Tuesday, October 2, 2012


At least even if Mbabazi quits, he is a rich man, talk of properties which are said to be owned by him. The sins of the likes of Mbabazi are to see others as sinners, may be they are not sharp enough to see things right. Mbabazi should have fallen out with Museveni long ago, but trust some of our people, when they see others fall out, they assume those are in the wrong. I remember Mbabazi on the move to see our phones tapped by the State, today if there is a fall out, it was expected. He is simply following many others who were used and abandoned! William Kituuka Kiwanuka ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MBABAZI TO QUIT IN 2016
Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has reluctantly decided to bow out of the rough and tumble of elective politics ahead of the 2016 elections, following an increasingly frosty relationship with the President, The Observer has learnt. Highly-placed sources within the NRM told The Observer that the decision was made during a couple of family meetings held recently at Mbabazi’s countryside home in Kihiihi, Kanungu district, and at Kololo in Kampala. The meetings were mainly attended by Mbabazi, his wife and children, as well as close relatives. Some of Mbabazi’s extended family members, an appendage of the NRM fabric, include his in-law and former privatization minister, Mathew Rukikaire, his sister-in-law and former Agriculture minister, Hope Mwesigye, and his wife Jacqueline Mbabazi, who is also chairperson of the NRM women’s league. Mbabazi’s drastic decision comes at a time of a reported cold war between him and President Museveni. At the heart of this fallout, party insiders believe, is a latent power struggle and emerging fissures in the ruling party ahead of the 2016 elections. “They [the family] agreed that he should not stand in Kinkizi West and no-one else within his family stable should contest in 2016,” said a member of the family who asked for anonymity. “Mbabazi is ready to back any other ruling party member in Kinkizi West to be elected to Parliament in 2016,” the source added. It is also unlikely that Mbabazi will seek to be re-elected secretary general but he has promised to serve in any other position the regime assigns him. Mbabazi told his family that upon retirement, he would concentrate on charity work through a foundation. When contacted yesterday, Mbabazi did not return our calls. Of recent, Mbabazi, who is quite IT savvy, has developed a penchant for cyberspace. On his official website, www.amamambabazi.com, the premier appears to send out a carefully calibrated message like a leader in the autumn of his lifetime. In some of the images posted on his website, Mbabazi is pictured seated with some Chinese army generals while, on the other hand, he is seen embracing his grandchildren. The website has since raised eyebrows with some people alleging that it is a springboard for his presidential bid. However, those close to him believe it was set up to facilitate his charity work as he bows out of politics. Mbabazi’s decision to step aside will rob Museveni of one of the longest serving loyalists in the inner sanctum of the ruling party. He is a dapper, meticulous and canny political operator who, until recent reports that he had fallen out with the big man, executed most of the President’s sensitive assignments. Although Mbabazi continues to deny the possibility of a rift between him and the President, a source told The Observer that of recent Museveni has been avoiding returning the calls of his once close confidant and NRM secretary general. Another source claims that the President has set up a parallel power structure run by the recently appointed minister without portfolio, Richard Todwong, who has been charged with affairs of the party. Sources conversant with affairs of the ruling party tell us that Museveni is genuinely concerned about what he sees as attempts by Mbabazi to build his powerbase as attention turns to the 2016 elections. The President is understood to be actively trying to clip Mbabazi’s wings while continuing to benefit from his steely management skills. It is understood that the recent appointment of John Nasasira as minister in charge of General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) was part of the grand scheme to blunt Mbabazi’s growing clout ahead of 2016. In this matrix, it is expected that Nasasira, a member of the closely-knit ruling party politburo, would take away chunks of power from the powerful prime minister. Observers also say that Museveni no longer assigns Mbabazi any high-profile roles and prefers the less ambitious Vice President Edward Ssekandi. In July, for instance, it was Ssekandi who represented Museveni at the 50th anniversary of Burundi’s independence. Ssekandi has also been to launch the Kaiso Tonya road works in Hoima and the new power line from Kawanda to Masaka. Tactical blows While we could not independently verify the link between these and the Mbabazi-Museveni tensions, sources within the establishment confirm that there are undercurrents that have strained the relationship between Museveni and his once-upon-a-time trusted colleague. Many point to an NRM caucus meeting at State House, Entebbe, which took place in June, when the President berated Mbabazi and the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, to prove that things are no longer at ease. It was also perhaps the first time Museveni was criticising Mbabazi openly. Among other things, Museveni said: “[Eriya] Kategaya is more senior than Mbabazi and Kadaga when it comes to regional matters.” Kategaya is the second deputy premier and minister for East African Community Affairs. Although Museveni later called another meeting a week later, at his country home in Rwakitura, where he appeared remorseful, some insiders believe the point had already been made. “Why did he have to criticise them in the open and praise Kategaya who betrayed him and joined FDC at one time? It is more than meets the eye,” said a well-placed source in the ruling party. Museveni, in another veiled swipe at Mbabazi, following successive by-election losses, said the NRM needed a fulltime secretary general to run the affairs of the party. This was in stark contrast to Museveni’s previous stand that Mbabazi could pull off what was asked of him as both Premier and NRM secretary general. Trusted, suspected As recently as October 2011, Museveni came to Mbabazi’s defence when MPs demanded his resignation because of allegations of bribery over oil contracts. “People who are pushing Mbabazi to step down basing on WikiLeaks are not after Mbabazi, but after Museveni. They want to use WikiLeaks to remove me. Mbabazi is going nowhere and Museveni is going nowhere,” Museveni said during a cabinet meeting. The President reportedly told his ministers that for all the time he has worked with Mbabazi, since 1974, the man from Kinkizi has never disappointed him. “He has always handled sensitive issues in areas of security, legal issues and diplomacy. He is clean and I have never found him wanting,” Museveni insisted. So, what could have gone wrong to shatter an intimacy that lasted just under four decades? A senior lecturer in Political Science at Makerere University, Dr Sabiiti Makara, believes it is the toxic succession politics playing out. “When [James] Wapakhabulo [former speaker] shone in Parliament, he was put on the wayside. It’s a way of cowing him [Mbabazi] out of his ambitions; his appetite will have to be tamed,” Makara opines. Political historian Mwambustya Ndebesa concurs with this Machiavellian conspiracy. “When you rise nearest to power, you must fall. Museveni does not want a threat,” Ndebesa says. mutaizibwa@observer.ug

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