Confusion as Ugandan embassy in Brussels ‘hijacks’ Twitter account of Kigali High Commission

Mirjam Blaak new Ugandan EAC Passports

On Tuesday, the National Technology Authority (NITA-U) rolled out a 3-month program dubbed E-Government Excellence Awards, a heavy project aimed at inspiring government entities to up their game in adopting electronic service delivery.

On the face of it, it’s supposed to be obvious to anyone living in this day and age that embracing the digital world and aggressively using it is the way to go, hence there shouldn’t be an Award to honor people who have embraced it, more so the government directing taxpayers’ money to the cause.

If you thought so, this story might change your mind.

Uganda has an embassy in Brussels. That embassy has a website which people are supposed to visit to get updates and information. But there is a lot of outdated information on the website.

For instance, there’s a link that directs you to the Cabinet of Uganda. When you click on it, you’ll land on a page that shows that Frank Tumwebaze, now ICT and National Guidance minister, is still a Minister of Presidency; that Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, now minister of science, technology, and innovation, is a minister of Health. It has been three years since these people occupied those positions.

Actually, all people who switched positions in the past three years or were kicked out of the cabinet are still holding those positions, according to the Ugandan Embassy in Brussels. For instance, Maria Mutagamba passed in 2017 and she’s still listed as Minister of Tourism and Wildlife and John Nasasira now serving a different role is still displayed as a Minister of Communication & Information Communication Technology.

The other disturbing thing on the Embassy’s website is the Twitter icon which links you to the Twitter account of the Uganda High Commission in Kigali. That account has over 3000 followers and was last updated on May 17.

The other social media icons (Facebook, YouTube, and GooglePlus, ahem) don’t work, i.e. links are broken.

Speaking to this website on why the website was holding outdated information, Ambassador Arthur Kafeero, the acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said he was not aware of this.

We were not able to immediately get a comment from officials at the Embassy.

It is important to state that in May of 2013, the Cabinet of Uganda directed the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT) to ensure that every Government Ministry, Department, and Agencies (MDAs) opens a Twitter and Facebook account to improve communication with the Public.

Reason: “The Government of Uganda is committed to the principles of Open Government, which means transparency in process and informed participation by citizens in the governing process public collaboration in finding solutions to problems, and participation in the improved well-being of the citizens,” reads a statement on the National Information Technology Authority – Uganda (NITA-U) website.

Despite this directive and some government entities allocating a budget for optimizing the digital world to serve people, we’ve seen a lot of reluctance and, in some cases, those who have tried, officials end up taking over these accounts when leaving office. The latest perpetrators of this evil are Jennifer Musisi, former KCCA Executive Director and Gen. Kale Kayihura, former Inspector General of Police.

Who heads the Ugandan Embassy in Brussels?

Mirjam Blaak is Uganda’s ambassador to Brussels, Belgium. She also represents the East African nation in other Benelux countries: The Netherlands and Luxemburg.

Though she’s a Dutch by birth, Blaak fell in love with Uganda after playing a pivotal role in the Ugandan Bush War led by President Yoweri Museveni and was consequently naturalized. She met Museveni while she worked with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), serving its unit in Kenya, according to a portrait written by the Observer in 2014.

In the war that lasted six years, Mirjam Blaak helped Museveni relocate his family, saved lives of later-to-be Ugandan Prime Ministers Amama Mbabazi and Ruhakana Rugunda, the portrait says.

She also married Ronald Bata, the first deputy minister for Defence under Museveni’s government.

She has represented Uganda in the Benelux nations since 2013.


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