There is much to benefit if only we can learn to live dignified lives while in office.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
Former Minister for Presidency and Kampala Affairs Kabakumba Masiko leaves Parliament, shortly after her resignation. PHOTO BY Geoffrey Sseruyange
By Chris Obore
Posted Thursday, December 15 2011 at 00:00
I have enjoyed every moment of my service to my nation, always mindful that I should not let down the trust bestowed on to me by the President and the people of Uganda. However, to error is human, even when we still begrudge the manner in which justice may have not been exercised to its logical limit, it’s my humble patriotic duty and, in the interest of democracy, my party NRM and indeed my biological family, I will for now give way to allow smooth and unfettered consideration of the controversy in which I find myself in. I therefore resign my current responsibility of Minister in charge of the Presidency and Kampala Capital City Authority with effect from 14th ~ 2011.
Bunyoro’s iron lady Princess Kabakumba Labwoni Masiko yesterday seemed to have run out of political options and thrown in the towel—resigning as Presidency minister. This follows a week of piercing media coverage of her alleged illegal use of a UBC transmitter in her Masindi-based Kings FM station.
Earlier, Ms Masiko had vowed not to cave in until proven guilty. So, what could have broken her resolve in less than a fortnight? Those close to the seat of power say she did not get the usual support of President Museveni even though the head of state had expressed personal sympathy towards her. Apparently, when reports of a stolen transmitter hit the headlines, Ms Masiko sought audience with Mr Museveni to make a personal explanation.
Initially, she was told to do it in writing—which she did. In that explanation, which she later emphasised when she met the President on Tuesday, Ms Masiko reportedly told Mr Museveni that her radio station indeed used the transmitter belonging UBC.
The minister admitted that it was an error not to have formalised the transaction, but blamed the oversight on her station manager, Mr Harrison Magezi, also a minority shareholder in Kings Broadcasting Service.
Ms Masiko said after her radio station transmitter blew in July, UBC gave her the green light to use their transmitter which was lying idle at Kigulya Hill. Only Shs100,000 was paid for the forms - to kick start a process of a formal contract. Sources say Ms Masiko told the President she never knew her managers had dragged their feet in formalising the contract. But this candidness was reportedly lacking when Ms Masiko later appeared before the NRM Caucus to make her case.
Referred to as “my daughter” by the President, Ms Masiko decided to “play politics”, telling MPs that her woes stemmed from activities of ‘rebels’ bent on destroying her and the party. She also denied using the transmitter illegally. Sources in the meeting say it is at this point that the President asked her to “tell the MPs what she had told him”.
At this point, Ms Masiko’s political epitaph seemed to have been written. MPs began baying for her blood, telling her to do the honourable thing and resign. One thing stands out though: Why didn’t the President make a vehement defence for a cadre who has spent her political life serving the party religiously?
Those in the know say Mr Museveni did not mount a vigorous defence on two grounds: Ms Masiko has poor relations with key political stakeholders back in Bunyoro but also the need to avoid fuelling a growing rift between Parliament and the Executive.
The President needs MPs to seal oil deals and yet to defend Ms Masiko meant rubbing the legislators the wrong way - Parliament is already on a war path with the Executive, having asked senior ministers implicated in oil bribery claims to step aside.
This wish is yet to be granted, largely because President Museveni came out with guns blazing in defence of Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi—one of those placed on the chopping board by MPs. The President could not afford ruffling feathers further—the MPs had their way.
Secondly, when political challenges of this nature arise, delegations from the politicians’ homeland trek to State House to make a case for their “child”. District councils in Bunyoro, however, were not in a rush to Kampala and defend their daughter neither was the Bunyoro parliamentary caucus. “The offence is a personal offence, it’s not a Bunyoro parliamentary caucus offence,” said Mr Ernest Kiiza, the chairman of the caucus, “She has done the honourable thing to resign.”
When Ms Masiko finally led a group to State House with a petition, it was too late. Critics say the group, led by Ms Olivia Mugisa, was not representative of Bujenje, the politician’s home county. Asked if Ms Masiko enjoyed good relations with fellow Banyoro MPs, Mr Kiiza, the Masindi Municipality MP, gave a long laugh, before saying: “That one is a difficult question.”
In her resignation letter, Ms Masiko hints at her Bunyoro tribulations.
“As a woman activist, I demonstrated that beyond the affirmative action which was a brain child of the NRM, women needed to take advantage of the objectives of affirmative action to assert their full potential,” Ms Masiko said.
“That was the reason I decided to move from the affirmative seat to the mainstream constituency to contest with men, I was confident of success because 1 had demonstrated my potential.” “Indeed in 2001 I easily won the Bujenje seat, however, I must admit this did not go down well with conservative elements who do not believe in progressive change. Since 2001 I have lived in the shadow of the conservative resistance.”