The 28 NRM MPs who voted against the bill to remove presidential age limits will write to the chief whip explaining why they voted against the party position, the party caucus has resolved. Parliament passed the bill on December 20 amid acrimony and controversy.
The dissident MPs include James Acidiri (Maracha East), Monicah Amoding (Kumi District), Norah Bigirwa (Buliisa District Woman), Johnson Muyanja Senyonga (Mukono South), Everlyn Chemutai (Bukwo District Woman), Hellen Kahunde (Kiryandongo District WOman), Justine Khainza (Bududa District Woman), Gaffa Mbwatekamwa (Kasambya) and Henry Kibalya (Bugabula South).
Speaking to The Observer on phone after the caucus meeting yesterday, NRM caucus vice chairperson Solomon Silwany said the response of the said MPs is necessary.
“The caucus has agreed that the office of the government chief whip is going to officially write to the members and we shall need their responses because they have to answer,” Silwany said.
Kassanda South MP Simeo Nsubuga said the MPs were advised that as per the NRM caucus rules of procedure, they should write to the chief whip to show cause as to why they acted contrary to the party position.
“From there, the central executive committee will advise what action to be taken against these members,” Nsubuga said.
Last week, NRM caucus chairperson Ruth Nankabirwa told The Observer that the 28 MPs would receive individual letters informing them of the caucus’ recommendations.
Nsubuga added that if the party culture must flourish, action should be taken against those who defy the NRM party rules.
“If you decided to come and pick a ticket of the NRM party, please accept the rules and regulations of the party,” he said.
But this did not go down well with Gaffa Mbwatekamwa.
Mbwatekamwa told us that he is not ready to explain why he didn’t support the amendment.
“President Museveni should not treat us as if we are students or pupils; and himself as a headmaster,” said Mbwatekamwa. “We presented what our electorates want and it was a big no. Why should I write; am I seeking for a vacancy?”
Mbwatekamwa added that he would be extremely happy if it means chasing him from the party.
Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga said those who defied the party should be left free as they will reform by themselves.
“These people are not human beings because you can’t deny the family you belong to. If you go against your family, you are a fool,” said Abiriga. “It is now shame that is killing them; how will they associate with us because we feel they are against us.”
This is not the first time NRM MPs defy their party.
On April 13, 2013, President Museveni presided over the expulsion of four NRM MPs on grounds of “indiscipline” because they voiced different opinions from the party’s.
These included Vincent Kyamadidi (then Rwampara), Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga West), Theodore Sekikubo (Lwemiyaga), Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) and Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala Central).
Later on February 21, 2014, the Constitutional Court ordered the four MPs out of Parliament and declared their seats vacant.
However, they appealed to the High Court, which ruled that an MP cannot lose their seat upon expulsion from their party.
Presided over by Benjamin Odoki, Galdino Okello, Esther Kisaakye, John Tsekooko, Jotham Tumwesigye and Christine Kitumba, the judges ruled that “political parties cannot subvert the will of the people”.