Unease over the President’s assertion that he will only leave power upon finding a successor with a vision continued to rise with five ruling party MPs and an independent legislator yesterday saying this was as an admission of failed leadership.
Mr Museveni was accused of involving himself in self-perpetuation schemes while pretending to be a patriotic and benevolent leader. His plans to appoint a deputy NRM secretary general in light of a reported ongoing turf contest between himself and sitting secretary general, Mr Amama Mbabazi (the country’s premier), outside of the party’s constitutional provisions also drew criticism.
“We find his statement abusive, he spells doom for this country. He is an advocate for disaster,” said Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo. “It is not true to state that it is only President Museveni to offer leadership to this country. President Museveni being mortal like any of us must leave the stage at some point in time but Uganda as a country will not die or end with any of us.”
Mr Ssekikubo was joined by MPs Barnabas Tinkasimiire (Buyaga West), Raphael Magyezi (Igara West), Winfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East), Michael Mawanda (Igara East) and Mariam Nalubega (Butambala) in telling a news briefing at Parliament that President Museveni’s utterances revealed that he has been hoodwinking the country.
Speaking during a meeting with party officials from Buganda region, the President who also chairs the ruling party, said he would have retired to his farm in Rwakitura long ago if he had identified a visionary leader.
“There are some people who say Museveni should quit. I would have left long time ago but when you assess them, you wonder which direction they would take the country to,” he said.
But Mr Mawanda said that President Museveni’s claim is a sign that he has failed in his leadership. “We do not want NRM to suffer the same fate as KANU in Kenya. We want to bring strong institutions for the posterity of the party,” he said.
Mr Niwagaba said by making the statement, the President was, for the first time, being honest to himself “because all along his vision has been individualistic.”
“It is selfish,” Ms Nalubega said. “You can’t think you are the only one created by God to lead this country. What if he dies now, will he lead us from wherever he would have gone.”
Questioning what he called “the President’s claims to be democratic”, Mr Tinkasiimire said Mr Museveni has constantly been overseeing undemocratic practices in the country.
“He used incredible amount of money to buy votes. You can’t say you are a democrat when you use money to buy votes. Who is that democrat who ridicules the Speaker of Parliament, a full head of an independent arm of government?” he asked.
A leaf from the US
“We find it embarrassing that [US] President Clinton came and left, then George Bush and now we have [Barack] Obama and Museveni is still around.” Although the MPs challenged the President’s plan to appoint a deputy secretary general for NRM, saying that it’s a sign of dictatorship and failure to adhere to democratic rule, the party’s parliamentary caucus spokesperson, Ms Evelyn Anite, disagreed.
She said that the President has a right to appoint any person. “The position is not in the party constitution but the President, as a leader of the party, has extra powers to see how he can make things work,” she said.
“He really feels there is a vacuum in the party and that’s why he wants to appoint a deputy to work until we meet at the delegates’ conference next year,” Ms Anite observed, adding: “Those MPs who addressed a press conference know that they can address the President through the caucus and not through the media and that’s why they should have done.”