The National Resistance Movement (NRM) is set to vote for the top nine leaders in its Central Executive Committee (CEC), which is the party’s policy making organ.
President Museveni is safe as he got no competitor for his usual seat as the party’s national chairperson.
There are more than two candidates who have been nominated to compete for each of the positions of first national vice chairperson, 2nd national vice chairperson and the six regional vice chairpersons.
Much as the party boasts of creating a conducive environment for internal democracy to allow competition for positions in all organs, the current situation looks to be pitting the young cadres against the old members, most of them have been incumbents.
The CEC and the National Executive Committee (NEC) are expected to vet the candidates to draw a final list by August 5. The final list of candidates per position will be sent to the National Delegates Conference that will be held virtually between August 7 and August 8, to among others, confirm Mr Museveni as the national chairperson and also NRM’s presidential candidate ahead of the 2021 elections.
The young cadres, some of who were born slightly before, during and after the National Resistance Army (NRA) liberation war, say having been empowered and educated about the core principles of NRM, it is time for them to take charge of the affairs of the party.
Apart from 50-year-old Godfrey Nyakana, the vice chairperson for Kampala, and 46-year-old Simon Peter Aleper, the vice chairperson for Karamoja, the rest of the six vice chairpersons are aged at least 60 and above.
The director for communication at the NRM Secretariat, Mr Emmanuel Dombo, warns that the party will not tolerate campaign premised on age, adding that the vetting in CEC will consider other parameters that include loyalty and contribution to the party, discipline and methods of work.
“There is no age limit as a consideration for any position under consideration. This is not one of the factors” he says.
Lukenge Vs Kigongo, Babu
When he was nominated on Tuesday in his quest to continue deputising Mr Museveni, the long serving first national vice chairperson, Mr Moses Kigongo, warned that it is not yet time for the older members of the party to give way on internal leadership positions.
“We still have something to fill and that is why some of us don’t want to leave. If you begin removing the parts of the engine, then the bus will not be able to move again,” Mr Kigongo said.
Also in the category of those that are above the age of 60 is Capt Francis Babu who has come up to challenge Mr Kigongo. But the two veteran members of the party have a task ahead to wrestle down the vibrancy being imposed by the young cadres; Mr Hakeem Asiimwe Lukenge and Mr Kefa Mafumo.
Efforts to reach out to Mr Mafumo were futile as his known telephone contact could not go through but Mr Lukenge is aged 42.
“We want to bring new synergies and ideas that will transform the NRM party from the Bush War mentality to modern day political competition. We want the President to work better with young brains and ideas with new focus that can match the needs of majority of the population” Mr Lukenge said.
Namuganza, Amongin Vs Kadaga
Like Mr Kigongo, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga is one of the NRM veteran cadres who wants to retain her top position in CEC as 2nd national vice chairperson (female).
Ms Kadaga, 64, is facing competition from State minister for Lands Ms Persis Namuganza, 34, former Amuru Woman MP flag bearer Jane Frances Amongin, 42, and Ms Deborah Kyazike Kinobe. We were not able to establish Ms Kinobe’s age as she still has an eye on Mityana District Woman MP seat currently being held by Information minister Judith Nabakooba.
After picking nomination papers last week, Ms Namuganza said it is time for the older members of the party to give way for the young people and then do an advisory role.
Ms Amongin also says the young people need to take top leadership to consolidate the achievements and also demonstrate them.
Two candidates will battle for the position of the vice chairperson for Karamoja. There are the incumbent, Mr Aleper, and Mr Jimmy Lokoru Tebanyag. Mr Aleper, 46, is seeking a second term as a member of CEC.
Details about Mr Tebanyag are scanty because he has not been available on phone since his nomination was confirmed. It is not clear how old he is.
Nadduli’s central region
At the age of 78, NRM historical Abdul Nadduli is facing off with six other candidates, including State Minister for Tourism Mr Godfrey Kiwanda, 47, in the race for the central region seat.
Others are businessman Twaha Ssonko Kiganda, 41, Mr Muhamad Kibedi Nsegumire, 45, former Gomba District chairperson Abdul Semu Kyabangi, Mr Moses Kalangwa Kalisa and Mr Moses Mayengo, 51.
Mr Nsegumire says having been a youth leader before, he feels the young people have a role to do in “sparing the generation of this country”. He is the current NRM vice chairperson for Mityana District. Though aged 51, Mr Mayengo told this newspaper that his is the productive age for a party that wants to sustain its leadership of the country.
Capt Mike Mukula, 62, is also facing a tough task of convincing the delegates that he is better than the four young people seeking his position in CEC. The most popular among his challengers is former Tororo Municipality MP Sanjay Tana, 47, but also in the fray are local musician Christopher Buyera, 30, Mr John Robert Ekongot (age unknown) and Ms Christine Harriet Akello 45.
Apart from Mr Tana and Ms Akello who are not basing on their ability as young people to try to oust Capt Mukula, Mr Buyera thinks that having joined the party at age of 16, it is time to raise up to the top ranks.
Kyaligonza’s hard task
Nine contenders are seeking to push Bush War hero Maj Gen Matayo Kyaligonza from CEC as the vice chairperson for western region. Apart from Ms Florence Kintu Tumwine (former Kalungu Woman MP) who is aged 60, the rest of the candidates seeking to take the mantle from the Ambassador to Burundi are young.
State Minister for Housing Chris Baryomunsi is 50 and deputy government spokesperson Col Shaban Bantariza is 57. We could not establish the age of candidates John Magaro, Apollo Timugaya, Wilberforce Muhangi Byaboneka and Rogers Bifa Tugaine.
Former Busongora South MP Boaz Kafuda is 38 and Dr Diini Emmanuel Kisembo is 34. These two believe that Gen Kyaligonza has outlived his role in CEC and want to use their energy to wrestle the region known for NRM from the claws of new Opposition arrival Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine.
As Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, 55, fronts the aspect of rotational representation from the sub-regions of the northern region as part of the campaign to oust incumbent Sam Engola, 62. In between are young people lurking. They are Mr Timothy Okee (age unknown) and Dr Samuel Oledo Odongo, 35.
“We have been mentored by the President and it is time for the young people to emphasise and mention the NRM achievements since we are beneficiaries. My code is in the NRM and there is no reason why these old men cannot leave the elective stage to us” Dr Odongo said.
The battle for Kampala has pitted candidates who are in the same age group and their fight now is about who has the best ideas to help the NRM capture the capital from the hands of the Opposition. The candidates are incumbent Godfrey Nyakana, 50 and former Rubaga North MP Mr Singh Katongole, 55. usinessman Salim Uhuru, 52.