Who are the ‘rebel’ MPS?

Muhammad Nsereko, Theodore Ssekikubo, Barnabas Tinkasimire and Wilfred Niwagaba

What you need to know:

The sentiments of some MPs concerning Parliament and the government are not exclusive of these recently expelled MPs from the NRM. The difference has been in the sheer boldness with which these four expressed their views. John K. Abimanyi looks at who these legislators are Radical from the start

Name: Muhammad Nsereko
Constituency: Kampala Central

The ruling NRM party has struggled to win a political seat in the centre of the capital city. That is why it was strange when the NRM’s Muhammad Nsereko won the Kampala Central Member of Parliament seat.

But whoever thought the ruling regime would now rest easy, sit back on their hems and enjoy some much needed peace because finally, one of their own was representing the most sensitive constituency in the capital, could not have been more wrong.

His Parliament Internet page indicates that Nsereko is a lawyer and trained journalist who attended Kibuli Senior Secondary School and Kawempe Muslim Senior Secondary School.
When he won the seat in the 2011 elections, Nsereko straight away set himself aside as a voice of dissent inside the NRM, taking nearly every opportunity to publically disagree with his party’s official positions on matters of policy.

Soon, it was apparent that for all intents and purposes, Nsereko was an opposition politician, only donning an NRM tag. When time for arrests came (for alleged fraud and assault), he would face the cameras and brandish the V-sign, a well-known FDC signature. He gave an interview to the Observer, and announced that he was ready to resign his seat on the NRM ticket and re-run on another platform; he then announced that he would start his own political party.

When there was a Parliament by-election in Bukoto South, he campaigned against the NRM candidate, Alintuma Nsambu, something that made it bluntly clear that he was a liability to the party. By the time NRM’s announcement was made known early this week that Nsereko had been expelled from the party, it was a statement that did not land with a heavy shock.


A career characterised by conflict

Name: Barnabas Tinkasimire
Constituency: Buyaga

Among the things that Buyaga County Member of Parliament, Barnabus Tinkasimire has given to Uganda, is adding to its pop culture the phrase, “It is going to be bloody.” That was in 2008 when the Temangalo storm was raging and threatening to sink anybody in its wake. And Tinkasimire, after jumping ship from those who had been plotting against Amama Mbabazi, said the fight to save Mbabazi was going to be bloody.

His career has been characterised by personal conflicts with other politicians, played out in the public. Some of these, which may seem to be hits below the belt, include a confrontation with the late Dr Stephen Mallinga, in which he accused the deceased of being too old to be a minister. In another exchange with State Minister for Relief and Disaster preparedness, Musa Ecweru, Tinkasimire told the minister that he had once been accused of defilement.

Tinkasimire has been active in voicing opinions that other NRM MPs would rather keep quiet about, say the need to reinstate term limits, and, the need for the president to resign or not stand for the presidency in 2016. It comes across as no surprise that the party chose to expel him.

Tinkasimire has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a postgraduate diploma in Research and Project Management. He also holds a Law Degree and Certificate in Law from the Law Development Centre. He has been MP Buyaga County in Kibaale since 2006, having been a Chief Administrative Officer of Tororo before joining politics.


A man disagreeing with his ‘father’

Name: Theodore Ssekikubo
Constituency: Lwemiyaga

It may surprise you to learn that Theodore Ssekikubo and Yoweri Museveni share a lot more than just that fact that they are both politicians who until this week, were of the same party. His father, Sam Mwagala, was a close friend to the late Amos Kaguta, President Museveni’s father. Ssekikubo thus spent a part of his time growing up in the State House confines.

But that seems to have been forgotten when it comes to the way he has operated with the President in the NRM. Starting from his home district of Sembabule, he has conflicted with such senior members of the NRM as Sam Kuteesa, a conflict, which has left each baying for the other’s political blood, and, one, which led to the famous election-violence incident in 2010 in which he was captured on TV, disrupting voting materials, even brandishing a gun.

This scenario left him being called “Jackie Chan”, after the famed movie star, by some MPs.
Ssekikubo has also made it a habit to publically go against his party’s official agreed position, and, calling for a reinstatement of term limits.

In fact, he himself has hinted on the possibility of standing for president. It was also seen in the aftermath of MP Cerinah Nebanda’s death last year when he called for a recalling of Parliament, against the executive’s wishes. So his expulsion is not shocking. Ssekikubo studied Social Sciences and Public Administration at under graduate and Masters levels at university. He is an Orthodox.


Fighter over oil matters

Name: Wilfred Niwagaba
Constituency: Ndorwa East

Wilfred Niwagaba completes the lot of this pack. He has in many cases appeared alongside the rest, expressing vocal dissent. One of the famous moments was in August last year when together with these fellow “rebel MPs”, as well as Raphael Magyezi, and Michael Mawanda, they called a news conference and before watching cameras, chose to tear into pieces, newspapers that carried a story of President Museveni saying he wanted to appoint a new Secretary General for the NRM.

He was part of the opposition to the passing of the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill 2012 which he and other critics said gave the Minister in charge way too much power. He recently also expressed concern about the oil bribe allegations against the President, and, demanded that the President comes forth to explain himself.

It is also Niwagaba, who, while addressing a meeting in Kabale in February this year, announced that he had taken it upon himself to search for a candidate inside the NRM to challenge and run against President Yoweri Museveni in 2016. And so for Niwagaba too, it comes across as no surprise that he was expelled. He is a Roman Catholic, a lawyer who has been a professorial advisor at the Law Development Centre and a part time lecturer at NCBS Nakawa.