A long list has been circulating on social media of alleged public relations [PR] personnel who are being fronted to prop up the rapidly fading image of state house, office of the president and president Museveni himself.
With a total of about 59 people, the list has proposed teams that will take up the job of maintaining a positive image of the president.
Top on the list is Awel Uwihanganye who is being fronted as the Strategic Advisor to the president’s PR machinery.
A Serial Social Entrepreneur, African enthusiast, Fellow of the Aspen institute and African leadership Initiative, Awel is the Founder & CEO at LéO Africa Forum.
Duncan Abigaba will be the Manager of the team. Abigaba, a former Presidential Assistant/Research and Information, currently works at Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC), Government of Uganda.
Among other notables are Herbert Anderson Burora who will handle Conventional Social Media [Facebook and WhatsApp] and Denis Nabende who will manage Twitter and Strategic Communications.
Olara Simon Peter will manage Special Projects including the president’s website and government twitter handles while Otuko Augustine will take care of radios and televisions.
Hudu Hussein is in charge of Content Development while Sharp Robert Mugabe will handle Branding and Multi-Media.
Another large group has been placed under Twitter and Strategic Communications. This comprises a team of at least 11 people mostly social media bloggers, enthusiasts and journalists.
Uwihanganye denies the list
Many of those appearing on the list that edge.ug talked to denied knowledge of the list and could not substantiate anything.
Uwihanganye himself told edge.ug to ignore the list as baseless rumours.
A champion of Africa’s Progress [global issues, leadership development and youth empowerment], Uwihanganye says he has thus far avoided getting embroidered in negative twitter with #UoT.
“…but I suppose when one is as public spirited, it’s only a matter of time. The list making round on #UoT of supposed “mercenaries” is an abuse of confidential information and a serious lack of values,” he tweeted.
He went on: “Whereas it’s true I have been presented an opportunity to serve the country in a particular way, I have not received that instrument of appointment nor has the appointing authority communicated it to relevant government agency.”
Uwihanganye said for one to use privileged information to doctor documents and falsely associate different individuals with his appointment with the view of undermining the effort, is wrong and disgraceful.
“I have served my country and the world in so many capacities, continue to make my share of contribution however small. If called upon to serve in capacity that enhances public good in the public sector, it’s an honour and a privilege…”
He said the authority responsible shall make the necessary announcement in this regard.
“We each have a role to play in making our country better. Let’s focus on our individual responsibilities and do less of undermining others in their roles.”
Uwihanganye is also a co-owner of Silverback Travel Company a specialised Safari company and has previously served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He has served as a member on the board of directors for the Capital Markets Authority, and the National planning Authority in Uganda. Awel has in the past served as the Country Programme Coordinator for the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Uganda and South Sudan.
How the list came to be
The list is said to have deeper ties in state house and the office of the chairman of NRM which have both had a glimpse of the workings of Molly Naawe Kamukama.
According to inside sources, Molly Kamukama has worked with Irene Birungi Mugisha, Uwihanganye and Chris Kamukama [Molly’s husband] to champion President Museveni’s cause for some time now.
Specifically, Molly worked with Birungi and Uwihanganye to secure Museveni’s re-election in 2016 presidential elections.
A civil servant, Molly is also a former political assistant to the chairman of Uganda’s ruling party, National Resistance Movement.
Currently, she is working in State House as the Principal Private Secretary to Museveni.
The PPS is the overall coordinator, supervisor and manager of the related staff and functional units. All heads of related units as well as private secretaries report to the PPS.
Having the mandate to supervise all units and having worked with him before, Molly is convinced Uwihanganye is the most competent person for the job, having learnt from Rwanda how to organise conferences.
Birungi [married to Maurice Mugisha of NTV], on the other hand, is a known entrepreneur, broadcaster and columnist for Daily Monitor and New Vision on economic issues.
She currently works as a private secretary for administration at the office of the President of Uganda, a job she was recruited to by Molly Kamukama.
Birungi is also the Founder of All Round Consult, a PR and Media Firm which is being fronted to manage Museveni’s PR machinery and some other undisclosed American firm.
October 2010, she became the first female television Manager in Uganda after being appointed state broadcaster, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation and in 2013, Mugisha became the Head of Editorial and was a television producer with CNBC Africa.
Mugisha built her name as a journalist after being hired as a news anchor on WBS TV, the oldest private television network in Uganda. 5 years later, she joined UBC TV as a Business editor/Tv Producer.
In October 2010, she was appointed as Television Manager UBC TV, the first female in Uganda to hold such a position.
PR agenda backfires
Molly and her team had been whispering to the president about the need for keeping a positive image by relying on PR firms and their agents, according to a state house source.
It was at the same time that a group of age limit supporting MPs went to the president as well.
“They said media was bashing him and his PR was bad. They pleaded with him to hire a team to preserve his image,” the source said.
The MPs included; Kafuuzi Jackson Karugaba [Kyaka South County], Workers MP Aston Arinaitwe Rwakajara and Tusiime Michael [Mbarara Municipality].
Riding on this show of zeal and enthusiasm, Molly reportedly proposed that team expecting a huge budget from the president.
Uwihanganye had worked with Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde’s son Ivan Kyambadde.
“Amelia had got them that contract to handle PR when she was still the PPS. They bought Benzes, rented expensive offices and lost money after one year,” the source claimed.
Now in front of the president, Molly allegedly presented Uwihanganye as a PR expert in Uganda, assuring the head of state that his image would remain intact.
“You can’t start telling lies about Uganda yet you have failed to tell about achievements that Ugandans can see,” the source quotes the president as saying.
“That is buyaye [rascality],” the president fumed, accusing the group of pushing an agenda with the aim of making money.
“They left the meeting all cold. When you see the President returning the indefatigable Maj Edith Nakalema to handle corruption, what do you make of it? Why did he not give Molly Kamukama’s number to the public? It is because of what he has learnt that is going on in our office,” a state house staff who spoke on condition of anonymity told us.
President Museveni on Sunday told media at State House Entebbe that government has been asleep when it comes to the media management, indirectly hinting at what he had been told without disclosing it.
“I hear people telling me, that in today’s world, it’s is not the facts, but Perception that matters -that I need PR! Really, is that what we want for our country?” Museveni said.
“You see Mzee, what matters these days is not facts…it is perception. That it is from I don’t know where. I want to be your PR. PR,” said Museveni scornfully waving his arms in the air and mimicking PR agents.
The source explained that the president was actually echoing how Molly’s team was trying desperately to corner him into paying PR firms.
“I am Yoweri Museveni, Son of Kaguta, General of the National Resistance Army. I don’t need any PR. I don’t need polishing,” Museveni called out opportunistic PR groups and the global obsession with appearances Vs Reality.