OPINION: The Rise, Rise and Now Glaring Fall of Presidential Mouthpiece Joseph Tamale Mirundi ‘Omukukunavu,’ Is He a Victim of Outshining His Master?
By Fred Khadafi 26th, February 2013
During the grim days of Adolf Hitler, the Germany dictator had Joseph Goebbels as his spin doctor and Information Minister. Goebbels is said to have adored, worshiped and relentlessly defended the actions of his boss, Adolf Hitler.
His masterly of propaganda and justification of the evils of the Hitler regime earned Goebbels a lot of fame around the world that he outshined his boss in the media spotlight. Reports later revealed that by the time of the allied invasion which dethroned the regime, Hitler was in advanced stages of purging his spin doctor.
And it was the Second World War that diverted the attention of the Germany dictator who was reported to have lined another of his trusted lieutenants to take over at the information ministry. And the reason was simply because Goebbels had ultimately outshined his boss; Adolf Hitler.
The principle of never outshining the boss later became a script in many story lines of the employee-employer relationship. It’s now a secret law that you should never outshine your boss. You do so at your own risk.
Another case to prove such a trend was played out here when Vincent Otti tried to outshine his boss Joseph Kony by addressing the international media and calling radios in Kampala. While Otti thought he was doing it for the good of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), his boss Joseph was growing insecure by day.
When the situation got to its ultimate zenith stage of signing a peace accord in juba, Kony quickly schemed to recover his lost glory from Otti and reportedly executed him. He then told his troops that he was the father of the LRA, and nobody can hijack it from him.
And it’s clear that such is the trend where it can be presumed a law of personalized projects, through which an employee who outshines the employer either gets trapped into a scandal or is dismissed with disgrace.
The case in point is that of former Ugandan army spokesman Col Shaban Bantariza who was thrown out of the job after having shined with distinction for the Ugandan army. It’s believed that Bantariza had become too popular for the liking of the appointing authority.
And there is every reason to believe that President Museveni’s spin doctor Tamale Mirundi seems to have breached that ‘law.’
Having hobnobbed with the NRM government for many years, Tamale Mirundi had become one of the most outspoken presidential secretaries of the Museveni era. Tamale Mirundi was appointed the presidential press secretaries eight years ago taking over from Onapito Ekomoloit.
Ekomoloit had taken over from Hope Kivengere the daughter of Bishop Festus Kivengere who had made his name in the 70s as an opponent of the Gen Idi Amin regime and Bishop of Boga Zaire (a region that encompassed Uganda Rwanda and Burundi plus parts of eastern Congo.
Tamale had managed to outshine all his predecessors despite of his mechanical English. He is the most sought-after public speaker as he appears on eight radio shows every week. He was the only man who could explain the failed government policies and justify the most heinous actions of the president.
He was the only man who took the fight with Mengo government to a personal level. At one time his home was attacked, his mother in Kalagala, Kalisizo in Rakai District was almost killed by agents said to be opposed to the NRM government.
He had to seek for protection from the President who deployed troops to guard both his urban and rural homes. Tamale Mirundi had made his name as the most articulate NRM spokesmen. But rumours have persisted that he is soon to be replaced by the on-rising Sarah Kagingo.
The rumours gained momentum early this week when one of the television stations invited Mirundi to clarify on the unrelenting speculations. And the rumours were nearly confirmed when an arguably meek and less confident Tamale appeared on NBS’ Morning Breeze programme and had a long altercation with the TV panellists but categorically, failed to deny the veracity of the whole stuff.
The hitherto boastful and cocky Tamale appeared humble and at times scared but put on a brave face on the events which might lead to his replacement at the state house job which he has always been proud to serve for the last eight years. But there are several reasons advanced for his possible replacement.
The Looming Sack
Some of the reason given for his dismissal include what his inner critics term as the ‘fact’ that his aggressive public relations style had damaged the good image of the president and some people had advised the president to do something or lose his good image.
Tamale had attacked almost all the prominent people in and out of government. His name had become associated with stints of blackmailing and attacking government employees including Ministers and UPDF Generals. He was recently embroiled in a court case with Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Works, Geoffrey Muganzi for alleged defamation on his radio talk shows.
He had grown too unpopular and it’s believed that it was a matter of time before his wings were trimmed. But during his television interview this morning, he said he was just doing his job by responding to anyone who attacked the president.
Tamale was also accused of having amassed too much unexplained wealth. He has got two palatial homes in the Kampala suburbs of Najanankumbi and Kyengera. He is also rumoured to own a fleet of taxis and owns large chunks of land in his country home. His detractors were therefore sending signals to the president that he might have irregularly accumulated more wealth that is spread in many parts of the country.
Another version of events that are about to bring down Tamale Mirundi are that, he was a victim of the intrigue that has dogged state house for so many years. And indeed it’s believed that his predecessors Hope Kivengere and Onapito Ekomoloit were all victims of the said intrigue. And it’s thought that his detractors had prepared Sarah Kagingo to takeover.
But Tamale Mirundi denied that there is any intrigue in State House even when the press has been highlighting them. On the other hand, Sarah Kagingo cooled matters by stating that there was no beef between the two. But even if there was no beef, someone can take your job, beef or no beef.
The other argument is that Tamale Mirundi had become a serial drunkard, contrary to the ethic of his boss President Museveni who is a known teetotaller. Social networks have been making fun of the spin doctor by saying that he was about to be sacked for drinking like a fish and eating pock in down town hideouts.
Lest I Forget
Tamale Mirundi could perhaps be considered as the first local journalist to have interfaced with Museveni’s rebel group then known as The National Resistance Army when he interviewed Gen Salim Saleh in 1985 for the defunct Munno newspaper.
After the war, Tamale continued with his journalism and even became a proprietor of media outlets that later collapsed. He contested a parliamentary seat back in Kyotera and lost. By the time he was appointed presidential press secretary, he was struggling to make ends meet. And he has since been the biggest braggart for the last eight years he has served as the PPS.
His looming sacking, if it ever comes to pass, will therefore come as a rude gesture to the man who has served President Museveni with all his heart and soul.
Fred Khadafi is a political analyst and commercial writer who can also be reached on 0704198310