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Blow by blow account of NRM NEC meeting

A 550-member National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ruling NRM convened at State House, Entebbe, for four days starting on Monday, January 11, for its fifth sitting that ended with the endorsing of President Museveni as the party’s sole presidential candidate in next year’s elections. The Observer pieces up a full account of the four-day event.

How Museveni dealt with allegations of tribalism, then got himself endorsed as sole presidential candidate in 2011

A 550-member National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ruling NRM convened at State House, Entebbe, for four days starting on Monday, January 11, for its fifth sitting that ended with the endorsing of President Museveni as the party’s sole presidential candidate in next year’s elections. The Observer pieces up a full account of the four-day event.


Day One (Monday, Jan. 11) started with the arrival, in Kampala, of delegates from upcountry. They proceeded to the party headquarters on Plot 10 Kyadondo Road for a rigorous registration exercise that lasted about three hours.

The exercise, meant to weed out double registration, started with capturing the fingerprint of a delegate before his/her photograph was taken. Delegates were then issued with forms to fill before getting a tag bearing a photograph, number and other details.

After they got tags that will in future also be used as members’ cards, delegates were given Shs100,000 facilitation for the first day. They were paid the same amount for the other days, meaning each delegate got Shs 400,000 for the four days. The party spent Shs220 million on facilitation. This was in addition to T-shirts in NRM colours.

With the registration done and Shs 100,000 in the pocket, delegates assembled at Parliament building the following day (Tuesday January 12) to depart for State House Entebbe. Buses were available for those with no private means of transport.


Day two started with the arrival of delegates at State House, Entebbe. All buses and private vehicles, save for those of a few ministers, dropped off delegates near the main gate from where they were ferried to the main conference hall of State House by vans.

The arrival of the Vice President, Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, who flashed the thumbs-up symbol, brought some excitement. He was embraced by Capt. Mike Mukula (party vice chairman, Eastern) and MP Onyango Kakoba, before proceeding for breakfast.
Shortly, Bukenya and party Secretary General, Amama Mbabazi, bumped into each other and hugged amid cheers from the delegates.

For some time, delegates whiled away the early morning as the meeting could not start without party Chairman, Yoweri Museveni. The President was said to be at his country home in Rwakitura, attending to some business.

The high table had three chairs; one for the party chairman, another for the first vice chairman, and a third for the secretary general. After some time, Moses Kigongo (the first vice chairman) announced that NEC should consider the minutes of the previous meeting as they wait for the chairman.

He asked the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo, to lead the opening prayers. Buturo prayed to God to protect Uganda against promoters of homosexuality and corruption.

The chairman arrived as members considered minutes of the previous meeting. He was in the company of his wife and Ruhama County MP, Janet Kataha Museveni, who was dressed in blue, a colour politically associated with the opposition FDC.
Museveni was himself dressed in a suit, with a yellow necktie, at least. Janet, however, turned up in yellow the following two days.

It was a free sitting arrangement, save for some ministers who jostled for the front seats to catch the party leader’s eye. The Master of Ceremonies was Dorothy Hyuha, NRM deputy secretary general, and Butaleja District Woman MP. Museveni ordered the air condition system to be switched on and allowed in the media to capture his opening speech that dwelt on the state of affairs in the country.

After resuming his seat, he was reminded of something he had not said by Kigongo. That is when the President returned to the microphone to comment on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which was privately tabled by Ndorwa West MP, David Bahati, last year.

 He told the meeting that he had come under a lot of pressure from abroad because of the bill. He advised Parliament to go slow on it. After Museveni’s address, delegates went for lunch.


The afternoon session started with Amama Mbabazi’s report on the state of affairs of the party; achievements and challenges. After his report, some delegates led by James Kakooza and Perez Ahabwe stood up and chanted “no change,” suggesting that Mbabazi should be retained as Secretary General.

The chairman allowed only five men and five women to react to both his speech and the Mbabazi report. He also ruled that MPs shouldn’t speak because they have a lot of time with him in Kampala.

Maama Kebba (mobiliser from Adjumani):
Your Excellency, you know me, I speak only the truth and I want to say things as they are. You spoke against sectarianism and tribalism in your speech but you are also sectarian. Your government is full of people from your region.

This submission made Museveni shift in his seat. The President spent most of the afternoon trying to answer the same allegation even though there were other issues to be talked about.

Museveni: Politics is not about jobs and employment but about the aim. Have an aim before you join politics. The problem is that people confuse the whole of Western Uganda with my tribe (Banyankole). Western Uganda is a vast area that stretches from Masindi to Kigezi, Tooro and Kasese. And in all these areas, we have similar names; for example Byaruhanga. There is Byaruhanga in Tooro, Kigezi, Bunyoro and Ankole.

There are also other considerations. For example, a man like Otafiire (Kahinda) is a revolutionary and a historical. He has to be in government. We were with him in the struggle all through. The problem with Northern Uganda is jealousy.

A senior leader from the North has told me that people there are jealous [of other people’s achievements]; that’s why leaders don’t build nice houses in their areas. They build them elsewhere. That [jealousy] is also the reason they pull each other down.

Many of the people I have appointed ministers from the North have been pulled down by their own people (voters). People like Akaki Ayumu, Betty Aketch, Moses Ali, David Pulkol [although he also misbehaved], were all pulled down.
Someone in the audience shouted “Mike Mukula”, but Museveni replied that Teso [where Mukula comes from], had its own problem.


