By Hajji Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi
The presidential nominations are going on following a successful nomination of candidates for parliamentary and local government council elections. Among those nominated include President Yoweri Museveni on the ruling NRM party ticket, former Army Commander Maj. Gen. Mugisha now Alliance for National Transformation Coordinator and flag bearer, and Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde, a former Minister for Security, who is an independent candidate. Surprisingly, all are born in Ntungamo-Rukungiri or North Kigezi-East Ankole area, all participated in the Luwero five-year bush war, and have all been part of NRM Government since 1986.
A simple observer may regard any change from President Museveni, the bush war supremo (Ssaabalwanyi) to any of his former lieutenants; Mugisha Muntu or
Tumukunde as a mere change of guards. They used to say the same about former NRM National Political Commissar former Forum for Democratic Change Party President, Col. Kizza Besigye, who also hails from Rukungiri.
Back to parliamentary elections, there are two very salient features; One is the rise of independents. Almost every body that lost in party primaries be NRM or Opposition parties has stood as an independent. That is a vote of no confidence in the electoral system inside political parties especially National Unity Platform which even did not have any mode of election and where its vetting committee was implicated in taking bribes.
The other one is how relatives of the founder of National Resistance Movement/Army (now UPDF) and National Chairperson and Presidential Candidate. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni failed to get the party flag in their parliamentary bids. The obvious one is Godfrey Aine Kaguta Sodo, President Yoweri Museveni’s young brother who has stood in my home area; Mawogola County North Constituency in Ssembabule District tussling it out with Shartsi Musherure Kutesa, daughter to Foreign Minister Sam Kahamba Kutesa, and Mawogola MP since 1996. The other is Stephen Kangwagye in Bukanga North, who is contesting with Nathan Byanyima as it was the case before.
In the past, the President, was quoted by the press saying that Kangwagye was his nephew. Although he had been declared the winner by NRM EC led by Prof. Tanga Odoi, the Tribunal cancelled it and the Central Executive Committee did give a flag to any and Kangwagye has, this time, stood as an independent.
The other person, who for a very long time, was claiming to be a relative of the President, until much later, the President, at a rally, also confirmed that she was his relative, is Joy Kafurah Kabatsi. In the past, while competing with Anifa Kawooya Bangirana for the post of Ssembabule District Woman MP in 2006, 2009 bye election, (2011 and 2016), Kabatsi used to say that although she was not the NRM flag bearer, she was a relative to the President. In 2009, while campaigning for Anifa Kawooya, the President said that it was true Kabatsi was his matrilineal relative, but he appealed to the people of Ssembabule to vote for Anifa who was the official NRM candidate.
In 2016, Kabatasi was lucky that after losing to Anifa again, and had decided to go to court, with what, she called overwhelming evidence, that she was appointed a State Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, in charge of Animal Industry before she was switched to State Minister for Works which she holds now. She, this time, switched to Lwemiyaga County against his longtime ally Theodore Ssekikubo but was trounced again. She has also decided to stand as an independent.
There is also Juliet Ssuubi Kinyamatama, the outgoing Rakai District Woman MP. While campaigning to succeed the late Maria Lubega Mutagamba who had declared that she would not contest for the seat in 2016, Kinyamatama won voters’ sympathy as she said to be a relative of the President who is popular. But she lost party primaries to Hajjati Aishah Lubyayi Kayanja, sister to Maj. Gen. Elly Kayanja and her appeal to the tribunal was rejected. She has decided to stand as an independent.
The President belongs to Basita clan, which, in Buganda are Abente (Cow clan) and in the past he had referred to Dr. Beatrice Wabudeya, who was Minister for Presidency, and now a member of Chancery, that gives awards, under Office of the President, who is also a Musiita from Bugisu sub region, on Mount Masaba, as his kinswoman.
So, the humble Museveni, could not, out nepotism, favor his relatives be nucleus or extended, to sit on chests of others and declare themselves victorious. They are competing with others on equal footing. That is where a republic differs from a monarchy and an oligarchy. NRM is both republican and revolutionary.
On independents, l covered proceedings of Odoki Commission and Constituent Assembly and according to Odoki Report, (Found inside –Page 71) of the memoranda that mentioned a preference for political system, 58 percent preferred the movement system. One of the reasons for people to prefer an all-inclusive, all embracing Movement system as opposed to party politics be one party or multi party systems was sectarianism based on religion and ethnicity and lack of internal democracy.
A referendum on political system, five years after promulgation of the 1995 constitution was held in on 29 June 2000. Voters were asked “Which political system do you wish to adopt, Movement or Multiparty?” The result was 90.7%. Even the 2005 referendum on the same, the President, out of the pressure from donors, tricked the voters by saying, that voting for restoration of parties was to get rid of those fighting the Movement system from within. 92.44% (percent) voted for opening up so that NRM turns itself into a political party to continue with the ideals of the Movement system.
It is out of lack of internal democracy that some parties, like NUP, did not organize elections, instead an “Ayatollah” used a so-called vetting committee to endorse those to stand and those not to stand.
Bobi Wine’s promoters of DP Block like Mike Mabikke leader of SDP, Dr, Abed Bwanika leader of PDP, Sam Lubega Mukaaku of TJ pressure group, were kicked out. In Kawempe North constituency, DP leaders; Latif Ssebaggala and Sulaiman Kidandala of DP in Kawempe North, were dropped in favor of Muhammad Sseggiriinya, a former hawker and now KCCA Councilor.
“Ayatollaism” started in FDC where its supremo Dr. Kizza Besigye endorsed Eng. Patrick Amuriat Oboi against his successor and bush war comrade Maj. Gen, Mugisha Muntu. The latter had no option except to break away and form Alliance for National Transformation (ANT).
It is out of transparency and fairness that NRM decided to revive the mode of lining behind candidates as it was the case in Resistance Council/ Committee elections between 1986 and 1996 which ushered in popular participatory democracy. Unfortunately, it was abused by some greedy officials of NRM Electoral Commission who are said to have taken bribes from candidates, and forged figures in their favor. Hence many losers in primaries, are running as independents.
As next parliament is expected to tackle pending constitutional and electoral reforms, the revival of the Movement system, under which the country was run between 1986 and 2006, where leaders stand and are elected on individual merit, should not be left out as most of our political parties have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. We shall also save our scarce resources we use in funding political parties and their primaries.