So, where is the prime minister going next?
As speculation persists over the political plans of Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, a new question has emerged: Why would the Kinkiizi West MP allow his political aide to run against him in 2016?
This latest twist to the Mbabazi-Museveni saga emerged after a little-known James Kamwesiga declared in Kanungu district that he would contest the Kinkiizi West parliamentary seat, now held by the prime minister. Kamwesiga is a personal assistant to Mbabazi.
Observers in Kanungu have interpreted Kamwesiga’s announced to confirm their suspicion that Mbabazi could be determined to run for a bigger political office come 2016. Mbabazi has been Kinkiizi West MP since 1996. For all the 18 years, Kamwesiga has worked closely with the premier, first as a political assistant in charge of the constituency (1996 to 2002) and currently as a personal assistant.
Speaking to The Observer yesterday, Kamwesiga, who publicly declared his intention this week, said he was inspired to run by requests from the people of Kinkiizi West.
“People have been telling me to offer myself for some time but I had ignored their demands. I think 2016 will be the right time for me to stand,” he said.
Kamwesiga said he has Mbabazi’s blessing and he (Mbabazi) would be “one of my voters.”
Asked whether he would still go ahead and contest if Mbabazi declared he would seek re-election in 2016, Kamwesiga became philosophical: “One thing you must get clearly is that I will not be contesting against Mbabazi. I am contesting in Kinkiizi West.”
He said he greatly admired Mbabazi and President Museveni. The two, Kamwesiga said, are his foremost political mentors. Since his public declaration, Kamwesiga said, he has continued to work well with the prime minister.
“Right now I am even in his office,” he said.
Kamwesiga becomes the second NRM person to publicly declare his interest in Mbabazi’s seat, after Dixon Kagurusi.
Whatever the case, Kamwesiga’s declaration has raised eyebrows and opened up intriguing political scenarios for Mbabazi. One, it could be an indication that the prime minister is retiring from active politics to pursue other interests. The Observer reported in October 2012 that Mbabazi had decided, during a series of family meetings, not to contest in Kinkiizi West in 2016 (see; Mbabazi to quit in 2016).
A family source told us then that the meetings were mainly attended by Mbabazi, his wife and children, as well as close relatives.
“They [the family] agreed that he should not stand in Kinkiizi West and no-one else within his family stable should contest in 2016. Mbabazi is ready to back any other ruling party member in Kinkiizi West to be elected to Parliament in 2016. In the same meetings, Mbabazi told his family that upon retirement, he would concentrate on charity work through a foundation,” the family source told us then.
Could this be the first step in the realization of that plan?
Yet most importantly, Kamwesiga’s run in Kinkiizi West could point to the fact that Mbabazi is preparing himself for a much bigger political office, possibly the national presidency. So far, Mbabazi has roundly denied suggestions that he is eyeing the top job. He even said he would support Museveni if he offers himself for re-election in 2016.
Despite all that, Mbabazi has so far refused to popularize the Kyankwanzi resolution - which endorsed Museveni as NRM sole presidential flag bearer for 2016 - in his constituency. Mbabazi said he could not popularise the resolution before it is approved by the party’s Central Executive Committee. The party gave him an ultimatum, which he has ignored.
Secondly, when Mbabazi was handed a shield and spear during the Banyakigezi cultural gala at the Uganda museum on June 28, some people took this as an endorsement by the Banyakigezi for a bigger political office. A spear and shield are interpreted, in some circles, as symbols of power. Mbabazi has not yet publicly commented on this event.
There could also be a possibility that by permitting his close aide to contest in his constituency, Mbabazi is testing the waters; the proverbial throwing of a stone into the bush to see what emerges. Aaron Mukwaya, a senior lecturer in the department of Political Science at Makerere University told The Observer yesterday that politics being a tricky game, it is difficult to decipher what Mbabazi could be up to.
“All the possibilities you have explained to me are possible if you look at the current political trends in this country. Mbabazi is a prominent political figure in the NRM and the entire country; so, whatever move he makes needs to be scrutinized and looked at closely,” Mukwaya said.
Josephine Mayanja-Nkangi, Mbabazi’s press secretary, said she could not speculate about her boss’ political future. Mayanja-Nkangi, who works closely with Kamwesiga, insisted that there was nothing strange about the move.
“Frankly, if you ask me whether the prime minister has endorsed this move, I don’t know. That can best be answered by him. But he [Kamwesiga] is free to contest and this is good for democracy. In Kinkiizi West there is no sole candidate,” Mayanja-Nkangi said.
|< Prev||Next >|