Less than a month after President Museveni dispatched NRM regional teams led by ministers in a move perceived to target Amama Mbabazi, the former prime minister’s camp has begun its own grassroots mobilisation.
The Observer has learnt that pro-Mbabazi NRM agents are moving to some of the districts that the pro-Museveni teams have already traversed and held meetings.
According to a senior NRM leader, who declined to be named so he could discuss the matter freely, intelligence information available to the party indicates that Mbabazi himself has not addressed any of the meetings, leaving the duty to his wife Jacqueline and an MP from eastern Uganda.
Like Mbabazi, his wife Jacqueline has kept out of the media since last month’s NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC) meetings in which she confronted the party chairman about his long stay in power. The Observer could not reach Mrs Mbabazi, who is the chairperson of the NRM Women’s League, for a comment.
However, Jacqueline admitted to the CEC that she previously mobilised for her husband who was fired as PM in September and then forced to go on leave as secretary general last month, all for nursing presidential ambitions.
On his part, the MP from eastern Uganda told The Observer that he has not “moved anywhere or met anyone” to campaign for Mbabazi. He rubbished the intelligence reports, calling them the work of people who want to make money from President Museveni.
“They have turned the Mbabazi-Museveni issue into a money-making venture. They are making a lot of money by submitting false reports to the president,” he said.
The MP added that his dealings with Mbabazi were in official capacity while the Kinkiizi West MP actively worked as the party’s secretary general.
“I have no dealing with him outside the official channels,” he said.
Another NRM source disclosed that more intelligence information so far shows that meetings involving Mbabazi’s sympathisers have taken place in Kampala and beyond.
“At least we know that they have met some people from Bukwo, Kween, Kapchorwa and Mbale,” the NRM leader said, adding that some of the meetings are allegedly convened at Mbabazi’s Kololo residence.
Mbabazi, 65, has not travelled to any of the upcountry meetings, we have been told, but during the Kololo meetings, he drops in for a short interaction with the delegates, mostly at lunch time.
“Our information shows that he had not addressed even meetings at his Kololo residence,” said the NRM leader. “He leaves them to the wife. He has not told them anything.”
When contacted for a comment on the matter, the vice chairman of the NRM parliamentary caucus, David Bahati, who has been part of the pro-Museveni groups traversing the country, said they were not bothered by what happens “on the other side” because of the support Museveni has among ordinary people.
“Party members have refused any propaganda to divide them so, we will continue to focus on the message of social transformation,” he said.
One of the upcountry meetings, held a week ago, took place at Water World club in Kalangala. According to a source that attended the meeting, the NRM secretary general’s sympathisers met at least 18 delegates and each received a transport facilitation of Shs 200,000.
“They are meeting a few delegates who then go on mobilising the other delegates [against the reforms in the NRM constitution],” said our source.
Last month, President Museveni, also NRM chairman, commissioned four minister-led NRM regional teams that he sent out on a countrywide mobilisation exercise to preach socio-economic transformation. However, it is widely believed that the real reason was to neutralise the support Mbabazi might have among NRM delegates at the grassroots, as the December 15 national conference looms.
The ministers carried a written message from their party chairman, Museveni, which has to be distributed up to the village level.
In some areas, the teams have met with open resistance from some of the grassroots leaders who are seemingly not happy with the way Mbabazi has been treated. For instance, during the Mityana district conference, Hajji Sulaiman Kantinti warned that the continued “witch-hunt” of the former premier is working against the party.
The Mbabazi teams, however, appear to be unshaken by Museveni’s message. Their main concern is the proposed amendments to the NRM constitution to be tabled next month.
“We understand that he is particularly concerned with the proposal to give the chairman powers to appoint the SG because this in essence will make the SG sort of an administrative secretary,” the NRM official told us.
The idea of having an appointed rather than an elected SG was suggested by the NRM caucus sub-committee that probed the controversies that marred the party’s previous primary elections. The acting SG, Dorothy Hyuha, on Wednesday issued a notice urging party members to suggest amendments to the NRM constitution.
Source : The Observer