A meeting called to consult NRM leaders in Kamuli ahead of the party’s national conference ended in chaos after some local leaders challenged the party on sidelining Amama Mbabazi, its secretary general.
The meeting, held on Tuesday (November 18) at Kamuli youth centre, was organised by the party secretariat to sell to members of the district conference the idea of amending their party constitution at next month’s delegates’ conference. At the centre of the fight was the government Chief Whip, Justine Kasule Lumumba, and Thomas Kategere, a national executive committee member, who was NRM’s candidate in the race for LC-V chairman that was lost to FDC’s Salaamu Musumba.
The point of contention was whether the NRM chairman should be given powers to appoint the party’s secretary general. Amama Mbabazi, who was fired as prime minister in September, was also NRM’s elected secretary general until he was edged out of his job and sent on leave till after the NRM national delegates’ conference scheduled for December 15.
Mbabazi’s troubles are believed to be connected to his undeclared presidential ambitions. Changing the rules in favour of an appointed secretary general is an attempt to get him off the job completely and extinguish his aspirations within NRM completely.
The district NRM leadership comprises of the party district chairman and the executive, NRM district councillors, NRM party sub-county chairpersons, and leaders of the leagues (PWDs, women, youths, entrepreneurs and veterans), among others.
The meeting was thrown into chaos after Kategere accused Kasule Lumumba of using demeaning and vulgar language. Lumumba’s crime was to state that she was “very sure the NRM will not lose even if the people of Busoga decide not to support it” in the 2016 general elections.
Her angry outburst was triggered by Kategere, who in reaction to her speech told her to “go and tell the president that there is no need to change the NRM constitution to serve the interest of an individual.”
In an interview with The Observer yesterday, Kategere confirmed the confrontation, but said all they did was “pull” one another.
“Yes, we pulled one another with Lumumba because she was not respecting Busoga and not appreciating the support this sub-region has given to the NRM in the past,” said Kategere.
Before the confrontation, Kategere had told the consultative meeting that giving powers to the chairman to appoint a secretary general would mean that NRM has deviated from some of its ideals. This didn’t go down well with the Lumumba team that included Capt Mike Mukula (vice chairman, Eastern), MPs Milton Muwuma (Kigulu South), Peter Ogwang (Youth, Eastern) and some five party officials from the secretariat.
Kategere angered Lumumba further when he said that instead of wasting resources on such consultations, the party leadership should fully constitute the secretariat.
“Our party constitution provides that we shall have five directors for administration, mass mobilisation, doctrine, publicity and finance but at the moment the secretariat has only one director, Mr Hassan Galiwango (Finance),” Kategere charged.
When Lumumba couldn’t take it any longer, she shot up. The government chief whip told members on top of her voice that President Museveni had been winning even when he didn’t get the support of sub-regions such as Acholi, Teso and Lango.
“So if Busoga wishes not to support him, I tell you he will win again and again,” she declared.
But Lumumba’s statement did not keep Kategere down.
“Learn to respect people. Don’t take Busoga for granted, we may keep quiet but take a decision. Don’t provoke us to leave NRM like we left UPC and DP,” he retorted.
The meeting ended prematurely after that exchange. Kamuli district NRM party chairman, Samuel Bamwoole, later told The Observer that Lumumba’s words had prompted many members to engage in a shouting match with her, before walking out of the meeting.
Those who walked out included Muzaale (Buzaaya MP) and party mobilisers Hajji Badru Watongola and Hajjati Rehema Watongola.
“If the likes of Lumumba are the people representing President Museveni to the public, then we must think otherwise. We admire Mbabazi and we have no doubt that he can make a good president,” said Kategere.
Source : The Observer