State House war over Museveni social media accounts explodes
Kampala. What was initially an in-house war in State House’s Presidential Press Unit (PPU) has become public, sucking in the President, who finds himself at the centre of a conflict over his Facebook account and Twitter handle.
The explosion of the intrigue pits Ms Sarah Kagingo, the special presidential assistant for communication, against Ms Linda Nabusayi, the deputy presidential press secretary. Ms Kagingo has been running Mr Museveni’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
However, presidential press secretary Tamale Mirundi said yesterday: “Recently, changes were made at State House and everybody was informed of the changes.”
The responsibility of updating the President’s social media platforms, he added, “is no longer under Sarah Kagingo. Linda Nabusayi took over.”
But Ms Kagingo insists she still runs the show. “Well, I await official communication, a termination letter,” she said.
When contacted, State House comptroller Lucy Nakyobe declined to answer all questions put to her by this reporter, consistently replying, “I have no comment.” In an interview with The Observer newspaper last week, Ms Nakyobe said: “Kagingo was overwhelmed and she needed someone (Nabusayi) to help her.”
The standoff hit its climax on Monday when Ms Kagingo announced on her private Facebook page that the President’s Twitter and Facebook accounts had been hacked by saboteurs and all tweets and updates were invalid.
Minutes later a tweet from @YoweriMuseveni read: “I am still in charge of my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Forgive@SarahKagingo.”
A parallel Twitter account @YoweriKMuseveni has since been opened with Ms Kagingo claiming she has been locked out and denied access as the administrator of the original account @YoweriMuseveni which boasts of more than 68,000 followers.
The last two weeks have seen public anger increase on the new Twitter account, with followers openly decrying the standard of English in particular, and the presidential language in general.
Ms Kagingo said: “I sought to immortalise the President’s ideas through online platforms but this seems to have made some people unhappy. He is a self-selling brand but if I have been sabotaged, it is okay, public offices are not person to holder.”
Efforts to contact Ms Nabusayi for a comment were futile as she did not answer nor return repeated phone calls and reply messages but Mr Mirundi insisted: “Whether she does what or what (sic), Kagingo is no longer in charge, it is now Nabusayi.”
The spillover of the intrigue in the press unit, inside sources who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, revealed, “is the culmination of a protracted fight over money and power among State House cliques.”
Ms Nabusayi, sources reveal, has the blessing of President Museveni’s private secretary, Maj Edith Nakalema and Ms Nakyobe.
“When Nabusayi came, Mirundi lost control of the administrative and financial roles in the unit. He now has no choice but side with the Nakalema-Nakyobe-Nabusayi clique which runs the show in State House,” our source revealed.
On the other hand, Ms Kagingo is seen as close and loyal to principal private secretary Mary Amajo, “who is seen as hostile to the Nakalema clique and hated for being overly principled.”
Recently, PPU photographers reportedly received express orders from Maj Nakalema and Ms Nakyobe, “to strictly send photographs to only Nabusayi or be fired”.
In one of the meetings early this year, Mr Museveni asked the PPU top leadership how much it would cost them to run his online communication. After long silence, a member suggested Shs400m but as the President wrote it down, Ms Kagingo said: “Your excellency, about Shs4m is enough. There aren’t many costs.”
Neither Ms Nakyobe nor Mr Mirundi accepted to comment on these particular issues.
Some PPU members, our sources say, insisted State House should hire a private public relations firm to manage Mr Museveni’s social media platforms, a move Ms Kagingo is seen as a stumbling block to.
Source: Daily Monitor 29 October 2014