Drama At State House

As electoral reform activitists were meeting at Hotel Africana for a three-day consultative dialogue, President Museveni was mobilising NRM local government representatives at State House Entebbe. Multiple sources that attended the Entebbe meetings have told The Observer that Museveni indicated that he needs more time to correct the wrongs that were put in both the Ugandan and NRM constitutions.

“At the time of making [the 1995] Constitution, I was busy with security issues that the makers of that constitution did not consult me and ended up putting in too many unnecessary things,” Museveni is quoted to have told a delegation from western Uganda on Tuesday.

“Even the NRM constitution was hurriedly done. I think I need time to put my feet down and normalise the constitution,” Museveni said.

This particular meeting followed an earlier one on Monday when he met the Kampala delegation. Later on Wednesday, the president met a delegation from 23 Buganda districts. Upon arrival, each delegate was given an eleven-page document titled, Building the institutional capacity of NRM for competitive group politics. The unsigned document detailed plans for amending the NRM constitution.

“That document belongs to the NRM party,” said David Bahati (Ndorwa West), who was the master of ceremonies.

Military roots:

However, a section of NRM leaders from 26 western Uganda districts heckled the president when he attacked his former confidant, Amama Mbabazi. Museveni said that with 30 leaders in the NRM structures up to the village level across the 57,000 villages in country, the party should be assured of at least 1.5 million supporters.

But he lamented that “the party is not moving because we had a weak secretary general,” remarks that attracted murmurs from a cross section of the audience. A female delegate from one of the Kigezi districts shot up to take on the president on his claim but this attracted Museveni’s ire.

“You woman, keep quiet. There is time for shouting. Let me finish my speech,” the president reportedly said.

When normalcy returned, Museveni reminded the meeting that the NRM came to power through bloodshed.

“I am a Ssabalwanyi [fighter], and I did not spend five years in the bush for nothing,” Museveni said. “The UPDF still needs me for guidance… even a fool knows that the NRM [government] is built on the foundation of the army.”

‘Lucky’ woman:

Making reference to past NRM electoral victories, Museveni boasted of having unified the country, and warned that he would not allow anybody to tear it apart.

“Uganda is lucky to have me. It is, therefore, not acceptable at all for anybody to play around with this unity that we have built,” he said. “We are having a stable country but some people are trying to bring enjaayi [marijuana]. We will not tolerate them.”

After the president’s speech, Bahati presented names of what he called regional representatives who would be allowed to speak. The list had Kanungu district chairperson Josephine Kasya as the representative for Kigezi, Bushenyi’s Willis Bashaasha for Ankole and Ntoroko’s Timothy Kyamanywa for Tooro.

However, the selection sparked off protests, with some delegates asking Bahati to explain how he had chosen them. Kasya spoke mainly about infrastructural challenges in Kanungu while Bashaasha and Kyamanywa moved that the meeting resolves to back Museveni’s sole candidacy and the proposed reforms to the NRM constitution.

That proposal, we have been told, sparked off more protests. Some delegates, while hiding their heads behind chairs, shouted “no, no, no.”

Bemused by the reaction, President Museveni returned to the microphone and told the meeting that the NRM amendments would be discussed “at the right time.”

More drama:

Each of the districts had been given a bus to transport its delegates to Entebbe. From each district, the president invited chairpersons of the party from the sub-counties, elected NRM district councillors and flag bearers as well as NRM district chairpersons and their LC-V counterparts.

The lists were compiled by the resident district commissioners (RDCs), and each of the invitees was asked to come with passport photographs. Mbabazi’s sister-in-law Hope Mwesigye, who is the NRM chairperson for Kabale, was not invited. The organisers instead invited her deputy, Louis Bazirakye.

Mwesigye drove to Entebbe but was blocked at the State House main gate as she was not on the list of invited guests.

“The soldiers checked the list and told me that I was not there, but I told them that I was part of the meeting as the party chairperson for Kabale,” Mwesigye told The Observer on Thursday.

“I am not dead and I am not out of the country why would some other person represent me?” she wondered.

Mwesigye protested at the gate and, in the process, a senior Special Forces Command officer came and identified her. After making some phone calls, she was let in. We have also learnt that some Kigezi delegates had a burst-up with SFC soldiers over the stringent security measures.

All male delegates were required to remove their belts but matters got worse when the soldiers confiscated cooked food that some of them had carried to State House.

Buganda meeting:

While meeting the Buganda delegation on Wednesday, Museveni tipped them on the 2016 elections, aising them to promote their election bids using government programmes in their respective districts. He promised that government would start paying local government councillors a salary effective next financial year.

He also took a swipe at Mbabazi’s predecessor in the Prime Minister’s Office, Prof Apolo Nsibambi, who he accused of causing government losses because of his bureaucratic policies.

“His was too bureaucratic that he cost us a good investor who wanted to help us with some of these development projects,” Museveni said.

The unnamed German investor, Museveni said, was so rich that he could finance the national budget for some years. During the meeting with the Kampala delegation, Museveni was told that he should not expect votes from the city in the next elections thanks to the activities of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Executive Director Jenifer Musisi and minister for the Presidency and Kampala Frank Tumwebaze.

The delegates from each of the Kampala divisions carried written memoranda accusing the city bosses of brutalising vendors, which they said had injured NRM’s popularity in the city. The Observer has learnt that each of the delegations came with at least 1,000 people and each delegate was given a take-home package of Shs 400,000.

Source : The Observer

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