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Uganda: Minister’s Diplomatic Gaffe at World Stage Raises Questions Over Quality of President Museveni’s Cabinet

By February 23, 2022No Comments
Foreign Affairs Minister Jeje Odongo Embarrasses

New questions have emerged over the quality of Uganda’s Cabinet after Foreign Affairs Minister Jeje Odongo walked straight past the European Union’s Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a picture-taking ceremony. Jeje Odongo ignored Leyen and went straight to shake hands with European Council President, Charles Michel, and French President Emmanuel Macron.

After shaking hands, Jeje Odongo who was in Brussels representing President Yoweri Museveni for the European Union-Africa Summit went ahead to stand between Leyen and Michel for an official photo that also included Macron.

Uganda Foreign Minister, Jeje Odongo’s Diplomatic Gaffe at EU-AU Summit goes viral on Social Media

The fact that Jeje Odongo walked past Leyen who is the European Union’s topmost civil servant had several Ugandans asking whether the Minister and his team had not taken time to research and make sure Uganda knew and was talking to all the important people at the summit.

At the summit which was co-chaired by Michel and Senegal’s President, Macky Sall officials discussed how to develop vaccines in Africa and mobilization of the G7 and G20 to open ways for using special drawing rights to fund investment.  

According to Michel, officials at the summit agreed on how to invest Euro 150 billion ($169.8 billion) that has been earmarked for the Africa-Europe plan which will among other things focus on the green transition and funding for renewable energy.

Jeje Odongo’s Missed handshake also raised fresh doubts as to his understanding of how the international system works (C) The Public’s Radio

“I had several talks with partners, who immediately want to engage in the main topic of green hydrogen,” says Michel.

Other priorities for investment include improving internet connectivity, sustainable agriculture, healthcare, education, and transport infrastructure. Transport infrastructure would be aimed at improving connectivity on the African continent.    

“Connectivity within the continent is crucial for the Free Trade Area to function,” says Michel.

While the European Union seemed to focus on highlighting opportunities for investment in Africa, a statement from Uganda’s foreign affairs Ministry suggests the country was a lot more interested in the areas of security.

In a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jeje Odongo was reported to have highlighted Uganda’s role in the stabilisation of the Great Lakes Region.

“He (Jejje Odongo) attended two round table thematic discussions, where he briefed the Summit on Uganda’s stabilization role in the region, and shared experiences in contributing to peace and security in Africa,” reads a part of the statement from Uganda’s ministry of foreign affairs.   

Mr. Odongo mentioned Uganda’s current operation the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Uganda People’s Defense Forces say they are working with their western neighbours to fight terrorist organizations.

Uganda’s Delegation to the EU-AU Summit in Brussels (C) Capital FM

Mr. Odongo also condemned the resurgence of coups on the continent.

For many Ugandans, however, his failure to recognize Leyen was the main point of discussion as it brought to the fore earlier conversations alleging that the Cabinet chosen by President Museveni after the 2021 general elections were one of the most incompetent ones the country has ever had.

Previous discussions around the quality of Uganda’s Cabinet revolved around Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, who was caught on camera last month almost falling off of her chair. The video which went viral at the end of January showed Ms. Nabbanja failing to complete a long winding sentence in which she was directing the minister of energy to deal with the skyrocketing fuel prices. After failing to complete the sentence, Ms. Nabbanja told the journalists she was lost for words, after which she leaned into her improperly fixated chair.

A few days after that incident, Ms. Nabbanja was back in the news for claiming on national television that Kenya, Uganda’s neighbor to the East experiences winter. Uganda and Kenya both are tropical countries that lie along the equator.

The discussion around the quality of Uganda’s Cabinet was back in the news this week after Jeje Odongo who represented President Museveni for the European Union-Africa summit seemed to ignore Leyen.  

European Union’s Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (C) Financial Times

In June last year, Ugandans castigated President Yoweri Museveni’s Cabinet for not being sophisticated enough for the work at hand. But President Museveni humorously dismissed these concerns saying he was tired of the elites and had instead appointed fishermen who would be good at service delivery, just like the apostles of Jesus had well with followers.

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