Augustine Ruzindana

NRM’s internal rift may lead to a new political configuration

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By Augustine Ruzindana

Posted  Thursday, April 24   2014 at  17:32
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A journalist called asking for my opinion on two parallel NRM youth delegates conferences that were due to take place; one in support of the sole candidature of Mr Museveni and the other in support of Mr Amama Mbabazi. I told him I had not heard about them and, therefore, I had no comment but he didn’t believe me and persisted, asking for my opinion.

I picked interest and talked to some opposition youth who confirmed that indeed, two parallel youth conferences were being organised but that the one in support of Museveni had been postponed and only the Mbabazi [youths] were continuing.

I then called a knowledgeable contact in NRM and he told me the NRM Secretariat had stopped the delegates’ conferences. Later, I learnt that the two youth factions had held a joint press conference and that they will meet the NRM chairman/President on Friday (today) and then the conference(s) will be held in May.

I am recounting this in detail because there are people in the Opposition and even within the NRM who have not yet accepted that there is a serious internal rift/struggle within NRM and the sooner this sinks in, the better so that its implications are analysed and appropriate strategies are drawn to take advantage of it.

In fact, an NRM friend opined that what is happening must have been engineered by the Opposition because they are the beneficiaries of the rift.

Security focus has become divided between covering the Opposition and the pro-Mbabazi NRM, leading to the relaxation on the suppression of the opposition. This is partly why the countrywide Opposition meetings and rallies have been allowed.

The rift was, of course, inevitable and logical. A life presidency tenure has always to reinvent its support base because disillusion with and demystification of the leader takes place with long-term contact and interaction.

His message begins to become repetitious and that accounts for the regular switch to a slumber mode for many during his frequent long speeches because people can forecast what he will say at every occasion. Security then begins to note those sleeping or not clapping and who is talking to who become important as a loyalty test.

There is a sense of insecurity pervading the ranks of NRM supporters. Some of them have lost their laptops in a manner that indicates purposeful targeted thefts carried out by professionals.

Analysts have dated the anti-Mbabazi activities to the closure and hasty sale of the National Bank of Commerce, the latest reshuffle of RDCs and the now famous youth MP kneeling in Kyankwanzi, petitioning for the sole candidature of Museveni. Why was this inevitable in NRM? This process had already taken place in UPDF where the NRA commanders are already history.
Those carried forward in the NRA political wing (NRM) must also give way, though there is a bit of a complication because some posts are elective. The Chairman of the High Command is not an elective post but the NRM chair is elective and there seems to be a prospect of some serious challenge. This cannot be allowed and, therefore, State and national resources have been mobilised to this end.

This makes the NRM internal matter a national issue. Whereas alleged Mbabazi supporters have been arrested for organising support for him, Museveni supporters are openly distributing money to drum up support for him and none has been arrested.

Just as it is unacceptable for State institutions to be partisan against the Opposition, partisanship by State agencies and agents is equally unacceptable and must be condemned. Political re-alignment is inevitable and no action by anyone or the state will prevent it.

Mr Ruzindana is a former IGG and former MP.