Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The trials of Betty Kamya

SHOWING LOVE: Some of Ms Kamya’s supporters who were blocked from getting to the FDC head offices yesterday. PHOTO BY ISAAC KASAMANI
Kayihura blocks anti-FDC protest
By Gerald Bareebe & Sarah Gauvin
Posted Wednesday, April 28 2010 at 00:00
The Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura, yesterday ordered the police to block supporters of MP Beti Kamya from reaching the FDC headquarters in Kampala citing security concerns. The supporters of the Rubaga North MP were protesting her expulsion from the Forum for Democratic Change party, saying she was not given a fair hearing.
The FDC disciplinary committee expelled Kamya two weeks ago after she thrice failed to honour its summons. In the decision announced on the eve of the party’s delegates conference, Ms Kamya was expelled after being found “guilty” of desertion and hostility towards the FDC.
Yesterday’s demonstration, political watchers said, was meant to be a show of strength by Ms Kamya against the party she helped found five years ago but disagreed with, leading to her suspension in February last year and eventual expulsion this year. In a letter to the commander of the Kampala Metropolitan police, Gen. Kayihura, said, “In the interest of peace and security, no demonstration by the group should be allowed.”
The protesters had planned to march from Nakulabye to FDC head offices at Najjanankumbi, a Kampala suburb, to deliver a petition to party president Kizza Besigye challenging Ms Kamya’s dismissal. But as news of the planned demonstration spread to Najjanankubi, the FDC youth wing led by vice chairman Francis Mwijukye and party secretary for internal affairs Francis Natukunda organised a counter force.
About 50 youth carrying clubs stood at FDC headquarters waiting to “deal with” the dozens of the pro-Kamya protesters. “We are waiting for them now and (are) ready to handle them,” Ms Alice Alaso, the FDC secretary general, said. “These are members of another party who want to disrupt our programmes. Kamya said she left FDC a long time ago but she is now organising hooligans to attack us. We have informed police and our youth are ready for them.” But some officials at Najjanankumbi had apparently alerted the police, fearing possible chaos which prompted preventive deployment to foil the demonstration.
Daily Monitor was told yesterday that Gen. Kayihura, after a telephone conversation with former Army Commander, Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, ordered the Katwe Division Police Commander to block protesters from going past the Kibuye round-about.
Ms Kamya’s supporters had apparently earlier mobilised at Nakulabye to plan their march towards Najjanankumbi. “FDC members in Rubaga applied to be allowed to demonstrate against the expulsion of Hon. Beti Kamya from FDC without a fair hearing. They planned to deliver a petition to FDC but since the recipients of the petition have not responded as being ready for the same, no demonstration shall take place,” read Gen. Kayihura’s instruction signed on his behalf by one Joseph Mugisa. He instead asked the pro-Kamya group to drop their petition at Kibuye Post Office so that it can get delivered to Dr Besigye peacefully.
“We are very surprised that our bosses in FDC can refuse to meet us and even entrust the police to stop our demonstration, yet, they always lead us in demonstration against the government even when the police says we should not,” read a statement signed by Robert Lwatutte, calling himself the FDC general secretary for Rubaga constituency. “This means that FDC is really worse than NRM, if they can even instruct the police to stop our demonstration. What if they were in government! Wouldn’t they have teargassed us?”
The members said they were giving FDC leadership a two-week ultimatum to respond to their concerns, warning that failure to do so would mean returning 5,000 party cards.

