The thirty-four most powerful Ugandans

By Vision Reporter

LIKE it was in George Orwell’s <i>Animal Farm</i>, all animals are equal but some are more equal than others. The Government Order of Precedence, showing the 34 highest positions, has more than a few surprises.

LIKE it was in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, all animals are equal but some are more equal than others. The Government Order of Precedence, showing the 34 highest positions, has more than a few surprises, writes
Lydia Namubiru.

1. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

“The president shall take precedence over all persons in Uganda,” says Article 98 of the Constitution. As the president of the country, Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is the most powerful man in the country. He is the “Head of State, Head of Government, Commander – in – Chief of the UPDF and Fountain of Honour,” says per the 98th article. Along with all the other perks of being president, Museveni is not liable to any proceedings in any court as long as he is the president.

2. Gilbert Balibasekka Bukenya

His name Balibaseka suggests that he used to be mocked and laughed at.  Well, presently no one except Museveni can mock him because Gilbert Bukenya, the Vice President of Uganda, is the second most powerful man in the land. He is just a hair breadth away from the top seat of power. “If the president dies, resigns or is removed form office under this constitution, the Vice President shall assume the office of the President until fresh elections are held and the elected president assumes office,” says Article 109 of the Constitution.
Indeed whenever the President is for any reason unable to perform the presidential duties, Bukenya does.

3. Edward Sekandi

Other than Bukenya, Sekandi in his capacity as Speaker of Parliament is the only other Ugandan who can assume the presidency, moreover without being elected. “Where the President and Vice President are unable to perform the functions of the office of the President, the Speaker shall perform those functions until the President or the Vice President is able to or a new President is elected,” says subsection 5 of Article 109 of the Constitution. Not even the President can sack Sekandi. To remove him, two thirds of all the Members of Parliament would have to pass a vote of no confidence in him.

4. Benjamin Odoki

Addressed as his Lordship, the Honourable Chief Justice, Benjamin Odoki, the head of the judiciary is the fourth most powerful man in the land. No President is president unless the Chief Justice swears him in. He is also head of the Supreme Court of Uganda. “The Chief Justice takes precedence over all other judicial officers. His appointment and removal is a constitutional matter and can only be done as stipulated by the constititution,” says Erias Kisawuzi, the judiaciaries publicist. The Constitution sets a stringent procedure for his removal. The President would appoint a tribunal of at least five past or present Supreme Court justices or lawyers of not less that 20 years experience.
The findings would then be submitted to the President who would make the final decision.   

5. Rebecca Kadaga
According to the department responsible for protocol in the ministry of foreign affairs, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament is number five in the order of precedence of Ugandan dignitaries. That makes Kadaga the most powerful woman in the country at the moment. The Deputy Speaker of Parliament is nearly as powerful as her boss the Speaker only that she cannot assume the presidency. She deputises the speaker in all his functions and she too can only be sacked by a two thirds majority in Parliament.

6. Leticia Kikonyogo

The second most powerful woman in the country is Leticia Kikonyogo, Deputy Chief Justice, who comes sixth in the echelon of power. She is also the head of the court of appeal and to sack her would require a procedure as rigorous as that of the Chief Justice.

7. Moses Kigongo

That the vice chairperson of the NRM is number seven in the order of precedence of important Ugandans might come as a surprise but their you have it – Moses Kigongo is officially ranked higher than Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi.

8. Apolo Nsibambi

As prime minister, he b>is the head of government business in Parliament and like the first six most powerful, his position is specifically  provided for in the constitution. Indeed most people would think he is the third or fourth in the precedence of Uganda’s very important persons. According to the government protocol’s order of precedence, he is number eight.

9. Eriya Kategaya, Henry
Kajura and Kirunda

As first deputy prime minister, Eriya Kategeya occupies the nineth position, followed by senior citizens Henry Kajura and Kirunda Kivejinja.

Surprises in the chain of command

For most Ugandans every one who holds a prominent public office is an honourable. When more than one are at a function, the organisers are at a lost on who is more ‘honourable’ that the other.

The Department of Government Protocol in the foreign affairs ministry has a clear list of who takes precedence over the other and it has more than a few shocks.

The NRM Vice Chairperson is the seventh most important dignitary in the land. Among others, he takes precedence over the Prime Minister, the Army Commander, religious and traditional leaders and all Members of Parliament. So next time Al Hajji Moses Kigongo attends your function, give him his due respect.

The Prime Minister is not one of the country’s top five dignitaries but comes eighth in the order of precedence. This puts him below the Chief Justice and his deputy, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament, the NRM Vice Chairperson as well as the President and the Vice President.

Traditional leaders take precedence over religious leaders. Therefore, at a function where Charles Mumbere, the traditional leader of the Rwenzururu and Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi are both in attendance, Mumbere should be treated with higher priority. Traditional leaders are number 19 in the Order of Precedence while religious leaders are number 20.

The Army Commander is of less concern than cabinet ministers, ministers of state, former national leaders, the Principal Judge as well as judges of the Supreme, High and Appeal courts. He is also less of a priority than the auditor general, head of civil service, ambassadors, among others. In the Order of Precedence, the Army Commander is a distant number 27.

The Inspector General of Government (IGG) may cause nightmares for cabinet ministers and most other big shots but according to the Order of Precedence, she is not even among the top 20. At number 21, she is below the all ministers and ministers of state, all MPs, all traditional leaders and all religious leaders.

The Governor of Bank of Uganda may have the power to change the economy at a snap of a finger but he is number 31 in the Order of Precedence of Ugandan dignitaries. Should Tumusiime-Mutebile attend a function together with for example Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa, a former President, please reserve the higher table for Binaisa. 

The thirty-four most powerful Ugandans