Although he remains evasive to any inquiry about his immediate political ambitions, behind closed doors, former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi is putting final touches on plans for a run for president, The Observer can reveal.
According to sources close to Mbabazi, the former NRM secretary general engaged local and international consultants to draft the election campaign manifesto he is currently discussing with his allies.
“We are consulting with various categories of people such as academics, civil society groups and politicians, among others,” one source said this week.
One such meeting, The Observer has learned, took place on Monday, after members of the Mbabazi western brigade, a group mobilizing political support for the former premier in western Uganda, presented gifts, including food items, to him at his Kololo residence.
The group, with representation from each of the 26 districts in western Uganda, also brought feedback about its grassroots activities. As he came out of his Kololo residence to welcome the group, Mbabazi seemed uncomfortable with the presence of journalists.
He made his displeasure known to the group leader Ellady Muaymbi.
“I don’t want to conduct my business in the public domain… we can’t have a deeper discussion in the presence of [journalists],”Mbabazi said.
Being elusive, analysts say, is a tactic Mbabazi is using to avoid being infiltrated by state agents. Having lost the likes of William Omodo-Omodo, Adam Luzinda Buyinza and Mukiibi-Sserunjogi to the president’s camp, Mbabazi is reportedly worried that more of his activists could be “bought off.”
“I can assure you that nothing is going to stop him from running for president. Whether he wins in NRM or not, expect to see him on the ballot paper,” said a former minister rumoured to be working with the ex premier.
His draft manifesto and campaign strategy are some of the issues that formed part of the deeper discussion with Mbabazi’s visitors on Monday. He is also said to have had similar discussions with other opposition figures in recent weeks. Among those he has met, according to a source familiar with the discussions, is former Buganda Katikkiro Joseph Mulwanyammuli Ssemwogerere, and the shadow minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Sseggona.
The manifesto, The Observer has been told, is based on the outcome of an assessment and evaluation exercise of government programmes and projects that Mbabazi commissioned about two years.
“That exercise gave us an understanding of the population’s perception and views on the various government interventions, and based on what we gathered, we sought expert aice on how best those programmes can be improved,” our source said.
The Observer understands that in the draft manifesto, Mbabazi promises to fix unemployment, giving insights into how many jobs his government hopes to create every year. Besides free education at all levels, he also promises a review of the current education curriculum to include courses that are relevant to Uganda.
This is in addition to establishing sports academies and international-standard stadia in all regions of the country. Mbabazi also promises to work on the affordability of social amenities such as electricity and safe water. Both Mulwanyammuli and Sseggona told The Observer yesterday that they were not at liberty to disclose details of their meeting with Mbabazi.
However, Sseggona said: “But if he has a manifesto, it can be reviewed, and if I find it convincing, then I can tell Ugandans to support him.”
Mbabazi appears to have aligned his strategy with the civil society organisations’ structure created during the electoral reforms campaign last year. Like the CSOs, Mbabazi has divided the country into 14 regions, each working under the direct supervision of the national secretariat.
Besides the national secretariat, there are regional, district, down to village-level teams.
“Each secretariat will have different units such as research, security, media, communications and technical experts. Everything is set although we are currently working under informal groups such as the 2011 flag bearers, poor youths and boda boda [cyclists],” our source said.
Mbabazi also reportedly has agents among MPs, civil service and ministers. He is, however, not relying so much on political groupings.
“We realized that they are not reliable, for instance, you cannot rely on an LC-V chairman who is also fighting for his political survival. That is why, at this stage, we are depending so much on the lowend groups and regional power brokers,” the source explained.
Source : The Observer