Parliament speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s warning to western Uganda politicians meddling in Busoga politics has drawn both support and condemnation.
Among the most damning reactions was that of Amama Mbabazi, the former prime minister now pushing to take over both the NRM and the government.
In a video that has been circulating on social media, Kadaga mentions names of prominent politicians from western Uganda, who she accuses of using Basoga for their selfish agendas. She says she is aware of meetings convened at night in Busoga on behalf of Mbabazi.
Since the start of the 9th parliament, the relationships between Kadaga and President Museveni and Mbabazi and Museveni have gone in opposite directions. Kadaga gained acclaim from opposition politicians for her apparent ability to stand up to an overbearing executive; but some now see her as more acquiescent to Museveni.
Meanwhile, Mbabazi, who started off as President Museveni’s blue-eyed boy, has now become the closest politician to Museveni to try to force the president into retirement. At the same time, the relationship between Kadaga and Mbabazi has always been icy, with the speaker openly critical of Mbabazi’s time as leader of government business.
In an interview with The Observer last week, Kadaga, the woman MP for Kamuli, defended her remarks, saying: “No, but why should another tribe decide for another tribe? The Basoga are a tribe of four million people. Why should a Mukiga decide for us or a Munyankore for that matter?”
On Monday, during the Ask Amama session with journalists, Mbabazi was asked what he made of Kadaga’s warning against western politicians.
“Which Kadaga is this?” Mbabazi said rhetorically. “The speaker of parliament?... I am surprised, and I don’t want to give credibility to this sectarian talk because it is really pedestrian.”
Mbabazi said Kadaga was speaking out of desperation.
“I think I have heard what Kadaga has been saying, but I have no idea about it. She should desist from sectarian talk because it’s not reflective of a national leader,” Mbabazi said.
Earlier, during NTV’s Sunday show Fourth Estate, Mbabazi denied fighting Kadaga. He promised to discuss the matter at an appropriate time and in a right forum.
“The right Honourable Kadaga, yes, I have heard her calling me all sorts of names, complaining that I am fighting her. It’s not true, I am not fighting her, I have no reason to do so,” he said.
“She is saying that I cannot be president of Busoga because how can I be a president of Busoga [when] I am a man from Kanungu and she says she is not sure whether I am a Rwandese or a Congolese. Well, those are serious statements from a national leader and I think at an appropriate time and in a right forum, we will discuss that.”
OTHERS WEIGH IN
Frank Gashumba, a media commentator, said Kadaga’s remarks belong to the stone-age.
“That talk [by Kadaga] to me, [belongs to the] stone-age and it’s very wrong of Kadaga to advise Basoga not to associate with other tribes because we are all one and I don’t agree with tribal sentiments,” Gashumba said.
Martin Muzaale, the Buzaaya MP (NRM), said he was not aware of meetings being convened by non-Basoga in Busoga to undermine local leaders.
“I have not heard of Mbabazi coming to Kamuli to meet people, but he who alleges must prove when and where those meetings took place,” he said, adding: “…Kadaga is a national leader and she knows very well what she says means. Personally, I agree with one thing that Uganda is one people.”
Ofwono Opondo, the executive director of the Uganda Media Centre, jumped to Kadaga’s defense.
“I think she is right because people who are not residents in a particular area should not impose candidates on the area because it’s not proper even within the constitution.”
Charles Rwomushana, the former head of political intelligence in the Office of the President, said Kadaga’s statements were motivated by stress.
“It’s counterproductive on her part but you need to understand her levels of stress because the politics of Mbabazi and Museveni hinges on hatred,” Rwomushana noted.
He explained that the “system is designed in such a way that they [Kadaga and the likes in NRM] destroy Amama [Mbabazi]…”