Sunday February 23 2014

Premier Amama Mbabazi for and against President Museveni

By Prof George W. Kanyeihamba

In last week’s Sunday Monitor, columnist Timothy Kalyegira complimented me for supporting the presidential candidature of Amama Mbabazi. He erroneously wrote, “For example, in January, the retired Judge George Kanyeihamba in his Sunday Monitor column wrote a defiant piece clearly in support of Mbabazi, telling readers of Bakiga solidarity when they are threatened and indirectly warning Museveni against any thought of tampering with Mbabazi.

It was obvious that Kanyeihamba had insider knowledge of a move to undercut Mbabazi’s powers”.
Like the late American comedian Max Groucho did when sections of the media reported that he had died, he said: “The reports of my death are slightly exaggerated.”

Similarly, my support of Mbabazi’s candidature is very much exaggerated. Fortunately, both President Museveni and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi know me too well not to take Timothy seriously.

Be that as it may, Timothy’s narration about the NRM and the political revelations at the Kyankwanzi NRM Caucus retreat is spot on.

As some people have observed, had Ms Evelyn Anite been a Dr Kizza Besigye, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago or Gen David Sejusa who had originated a resolution in support of Mbabazi to be the sole NRM candidate for 2016, they would have been charged with addressing the issue in the wrong forum. She would have been liable for expulsion from the NRMO party and may be from Parliament. Would Premier Mbabazi have supported her expulsion? I believe the answer would have been ‘NO’. Would supporters of President Museveni have acted against them? The answer is probably, ‘yes’.

The first list of the signatories of Members of Parliament in support of candidate Museveni included only two representatives from Kabale District, namely, David Bahati and Henry Banyenzaki. It is speculative as to whether the rest of Kabale Members of Parliament considered Mbabazi as their chosen candidate. He may not have known them then but if he did, then he led them to a blind alley and left them there to politically rot.

What is politically surprising is that the Mbabazi camp, if there be one, did not predict all that was inevitable. Mbabazi is familiar with the Kikiga saying, “Eyokufa tebulira Nzam” (The game which is destined to die does not hear the bells sounding warning). For some years now, Mbabazi has had the President or his camp and the media say “Mbabazi’s own constituency is State House”, whose occupant once said “Mbabazi surrounds himself with thieves and the corrupt”.

Then the press recently headlined, ‘Amama Christmas gifts shock Museveni’, “Pro-Museveni Members of Parliament to fight off the Premier”. Previously, Middle East Arabs had revealed to sources close to the President that Mbabazi had clandestine meetings with them and collected millions of US dollars to support his bid for the presidency in 2016.

They also said he had befriended and been enriched by his Chinese backers to stand in the 2016 presidential elections and apparently they had a video depicting his plans. This message was re-echoed on a poster in his Kinkiizi West constituency.

The NRMO party generally accepted these stories and his supporters in that the party made no secret of the fact that Mbabazi was their presidential candidate for 2016. It would appear that while Mbabazi casually denied these stories, he made no serious efforts to kill them.

“Never believe anything unless it is denied by government”. They ought to have been predicted by him or his supporters.

People may recall the story of Margaret Thatcher. She was a relatively young and junior minister at the time her predecessor Edward Heath ceased to be leader of the British Conservative Party. Senior and seasoned politicians who were widely expected to succeed Heath feared or shied away from revealing their desires to become prime minister even though many of them longed to succeed Heath.

Thatcher alone took the bull by the horns and declared publicly that she would stand as leader of the Conservative Party. Many of her colleagues were frightened and feared for her. She nevertheless bravely stood her ground and was subsequently elected and became one of the longest serving and effective prime ministers Britain has ever had.

Former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya has publicly declared his candidature. Those who fear to reveal their intentions publicly, when there is no much time left, or who are organising secretly to unseat President Museveni, will not succeed.

Prof Kanyeihamba is a retired Supreme Court judge.