Since February 2014 when the NRM Parliamentary caucus retreated to Kyankwanzi, the mood in the NRM party has been volatile.
What is happening in the ruling party has in the recent past been commonplace within the opposition parties.
But as leaders of the opposition seem to be putting their respective differences aside to jointly address Uganda’s bigger problems, the ruling party is having its share of bickering.
Anxiety has gripped the party members across the country and everybody is watching and speculating about the outcome of the apparent standoff and power struggle between President Museveni and his longtime trusted lieutenant, Amama Mbabazi, the NRM’s secretary general.
The Kyankwanzi endorsement for Museveni to run as a sole NRM presidential candidate seems not to have been a “brilliant idea” after all. It requires a massive two-week popularization programme led by the NRM MPs. You and me, the sole taxpayers, will be compelled to pay for this reckless expenditure and at the same time pay the parliamentarians for not performing their legislative roles.
The party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) in its wisdom has rubbished the idea, pointing out that this absurd move will not only make the NRM very unpopular, but clearly demonstrate the lack of internal democracy.
We are aware that some NRM MPs have begged the president to pay off their personal loans, a request which he blatantly turned down as unreasonable. Considering now his precarious position in the party, with a defiant Mbabazi, Museveni is slowly reconsidering the Shs 150 million loan repayment for each of his supportive MPs after Kyankwanzi.
The gullible MPs, who believe they did a commendable job of delivering to Museveni an assured retention of his job without any competition, are demanding compensation. They have put their basket of demands on the table expecting an automatic “yes” from the country’s number one citizen. Each of the MPs wants a Shs 50m bribe to carry out a mock two-week tour of their constituencies to popularise the Kyankwanzi resolutions.
For once, Ugandans should be grateful to the prompt response and pressure from the civil society activists and leaders of opposition that condemned the move. Museveni has told the MPs that there is no money for “Project Kyankwanzi Resolution”. However, do not take it on face value that money will be found and the MPs will get their ‘cut’ for the Kyankwanzi assignment which was so eloquently delivered through Evelyn Anite’s dramatic performance.
The second demand, which is equally outrageous, is the “Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Extension Bill 2014”. The scheming MPs clearly know that due to their mediocre performance, the majority are unlikely to retain their seats in 2016. So the easiest way out of this debacle is to come up with a piece of legislation that will automatically keep the entire leadership of NRM in power.
The only saviour for Ugandans would have been the opposition, but majority of MPs do not have the muscle to fight such a move on the floor of Parliament. This is not only because of their minority status, but some would inaertently support the NRM stance, since they too could be beneficiaries of the loan relief scheme. The end losers will be the majority of Ugandans who are heavily paying for no job done and are disenchanted with the lack of public service delivery.
The MPs justify the extension as a means to “complete important constitutional and electoral reforms and also save money for the cash-strapped Ugandan government by postponing the election”.
The proposed bill has been in the offing since 2005 and it was first mooted by James Kakooza (MP, Kabula). Now it is being marketed by Robert Ssekitoleko (Independent MP), who is being described by the outspoken NRM Spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, as a “hitherto obscure, mischievous Member of Parliament seeking cheap fame.”
In Sunday Vision, March 23, Opondo appeals to Ugandans to dismiss Ssekitoleko’s proposal as baseless and mere wishful thinking. It has taken the NRM leadership over a week to refute such a “mischievous” scheme and only after receiving a barrage of attacks from the public.
Whom should Ugandans believe? An elected MP who is definitely in the know of the pending parliamentary business or Ofwono Opondo and minister of Gender, Mary Karooro Okurut, who are diligently carrying out their routine public relations job for the NRM party?
As a free thinking Ugandan and listening to sources that I consider to be reliable, I’m convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Uganda’s constitution is again being abrogated.
The leaders of the ruling party are in total support of the move since their own constitution and party structures have been declared null and void with the illegal endorsement of Museveni’s single candidature. We should, therefore, expect all other party positions in the NRM, including parliamentary positions, to continue being occupied by the incumbents, unless God rules otherwise.
The writer, a former member of EALA, is now a human rights activist.
Source : The Observer