point that seems not to have received a lot of mention is the fact that in this new team, the President has increased the number of women in Cabinet. The President named eight women to full ministerial positions up from the three (Beatrice Wabudeya, Namirembe Bitamazire and Hope Mwesigye) in the outgoing Cabinet. The point about these women appointees is that far from the gender card, they also bring loads of competence and experience to their portfolios.
Considering that some of Uganda's past governance problems have largely been orchestrated by men, I want to think that more women on the steering wheel will mean fewer scandals, less corruption, more compassion and a true service for the country. Psychologists tell us that women by their very nature are passionate people. This passion is always reflected in what they do. It is this passion, I am sure, which will be exhibited by the President's new appointees.
For example, Ms Maria Kiwanuka's appointment to the finance docket means the ministry gets a polished economist, who is a tested and successful entrepreneur in her own right. My faith in her lies in the fact that she has seen what happens in the boardrooms of the Breton Woods in Washington and such metropolis but also knows what hustles a vendor on Luwum Street goes through.
The other woman with repute who now has a platform to make key changes in people's lives is Ms Irene Muloni. The new Energy Minister brings years of experience of management to the energy sector. From the defunct Uganda Electricity Board to the current UEDCL, Ms Muloni has been through it all.
With energy being a cornerstone of the country's projected transformation into a middle-income state, She carries the unenviable task of making this dream become a reality. And if her past record is anything to go by, we have the right person in the right job. The recently read budget has allocated her a record Shs1.2 trillion.
It will be interesting to see how she helps achieve the 600MW Karuma Hydro-power dam project and juggles other key challenges like building the Shs7 billion Petroleum Resources Database.
Dr Christine Ondoa, the Health Minister, despite being a fairly new face, has a track record of sterling performance in managing big health units while Lt. Jessica Alupo, whom many think is fairly junior for the education docket, I think, brings the needed energy and verve to a ministry that critics agree had gone into “slumber”.
And women in Uganda could as well label 2011, their year. First was the announcement of Ms Jennifer Musisi Kiwanuka as the maiden head of the newly-formed Kampala Capital City Authority. And from what we are reading, she is shaking the lethargy and corruption that had come to define City Hall.
While the champagne was yet to settle, again came the news that Ms Rebecca Kadaga had written history, being the first female to ascend the position of Speaker of Parliament. Her immediate test as chairperson of the Appointments Committee gave us a peek into what we might expect of the 9th Parliament - no pushovers!