And now Kihika joins the NRM rebel ranks

Sunday January 19 2020

If one of these days someone in the NRM party expresses buyer’s remorse, I will understand.
What Mr Oscar Kihika, the NRM’s legal mind, did last week may not endear him to some people that matter in the top ranks of the ruling party. They may regret why they hired him.

You see, the NRM brooks little or no dissent — which is rich for a revolutionary party that claims to fight for the rights and freedoms of Ugandans.

So, once upon a time (read December 2017), some 30 members of the party “crossed the floor” and voted with the Opposition scoundrels in Parliament to stop the gutting of the provision in the national Constitution that prevented anyone from running for president when above 75 years of age.

Their impudent action amounted to political hara-kiri and if these chaps were not going to go through with it, the party bosses would gaily help them along. In the very least they would be cold-shouldered. How dare they go against the unrestricted presidential moves of Mr Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, General of Generals? How?

It is part of the ostracisation action that the targeted men and women of our Parliament were not invited to attend the party’s national conference slated for later this week.

Enter lawyer Kihika. He didn’t even have to cite the national Constitution. The NRM one was more than he needed to put the petty, vindictive and intellectually challenged biggies at the NRM secretariat in their place.


Under the NRM constitution, Mr Kihika lectured the party secretary general Justine Lumumba in particular (anyone remembers that this same Justine was once quite vocally critical of the NRM government?), all party MPs, as long as they have never been dismissed from the party, are entitled to attend the national conference.

That they voted against Mzee’s thirst for an unlimited contest for presidency is not a disqualifying act. Okay, he didn’t say this, but he implied it loud and clear.

For avoidance of doubt, Mr Kihika directed thus: “Arrangements should, therefore, be made to ensure that they attend the national conference just like all other members who were invited…”
Ms Lumumba and her boss Museveni, the party supremo, may ignore Mr Kihika’s piece of advice. The “rebels” may not be invited because they will be headache at an event where the party will declare Mr Museveni its sole candidate for the 2021 presidential elections.
The “rebels” will show up, nonetheless. They will be denied access to the conference venue. They will go to court.

But the 2021 elections will probably have been held by the time the matter is decided and some of them may even have lost because the NRM is sure to deploy its arsenal against each one of them.

If the “rebels” win, the NRM, which is fully fused with the State, will easily pay the costs. Actually, it will simply ignore the judgement altogether and national political life will go on.

Which is why the NRM “rebels” must have a strategy to accompany and animate their progressive kajanja, as I have argued a couple of times before.

They should not be nonconformist just for just. They need to work to become a force within the NRM and nationally in the latter years of the Museveni rule and beyond. They, therefore, have to build a following within the NRM, starting with their peers.
Yes, there is careerism that prevents people from courage and daring, but in the very least they must be expanding their influence. We need to see real political content behind their bold actions. Otherwise, it may all end as political gimmickry.

As for Mr Kihika, he may not have the NRM gig much longer because he has now become a “rebel” legal advisor. No matter, he has his law firm.
Plus, it has been a while since he staged an “Oscar and Friends” concert to serve up “an Afro-fusion of modern and neoclassical music with a touch of jazz”.
He will have time for that.

Bernard Tabaire is a media trainer and commentator on public affairs based in Kampala.