Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi must popularise the sole candidacy of President Museveni in Kanungu, just as other ruling party MPs have done in their constituencies, or risk sanctions, the Chief Whip has warned.
Justine Lumumba told The Observer on Friday that the ruling party had run out of patience with its secretary general’s reluctance to toe the line. Other ruling party MPs last month ended countrywide campaigns during which they sought to promote a resolution adopted by the NRM caucus at Kyankwanzi in February to ring-fence Museveni as the party’s sole candidate in the 2016 elections.
Only Kanungu and Kampala districts have to date not been covered. The resolution is seen as an attempt to lock out Mbabazi who refuses to rule himself in or out of the 2016 race.
“When we went to serve him (give him the campaign money), he said that he was first going to observe the situation then give us a feedback and tell us what to do. He has up to the end of [this week]; if he has not come, we shall approach him as our leader, and if he is not willing, then the party rules will apply,” Lumumba said.
In April, The Observer reported that Mbabazi had not picked the Shs 4m that each of his colleagues got to popularise the Kyankwanzi resolution (see: Mbabazi rejects Museveni money).
It was reported then, that Mbabazi had told the NRM caucus leadership that he wanted to first consult the party’s top decision-making organ, the Central Executive Committee (CEC). The CEC had interestingly discouraged the resolution in one of its meetings in March.
“If the Prime Minister doesn’t want, we shall send somebody else who knows the local language, but as Prime Minister and secretary general of the party, the rules that are binding to all members of the caucus are the rules that he has to follow,” Lumumba emphasised.
“When there is an issue, we sit as a caucus and discuss it, and when we generate a position, it becomes binding to all of us. It has caught up with others; he should do what is expected of him so that it doesn’t catch up with him,” she added.
However, Mbabazi is not moved by the ultimatum. His press secretary, Josephine Mayanja-Nkangi, repeated what the premier has said in the past, that the NRM caucus is a pseudo organ of the party whose resolutions are not binding on a senior member like him.
“Mbabazi is not just an MP but a prime minister and secretary general of the party,” Nkangi said.
“As secretary general, he is governed by the constitution of NRM that sets the rules and regulations of all party members,” she added. “Therefore, he can only abide by the rules not by the caucus which is a pseudo organization without any standing in the NRM party. Its rules and regulations govern NRM MPs in parliament but not other party leaders.”
NRM MPs hit the campaign trail mid-April with the ruling party spending at least Shs 6bn to facilitate its 264 MPs in the consultative meetings conducted at sub-county level. Besides the cash, the MPs were also handed an information kit detailing Museveni’s record on service delivery.
The MPs’ tours went well for the most part, apart from isolated cases of leaders fighting over the facilitation money. In Kanungu, however, district leaders voted on April 14 to denounce the Kyankwanzi resolution.
In fact, on April 22, a stakeholders’ meeting at Ngoto resort hotel, near Kanungu town, told off MPs Chris Baryomunsi (Kinkizi East) and Elizabeth Karungi (Kanungu Woman) not to bring their Kyankwanzi resolution to Kanungu. Nevertheless, unlike Mbabazi, Karungi and Baryomunsi took their share of the money.
In fact, David Bahati, the caucus vice chairman, told The Observer on Friday that Baryomunsi had done his part in his Kinkizi East constituency.
“Dr Baryomunsi has worked on his constituency, and we are hoping that the entire district will be covered in the next few weeks,” Bahati said.
Mbabazi, the Kinkizi West MP, appears ready to stick to his earlier stand of not embracing the resolution until it has been cleared by the CEC.
“Being a caucus resolution does not make it a party resolution, [and] until CEC has cleared it; that is when it will become binding to him,” Nkangi explained the premier’s position.
Nkangi also wondered why the other resolutions passed at Kyankwanzi seem to have been ignored by the party MPs. According to Bahati, the consultative meetings were sanctioned to do four things; explain the country’s progress over the past 28 years under Museveni’s leadership, listen to the views of the people, enhance party cohesion and explain the 22 Kyankwanzi resolutions.
However, the meetings mainly focused on the Museveni sole candidate project, which Nkangi says is mistaken.