Public revelations of the political figures that the First Lady delegated to represent her abroad at taxpayer expense have raised questions about her legal capacity to do so and her role in state matters.
In July and August of this year, Vice President Jessica Alupo is Uganda’s second-highest-ranking citizen, according to the Constitution. She claimed that Ms Janet Museveni had asked her to represent at an event in the country and once more in Israel.
Given that a Cabinet minister such as Ms Kataha is nine levels under a Vice President in Uganda’s National Order of Precedence, a delegation acting in a ministerial position would severely impact the established order.
Alupo is only outclassed as vice president by President Museveni, who, in his formal capacity, has precedence over other Ugandans and is granted full executive authority by the nation’s fundamental legislation.
Additionally, he has the power to appoint anyone to serve as an emissary for the state at home or abroad.
No law in Uganda, including the Constitution, establishes the Office of the First Lady, which in other countries like the United States is a powerful but non-executive role. According to constitutional lawyer Peter Walubiri, this is because there is no legal requirement that a head of state should be married.
The first Lady’s use of state power outside the Education ministry has expanded and is seen, among other things, in the tasks she gives Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, who is in charge of overseeing all ministers and coordinating government operations across ministries.
She is two levels above Ms Kataha, a cabinet minister, at number eight on the National Order of Precedence.
The spokesperson and communication advisor at the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Julius Mucunguzi, emphasised that As Uganda’s First Lady in delegating the premier, Ms Kataha was acting in her capacity.
The president of the Republic of Uganda is formed under Chapter Seven of the Constitution on the Executive, and Article 98 (1) of the Constitution designates the office bearer as the head of the state and government, commander-in-chief of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces, and source of honour.
Similar to how the Vice President is designated as the president’s replacement and acting leader in Article 108 of the supreme law, the Prime Minister is covered by the 2010 Emoluments and Benefits of the President, Vice President, and Prime Minister acts as well as the National Order of Precedence.
Leading lawyer Walubiri said that the President’s private matters should be kept private and his wife has no role in public affairs. It is not right in the protocol for her to delegate the government leaders. He also argued that it is like an insult to delegate the seniors.
The chief legal advisor to the government, Attorney General (AG) KIryowa Kiwanuka, argued that there is nothing improper with a person in an unofficial position delegating senior government officers in their official capacity.
The First Lady only has precedence in the hierarchy when the President is present. He added that nowhere in the legislation does it state that a junior cannot delegate to a senior.
Former Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda or Foreign Affairs Minister, Gen Jeje Odongo had made any comments regarding these queries.
The president of Uganda Law Society, Mr Bernard Oundo, said that the First Lady’s delegation of senior officials is not a matter of law.
Ms Kataha raised the profile of the First Lady before entering politics in 2011 as minister for Karamoja Affairs and Member of Parliament for the Ruhaama constituency in the Ntungamo District.
She was passionate about advancing socioeconomic, youth and women’s issues as well as health-related issues.
Ms Kataha founded the Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans (Uweso), a frontline non-governmental organisation, in the same year she returned to Uganda after living as a refugee in Sweden during her husband’s successful guerilla war that led to the capture of state power in Uganda in 1986.
This organisation supports both refugees and families affected by HIV/AIDS as well as those who have fled their home country.
She has also taken action to help rural women escape poverty through a different NGO she formed the National Strategy for Advancement of Rural Women in Uganda (NSARWU).
The First Lady, who describes herself as a declared and active Christian, is a member of OAFLA, an organization of first ladies fighting HIV/AIDS across all of Africa.
First Ladies have been well-liked in the United States, where they have served as role models for how American women should dress, speak, and style their hair. Despite being unpaid and unelected, the first ladies have the prominence that gives them a platform from which to influence behaviour and opinion.
Some former first ladies have influenced legislation on significant issues including women’s rights, housing reform, and temperance reform.
The First Lady is a ceremonial title given to the hostess of the White House, who is typically the wife of the president who is in office. The president’s term in office determines how long she will serve as First Lady.