Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Museveni, Mbabazi and the power struggle within NRM Uganda ruling party.The ruling party leaders yesterday asked American President Barack Obama to stop the “bullying mentality” by threatening to cut aid to Uganda if President Museveni signs a Bill that seeks to make gay-sex punishable with life imprisonment.The NRM Parliamentary Caucus leadership headed by Chief Whip Justine Lumumba was addressing journalists on the 22 resolutions from the Kyankwanzi retreat.

Responding to threats from Obama that his country and Uganda’s relationship would be “complicated” if President Museveni assents to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Ms Lumumba said: “Obama should know that Uganda is a sovereign state with its own cultures.We cannot be intimidated. We got views of the scientists on this matter and if the aid from the US is accompanied with homosexuality, we don’t want it. We can manage with our little resources; the good thing the budget is now financed 80 per cent by ourselves.”Members reminded President Obama that Ugandans were “tired of lectures on homosexuality” and that they should not be treated like “children”

Days after the ruling National Resistance Movement’s  parliamentary caucus resolved to front President Museveni as the sole candidate in the 2016 polls, senior officials of the party’s youth league have re-opened the matter, nominating Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi for the same position.Addressing a news conference yesterday at Makerere University Guesthouse, the NRM Youth league, through its national executive committee, revealed yesterday that what transpired in Kyankwanzi, when party MPs appeared to have been stampeded into endorsing Mr Museveni, was illegal.They said the Kyankwanzi declaration was a violation of what the NRM constitution stipulates on how a candidate is chosen. “We want to take this opportunity as NRM youth league executive committee on behalf of the NRM youth league structures from village to national level to reject the Kyankwanzi illegal resolution and ask all NRM youth and all NRM party cadres to condemn the Kyankwanzi position,” reads a statement signed by Mr Omodo Omodo, the chairperson youth league, Northern Region, on behalf of the youth league.Mr Omodo said the resolution was wrongly adopted because the parliamentary caucus has no mandate under the party constitution to approve such a sensitive issue.
Favouritism cited
The youth say the action was, therefore, tantamount to favouritism or nepotism by giving preferential treatment to any personal advantage contrary to the provisions of section 4 (1k) of the NRM constitution.The NRM is fighting to maintain a public show of unity amidst reports that a political alliance between the President and his Prime Minister spanning decades is coming to an end and, with it, a looming split in the party.A senior member of NRM’s top decision-making organ, the Central Executive Committee (CEC), last evening described the youth league’s position as “interesting”. Mr Francis Babu, who represents Kampala region in the party, told the Daily Monitor that the contest between the Kyankwanzi group and the Youth League is healthy for the party.
He, however, said there is no clashing between the two groups and urged others interested to compete for any other post, including that of the party chairperson, to show their interest.“Every individual is free to nominate whoever he or she wants to contest and this is an interesting contest. The people in Kyankwanzi had their reason and those who were blocked have their reason. Since they said in Kyankwanzi that there are people plotting quietly but are now coming out, let us wait and see,” Mr Babu said.The youth yesterday said they want an explanation from what they called the perpetrators, sponsors, movers and seconders of the Museveni-sole-candidate motion and all those who endorsed it.“And above all, we hold our party chairperson (Mr Museveni) accountable and responsible for presiding over such an illegal proceeding where the NRM constitution was violated. The proposal was not debated at all by the members of NRM caucus yet they had enough time to do so,” the statement further reads.It continued “We need an explanation why it was just passed without debate. This is really against out party constitution and how on earth can such resolution be adopted without debate and what was the agenda?”
Violated code of conduct
The youth said the parliamentary caucus is a legislative group of the party and it is only allowed to debate on issues that will be tabled on the floor of Parliament. Similarly, the statement read out to national media in Kampala noted that the MPs sitting in Kyankwanzi violated rule 6 (A2) of the NRM code of conduct which commits all party members and leaders at all levels to use persuasion rather than command language.
Majority vote
The caucus resolution was a command imposed on the majority members of the party, they observed. “The act by the NRM caucus in Kyankwanzi which was supported by our party chairman is a clear indication of the existence of cliques in our party and we now believe that our MPs and some party leaders violated the NRM constitution section 4 (1a) which prohibits members engaging in the formation of cliques, factions or … in any intrigue within NRM”The youth argued that because caucus has played a central role under the watch of the party chairperson to disunite NRM, it is within their constitutional mandate as the youth league to fight clique formation, intrigue and propaganda detrimental to the interests of the party.
Two decisions made in quick succession of one another create a toxic mix that will likely domestically bolster President Museveni but sour his relations internationally.The decision by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) caucus in Parliament to endorse Museveni for a fifth elective term in office as President, and his payback by agreeing to sign onto the anti-homosexuality Bill passed by Parliament in December 2013, have set the stage for what could see growth in President Museveni’s domestic ratings but a sharp drop in his international profile.US President Barack Obama said he was “deeply disappointed,” in a swift response to Mr Museveni’s apparent capitulation on the Bill which he declined to sign in December.Obama warned: “As we have conveyed to President Museveni, enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda.” That statement is likely to tie in with a perception in the West that a leader who has stayed in power for 30 years or more is no longer good for business.
A strong pro-gay lobby meeting receptive ears in the US White House, and a powerful media machinery, means a likelihood that, going forward, Mr Museveni will be projected not as the once “new breed of African leader” but an autocrat and intolerant ruler who has manipulated his way to staying in power for life at the cost of not just political rights to freedom of assembly as expressed in the treatment of political opponents but also hostile to freedom.Dr Phillip Kasaija Apuuli, an International Law expert, observes that as much a Uganda is not unique in passage of this legislation, and that the president tried to cushion himself against criticism by first seeking expert opinion, the question that remains is whether the country will be able to withstand the pressure caused by the powerful anti-gay lobby, especially on financing.
Dr Kasaija says that though the government has projected stable financial growth rates over the next few years, continued scaling down of donor budget support will have an impact.He expressed concern that the gay lobby might actually pour money into the country but not for government support.Dr Kasaija noted that taken together, gays rights and other human rights can trigger very bad ratings quoting a recent gay rights barometer that scored Uganda poorly on all 14 indicators.Mr Museveni’s bigger concern, however, will be western media which is likely to link everything together to create a caricature of an ageing autocratic ruler intolerant of any and everything.The coverage of the winter Olympics in Russia give just a pointer to what is likely to follow Mr Museveni’s decisions over the last one week. Every little mistake is likely to gain a life of its own.The Western world’s tendency of dumping leaders who have been two decades in power or longer means Mr Museveni will be easy prey but this is exactly what leaders who have stayed long in power love, global (Western) distaste is easily exploitable for domestic gain.A leader rallying and perceived to be hated by the West because of new-found oil wealth and a high moral pedestal like rejection of homosexuality is a good sale to conservatives that many Ugandan tend to be.
Mr Museveni is also lucky to enjoy the support of the religious community in both the traditional churches and mosques as well as the born again movement that will certainly tend to ignore his political and economic failings and hail him as a defender of the country’s morality.Last week, what was ostensibly a retreat at Kyankwanzi by the ruling NRM party to review its policies and performance turned into an impromptu annual delegates’ conference and party primary election. It also was, in a sense, a purge, by which the loyalty of party members was put once and for all to the test.The two main national daily newspapers, the Daily Monitor and New Vision, on February 13 led with the headlines that the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi had backed President Museveni as the party’s candidate for the 2016 general election. That was in itself both strange and revealing. Why should Mbabazi backing Museveni make such news? Was Mbabazi not expected to back Museveni?
This was the purpose of the Kyankwanzi meeting: a serious power struggle has been developing within the NRM and reported by several gossip newspapers, but at Kyankwanzi, it finally became public.
This power struggle is between two factions of the party, the first loyal to Museveni and the other to Mbabazi. It was the first clear indication that contrary to all outward appearances, Museveni no longer commands the near-total control over the NRM as he once did. The media correctly reported the Kyankwanzi meeting as being all about Mbabazi.The NRM since its bitter delegates’ conference in August 2010 has become much like what we saw in Kenya after 1992 where a party called FORD was split into two, FORD-Kenya and FORD-Asili. In this instance, what Uganda has today is NRM-Museveni and NRM-Mbabazi. How did this come to be, when it was always assumed that Museveni has led the NRM practically unchallenged since early 1985, following the death of the NRM chairman Yusufu Lule?
Mbabazi – the NRM’s Paulo Muwanga 
To answer this question, we must understand who Mbabazi is. In recent years, he has been the Secretary-General of the NRM and Prime Minister of Uganda. But there is much more to him than that. He has always wielded behind-the-scenes power that is hard to explain. His power goes beyond the office he holds at any one time. Who is Amama Mbabazi?For many years since 1986, the Ugandan media and political commentators regarded Museveni as the number one political power in the country. At various times, Museveni’s brother Gen Salim Saleh, his childhood classmate the late Eriya Kategaya, at some point the Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa and even the First Lady Janet Museveni as the effective number two in Uganda’s pecking order of influence and power.
After the NRM seized state power in 1986, Mbabazi was named the Director-General of the External Security Organisation, Uganda’s foreign intelligence agency. The Director-General of the Internal Security Organisation, Brig Jim Muhwezi, was always in the limelight, pictured at parties and public events. But Mbabazi was largely unknown to and unseen by the public. He later became the Minister of State for Defence but even then, was always in the shadows. It was only in the 2000s that Mbabazi became a well-known and visible public figure.According to various sources, this is what makes Mbabazi so effective and now such a challenge to Museveni. He works best while working in the shadows.Mbabazi is the man who handled the operations of Museveni’s FRONASA guerrilla group inside Uganda during the 1970s while Museveni was in Tanzania. And when Museveni started his 1980s guerrilla war and was at the front line, it was Mbabazi who set up and run the administrative structures and systems of the organisation that became known as the NRA/NRM.Most Ugandans have the impression that Museveni was both the overall military commander of FRONASA and the NRA/NRM and their chief administrator. But it was Mbabazi who was the behind-the-scenes chief of staff, coordinating FRONASA activities in Uganda in the 1970s and the external wing of the NRM in the 1980s.Most of the NRA’s diplomatic and media victories, such as bringing a freelance British journalist, William Pike, to visit the NRA camps in Luweero Triangle in September 1984 and give the rebels much-needed publicity in the West, were the work of Mbabazi.This is what gives him much of his mysterious clout and arouses much resentment toward him among his colleagues, as some of the Daily Monitor “Bush War” series about the NRA war revealed.
To use a computer industry term, Amama Mbabazi set up the Windows and Android operating systems on which the NRM runs. That is why people like Mbabazi’s wife, Jacqueline and outspoken daughter Nina Mbabazi Rukikaire do not feel the awe and fear of Museveni that most other Ugandans feel. Their mentality is one of “we are the family that brought you, Museveni, to power”.Mbabazi has always been a Paulo Muwanga – a civilian but who gravitates toward key military roles that nobody can quite explain. During the Moshi Unity Conference of March 1979, Muwanga was named the chairman of the Military Commission.

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