NRM Caucus cuts Mbabazi’s powers

Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has this week seen his authority as ruling party secretary general reduced after MPs agreed to shift some of his responsibilities to a junior minister. According to the NRM Caucus spokesperson, Ms Evelyn Anite, the Prime Minister was relieved of exercising direct control over the party as the secretary general through a caucus resolution in Entebbe.

Mr Mbabazi’s functions will now be carried out by the much-younger Mr Richard Todwong, presently minister without portfolio in the Office of the President (for political mobilisation), until the next party elections in 2015. “We felt he (Mbabazi) has a lot of work and we decided that he works hand-in-hand with Todwong,” Ms Anite said.

Refuted allegations Speaking to the Daily Monitor, Mr Mbabazi yesterday refuted claims that he may have been dropped as secretary general. He maintained that the parliamentary caucus had no power to remove him from the post. “The caucus has no powers to replace me. Whenever we meet, there are always some people raising that. What we reiterated is that Mr Todwong will do more mobilisation and other things,” he said.

Sweeping proposals to change other NRM structures were also announced, including one which places a 45-year age limit for anyone who wants to contest for the secretary general job. This job will be up for grabs at the next delegates conference expected next year.

Although the caucus is believed to carry a lot of weight within the party, it is not a formal organ, meaning its resolutions are not binding. The resolutions will, however, be sent to the party’s Central Executive Committee which will have the final decision.

Reinforcing the PM’s view of things, Mr Todwong last night told this newspaper that: “I was requested to coordinate the activities of the party until the delegates conference decides otherwise. Mr Mbabazi is still the SG. The caucus has no powers to replace him. It is the delegates’ conference [that can replace him]”

According to the NRM constitution, one of the roles of CEC is to ensure that all part organs function properly and implement policies and decisions. It is also supposed to prescribe rules and regulations for the functioning and operation of special organs and caucuses.

The Entebbe developments come after close to a month of political tumult within the party with many MPs expressing discomfort over what they termed as Mr Mbabazi’s use of party structures to promote himself in preparation of a planned bid to run for the presidency in 2016. Over a fortnight ago, the MPs while at a 10-day retreat in Kyankwanzi accused the Prime Minister of quietly plotting to challenge President Museveni.

The MPs stampeded the Prime Minister into signing a resolution ring-fencing President Museveni as the sole candidate to be the party’s flag bearer come 2016. However, although the Prime Minister has sever times denied harbouring any such ambitions, a subsequent NRM caucus in Entebbe State House on Monday heard that the Premier’s wife, Ms Jacqueline Mbabazi, had been mobilising support for her husband.

According to an impeccable source who attended the Entebbe meeting, the President read out transcribed evidence off recordings in which people are heard undermining the President and urging that Mr Mbabazi be voted as the party leader.

Based on the evidence presented before the caucus, Ms Anite said, it was agreed to amend the party rules to ensure that whoever vies for the position of secretary general should not have a constituency and must also be below the age of 45. This amendment rules out Mr Mbabazi from ever running for the position since he is now 65 years old.

Meanwhile, the caucus also resolved that Ms Mbabazi, who is also the leader of the party’s women’s league and Ms Hope Mwesigye appear before the disciplinary committee.

Source: Daily Monitor

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