Bukenya flip-flops as Nabukenya returns

Sunday May 25 2014

NRM’s Prof Bukenya joined the Opposition to campaign

NRM’s Prof Bukenya joined the Opposition to campaign for DP’s Nabukenya in the Luweero by-election. Photo by Faiswal Kasirye 

By Yasiin Mugerwa

Parliament is on recess, so the doors to the chambers remain closed until June 15. But Prof Bukenya made headlines last week when he joined the Opposition camp in Luweero District Woman MP by-election. He later addressed a press conference at Parliament, saying he had no regrets campaigning for Ms Brenda Nabukenya, the Democratic Party candidate. He also vowed to take on President Museveni in 2016 elections.

In a congratulatory message to Ms Nabukenya on winning the election, Prof Bukenya warned leaders who judge others and reminded them that even the Bible refutes that. He said it is one thing to feel that you are on the right path but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.

“What might have worked for you and your life is not the road others should strive for and please respect each other’s choices and do not judge them,” he said. That he always uses the stones they cast on him to build a solid foundation because he knows that once one is strong, he or she is unstoppable.

Looking back, on a gleaming Monday morning of November 7 2011, Prof Bukenya described President Museveni as having been supportive and disclosed that the NRM leader personally stood by him all through what he called ‘a political problem.’ He was talking about his imprisonment in the wake of the Chogm scandals.

Prof Bukenya was charged with abuse of office for his role in the award of a deal worth Shs9.4 billion to supply 204 executive vehicles to Motorcare, a private company. Minutes after the Anti-Corruption Court presided over by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire formally discharged him of abuse of office; he expressed unconditional gratitude to Ssabalwanyi. However, from this time on, Prof Bukenya, who is one of NRM senior leaders, stopped using the NRM symbol-- the thump and publically seen, clinching fists.

After a stint of nearly three tumultuous years as a backbencher following a landslide victory in a flawless by-election in his constituency, in what now seems to be a “stab in the back”, Prof Bukenya, once a darling of the regime, removed gloves last week and turned the political sword on a man who stood by him in time of need.

In a combative tone, he willfully reinforced the Opposition in Luweero by-elections when he openly scoffed at the NRM candidate, Ms Rebecca Nalwanga. He foretold DP’s Ms Nabukenya landslide victory.

His antics angered NRM stalwarts in Parliament who have branded him a “quack” and “disgust to the system”. They asked NRM leaders to summon him to the disciplinary committee. But Bukenya hit back, saying the only person who can expel him from his right is his mother and that she is already dead. However, it’s not yet clear whether Prof Bukenya will be hauled to the disciplinary committee as the case with the four expelled MPs.

In May 2011, President Museveni asked Prof Bukenya to resign from Cabinet, exactly eight years after he was first appointed to the job. He picked former Speaker Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi in his place. However, in a telephone interview with this newspaper, Prof Bukenya called his sacking a “relief”, pledged to continue fighting poverty and vowed to remain a faithful member of the ruling NRM party.

Umeme bribe
Last week, the Rules, Discipline and Privileges Committee started investigations into the allegations that some MPs on the Ad hoc Committee on Energy picked bribes from power distributor, Umeme, to defend its contract with the government. The committee report recommended that Umeme contract be terminated in public interest. Thus recommendation was adopted by Parliament. The Ad hoc committee was investigating the operations of the company and the allegations of corruption in the energy sector.

The allegations were made by Kyankwanzi District woman MP, Ms Anne Maria Nankabirwa, a member of the Ad hoc committee during the NRM caucus meeting and the matter was later discussed on the floor and referred to the committee. It was alleged that each MP received Shs5 million in two installments at Hotel Protea to block the recommendation that the contract of Umeme be terminated.

When these allegations were made, the committee leadership attempted to acquire recordings of the CCTV camera at the hotel but detectives said the footage had been tampered with and that the management of the hotel could have erased other recordings on which the MPs had been filmed picking the money.

Some members of the Rules Committee last week demanded that the Committee Chairperson, Mr Jacob Oboth Oboth, who was also the chair of the Ad hoc committee ,steps aside, citing conflict of interest in the matter. However, Mr Oboth Oboth has since refused to step aside. The probe continues this week.