HOW DP SG SIRANDA FLOORED MP KIVUMBI AT NBS DEBATE
By Mulengera Reporters
This Tuesday morning, DP Secretary General Gerald Siranda appeared for the NBS TV’s very popular Morning Breeze program where he debated with Butambala MP Mohammed Muwanga Kivumbi, a leading brain in the party faction opposed to PG Norbert Mao’s administration. Simon Kaggwa Njala, himself a conflicted DP member, moderated the debate during which Siranda unexpectedly floored Muwanga Kivumbi leaving many wondering which side of the bed the otherwise very eloquent MP (married to Makerere law don Dr. Zahara Nampeewo) woke up this morning.
During the discussion, that brought out the best in Siranda, Muwanga Kivumbi wasn’t at his best-and for some reason he seemed flat-footed on many things. In this briefing, we summarized the highlights of the heated debate that lasted 1 hour (8-9am).
Kivumbi claimed he and other MPs (DP has 15 in total) were the lifeline of the party and that without the money (Shs450m annually) resulting from their membership in the House, guys at City House would have nothing to operate with. To him, this makes them indispensable and more important than Siranda & Co merely sitting at headquarters. Siranda immediately took him on demanding to know why Kivumbi’s hard work had for the last 10 years of his MP-ship not resulted into more DPs winning elective positions in his Butambala County. “Why is it that you are the only DP who gets elected in that area? I’m here to state he is happy to be the only DP holding elective office in that place,” Siranda said. “The truth is once in Butambala he never talks about DP. It’s all about him keeping his Parliamentary position.” In making this point, Siranda seemed to corroborate claims that many lower level DPs have had to be sacrificed for the NRM, whose membership numerically dominates there, to continue tolerating Muwanga Kivumbi to be MP.
Kivumbi then claimed that Siranda had no moral authority to reprimand any of the 15 DP MPs because, as SG, he earns a salary off their direct and indirect financial contributions to the party. He insisted even the Shs450m DP annually gets through the EC, under the IPOD arrangement, is because of the 16 MPs it has in Parliament. “But you are there because we as DP sponsored you to be in those positions. We paid your nomination fees, ring-fenced your positions so that nobody stood against you in party primaries, made your campaign posters and gave Shs3m to each of you,” Siranda chipped in.
Muwanga tried denying getting such logistical support from his mother party DP but backtracked when Siranda threatened to share evidence of him signing commitment letters with the party as the logistics was being dispatched for his 2016 campaigns. “But Shs3m is really nothing compared to what an MP spends and needs to win elections in those constituencies,” Kivumbi said before proceeding to threaten “today you have 16 DP MPs but very soon you are going to have none.” He wished to elaborate on that point of DP returning zero MPs in 2021 but Njala, in his characteristic style of ever incoherently interjecting never allowing his guests to exhaustively develop their thoughts, diverted him to other things. This perhaps was in reference to a grand plot how the Kivumbi bloc intends to upstage Mao while working with Kyagulanyi for 2021 (we shall run full story later).
Seemingly unbothered, Siranda firmly responded to Kivumbi; “We won’t mind having just one MP but who is loyal and pays full allegiance to the party.” He said they are tired of MPs who keep jumping on every political wave “because they like abandoning the DP vehicle to become conductors in other people’s taxis.” Kivumbi then, without any provocation, became furious and went personal on the SG contemptuously asking: “Hon Siranda let’s be sincere here; how do you earn? Where do you work?” Siranda, who had already denied being remunerated for being SG, firmly answered “I have my consultancy.”
Saying he was not going to allow Kivumbi, who he told off for being a pauper who materially possessed nothing until he became MP in 2012, to step on him personally and get away with it, Dr. Siranda asserted; “I came from the UN refugee program where I worked before working for DP. I didn’t come from the street. I came to DP with everything that I have unlike you who is suffering from arrivalism because all you have was got from being MP. You had nothing before becoming MP.” As Siranda asserted all this Kivumbi, who is among those uncomfortable with a mere 35-year-old youth being SG, contemptuously looked at him.
Kivumbi, who kept insisting that by electing him MP the people of Butambala give a lifeline to DP in order for the SG to get what to eat, also stated that Siranda had no moral authority to question the MPs and their leadership style because he himself stood for MP in 2016 and lost. “You don’t even have a single councilor in your area for DP.” He added; “And the people you are using to undermine us now in our constituencies have been built and mentored by us as MPs.”
