President Museveni almost cancelled his scheduled Tuesday address to delegates gathered for NRM’s conference for special organs at Namboole.
Apparently angered by the chaos and confusion that continue to mar such high profile party activities, our sources told us.
Museveni, our sources said, expressed his bitterness during a four-hour meeting on Tuesday night at Namboole Stadium.
The meeting was attended by the NRM Vice Chairman, Moses Kigongo, the Secretary General, Amama Mbabazi, his deputy Dorothy Huhya and officials of the NRM electoral commission.
“This is very embarrassing. Totally embarrassing. Everyone…the youths, the veterans are complaining. I am not happy. Sort this out very quickly,” an angry Museveni reportedly told the leaders.
Museveni asked the officials why the voting for the special interest groups had not been concluded early, and Felistus Magomu, the acting chairperson of the NRM Electoral Commission, told him there had been some logistical issues that had to be sorted out.
We have been told that Mbabazi later verbally apologised to Museveni, saying they were doing their level best to bring the situation under control.
“Your Excellency, we are sorry this will not happen again. I’m going to ensure that every problem is ironed out,” Mbabazi reportedly said. At this point, our sources said that Museveni just kept quiet as if in deep thought, as the party officials looked on anxiously.
Museveni eventually agreed to talk to the delegates at 9.15pm but his tone and message did not disguise his anger.
“Sorry for keeping you waiting. I wanted to address all of you but I have been told some people are still voting,” Museveni began his address.
Talking about the violence witnessed during the NRM primaries, Museveni said it was caused by some party leaders who want to assume leadership for selfish benefits.
“There should be no hostility at all. No use of money. Leadership is a sacrifice and those who bribe you to get your votes want to use their positions to do something else. They think leadership is an investment,” Museveni said.
He vowed to cause an investigation into acts of bribery, violence and intimidation within the party.
The Observer understands that part of the reason for the chaotic scenes at Namboole this week relates to Mbabazi’s quest to keep a firm grip on the processes leading up to the crucial election of NRM office bearers at the weekend.
As he wards off stiff challenge to his post from two senior NRM leaders, Mbabazi’s team is in control of accreditation of delegates, paying transport refunds and manning security.
For instance, The Observer confirmed that the accreditation process of all delegates is being handled by his daughter, Nina Mbabazi. She was seen pacing up and down during the conference for the party’s Special Organs this week.
Meanwhile, the same sources told us that Jacqueline, Mbabazi’s wife, is in charge of handling the transport refunds for the delegates, which is Shs 250,000 per delegate. Jacqueline Mbabazi was this week elected chairperson of the NRM’s Women’s League.
Emmy Katabazi, the burly operative from the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) and a close Mbabazi confidant, is in charge of all security arrangements. Even the music to be played by JK Sounds, the contracted mobile disco, must be approved by those loyal to Mbabazi.
On Tuesday when our reporter asked one of the deejays for the title of a Luganda song praising the party chairman, President Museveni and Mbabazi, he smiled and said he did not know it.
By controlling these processes, Mbabazi is trying to tie any loose ends that could ruin his quest for reelection. Yet this kind of control led to mishaps and chaos. Some delegates from Buvuma, Rakai and Mukono caused a scene at the accreditation centre, arguing that ineligible delegates had been registered in their places.
At some stage, the IT system broke down, leading frustrated delegates to trade insults with organisers. Even journalists were not spared this confusion. Some who had gone to pick their accreditation cards found them missing.
It took a lot of cajoling before they could be let in. Yet the real drama was inside the stadium where voting for the various organs was taking place. Riot police assisted by the Special Forces fired teargas at rowdy youth delegates from western Uganda who were accusing one of the aspirants of rigging.
In the ensuing melee, some ballot boxes were destroyed and some people got injured. We have also been told that after the messy June conference, Museveni instructed Mbabazi during a Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting to ensure that such chaos is not repeated at the main national conference due this weekend.
Museveni, supported by other members of CEC, even proposed that the party should have a bidding system, where tenders for services are awarded to competent companies. Our sources said while Mbabazi supported this proposal at the meeting, he appears not to have taken steps to implement the idea.
Last week, CEC was scheduled to sit to discuss the organization of the conference but on two occasions the meeting was postponed because Kigongo was absent.
However, another CEC meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, September 8, and its major agenda was to discuss preparations for the weekend’s delegates’ conference, the chaos and the violence that marred the recent party primaries. We failed to get a comment from Mbabazi.
While acknowledging that Mbabazi as secretary general is in charge of organizing such an event, one of his rivals, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, told us that this tight control of the conference has already skewed the race in Mbabazi’s favour.
He urged Museveni to intervene before the main delegates’ conference.
“That is not fair but whatever the case we are also prepared to confront him. You people should support me to ensure that we bring order to our party,” Otafiire told us by phone on Tuesday.
Eric Adriko, the general secretary of the Historicals League, told The Observer it is a shame such acts of favouritism were taking root in the party. “We deplore acts of rigging and cheating in the party and strongly condemn all acts of corruption,” Adriko said.
Magode Ikuya, a member of the same league, decried the disorganization at the special organs conference saying it had been hijacked by tribalism and corruption.
“If somebody wants to stand for office, he will collect as many people from his region to come and vote for him,” he said. Magode said the delegates being used by selfish leaders are not aware of the consequences of their actions.
The NRM main conference that kicks off on Saturday is expected to draw over 20,000 delegates.
Meanwhile, at the Special Organs Conference that ended on Tuesday, Jacqueline, Mbabazi’s wife was elected leader of the NRM Women League.
The minister of Internal Affairs, Kirunda Kivejinja, was elected the chairperson of the Historicals League. Hassan Basajjabalaba is the chairman of the Entrepreneurs League, and Fisheries minister Fred Mukisa was elected chairman of the Elders League.
|< Prev||Next >|