NRM ‘rebel MPs’: Beware its just more about drama than democracy
Posted Tuesday, February 12 2013 at 02:00
To fool those who intend to contend with President Museveni that he is in a vulnerable state and that his ‘own people’ are as equally tired of him as they are. This should be enough to motivate them to let their guard down on the pretext that the President will soon be sorted out by his own.
For about 10 years now, there has been a growing trend whereby some young MPs in the ruling NRM party stand up and publicly oppose the party line and the President on almost everything. Hence the sobriquet; ‘rebel MP.’ They promise and threaten to stand firm against intimidation and incentives from the Executive because they were voted by the people and not appointed by the President.
They vow to stand by the wishes of the people, which for some reason are always in conflict with those of the President. Then they threaten that come the next election they will either stand or sponsor someone to stand against President Museveni because he is now beyond his sell-by date. How twenty something years in power is more than enough for one individual that Uganda is not President Museveni’s personal property and that there are other people who can do better than him.
This defiant stance generates a lot of public debate with both the President’s detractors and supporters having their say. It is prominently claimed that the President has come under fire from the fiery rebels, who are suspected to be sponsored by and to speak on behalf of their senior colleagues in the party.
President Museveni is portrayed as being in a vulnerable and precarious state. It is claimed that there is a pending split in the NRM and stories of who might replace him start to float around. Before long there is either an NRM caucus meeting or a retreat at Kyankwanzi. Alternatively, there are a series of meetings and “consultations” where the rebels meet the President either in groups or as individuals at his country home in Rwakitura.
Stories then “leak” about what transpired in these closed door meetings and things like brown envelopes and promises of Cabinet appointments abound.
Then threats of disciplining and expulsion for the crime of discussing party matters in the wrong forum or going against the official party line, proliferate. Opinion columns are written about the rebels and details of their personal lives are thrown all over the place especially what are described as their “sex secrets”. Slowly, the rebels start to speak in tongues about being misquoted or being misled by those who want to destroy the NRM.
Many make a U-turn and declare their undying support for the President and all he has done for the country and pledge to support him if the people of Uganda still want him. The role of the rebel MP is basically that of a cheap Trojan horse. Their incessant drama is intended to achieve mainly four things besides the President’s ubiquitous brown envelop.
First, to show that there is internal democracy and serious debate within the NRM. This one is intended to disabuse the donor and international community of the notion that President Museveni is a “dictator”. Secondly, to fool those who intend to contend with President Museveni that he is in a vulnerable state and that his “own people” are as equally tired of him as they are. This should be enough to motivate them to let their guard down on the pretext that the President will soon be sorted out by his own.
Thirdly, the rebel MPs help President Museveni identify his real enemies. They act like the man who throws a stone in the bush to see what come out. When the rebels speak it, is the words and actions of those who support their stance against the President that are taken more seriously. They are viewed as the sort of people waiting for a spark to act.
Lastly, these MPs help maintain the image of President Museveni as the man who is larger than life and can weather any storm like he did in the many wars that he fought and conquered his enemies. When the MPs eat humble pie and back down the victor and the vanquished are clear, so are the enemies who stuck out their heads to stand with the rebel MPs.
It would take a genius to see democracy in the actions of the so-called rebel MPs.
Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues.