Aged government in charge of a young Uganda

The average age of President Museveni’s Cabinet is 65 years, while that of Ugandans is 16 years 

By STEPHEN KAFEERO

The average age of President Museveni’s Cabinet is 65 years, while that of Ugandans is 16 years.
At 75, and more than 33 years in power, the incumbent now is the oldest Ugandan leader to occupy the top seat, and his Cabinet, too, has been getting older, serving one of the world’s youngest populations.
None of the Cabinet ministers is in their 20s or 30s. Of the more than 32 Cabinet members, only three are in their 40s, while five are in their 50s. The majority are in their 60s and 70s.

Uganda has one of the world’s youngest populations, with more than 78 per cent of its population below the age of 30. The country also has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 1.2 million youth in Uganda between the ages of 15 and 29 are idle, according to the state of Uganda Population Report 2018.
At 72, the Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, is the youngest of the top five positions in Cabinet. Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, 77, is two years older than his boss.

Both of Dr Rugunda’s deputies are octogenarians. Gen Moses Ali, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Leader of Government Business in Parliament, is 80-years-old, while Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Community Affairs, Mr Ali Kirunda Kivejinja, is 84-years-old and he is the oldest member of Cabinet. First Lady and Education Minister Janet Museveni is 71-years-old.
Even at State minister level, many ministers are in their 60s. Mr Philemon Mateke, the Minister of State for Regional Affairs, for example, is 76-years-old.
It is only the Judiciary, of the three arms of government, which maintains an age limit at all levels with the highest age at which a judge can serve capped at 70 years.

In less than a year, both the Chief Justice and Principal Judge will be leaving their posts because their respective ages do not allow them to continue to serve in those positions.
Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine has already clocked 65 years, while Chief Justice Bart Magunda Katureebe is months away to making 70 years when he is supposed to quit.
In Parliament, both Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, 63, and her deputy Jacob Oulanyah, 54, are below the average age of senior Cabinet ministers, which is 65 years. In the 1990s, between 1996 and 1998, Ms Kadaga was a junior minister for Regional Cooperation.

Does age matter?
In the public service, church and many other places, including private companies and academia, there are age limits. But not for the presidency and Cabinet.
The framers of the 1995 Constitution had capped the age for eligibility to run for president at 75, but this clause was expunged from the Constitution in a fallout that saw the army invade Parliament to beat up dissenting legislators who were trying to filibuster the debate.

Before the debate took root, President Museveni had told NTV that he believed that there is ‘a scientific idea’ in the argument that a president should not serve beyond 75 because perhaps the vigour would not be as much as one ages, but he later changed his stance and backed the removal of the age limit.
The President has in the past argued that biological age is inconsequential in politics, distinguishing between what he calls “biological age” and “ideological age”.
He said many Ugandans are young biologically but very old ideologically and singled out “ideological disorientation” as one of the country’s “strategic bottlenecks”.

Going by his argument, age is just a number so long as one is “ideologically oriented”.
The argument about age has come more to the fore in recent months after Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, 37, announced that he will challenge President Museveni in the 2021 elections.
At less than half Mr Museveni’s age, Mr Kyagulanyi is keen to play the youth card, pumping up the youth to join him in the bid to take charge of the country.

This has elicited reactions from President Museveni, drawing him to work more closely with artistes than he has ever done in a bid to counter the star power of Bobi Wine.
When Mr Museveni finally releases his long-awaited shuffled lineup of Cabinet, it is likely that he will include a number of younger people and try to lower the average age of his Cabinet as he tries to get closer to the youth.

But is Cabinet that important?
Only President Museveni has remained a constant in his respective cabinets since 1986. However, Cabinet is still old despite many of Mr Museveni’s Bush War comrades falling off.
The age transformation that has eluded Cabinet has come to the military, with fairly younger officers having assumed the reigns.
Does President Museveni consider security too important and must be manned by alert people that he has carried out a transformation in age there but has not quite done so on the political side?
The Chief of Defence Forces, David Muhoozi, is 54. The commander of the land forces is Lt Gen Peter Elwelu, whose age is not known to the public. Maj Gen James Birungi, 43, the Special Forces Commander is a 1973 born.

Region
An analysis by The New Times, a Rwandan newspaper, last year put the average age of ministers in the country’s Cabinet at 47.5 years, with the youngest at the time being 31 years.
Only one minister, the publication noted, is more than the age of 60 and five are older than 55. President Kagame is 62-years-old. Kenya’s lean Cabinet of 20 has no member in their 70s or 80s with majority in their 50s.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is 58-years-old. In Tanzania, President John Magufuli is 60-years-old.

THE LIST

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, 75: President.

Edward Ssekandi, 77: Vice President.

Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, 72: Prime Minister and Leader of Government Business in Parliament.

Gen Moses Ali, 80: 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Leader of Government Business in Parliament.

Ali Kirunda Kivejinja, 84: Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Community Affairs.

Wilson Muruli Mukasa, 67: Minister of Public Service.

Matia Kasaija, 75: Minister for Finance.

Adolf Kasaija Mwesige, 53: Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs

Gen Abubaker Jeje Odongo, 68: Minister of Internal Affairs.

Monica Azuba Ntege, 63: Minister of Works and Transport.

Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, 51: Minister of Health.

Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, 62: Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.

Irene Muloni, 58: Minister for Energy and Minerals.

Sam Kahamba Kutesa, 70: Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Janet Kataaha Museveni, 71: First Lady and Minister of Education.

Kahinda Otafiire, 68: Minister of Justice & Constitutional Affairs.

Amelia Kyambadde, 64: Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.

Sam Cheptoris, 69: Minister of Water and Environment.

Betty Amongi, 43: Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.

Tom Butime, 72: Minister of Local Government.

Frank Tumwebaze, 43: Minister of Information Technology and Communications.

Ephraim Kamuntu, 74: Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities.

Onek Hilary, 71: Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees.

Esther Mbayo Mbulakubuza, 48: Minister of the Presidency.

Hajat Janat Balunzi Mukwaya, 67: Gender, Labour and Social Affairs.

Elioda Tumwesigye, 55: Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Gen Elly Tumwine, 65: Minister of Security.

Mary Busingye Karooro Okurut, 64: Minister in Charge of General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister.

John Byabagambi, 61: Minister for Karamoja Affairs.

Beti Kamya, 63: Minister for Kampala Capital City Authority.

Abdul Nadduli, 77: Minister Without Portfolio

Ruth Nankabirwa Sentamu, 53: Government Chief Whip

Bart Magunda Katureebe, 69: Chief Justice.

Alfonse Chigamoy Owiny-Dollo, 63: Deputy Chief Justice.

Yorokamu Bamwine, 65: Principle Judge.

sdkafeero@ug.nationmedia.com

Source Daily Monitor.

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