President Yoweri Museveni has tasked Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi to explain their roles in the recently concluded elections for the East African Legislative Assembly—EALA Speaker.
Museveni reportedly asked Kadaga to explain who gave her the mandate to travel to Arusha, Tanzania, to campaign for Dora Byamukama as the official candidate for the ruling party.
The President told Mbabazi, who is also the Secretary General of the ruling NRM party, not to consider his own choices as those of the party, when no party organ formally sat to endorse Byamukama as the chosen party candidate.
These revelations came through during the tension-packed NRM caucus meeting that met on Monday at Entebbe State House. The meeting that took about seven hours started at 3pm and ended at 10pm.
Byamukama, one of the nine Uganda’s representatives at EALA and who was seen as favourite to become speaker, lost to Margaret Zziwa by 33 to 12 votes. Kadaga led a team of MPs to Arusha to campaign for Byamukama.
Several members, who attended the caucus meeting but cannot talk on the record for fear of being reprimanded by the party, said they were shocked by the president’s straight-forward assurance and reprimanding of his top party officials during the meeting. But a few who said they do not fear to tell the truth confirmed the tension that existed during the meeting but criticized the president for trying to demean their Speaker.
One such MP is Barnabas Tinkasiimire, Buyaga West MP, who said he would not fear to openly advise the president to also respect his juniors. He said it was wrong for the president to angrily question the authority of Speaker Kadaga when she went to Arusha in good faith to accompany the new legislators and celebrate Uganda’s victory.
He said Kadaga was a popular Speaker and leader of the party in her own right, having won an overwhelming support from the members of the 9th parliament.
Tinkasiimire’s rebuttal was in response to Museveni’s that questioned who Kadaga was, to go to Arusha without his permission.
Museveni is also reported to have said that Mbabazi and Kadaga were growing wings and assured them that he was the one in charge of Foreign Affairs in the country.
This statement is a repeat of what the President said during the State of the Nation address on June 7th, when he said that nobody, apart from himself, was in charge of Foreign Affairs. Then, Museveni also said that it was him who had instructed East African Affairs Minister, Eriya Kategaya, to allow Zziwa stand against Byamukama.
During the caucus, Mbabazi told Museveni that the decision to back Byamukama as the officially chosen candidate for the party was made by the caucus leaders and not the entire caucus because of the lack of time to meet as a caucus.
The Prime Minister said that since the election was over, the matter should be closed and the country and party move on.
Kadaga, who does not sit in caucus by virtue of her position as speaker, has not yet responded to the president’s statements.
During the caucus, Museveni also told the members that he was concerned about the numerous losses recently suffered by the party during by-elections, with NRM losing four parliamentary seats to the opposition.
Apart from Busiro North where former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya regained his seat, the NRM has lost in Entebbe Municipality, the Luwero Woman seat, Ishaka – Bushenyi Municipality and Jinja Municipality East.
David Bahati, the caucus Vice Chairperson, told journalists at parliament that Museveni was concerned that there is a growing fight within the party amongst members who only mind of their own individual interests at the expense of the party.
He said that the president enumerated eight different reasons as the main cause of the party losing by-elections.
They include the unprincipled individual fights, failure to communicate achievements of the party to the voters, violence in elections which the president blamed on Police colluding with opposition, poor monitoring mechanisms by party agents and last minute work during the by-elections.
Others according to the president include collusion by election officials to deny NRM victory, poor service delivery in some constituencies by the ruling government and a lack of vigilance at the by-elections.
Reacting to the president’s statements, Theodore Ssekikubo, the controversial Lwemiyaga MP, said he was happy about the fact that Museveni had complained about unprincipled personal decisions by Mbabazi.
He said he was concerned that up to now, Mbabazi has refused to relinquish the Secretary General’s position since being appointed to the Prime Minister’s position, a promise he had indicated to fulfill.
The caucus resolved to meet soon to discuss in more detail the eight reasons raised by the president and their possible solutions.