Saturday April 26 2014

NRM lawmakers conned Museveni with sole candidacy

By Asuman Bisiika

In 1996, Ms Josephine Kasya was the only female district chairperson in the whole country. A loyal supporter of the National Resistance Movement and President Museveni, Ms Kasya is still the district chairperson of Kanungu District.
And at the end of her current term of office in 2016, she will have served as district chair for 20 years; only 10 years less than Yoweri Museveni’s 36 of service as the President of the republic.

On Wednesday, she was the highest local leader in Kanungu District to protest the popularisation of President Museveni’s sole-candidature as NRM presidential candidate; a project perceived by many as fighting Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi’s perceived presidential ambition. Mbabazi hails from Kanungu.
The open protest from the NRM leaders from Kanungu District (and elsewhere) is a clear indication that the party may not remain the same after the polls. Clearly, the NRM Parliamentary Caucus resolution to have President Museveni as the sole candidate for the position of party chairman and party presidential candidate for the 2016 elections will be blamed for this confusion.

The resolution of a party organ to endorse a particular person for a particular office would not be a problem. The problem is the heavily-funded project of popularising that endorsement.

In all honesty, President Museveni did not have to give the MPs any money to popularise his candidature (in the NRM). It was very unfortunate and panicky of Museveni.
The truth is that the NRM legislators have conned the President of huge amounts of money to do the job (of popularising their own endorsement of a particular person for a particular office).

Most of these MPs are said to be unpopular in their constituencies. And analysts say that the rate of MPs’ failure to return to Parliament is about 60 per cent. Now, going by this figure, it means President Museveni was conned of his money by people who have nothing to sell to him. In Kampala, we call such people bafere. And the victim is called a fala.
My small take on this matter of popularising/ Museveni’s sole-candidature in the NRM is that it is likely to produce unintended consequences.

First, without paying for it, this popularisation project has made Prime Minister Mbabazi what the Congolese call makambwe ya mikolo oyo (trending). And this is a far cry from the hitherto held view that the good man from Kanungu was hated by many in the NRM.
Second, it exposes (I think portrays is the right word here) Museveni as someone whose only interest is power and just uses group interests and structures as a vehicle to his personal ends.

Third, it paints a picture of a panicky Museveni who acts haphazardly in the face of adversity (perceived or otherwise). It erodes the mystic element of a man who has single-handedly influenced the trend of socio-economic and political aspects of the country from 1980 to date.

Fifth, the fear that when Museveni realises he was conned, he is likely to brazenly resort to other unconventional means: like involving the armed agencies of the State to do the mobilisation (remember the Kalangala Action Plan?).
Of course very soon, when Museveni eventually realises that he was conned, he will return to the basics of mobilising support for his candidature (against whoever may have interest in the top job).

I recently wrote what passed for a free-verse poem about President Museveni’s sole candidature. I appreciate the feedback from the readers (particularly those who thought the poem was a ‘clever’ satire.
That poem was my traduction libre (freestyle English translation) of the song Candidate Nabiso Mobutu (Mobutu is our Candidate) by Franco Luambo Makiadi of Orchestre TPOK Jazz. In the song, he was urging Congolese (Zairoise then) to popularise Mobutu’s candidature in the 1984 polls.

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of East Africa Flagpost.