A parliamentary committee is considering a proposal to write to President Museveni urging him to sack Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. The MPs believe Mbabazi’s political clout has drastically diminished, especially after the ruling NRM denounced his perceived presidential ambition by endorsing Museveni as the sole candidate for 2016.
Speaking by telephone on Friday, the Presidential Affairs committee vice chairman and Eastern Youth MP, Peter Ogwang, said: “There is a problem in the Office of the Prime Minister [OPM] some ministers are not on talking terms with the prime minister, which is affecting their performance.
“It is the view of the committee that we write to the president recommending that the prime minister should be relieved of his duties. The matter was brought by Hon [Odonga] Otto [Aruu MP] and I, as the vice chairperson of the committee, have to abide by what the rest of the members are saying,” Ogwang said.
Debate on Mbabazi’s effectiveness as premier came up last Thursday, as the committee scrutinised the OPM’s ministerial policy statement. Otto said then that the OPM was in disarray. Mbabazi, he argued, could no longer call ministerial meetings.
“If he can’t call ministers to a meeting, he is no longer coordinating their activities, I don’t see any reason why we should put billions of shillings under his control when he can no longer perform his duties,” Otto reportedly told the committee.
“I think the committee should write to the president asking him to relieve Mbabazi of his duties because he has failed,” Otto reportedly added.
In the meeting, chaired by Col Fred Mwesigye (Nyabushozi) and attended by at least 14 committee members, Ogwang was the only audible voice in support of Otto’s suggestion. At least one other member played the suggestion down.
“It came as loose talk because it came from nowhere and I aised the committee that that would be overstepping our mandate because we haven’t gone to the field to assess whether there is performance or no performance,” said Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga (DP) on Friday.
“Besides, the committee has not received any formal complaint from any minister that his or her underperformance has anything to do with the inability of the prime minister. I think the committee is acting on rumours.”
He added that the committee, after all, did not make any binding decision.
But Ogwang said the letter calling for Mbabazi’s sacking would be sent to the president this week.
“We are seeking an appointment with him [Museveni] [so] that we can explain the reasons why Mbabazi [should be sacked], but why don’t you talk to Hon Otto because he is the initiator of this?” Ogwang said.
Otto declined to comment at the weekend.
But Josephine Mayanja-Nkangi, Mbabazi’s press secretary, said the MPs were free to write to the president.
“Sometimes it is good to do foolish things and expose your foolishness. The prime minister holds inter-ministerial meetings, several of them every week and it is what ties him down,” Ms Nkangi said. “And if they are waiting for him to resign, they will wait until hell freezes over.”
On Friday, a pro-NRM youth group marched to Parliament with a petition calling for Mbabazi’s resignation. The youths, all leaders of the National Youth Council, included Samuel Kavuma (chairman), Ibrahim Kitatta (treasurer), David Kabanda (publicity) and Blaise Kamugisha, leader of the Makerere University NRM chapter. They delivered the two-page petition to the clerk to Parliament, Jane Kibirige.
In the petition, the youths accuse Mbabazi, the leader of government business in Parliament, of failing to protect the image of the Uganda police.
“We are asking him to retract the statement and also honourably resign because by making the statement, he shot himself in the foot… ” Kitatta told The Observer on Friday.
“Instead of discussing sensitive security matters in the plenary [of Parliament], he should have addressed the matter with the minister of Internal Affairs. This confirms to us that he is not presidential material and, therefore, not fit to be prime minister,” Kitatta added.
During last Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Question Time, Mbabazi complained to Parliament that the police had arrested some of his supporters in Kanungu on trumped-up charges.
At least four people had been arrested on July 21 in connection with the burning of an amusement park belonging to Benson Karabareme (aka Karabu). Karabu was previously seen as a supporter of Mbabazi but has since switched allegiance to Museveni, who is seeking to be the party’s sole presidential candidate in 2016.
The youths’ two-page petition was written on July 21, two days before Mbabazi made the statements about his Kanungu supporters. This has raised suspicion among MPs, with some saying it could be aimed at unsettling the prime minister.
“It is misplaced it does not qualify to be a petition and I would, in fact, call it political noise designed to disorganise [Mbabazi] because they know that it is inconsequential,” Mpuuga said.
Government Chief Whip Justine Kasule Lumumba said it was not within Parliament’s mandate to cause the resignation of a prime minister.
“Parliament has no powers over a prime minister because even the Constitution has no provision on the resignation of the prime minister as the case is with the vice president and ministers,” Lumumba told us on Friday.
Parliament Public Relations Manager Helen Kawesa told The Observer that Speaker Rebecca Kadaga would study the petition and if it is found worthwhile, she will take appropriate action.
“Right now what we can do is to wait for the speaker’s reaction if she finds it adequate, she will channel it to the appropriate committee for action,” Kawesa said on Friday.
We have learnt that the petition and the MPs’ proposed letter to Museveni are part of a wider plan to further isolate Mbabazi from the main NRM support base. NRM sources said this hard-line stance follows at least two failed attempts to reconcile Mbabazi and the president over the former’s perceived presidential ambitions. Mpuuga seemed to concur with this view, when asked where the ‘political noise’ could be coming from.
“There is an insider job in this, I think Museveni is failing to find appropriate means of handling Mbabazi because in trying to lift his ambitions, Mbabazi is going to be compelled to come clean on so many issues like human rights abuses and corruption for which the NRM he has dearly served is known for,” Mpuuga argued.
The Observer has also learnt that Mbabazi’s isolation is brought on by his reluctance to promote the Museveni sole candidacy. Although other party MPs picked money for that purpose, Mbabazi has not, and the party gave him up to June 28 to pick the money or face sanctions.
“We are going to have a meeting of the national coordination committee [on the popularisation of the Kyankwanzi resolution] after Eid-el-Fitr to decide the way forward,” Lumumba said.
Source : The Observer