Now in its third week, the NRM MPs’ campaign to promote President Museveni sole candidacy for 2016 continues to be marred by bumps in western, central and eastern Uganda.
But the quarrels are not about the merits or demerits of resolutions made by MPs in February; they are mostly caused by wrangling over the Shs 4m each constituency MP got per sub-county.
With most meetings appearing to endorse the MPs’ decision on Museveni, attention has turned to the money. It was rejected in the western district of Kanungu, home of Prime Minister and NRM Secretary General Amama Mbabazi.
In Busoga, meanwhile, one fight over money was at Nakalama sub-county headquarters in Iganga district. Some rowdy youths disrupted a meeting convened by MPs Milton Muwuma (Kigulu South) and Olivia Kwagala Kabaale (Iganga Woman). The youths grabbed the chairs as they demanded for a share of the money.
“I understand that those youths were mobilized by some woman who is preparing to contest against my woman MP in 2016 to disorganize our meeting because they are not part of the party structures that we were meeting,” Muwuma told The Observer on Monday.
The campaigns have also escalated infighting among party MPs in the district. Muwuma and Kwagala accuse Peter Mugema, the Iganga municipality MP, of fuelling some of the fights at the meetings, an accusation Mugema denies.
On Monday, MPs Isaac Ssejjoba (Bukoto Mid West) and Gertrude Nakabira (Lwengo Woman) had a bitter exchange with the Lwengo district NRM Chairman Hajji Muyanja Mbabaali. The bone of contention was over who should convene the meetings.
Police was on heightened alert as Mbabaali, with an army of about 150 supporters, tried to force their way into the meeting venue at Kingo sub-county headquarters. By 1pm, when party members started arriving, police had taken over the venue, manning all entrances to the hall, allowing in only those who carried invitation letters. Because Bukoto South is an opposition-held constituency, the party tasked Ssejjoba and Nakabira to convene the meetings there, which outraged Mbabaali.
“Chapter 4, Article 17(6) of the NRM Constitution, empowers me as the NRM district chairman to convene all meetings of the party structures; so, what is this meeting that I did not call?” Mbabaali charged.
War of words
A bitter exchange ensued, with Ssejjoba and Nakabira jointly accusing Mbabaali of being ignorant of the law. The MPs reminded Mbabaali that since he was not part of the parliamentary caucus that passed the ‘Museveni 2016’ resolution, the meetings were none of his business. Mbabaali then pleaded for a compromise position, asking the MPs to take the meeting out of the hall, but in vain.
“You have for long been belittling me but I’ll not let this go on anymore,” Nakabira told Mbabaali.
This was the second time in two weeks that meetings in Bukoto South turned chaotic. Both Nakabira and Mbabaali have their eyes set on the seat come the 2016 elections. Mbabaali’s 2011 election as the area MP was nullified by the High court over forged academic documents.
Besides the fights, anger was vented over President Museveni’s unfulfilled pledges. In Buyende district, MPs John Bosco Mubito (Budiope West) and Veronica Babirye Kadogo (Woman representative) were lost for words when asked to explain the president’s dishonoured campaign pledges.
“We can discuss whether to or not endorse your resolution only after you tell us why our party does not keep its promises,” said Godfrey Ludaga at a meeting at Nkondo sub-county on April 27.
The unkept promises include a ferry to connect the district to Teso at Bukungu landing site. The MPs also failed to explain when the president would tarmac the Bukungu – Kamuli road and extend electricity to the district.
At Wankole sub-county in Kamuli district, Buzaaya MP Martin Muzaale was saved by the district NRM chairman, Samuel Bamwoole, who urged the meeting to appreciate the progress on the rehabilitation of the Kamuli-Jinja highway and the establishment of health centres at the sub-county level as part of the achievements to guarantee Museveni another term in office.