Kivumbi made this point after Siranda rightly pointed out that majority of the DP MPs have become so unpopular with party members in their areas, they don’t want City House allowing anybody to compete against them for flag bearer in 2021 during party primaries. That such dwindling political fortunes is the reason the DP MPs are tying themselves on Bobi Wine anticipating to ride on his political wave to get reelected in 2021. At some point it was claimed Mao had equally become so unpopular to the extent that all the 15 DP MPs had unanimously turned their back on him. Siranda furiously protested this and read out Mary Babirye Kabanda, Veronica Nanyondo, Deo Kiyingi, Leander Komakech and Okot as some of the MPs who are solidly behind Mao. He unequivocally challenged Kivumbi to rebut this fact and the Butambala MP, who last week led others to a press conference where they accused Mao & Co of corruption, couldn’t rebut a thing.
On the Mukasa Mbidde saga, Siranda said envy was driving most of the DP MPs to become Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga’s proxies in his legitimate fight against Mbidde who he said has equally a right today to eye the Masaka seat just like Mpuuga did in 2011 when he successfully challenged JB Kawanga (who Siranda said is a man of unequalled credentials when it comes to being an excellent legislator). Siranda said its contradicting for the Kivumbi bloc members to brag about annihilating the NRM out of Masaka in 2016 yet this happened at a time the very Mbidde they demonize was the district chairman for DP.
Kivumbi then claimed this was false and downplayed Mbidde’s role saying “this was a deliberate effort by us who often drove to Masaka to aid Hon Mpuuga to campaign for those different DP candidates.” Siranda used this as an opportunity to make the case that the Kivumbis are nothing but Buganda-based politicians. He accused them of failing to graduate from the politics of “Ssuubi-ism.” He charged at Kivumbi: “Why did you not do the same in Kabula, Kapchorwa or even Pallisa? Are those not parts of Uganda?” Saying Kivumbi was actually lying, Siranda still wondered why the Butambala MP only afforded influencing DP wins in distant Masaka without doing the same to nearby Gomba and Mpigi where DP equally had candidates. Clearly overwhelmed by the intellect the fast-talking Siranda exhibited, Kivumbi referred to Gomba saying the DP candidate there was actually a mole from NRM.
With similar eloquence, Siranda also wondered why other district chairpersons like Kalungu’s Joseph Sewungu and Butambala’s Kivumbi didn’t equally deliver their districts to DP like Mbidde did in his Masaka. With Kivumbi not being able to marshal out quick responses, Siranda said this can only be proof of envy that pushes them to deny Mbidde’s clearly visible accomplishments as Masaka chairman. Kivumbi once again went native calling Siranda a fake PhD holder while going on to claim that even his master’s degree, sponsored by the Germans at Nkozi University, was never completed. He went as far as claiming the likes of Mbidde buy nice suits to win over poverty-stricken party officials like Siranda.
Many considered this hitting below the belt approach unwarranted but yet Kivumbi wasn’t yet done. He then plunged into the reunion logistical complications telling everybody how it was his money and financial commitment that enabled DP to pull off the pioneer reunion event at Makerere University where Abed Bwanika was unleashed to demonize other opposition figures like Kizza Besigye, Betty Nambooze and Erias Lukwago. Kivumbi claimed that at some point the DP leadership doubted the political momentum that would result from the reunion caravan and refused to top up onto the seed money he had volunteered for the Makerere event. He said on the eve, organizers almost called off the event for lack of money and yet his personal coffers had been drained. That the DP bosses said there was money on the party account but they would only release it on condition that Kivumbi undertakes paying it back once his subsequent salary as MP came through. “They even made me sign as if this was a personal loan,” Kivumbi revealed before landing in the Siranda landmine demanding proof he ever reimbursed the party. The truth, Kivumbi admitted, is that this money was never repaid and instead the party enthusiastically funded all the subsequent reunion events even after he became lukewarm and withdrew from the process after some DP Bloc principals made public criticisms of him after he bashed Mao claiming State House had availed him billions to antagonize Kyagulanyi. Towards the end of the show, Kivumbi also accused Siranda of being part of the group that “likes hibernating into tribalism each time we raise accountability issues.” (For comments on this story, reach the editor on 0200900416/0705579994 or email us at email@example.com).