Day Three opened with a demand that a report on emerging issues in the party that was compiled by Margaret Zziwa be presented. So Zziwa, on behalf of her committee, presented a report that highlighted corruption and infighting.

A delegate asked why there was no section on health. Richard Nduhura, state minister for health, offered to brief delegates on issues in health but was told to write his response and send it to Zziwa “instead of wasting our time.”
The acting NRM Electoral Commission Chairperson, Felistus Magomu, presented a report on the party’s internal election timetable.

To prepare for internal elections, NRM has appointed district registrars and secretaries. The registrars will preside over the party’s elections. There was another small presentation by Mbabazi about preparations by various NRM leagues; like the Youth, People With Disabilities, Elderly, and Veterans, to organise their national conferences. Again Museveni ruled that only five men and five women will comment.

Mbagadhi Fredrick Nkayi

(Kagoma MP):
Mr. Chairman, I want to know the role of security agencies in the management of our party. The people who are going to work as registrars were identified by District Internal Security Officers (DISO) and Gombolola Internal Security Officers (GISO). Is ISO now a structure of NRM?

Prof. Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya: We recently had a meeting of our district secretaries and registrars in Kyankwanzi. I was shocked to learn that these people had been appointed without our knowledge.

I am the NRM vice chairman (Buganda) and chairman Wakiso District branch, but I was not involved in the exercise and I am not aware of it. This is very dangerous and unacceptable. The party leadership must be aware. They may not be the ones to look for these people, because of conflict of interest, but they must be aware.

Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi Katugugu (Chairman Veterans’ League): I also got to learn that NRM leaders were not aware of the exercise.

NRM District Chairman (Busia): These DISOs are opposition sympathisers yet they are the ones identifying for us registrars to run our internal elections. What do these DISO/GISOs have to do with our party?

Mbabazi said that security agents were only used for research. It was finally decided that the district leadership should be involved in identifying a registrar.


Day Four started with the continuation of debate on the internal elections and related matters with Museveni in the chair. Debate was centred on the use of adult suffrage to select the party’s parliamentary candidates.

Dorothy Hyuha made a presentation on how the adult suffrage will be conducted and said the party will need Shs 25 billion for this exercise.The election of flag-bearers, from LC-1 chairman to MP level, will take place the same day with those seeking party positions.

For all the days the delegates spent in Entebbe, the issue of the NRM’s presidential candidate in 2011 was never mentioned. In fact, it was supposed to have featured in Amama Mbabazi’s brief that reported about the recent district conferences during which Museveni was “urged” to stand in 2011.

Museveni asked Mbabazi to read the resolutions. Mbabazi said it was the Local Government Minister, Adolf Mwesige, who was supposed to read the draft resolutions. As Mwesige read the resolutions, Museveni would announce: “those in favour say aye to the contrary no.”

Dokolo MP, Felix Okot Ogong, stood up amid scattered cheers and walked to the microphone to protest resolution number two that endorsed Museveni as the sole candidate for 2011. But Museveni told him to resume his seat because it would be procedurally wrong to interject at that time. Ogong was advised to wait until all resolutions had been dealt with.

While inviting Ogong to table his issues, Museveni excused himself since resolution number two: “That we support to recommend to the National Conference to present H.E. Y.K. Museveni as the NRM National Chairperson and also present him as the NRM flag-bearer for the next presidential elections in 2011” concerned him. He picked his cup of tea and walked out.Kigongo took charge of the proceedings.

Ogong: The NRM was established to usher in a fundamental change in terms of rule of law and democracy. We all know that election of an NRM flag-bearer is a function of the National Delegates Conference. The nominees are then vetted by the Central Executive Committee (CEC). The National Executive Committee (Entebbe meeting) has no mandate to indulge in that exercise.

Moreover, we have sat here and the chairman said that senior members should not side or tell voters that we prefer so and so. We have said that let the voters elect and the party will go with whoever is elected.

When the same organ, which doesn’t even have the mandate, begins saying it is supporting so and so, it is undermining its own resolutions. I propose that this resolution be withdrawn.

Amooti Otada (Kibanda MP): I second the motion by Hon. Felix Okot not because I want to be the presidential candidate. We must not preach but also practise democracy.

After Otada and Okot’s contributions, there was no other person to oppose Museveni’s endorsement.

Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire: All the district conferences passed a resolution asking President Museveni to continue, including your (Okot Ogong’s) Dokolo. Democracy is the dictatorship of the majority and the absence of it is anarchy. I envy your courage but I don’t envy your wisdom.

Dr. Sam Lyomoki (Workers MP): Okot Ogong is just disgruntled. He has been anti-government since he was dropped from Cabinet. He is speaking just for the purpose of making headlines in the newspapers.

Kigongo then closed debate and put the matter to vote, and even before delegates chorused the answer, he declared that the ayes had it. It is now official; the 550-member NEC will ask the National Conference sometime in March to declare Museveni a sole candidate.

Museveni returned to the room amid chants of “Museveni oyee, NRM oyee.”
The four days ended with Museveni telling NRM leaders from Northern Uganda to prepare for high profile defections, especially in Lango and West Nile.

Sam Engola (NRM Lira Chairman) and Beatrice Lagada (Oyam Woman MP) told Museveni that defectors should do it at village level and not to negotiate with Museveni in Kampala. The meeting ended at around 11p.m. Dinner was served and thereafter there was a dance at Imperial Resort Beach Hotel Entebbe.


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