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Magyezi bill: NRM chiefs use Shs 5bn to beat opposition

Ruling NRM party chiefs hope to use Shs 5.5 billion in one week to build wide countryside support for Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi’s private member’s bill.

Several party leaders who sit on either the Central Executive Committee (CEC), the second highest decision-making organ, or its subordinate National Executive Council (NEC), are traversing the country, urging Ugandans to support the Magyezi bill, which largely seeks to amend Article 102 (b) of the Constitution and scrap the 35 and 75-year age limits for presidential candidates.

According to a press release issued on November 5 by the NRM secretariat communications officer Rogers Mulindwa, the campaign, which began on Monday, November 6, was sanctioned by party chairman, President Museveni.

“He has already deployed his senior cadres to take lead of the exercise that will last not more than seven working days,” Mulindwa said.

Pro age limit removal supporters on a boat in Mayuge

The country was zoned into 17 sub-regions. First National Vice Chairman Al-Hajji Moses Kigongo has taken charge of greater Masaka, an opposition stronghold.

The sub-region is home to Vice President Edward Ssekandi; Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries minister Vincent Ssempijja and Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa.

The opposition Democratic Party won in all constituencies in Masaka with the exception of Ssekandi’s Bukoto Central. The opposition holds much sway in Bukomansimbi, Kyotera and Kalungu districts – all areas vehemently opposed to the bill.

Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo, a free-thinking NRM member, campaigned against the amendment to great effect in Sembabule. The NRM is, however, optimistic that Kigongo will reverse the opposition’s gains in the sub-region.

Elsewhere, deputy secretary general Richard Todwong has been allocated Acholi sub-region while the party’s Treasurer Rose Namayanja, CEC member Godfrey Nyakana and the director for Finance and Administration at the NRM secretariat Hassan Galiwango are combing Kampala.

Minister without Portfolio Abdul Nadduli was sent to Greater Luweero and Mukono while Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa is in the Greater Mubende area.

Mathias Kasamba goes to wider Mpigi where nearly all MPs, with the exception of Gomba, have said they will vote against the bill.

Hudu Oleru and Nasur Gaddafi; the controversial chair of the party’s youth league, are the CEC members sent to West Nile while Sam Engola and Lydia Wanyoto are in Lango, another volatile sub-region.

NRM supporters in Bukoto South show support for age limit removal during VP Edward Ssekandi's consultation meeting 

Former Moroto Municipality MP and CEC member, Simon Peter Aleper, once a harsh critic of the bill, is in Karamoja selling the draft legislation together with Gabriel Kato.

Second Deputy Prime Minister Ali Kirunda Kivejinja and former Kigulu South MP Milton Muwuma are in Busoga while former Minister Mike Mukula is in Bukedi sub-region.

Sebei and Elgon sub-regions were assigned to Dominic Gidudu while deputy Treasurer Dr Kenneth Omona is in Teso.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire and NRM lawyer Oscar Kihika are in Bunyoro.

Uganda’s Ambassador to Burundi Maj Gen Matayo Kyaligonza, also a harsh critic of the bill, was surprisingly sent to the Rwenzori sub-region in the company of Robert Rukaari, the chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ league.

Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi and James Tweheyo are in Ankole while Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda is in charge of Kigezi.

During the October 27 meeting attended by more than 600 NEC members at State House Entebbe, Ibrahim Kitatta, the vice chairman of the youth league, urged the president to release cash.

“If you want to increase productivity without increasing the acreage, you have to apply fertilisers,” Kitatta reportedly said amid cheers.

The vice chairman of the NRM district chairpersons Twaha Ssonko said they need money to hold district conferences, rallies and for a massive media campaign.

The party has five organs namely, youths, women, veterans, entrepreneurs and the elderly. Each reportedly presented a budget of Shs 3 billion.

A reportedly shocked Museveni directed the NRM secretariat to harmonise the budgets, leading to the slashing from Shs 15 billion to Shs 5.5 billion.

sadabkk@observer.ug

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd