Monday March 31 2014

Museveni vs Mbabazi; time for fear mongers, opportunists and extremists

By Nicholas Sengoba

The ruling NRM party has reached a critical and interesting stage in the ongoing attempt to come to terms with what has been described as ‘an attempt by certain individuals’ (read Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi) to remove Museveni from the leadership of the party.

The Museveni side has hit the ground running in a strategy to ‘detoxify’ the party and put things in the correct line. This is the line that leads to Museveni the erstwhile leader of the party and custodian of its vision.

Players to look out for are the ones who have studied the character of Mr Museveni and his response to opposition of any nature - real or perceived. Mr Museveni has shown it very overtly that he is paranoid in such circumstances.

Mr Museveni will give 300 per cent to get 100 per cent. He leaves nothing to chance. The young Turks have seen an opportunity here. Play on the old man’s fear. It would appear that in these endless NRM party caucus meetings and those of other organs, the strategy is to try and impress Museveni that he is surrounded by his enemies and in very serious trouble.

Rumour, innuendo, ‘intelligence reports’ and media stories quoting ‘reliable sources that will not be named because of the sensitivity of the matter’, will surface about Museveni’s enemies and his vulnerability. Their wealth and escapades will follow. There will be accusations of who is anti-Museveni.

Two things will follow. Museveni will use the coercive machinery of the State together with the Judiciary to neutralise the miscreants. Already, some have been denied bail and locked up for bribing voters. Others, for attempting to commit murder and several serious crimes.

Secondly and most important is that this will be the door for opportunists to make quick and easy money. Already, money has reportedly been disbursed to MPs to go to their constituencies and popularise the sole candidacy of Mr Museveni come 2016. This will include speaking against his ‘enemies’ who want to forcefully take over the party and take Uganda back to the bad old days.

Those placed on the wrong side of Museveni will live in fear of a backlash from the party and will try to outdo themselves to prove their allegiance and love for Museveni. Many individuals will surface, apologising on bended knees to the President for having been misled and promising to follow his good leadership while rejecting ‘obscurantists.’

It will also give those who intend to rapidly climb up what they think are ladders in the so-called ‘party structures,’ an opportunity to ascend by bringing down others.

The sum total of all this is increased levels of enthusiasm manifesting itself in violent behaviour by vigilantes and member of security agencies.
The images of Bishop Zac Niringiye being manhandled and insulted by policemen is testimony to this.

The perpetrators are playing to a gallery that has come up because of the upheavals in NRM. They think by being extreme, they are ‘catching the eye’ of those who feel threatened in NRM -and that is the powers that be.

All these happenings will only play in the hands of Museveni. Heightened amounts of suspicion and bickering will divert NRM members from focusing on the leadership of their organisation to personal survival. The lack of cohesion will leave Museveni out of range for criticism.

Two age old Machiavellian traits will have come out very clearly. One that a Prince will have presided over a carefully chosen war that leaves him unaffected. Second, that the Prince will benefit from ruling over a divided house.
Politics is no child’s play and surely Amama Mbabazi must now know this very well - in a practical way.

Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues