Hours before High court justice Lydia Mugambe ruled yesterday to reject an application by Capt Daudi Ruhinda Maguru seeking to block the December 15 NRM delegates’ conference, embattled NRM Secretary General Amama Mbabazi’s camp was keenly following the developments at the Kampala High court, The Observer can reveal.
But when the judge threw out the application, the Mbabazi camp was forced back to the drawing board. Probably the Mbabazi camp would pick interest in another challenge against the NRM delegates’ conference lodged by two DP MPs Joseph Gonzaga Ssewungu (Kalungu West) and Brenda Nabukenya (Luweero Woman).
Maguru’s application was filed on November 15, accusing NRM and its leaders of failing to comply with the consent judgment signed before the then Principal Judge James Ogoola on October 25, 2010. The consent judgment arose out of a civil suit Maguru filed in October 2010 challenging Museveni’s election as NRM chairman and flag bearer in the 2011 elections.
Maguru had wanted to run against Museveni. Mbabazi’s in-law, Hope Mwesigye, who is also the party’s chairperson for Kabale district, told The Observer on Monday that they (Mbabazi camp) had keen interest in Maguru’s case among all the suits in court against the December 15 delegates’ conference.
“When you read that consent judgment, it is clear that Mr Museveni was illegally declared flag bearer because his election [as NRM chairman] was against the constitution of NRM, Uganda, and the Political Parties and Organizations Act [PPOA],” Mwesigye said.
In the consent judgment, the parties agreed to appoint five people each to settle the matter by consensus, set up an independent and competent NRM electoral commission that is free from manipulation. It was also agreed that an extra ordinary national conference would be convened within 10 months from the 2011 elections for purposes of electing the party leadership. This implies that NRM had to hold fresh elections for its national leaders in December 2011.
Minister Adolf Mwesige, who chairs NRM’s legal committee, and city lawyer Geoffrey Ntambirweki Kandeebe signed on behalf of NRM. Maguru and his lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi also signed.
“The import of that [consent judgment] is that Museveni is not rightfully the chairman of NRM and therefore has no powers to call any meeting on behalf of the party,” Rwakafuuzi told The Observer yesterday.
In court, Rwakafuuzi said that by refusing to fulfill its obligations in the consent judgment, NRM acted in contempt of court. He, however, failed to convince court on how his client would be affected if the party went ahead with the planned delegates’ conference.
In her ruling, Mugambe said that Maguru would not suffer any damage if NRM went on with the delegates’ conference since he can be compensated if he proceeded with another case he filed in the High court’s execution division. Mugambe concurred with NRM lawyer Kiwanuka Kiryowa that the party was likely to suffer irreparable damages if an injunction was issued against the delegates’ conference since it had already spent resources in its preparation.
“NRM is likely to lose a lot of money if an injunction is to be issued. In my view, the balance of convenience is with NRM, not the applicant,” Mugambe ruled.
The legal battle, however, seems far from over. Kiwanuka told The Observer that the party was studying Ssewungu and Nabukenya’s fresh challenge to the delegates’ conference. In their suit, the MPs are challenging the legality of the conference, on grounds that the Electoral Commission (EC) was not notified in aance or a notification published in the Uganda Gazette as required by law.
Under sections 10 and 11 of the Political Parties and Organizations Act (PPAO), EC has to publish the proposed changes to a political party’s constitution within 21 days.
“The NRM legal team is fully aware of the provisions of the law and what we have done is within the confines of the law,” Kiwanuka said.
Much as Kiwanuka claims that NRM sought an interpretation of both the national constitutional provisions and PPOA to ensure they act within the law, Mwesigye said there are attempts to circumvent the law.
“They are working in disregard of these provisions but even if they did, these matters of law will be argued out at Namboole because internal democracy must not be stifled,” Mwesigye said.
“Clearly there is no way NRM can say that this [Museveni] is a sole candidate without letting others to contest because that is not democracy as enshrined in our books of law,” Mwesigye said.
Risk of liquidation:
Rwakafuuzi said yesterday that he was going to appeal against Mugambe’s ruling but at the same time pursue the execution of the 2010 consent judgment. The consent judgment followed an October 22, 2010 meeting that Museveni had with Maguru at State House Entebbe, during which Museveni persuaded Maguru to withdraw a suit he had filed challenging Museveni’s election as the NRM presidential flag bearer.
Upon withdrawal of the case, Museveni offered to pay Maguru Shs 70m. Two days after the consent judgment was entered, Mwesige wrote to Museveni asking him to authorize Maguru’s payment. When he got no response from Museveni, Mwesige wrote to the president’s principal private secretary on September 2011 to further demand for the settlement of the pledge.
“On October 22, 2010, the president invited [Maguru] for a meeting to discuss an out-of-court settlement of the case. I attended the meeting in my capacity as chairman, NRM legal committee on the instructions of the secretary general, NRM,” Mwesige wrote.
“On October 25, 2010, the case was formally withdrawn by consent judgment. The purpose of this letter is to request you to honour the pledge of the president to pay costs to Capt Maguru,” Mwesige further wrote.
Two months later, on November 21, 2011, Rwakafuuzi wrote to Mbabazi (then secretary general) threatening to file a notice of execution of the consent judgment if the party did not pay his client within 30 days. With NRM not responsive, Rwakafuuzi filed another application on February 3, 2012, seeking orders that the NRM be wound up and liquidated after it (NRM) failed to honour its obligations in the consent judgment.
This was after he failed to trace any assets of the party nor an active bank account in its names.
Meanwhile, Hope Mwesigye told The Observer of a plot to remove some of the delegates from the register. According to a statement issued on November 20, by Dorothy Hyuha, the acting secretary general, the national delegates’ conference, according to Article 11 of the NRM constitution comprises of the national chairman, first national vice chairman, second national vice chairperson and the six regional vice chairpersons.
Others are members of the national executive committee, the secretary general and his deputy, the treasurer and deputy, members of the party’s executive committees at the district and municipal council levels and promoters of the NRM.
Also invited are members of the executive committees of the NRM branches in the diaspora, national secretaries, MPs, members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), historical leaders’ forum, national executive committees of special organs, NRM LC-V chairpersons, flag bearers at Parliamentary and district levels and heads of NRM structures from the sub- county to the district level.
As the party instructed resident district commissioners (RDCs) to start accrediting delegates, names of some party leaders under the listed categories were missing on the lists. During a press conference at the party headquarters on Monday, Hyuha warned party members against travelling to Namboole without accreditation.
Names of more than 50 delegates from districts in Masaka sub-region are not on the accreditation list.
“Many more have been omitted that is what I suffered last week at State House, and hadn’t I been assertive enough, they had thrown me out,” Mwesigye said.
Source : The Observer