The NRM MPs’ plan to popularise President Museveni’s sole party candidacy going into the 2016 elections suffered a major setback on Friday.
Citing the recent aid cuts by donors, President Museveni told his party MPs’ caucus meeting at State House Entebbe that there was no money to finance what has come to be popularly referred to as the Kyankwanzi resolution. Donors scaled back their funding for the Kampala government in protest at Museveni’s assent to the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
On March 10, the caucus had agreed to hit their constituencies to sell the resolution adopted during the 10-day retreat at Kyankwanzi. The campaign was initially expected to kick-off on March 20. It was also meant to counter what the pro-Museveni camp sees as a campaign by the party’s secretary general, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, to promote his aspiration to lead the party into the 2016 elections.
“The president said that it had become unlikely that the budget [for the campaign] would be funded in the face of cuts in donor aid yet there are some other issues to which he wants to commit the resources,” a source told The Observer.
The caucus leadership, working with a government sub-committee headed by Information and National Guidance minister Rosemary Namayanja, had been tasked to draw up a budget for a two-week campaign.
The budget would then be sent to the party’s top decision-making organ, the Central Executive Committee (CEC), for approval. CEC, however, rejected the idea last week, telling Museveni that the Kyankwanzi resolution had damaged the NRM’s democratic credentials.
“We have resolved to [continuously] explain the achievements of NRM and the Kyankwanzi resolution,” the caucus’ Vice chairman, David Bahati, told The Observer at the weekend.
Last week, sections of the media reported that to run the campaign in their constituencies, each MP would get at least Shs 4m per sub-county. This, however, earned the government- controlled Vision Group sharp criticism from the caucus MPs, leading to a resolution demanding an apology.
“Members were concerned about that report they published [in The Sunday Vision of March 16] that we were given Shs 4m to hold the meetings at the sub-county level which is not true,” Bahati said.
“The report portrayed a bad image of us in the eyes of our constituents and, therefore, we resolved to refute reports by New Vision that we were given [the money], and demand an apology from them [Vision Group] for putting out wrong information,” he added.
The caucus also discussed the previous party primary elections and instituted a seven-man committee to investigate the irregularities that marred those primaries and report back to the caucus within one month. Museveni, sources said, wanted the probe team to be headed by Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, the party’s electoral commission chief, but the MPs rejected the idea.
“MPs are the ones who suffered [during the primaries], Rugunda may not even be knowing what happened we agreed that we put in place a team of MPs to do the investigation,” an MP told us.
The MPs’ team has Jim Muhwezi (Rujumbura), Felix Okot Ogong (Dokolo), Dr Chris Baryomunsi (Kinkiizi East) and Stephen Tashobya (Kajara). Others are Connie Galiwango (Mbale Woman), Rosemary Sseninde (Wakiso Woman) and Teopista Nabulya Ssentongo (Workers).
“We experienced a number of hiccups… this committee is going to study the previous primaries with a view of coming up with solutions on how to improve future elections,” Bahati said.
New taxes, salaries
The caucus also adopted the 201415 budget framework paper that proposes new taxes on processed milk, chocolate, sweets, chewing gum, computers, petroleum products, paraffin and wigs. The proposals were passed during a March 13 meeting of the presidential aisory committee on the budget, which Museveni convened at the Cabinet library.
The proposals included Shs 450bn to finance a 25 per cent salary rise for teachers, which the caucus has since rejected. Instead, the caucus has suggested that the money be used to cater for an across-the-board increment of salaries for all civil servants.
“After we passed the proposals [in the presidential aisory committee on budget], they went to cabinet and it is cabinet that made the changes… ,” a member of the committee told us on Saturday.
“That change means that the teachers will not get the 25 per cent increment that was promised to them because when you choose to distribute this money to all civil servants, that brings the percentage increase to something below 10 per cent,” the MP further said.
The 25 per cent increment for teachers was first opposed by some members of the aisory committee, such as Kyegegwa Woman MP Flavia Kabahenda Rwabuhoro who, in an earlier interview, said government was being unfair to other civil servants.
“Is it because the teachers make a lot of noise over their salaries? There is no way you can give a salary increment to only teachers and ignore health workers, police, drivers and all those lower-cadre civil servants,” Rwabuhoro said.
Source : The Observer