Sunday March 30 2014

‘Caucus resolution mere MPs’ wish’

Ms Jacqueline Mbabazi during the interview at

Ms Jacqueline Mbabazi during the interview at her home in Kololo on Friday. PHOTO BY FAISWAL KASIYRE 

By Charles Odoobo Bichachi

Let’s delve a little bit into the politics because like you say, all these may cause problems to the country and these are political problems we are talking about. The President has been running the country for more than 28 years.

He has got this endorsement from the NRM Caucus, as you said CEC did not endorse that resolution but the MPs insist and possibly the President is giving them money to go to the countryside and popularise this resolution. Where do you think all this is going to lead the party come 2016? What scenario do you foresee?

I don’t know if the President is giving the MPs money to go and popularise the resolution. What I know is that at CEC, we decided to treat the resolution as a wish of the MPs, which they are entitled to but not as a party resolution.

So as a party, we are not going to popularise that resolution because it is unconstitutional and offends section 35 and section 39 of the NRM constitution.

So right now, I don’t know whether it is their zeal or someone is trying to use them. They are encroaching on the role of the other three party organs. So whether they go to popularise it or not, it is not a party resolution.

Before the last election [2011] during a CEC meeting I attended, we did not allow one Capt Maguru to stand as the chairman of the party and as presidential candidate because we really did not see him fitting; this was genuine.

We disallowed him genuinely, he was not up to the task but still this Capt Maguru went to court and when he did so, the chairman and our party lawyer sat and made some consent out of court and this judgment has been haunting us as a party because clearly, we were wrong to disallow Maguru to stand.
May be we should have allowed him, he would have walked away with his three or four votes. So this resolution is very undemocratic. It is illegal, it could even be null and void but as CEC, we decided to treat it as a wish of the MPs.

Was that a unanimous position in CEC or there were some dissenting voices that saw value in the resolution?
No, when you are in a meeting, a committee or any group, the majority will have the day.
So come 2016 when the party is going into elections, do you see somebody challenging President Museveni from the party?
It is anybody’s right.
And you say you learnt from the mistake of Capt Maguru, so you think the party will not this time round oppose any one challenging Mr Museveni?
I don’t think the party will oppose anyone challenging President Museveni
So the MPs think the Prime Minister, who certainly is a very capable person, is going to offer himself and that is the spirit of this resolution. What is your take on that?

I cannot speak for the MPs. I don’t know what was in their minds to pass the resolution and I don’t want to speculate that they passed their resolution because of the Prime Minister. I don’t know any reasons, they know better.
You have been in the background, all these years you have been in public service, I remember you were at URA, Luweero Industries; you have not been at the heart of politics yet you seem to be very much a “historical” within the NRM. Can you share with us what your role has been in the party historically, pre-1986 and all through this time?

You know the norms in our society, women used to play the supporting role most of the time till recently when a lot has been done on emancipation. So in the 1970s, I played a supporting role to FRONASA. I could say I played a supporting role in FRONASA and doing some activities.

Come 1981, when we went into exile, I was a member of the external wing of the NRA, so when the party started, I became a member of the delegates conference in the historical forum.

That was when we first had elections. In 2005, I was a member of the historical forum and then 2010, I decided to stand for the Women’s League but I have always been a good cadre of the revolution.
I will take you back a little to the youth who were charged. You came out to stand surety for them, which was a very bold decision on your part, considering the perceived powers behind all this. Did you think you would be misunderstood or did you think you owe it to these youth?

Would I be misunderstood by Kayihura? If I were to be misunderstood by Kayihura, I don’t think I would mind. I would be running no risk. I believe every Ugandan can see that these are actually prisoners of conscience.

I believe in human rights but also the fact that these young people had addressed a press conference and said we support Mr Mbabazi, I thought I owed it to them because they were expressing their democratic rights and I believe if Mr Mbabazi had not been busy with state duties, he would probably have gone to stand surety for them.
For Gen Kayihura to be engaged in these activities, it must be by invitation. He has no constitutional role to be playing in the party. Have you as CEC discussed this?

The situation had not deteriorated to the level of having prisoners of conscience and we should urgently discuss it. I don’t know who is funding Kayihura, whether it is taxpayers’ money he is using to humiliate, terrorise, imprison and treat these NRM members like this.

I believe we should discuss it soon. The question of Omodo Omodo from Lira is even more interesting because this young man was picked on Saturday, he slept in the cells in Lira on Sunday, and on Monday, he was brought to Kampala, handcuffed without a shirt, his trousers torn, mistreated and I am told by one of the plain-clothed officers, a notorious Nickson. This is a very serious matter.
The Prime Minister the other day was issuing a statement saying the police should stop harassing and stepping on the rights of people to assemble, do you think the premier has brought up this matter with the President or is he going to bring it up?

I cannot speak for the Prime Minister but I hope he has brought up the matter with the President because it is a serious matter.
After you issued your statement in which you said the party was descending into fascist tendencies, former vice president Gilbert Bukenya came up and also wrote a statement saying he has talked about this. He has also been a victim and actually pointed out that you and the Prime Minister have been part of the problem. What can you tell Mr Bukenya at this moment in time?

I have never been in government (meaning Cabinet) so I don’t have any word for Bukenya. I was a civil servant when all that was happening so I don’t know what he went through and who was responsible. You see some MPs behaved like a mob in Kyankwazi and when we start having mobs, we cannot say that is correct and of course fascist tendencies include the kind of things this Kayihura man is doing.

That is fascism! I have the right of choice and conscience. I saw Kayihura issue a statement about the arrests. He was talking of political crimes. I wish he would not make himself busy with political crimes but concentrate on the murders, kidnaps, rape; there is so much work for Kayihura out there. For him to be doing what he is doing in NRM is actually a crime as far as I am concerned.

Kayihura has a handler. He has an appointing authority, the fact that he can do all this, he can allocate himself political policing work, and he is not called to order; are we allocating our blame properly or is Kayihura a scapegoat?

I think the appointing authority should take a step backwards and critically look at what Kayihura is doing and decide. Short of that we shall have a lot of problems.
When you look at what is happening today in our politics, the corruption, insecurity that you have brought up, when you look at the horizon, where do you see the future of this country in the next few years if these trends continue and what needs to be done to put the country back on the road?

I think there is too much politicking, we had elections in 2011 and immediately after that, people started paying attention to the next election. The people need service delivery, they want better health services, better grades at school, thank God we still have our peace but when crime begins to increase, it may deteriorate into some kind of insecurity.

So I would request that government pays attention to giving service delivery to the people and uphold the peace that we enjoy and stop the politicking because in any case, if our people are happy, why should we be running around the country politicking? Our actions must speak for themselves, why should we be passing resolutions? Actions must speak to the people and they will decide.
Any other matter you think you need to bring out for the benefit of the country?
May be something that I forgot about this charge sheet, defective as it is, I would never have expected the DPP [Mike Chibita] to put his signature on this. He is a new DPP in whom the whole of Uganda has a little hope and for him to begin this way, it is very unfortunate.

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