Beti Kamya warns Besigye
RUBUGA North MP Beti Kamya has warned Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) President Kizza Besigye and other party officials against fighting her.
“It is dangerous for FDC leaders to fight me because if I choose to fight back, which I have not yet done, the party has more to lose than to gain,” she said.
In an interview with Saturday Vision on Thursday, Kamya said she had been keenly following Besigye’s efforts to isolate and destroy her politically.
She said in a recent meeting of FDC supporters in London, he spent a lot of time speaking ill about her, alleging that she was sent by President Yoweri Museveni to destroy the party.
Kamya’s problems with her party reached a climax in July when she resigned from her post of special envoy to the party president. She accused FDC of manipulating its constitution to favour some officials while marginalising Baganda. “It is not wise for FDC to fight me as an individual instead of addressing the issues I raised. Who cannot see the marginalisation of Buganda in FDC?
Who doesn’t know that Sam Njuba is the only Muganda holding a senior position in FDC?” Kamya asked.
Her sentiments are shared by a number of Baganda FDC members. The FDC mobiliser for Masaka district, Hajji Abdu Kitandwe, says the Baganda are better represented in the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) than FDC.
“The party president, chairman, the treasurer, chief mobiliser, administrator, deputy spokesman, electoral commission chairman and deputy secretary general are all from the west. From Buganda, we have only Njuba holding a senior position. We are right to say that Buganda is marginalised,” Kitandwe told Saturday Vision.
In the NRM government, Vice President Gilbert Bukenya, Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi, the Speaker of Parliament Edward Ssekandi and six of the 22 cabinet ministers are Baganda.
The ministers from Buganda include The Attorney General, Kiddu Makubuya, the IT minister, Peter Mulira, the environment minister, Maria Mutagamba, the gender minister, Syda Bbumba and the trade and tourism minister, Janet Mukwaya.
Kamya said she is disappointed by Besigye for not appreciating her devotion and loyalty to him since 2001 when he first stood for presidential elections.
“It is shocking that such a person I have unreservedly served and supported could make ploys to undermine my political career,” Kamya lamented.
She was recently quoted in the media as saying that her FDC party is worse than NRM when confronted with divergent issues.
But Besigye argues that Kamya’s fight is unjustified since the party’s National Executive Committee resolved her matter.
“Kamya’s main concern is that we tampered with the constitution. We held a meeting and we unanimously agreed with the help of legal advisors including Yusuf Nsibambi that the constitution was not broken,” he told Saturday Vision.
In an interview with the Weekly Observer earlier this week, Besigye said Kamya’s resignation was not a disaster for the party. He said grassroots dynamics matter more than the actions of individuals. “Loss of any member is hurtful but you need to understand that sometimes even loss of a member can be advantageous,” Besigye said.
“If a member is lost because of genuine grievances, then it is something to worry about. But if there is no grievance and somebody, for personal reasons, decides to go, I don’t think there is something to shed tears about.”
Tuesday meeting
A meeting of party officials from Buganda was called and chaired by Besigye on Tuesdayl. It resolved that disciplinary action should be taken against Kamya over “continuous provocative statements.”
During a memorial service for Ben Kiwanuka at Rubaga Cathedral last week, Kamya had said DP’s slogan ‘Truth and Justice’ was the best.
“DP’s slogan is the reason we are fighting,” she was quoted saying.
Kamya had been invited to the Tuesday meeting to inform the party whether she was still committed to the party’s interests but she did not turn up.
It is reported that members were dismayed over Kamya’s negative statements about the party and her action of attending DP party activities while refusing to attend FDC functions and activities.
The meeting also recommended that the National Executive Council pardons John Kikonyogo, Kamya’s ally in the early days after her resignation, so that he continues serving as the party’s deputy secretary for mobilisation and organisation.
Kikonyogo, who attended the Tuesday meeting, had been suspended together with 11 other officials over making radio announcements to cancel the FDC grassroots elections in Buganda. As a result, the FDC elections flopped. The party has since made several unsuccessful attempts to organize elections.
Others suspended over the radio announcements include Kawempe chairman Joseph Jingo, Kampala district publicist Joseph Byayi, Badru Ssekyanzi, Jimmy Mayanja, and Dan Muwonge.
The party has also suspended the six ring leaders who recently led a group of about 100 Baganda FDC youth to Masaka. In Masaka, the youth held rallies where they attacked their party leader, accusing him of being anti-Buganda, sectarian and undemocratic.
Kamya’s resignation and the suspension of other FDC officials have impacted negatively on FDC in the strategic Buganda region.
The Tuesday meeting, therefore, decided that mobilisation in Buganda should begin immediately, spearheaded by the Buganda leadership in the party, to counter Kamya’s statements.
Aaron Mukwaya, a political analyst, cautions that maligning popular individuals within a given party could hurt that party badly. He believes that because multi-party politics has not matured in Uganda, individuals are stronger than their parties.
“Be it NRM or FDC, the strength of each of those parties is in its leaders. An NRM without Museveni would be like what UPC is now. The same applies to FDC without Besigye.”
He, however, notes that Kamya is the most influential Muganda in FDC. “An FDC without her may mean no FDC in Buganda. That is why the grassroots elections that had been organised without her flopped,” Mukwaya argued.
Her next move
So what is next for Beti Kamya? She says she plans to mobilise a ‘block vote’ of Baganda in the next presidential elections and give it to the candidate who will meet the region’s demands.
Kamya says the Buganda bloc will enter negotiations with political parties and sign a formal agreement with the one that gives them the best deal.
About two weeks ago, on Idd day, she started her drive in Masaka district, where she addressed a big crowd at Lusozi playground in Kalungu. She told the gathering that Baganda have been used as ladders by all the past regimes and that it was time they devised measures to stop that.
“I have been studying the behaviour of politicians. The way they talk when looking for support is different from the way they act when they assume power,” she said in the interview.
“That is the mistake Buganda made in fighting and supporting the Luwero war. If a formal agreement had been written between the Baganda and the NRA leadership, we would not be demanding for federalism and our property.”
She says the idea of a formal agreement has been received well by the Mengo government, the Baganda, and several Members of Parliament.
Kamya has allegedly sought an audience with the Buganda Lukiiko (parliament) and the Bataka (elders) committee.
She is also reportedly organising meetings with prominent Buganda activists like Makindye West MP Hussein Kyanjo and the vocal DP spokesperson and leader of Buganda civic education committee, Betty Nambooze, on how to package the idea.
Kamya recently traveled to the US together with Nambooze, Kyanjo, and Kabaka’s special advisor, Dan Muliika, for the Diaspora Baganda annual Gwangamujje meeting, whose theme was “the past, the present, and the future of the Buganda kingdom.”

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