President Museveni on Monday defied predictions and appointed a relatively young team to the top leadership of the ‘new’ ruling party, weeding out the old generation, in a strategic purge, political watchers said, signals a new shift in ‘generational leadership’ on whom the NRM leader is intent on leaning ahead of the 2016 polls.
Others who talked to Daily Monitor yesterday see the new line up, as a move away from President Museveni’s western bloc intended to reach out to the other regions that were perceived to be marginalised in the leadership of the ruling party. Whether this will pay any dividends for the party, they analysts said, remains to be seen.
In a ‘new’ party secretariat that is a little more female, Mr Museveni appointed Bugiri Woman MP Justine Kasule Lumumba (Government Chief Whip) as the new secretary general, replacing Amama Mbabazi. The President also appointed Nakaseke Woman MP Rose Namayanja (Information minister) as party treasurer, replacing Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde.
Giving context to the appointment of the new team, the NRM vice spokesperson, Mr Ofwono Opondo, told Daily Monitor yesterday that the NRM’s Central Executive Committee (CEC), the top decision-making organ, had in a recent meeting adopted a proposal that the new secretary general should not be above 45 years as a way of luring the youth back to the party.
Sources who attended the CEC meeting told Daily Monitor that a follow-up meeting will convene on January 7 to conclude on the membership of an expanded CEC. The National Executive Committee is expected to sit on January 8 to approve the nominees. This will be followed by a Cabinet reshuffle since the new amendments to the NRM constitution demand that the members of NRM Secretariat should not hold elective offices.
Daily Monitor understands that all the four appointed individuals qualified for the position of the secretary general but NEC members in consultation with the party chairman designated them to the various roles. Mr Opondo confirmed this.
“Although the chairman submitted the four names for the position of the SG, the actual designation was done by CEC members. They discussed all the names and came to a conclusion that the secretary general should be Ms Lumumba,” Mr Opondo said.
Weighing in on the meticulousness of the new secretary general in light of the challenges ahead, Mr Nicholas Opiyo, a lawyer, said: “In the new SG, they have a brass, divisive and sometimes reckless person who may have to dod a lot of timing of her rough edges to be able to build a consensus in the party and drive it forward.”
Other sources told Daily Monitor that Ms Lumumba was appointed SG on account of age and that as Government Chief Whip in Parliament, she has successfully reduced indiscipline of NRM members. Other CEC members said, Ms Lumumba has been “the most effective Government Chief Whip” and that the job of chief whip is almost similar to that of the secretary general.
Mr Museveni also selected Nwoya MP, Richard Todwong (minister Without Portfolio) to replace Ms Dorothy Hyuha as the deputy secretary general and picked Kaberamaido MP, Dr Kenneth Olusegun Omona to replace Mr Katongole Singh as the deputy treasurer. Makerere University don Tanga Odoi has been appointed chairperson NRM Electoral Commission, replacing Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, who was appointed PM in September.
Museveni nominates Mbabazi
In trying to fix things, the NRM leader also reached out to John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, proposing his name for a slot in the expanded Central Executive Committee. However, it’s not yet clear whether Mr Mbabazi, who is expected to announce his presidential bid for 2016 polls “at an appropriate” time, will accept the offer.
The NRM National Conference on December 15 approved a proposal to expand the membership to the party’s CEC and 10 names would be proposed where NEC would pick five.
“I am happy with the appointment and I will work with sincerity to serve my party. I will work with guidance from President Museveni, the secretary general and others since my track record has never been doubted,” Dr Tanga Odoi
“I am a loyal cadre of the NRM party and my appointment is a big challenge because it comes at a time when we need to reactivate and rejuvenate the party with a view of reaching out to our people at the grassroot. The party leadership wants to test our quality and I know we will deliver because all we have is a committed team,” Richard Todwong
“I take my appointment with great humility. Much as the party allowed me to represent my people in the House, I have always done what the party has wanted me to do. As a cadre, I will serve in this capacity for the good of my party,” Dr Kenneth Omona.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor