Will rise of Among lure more Opposition figures to NRM?

President Museveni (right) hands Bukedea Woman MP, Anita Among, instruments of power after she was elected new Speaker of the 11th Parliament at Kololo Independence Grounds on March 25, 2022. PHOTO/ DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Many Opposition members have been leaving their parties to join the NRM party.

Members of Parliament on Friday elected Ms Anita Among as the Speaker of Parliament and Mr Thomas Tayebwa as her deputy, paving way for resumption of the parliamentary business. 
This follows the death of the former Speaker Jacob Oulanyah last week in Seattle, US.
The election of the two has raised more questions on whether Opposition parties are simply training grounds for the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.  
Both Among and Tayebwa were Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party stalwarts who joined NRM. 

Among twice contested for Bukedea Woman Member of Parliament in 2006 and 2011 on FDC ticket, but lost on both occasions. 

In 2016, she contested as an independent and won the seat. 
She formally joined the NRM party in 2020 and hardly two years as a member, she has risen to become the Speaker, the third highest position in government. 
For Mr Tayebwa, he was a founding member of the FDC party. 
He contested on the party ticket in 2006 as youth MP but lost. 
In 2015, he contested for NRM primaries for Ruhinda North constituency and later emerged unopposed as the area MP. 
Seven years later, he has risen to be number five in order of precedence in the country. 

Other notable former FDC members who have crossed to the NRM include Maj Bright Rubaramira Ruranga, a senior party official; Ms Beatrice Anywar, the former Kitgum District MP; and Ms Beti Kamya, the Inspector General of Government. 
Others include Mr Christopher Kibanzanga, the former Busongora South MP; Mr Alex Onzima, the former Maracha County MP; and Ms Joyce Ssebugwawo, the former FDC Vice President for Central Region.
The defections have not been unique to FDC, but other Opposition political parties as well. 
Ms Beti Amongi crossed from Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) to join NRM.

Democratic Party has also seen a number of its big shots crossing to the ruling NRM party including Ms Nakiwala Kiyingi, the Minister of State for Children and Youth Affairs in the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, and Mr Gilbert Bukenya, the former vice president.
David Okumu Kadoketch on Twitter sarcastically congratulated FDC for grooming national leaders then losing them out to the ruling NRM party.
“Credit to @FDCOfficial1 for grooming Young Leaders in this Country,” Okumu tweeted shortly after the two took control of Parliament.

Another social media user, Tusiime Christon, said while FDC is good at training leaders, they cannot keep them.
“You train but you fail to accommodate,” Tusiime tweeted.
FDC party officials were not available to comment on what these elevations mean to the party and whether more defections will occur if there are incentives from the ruling party. 
While both Patrick Amuriat Oboi, the party president, and Nathan Nandala Mafabi, the party secretary general, did not answer our calls, Ibrahim Ssemuju Nganda, the party spokesperson, had his phone switched off by the time of going to press.

Ms Anna Adeke Ebaju, the party deputy president in charge of eastern Uganda, said she was attending Mass and requested to interact through messaging. However by the press time, she had not responded to our WhattsApp messages.
However, the party on its official Twitter account, while responding to the queries raised by different people, said such defections are individual decisions, which the party has nothing to do with. 

The party says it operates on the principle of open door policy where members come and go and that they will continue to attract more new members because of its guiding principles that appeal to Ugandans. 

“The shaky members will always have shortcuts to achieve their goals, and the rigid oriented members will keep fighting to defend our founding policy agenda and values to achieve our mission of democratic change. Quick fixes have consequences!” the party tweeted.
It added: “We aren’t a lazy party with lazy leaders making noise on Radios &TVs. We have a leadership academy that trains & grooms leaders. However, it’s not an easy task with the junta politics we are in, it takes resources & time. Institution building is the basis of democratic governance.”