Uganda: Is the First Lady flying above the vice president?

By Musinguzi Blanshe
Posted on Friday, 23 September 2022 09:08

Uganda's first lady Janet Kataha Museveni with her husband President Yoweri Museveni, attend his inauguration ceremony in the capital Kampala, Uganda on 12 May 2016. (AP Photo/Stephen Wandera, File)

Jessica Alupo, the vice president of Uganda, is ideally a representative of the power that comes with the presidency. However, the structure of power in Uganda has left the vice president taking assignment from the first lady. And, analysts say, any political transition in Uganda will follow a similar path.

Ugandan First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Janet Kataha Museveni forced her way into politics in 2006 as a member of parliament, something that President Yoweri Museveni and other high-ranking members of the ruling party never supported. She became a junior minister three years later.

Politics is a path she never thought she would take, Janet wrote in her memoir, My Life’s Journey. “Of all things I thought I would ever do in my life, getting into active politics was never on my list,” she wrote. Janet, who is a devoted Christian, attributed her her change of mind to calling from God. ‘The idea seemed ludicrous,’ she wrote.

Janet is ranked 10th on the order of precedence as per Uganda’s constitution and eight steps below the vice president, who is second to the president. But in recent months, the vice president has been representing the first lady at events, the most recent being when Alupo represented Janet in Israel at a graduation ceremony of Ugandan students whose education was sponsored by the Israeli government.  Neither the president’s nor the vice president’s spokespeople responded to questions.