Gen.Otafiire threatens to quit NRM
- Written by Edris Kiggundu
Angered by a drawn out investigation into his narrow victory in the NRM primaries in Ruhinda County, Tourism, Trade and Industry minister, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, said on Monday that he might be forced to join a new political party if the NRM snatches his victory.
Otafiire maintains that he won fairly but alleges that some people in the party are working for his political downfall.
“I might have to join another party. I won the elections but my name is not on the list [of party flag bearers released this week]. They are chasing me away. What do you want me to do?”
Asked whether he was serious about leaving a party he has helped build, the outspoken General relied that that it was indeed “one of the options available to me.”
“If you were in my shoes, what would you do?” he asked this reporter.
Otafiire added that he is not going to petition anyone for redress.
“You cannot petition someone who does not want you,” Otafiire said.
The NRM historical, who only recently came second to Amama Mbabazi in the race for secretary general, said he suspects the Ruhinda results have been withheld on the instructions of a senior party official, whose names he did not disclose.
The results for Ruhinda County, in the newly created Mitooma district, were withheld by the district NRM registrar, Ephraim Kyabakama.
This was after Otafiire’s main challenger, Chris Gumisiriza, petitioned the party’s Electoral Commission alleging that the minister had connived with some local electoral officials to alter the results which had put him in the lead.
Otafiire has previously accused the NRM Secretary General, Amama Mbabazi, of trying to undermine him politically.
Besides Otafiire, other ministers whose fate is still unknown include Emmanuel Otaala (minister of state for Labour), Simon Ejua (minister of state for Transport), Isaac Musumba (minister of state for Regional Affairs), Asuman Kiyingi (minister of state for Lands), Simon Lokodo (minister of state for Industry), and James Kakooza (minister of state for Health).
All these ministers petitioned for redress after the primaries but the outcome is yet to be known.
Kiyingi who lost in the Bugabula South primaries to former Makerere University guild president, Maurice Kibalya, told us on Tuesday that he was increasingly stressed out by the delay to dispose of his petition.
“I tabled all the evidence of vote rigging but I am still waiting to hear from the electoral commission. Let me hope that by the end of the week I will know my fate,” Kiyingi said.
Then there is the hotly contested Lwemiyaga County where both frontrunners have been declared winners at one point or another.
Initially the party’s EC announced that Patrick Nkalubo had defeated the incumbent, Theodore Ssekikubo, but following some investigations, Ssekikubo was declared the winner.
Nkalubo has since petitioned court and the party says it will abide by the outcome. Ssekikubo told The Observer on Tuesday that he was aware of a scheme to rob him of victory but he will fight on.
“Some people are trying to mislead President Museveni about what happened in Lwemiyaga. They are telling him that new investigations have established that I was defeated, but every Ugandan saw the blatant theft during the primaries in my constituency,” said the controversial legislator.
Some ministers have however resigned to their fate, more or less conceding defeat. One of them is the minister of state for Ethics, Dr James Nsaba Buturo, who told The Observer that he will accept whatever outcome of his petition.
“In politics one must be gracious when he is defeated and that is the way we can build a mature democracy,” he said. Buturo was defeated by his old political rival, Eddie Kwizera.
The NRM’s First National Vice Chairman, Al Hajj Moses Kigongo, who is heading a special investigations team into the malpractices that marred the party primaries, told The Observer on Tuesday that they will investigate all areas were they received petitions, including Ruhinda County.
“It does not matter who is involved. Our job is to go anywhere we got petitions and investigate,” Kigongo told us.
Asked about the authenticity of the list released by the party’s electoral commission this week, Kigongo said his team was not bound by those lists. He said that they shall compile a report at the end of the investigations and submit it to President Museveni in a month’s time.
It is Museveni, he said, who will make the final decision on such matters. Kigongo and his team that includes Kalangala Woman MP, Ruth Kavuma, and Mbarara Municipality MP, Arimpa Kigyagi, have endured a torrid time trying to reconcile the losers and winners in the NRM primaries in the areas they have been to so far.
We recently reported that after meeting leaders in Mukono, an angry Kigongo recommended that the salary of MPs be slashed to Shs 2million, such that politicians do not fight tooth and nail to become legislators.
This Friday, the NRM shall conduct fresh elections in the districts/areas where earlier polls were marred by massive rigging, fraud, shortage of voting materials and violence. The areas include Butaleja, Kapchorwa, Kayunga, Entebbe and parts of Mbale municipality, Hoima and Kampala central.
Ahead of the polls, the party has called for calm but the possibility of chaos and violence remains high.
The biggest showdown is expected in Butaleja where Dorothy Hyuha, the NRM deputy secretary general, faces off with Cerinah Nebanda, the Makerere University undergraduate student who defeated her in the last primaries before a re-run was ordered.
Nebanda told The Observer that she is not going to participate in the re-run because in her view the first elections were free and fair.
“They want to cheat me of my victory and I will not accept that. I have told my supporters to wake up on Friday and go to their gardens as usual,” Nebanda said on Tuesday.
We failed to get a comment from Hyuha.
The acting chairperson of NRM’s electoral commission, Felistus Magomu, said on Tuesday that the party has done everything to ensure that tomorrow’s elections go on smoothly.
“I urge the contestants to restrain themselves and their supporters from inciting violence. There will be enough security in all the areas where voting shall take place,” she said.