A meeting called in preparation for the Democratic Party’s (DP) delegates conference slated for next month was reduced to a fist fight and Mr Fred Mukasa Mbidde, the party’s vice president, was injured in the process.
The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) member had stormed the meeting room by force after a faction of DP faithful attempted to block him from attending. The group that had blocked his entry then broke into the meeting room of the party’s newly acquired headquarters on Balintuma Road in Mengo, Kampala, in hot pursuit.
The security personnel on site then leaped to Mr Mbidde’s rescue, locking him up in the washroom and other attendees of the meeting in the garage as they battled the protesters. While Mr Mbidde remained holed up inside the washroom, one of the aggressors hit the window with a big stone, forcing it open.
The stone hit Mr Mbidde on the forehead and he was subsequently evacuated from the premises with head in hand.
DP has been embroiled in turmoil in recent weeks as the party gears up for internal elections in preparation for the national elections slated for next year.
Mr Norbert Mao, who has led the party for the past 10 years, has declared intention to retain his seat, while a number of party members want to unseat him.
Among those who want Mr Mao’s seat is Ms Brenda Nabukenya, a former woman MP for Luweero District, Butambala County MP Muwanga Kivumbi, and Mr Lubega Mukaaku, who in 2016 competed for the national presidency as an independent.
DP is currently split right at the centre by a fight between party members who are allied to People Power, a pressure group led by Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, and those allied to Mao.
There are also other groups, which are largely silent in the ongoing fight, especially those allied to Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and Mukono Municipality MP Betty Namboze.
About the meeting
On Friday, the meeting had been called to discuss the roadmap for the forthcoming delegates conference and subsequently the general election, but the divisions rose to the fore and the subject changed, with the meeting eventually leading to the suspension of Mr Sulaiman Kidandala, a former deputy lord mayor for Kampala City.
Mr Kidandala, who has declared intention to run for the Kawempe North MP slot, which is currently held by another DP member, Mr Latif Ssebaggala, who has been the organising secretary of the party.
Mr Kidandala and Mr Ssebaggala back Mr Kyagulanyi’s People Power, and this is one of the charges Mr Mao outlined against Mr Kidandala during the meeting. Mr Kidandala was not in attendance.
Mr Kidandala also recently clashed with Mr Mbidde after the party’s vice president proceeded to organise an internal party election registration process in Masaka area yet the organising secretary (Mr Kidandala) had called it off.
Mr Mbidde remains arguably the biggest ally party president Mao has in DP.
Mr Mbidde has muddied the waters in recent months by declaring that he will run for the Masaka Municipality parliamentary seat which is currently occupied by Mr Mathias Mpuuga, also a member of DP. Mr Mpuuga also backs People Power.
Cause of uproar
Mr Mao recently lashed out at DP members who he said have had their heads turned by what he called the wave of People Power, likening their act to that of fish that goes with the wave and is subsequently abandoned to die at the shore. This fish, as Mr Mao put it, is called emmome in Luganda.
The party president’s use of colourful language led to an uproar within the DP and emboldened a number of his critics, leading to a meeting last week with that party’s parliamentary caucus during which it was agreed that they would cease hostilities.
But relations within the party did not improve, culminating in the fight that happened on Friday.
We were unable to reach out to most of the key actors to comment on this story since calls to their known phone numbers went unanswered.
Mr Kenneth Kakande, the party’s spokesperson, accused Mr Mao of changing the agenda of the meeting to target a member.
“The extraordinary meeting was called to look into the roadmap, but instead turned against organising secretary (Kidandala) yet it was not on the agenda,” Mr Kakande said.
“When Mr Mao made his remarks, the roadmap was not mentioned anywhere but instead he attacked the organising secretary on so many things, especially for being a People Power supporter.”