HOW MILLY BABALANDA WON MUSEVENI TRUST
By Mulengera Reporters
During his televised address last night (Tuesday), President Museveni read out a number of telephone numbers which he implored his supporters to ring and access him throughout the election period in case anyone threatens or intimidates them. The numbers belonged to Milly Doka Babalanda, his Personal Assistant on Political Affairs within NRM, and Faruk Kirunda who is the Administrator of the Kyambogo-based Office of NRM National Chairman (ONC).
Gen Museveni also shared another hotline and other lines reachable via his reelection campaign call center which is equally manned by the ONC under the close supervision of Faruk Kirunda and his boss Babalanda. Whereas the youthful Kirunda used to be a political talk show host on Jinja-based NBS radio, where he was always renowned for his NRM bias, Babalanda was a mobilizer who President Museveni made his PA following the elevation of Molly Kamukama to the office of PPS and eventually Minister. Besides the ONC role, Kirunda substantively serves as the Presidential Assistant in charge of media management.
These two, assisted by several other junior cadres, have been spearheading lots of Gen Museveni’s personal political mobilization ahead of the 2021 general elections. They have handled several assignments including recruiting of village-based coordinators charged with spearheading the mobilization of candidate Museveni. Their Kyambogo office executes all the clandestine political mobilization activities Gen Museveni would wish to do in his capacity as national chairman for NRM. They are supposed to work in close collaboration with the Kasule Lumumba-led NRM Secretariat and CEC members.
Indeed to distinguish herself as a loyal cadre and servant of the party, Babalanda has always treated CEC members with extreme courtesy and respect even when she can directly reach and speak to Gen Museveni without having to go through anyone. She attends literally all the government and party meetings Gen Museveni attends. Sometime last year, Winnie Byanyima in her capacity as the UNAIDS global boss drove to State House Entebbe to discuss the HIV business with Gen Museveni. She travelled with Uganda’s UNAIDS boss and Gen Museveni ensured the meeting, during which the Principals also discussed gay rights, wasn’t attended by many people. He had very few assistants around him and Babalanda was among them.
The battle-hardened mobilizer from Busoga also writes often in the newspapers commenting on major issues of the day. Having fallen in love with her articles, Gen Museveni often quotes them even during cabinet meetings while imploring his Ministers to read them and learn countering the opposition propaganda using the same media platforms. Babalanda also respects protocol and hierarchy of leaders from her own Busoga backyard. She has always been very careful not to contradict Speaker Rebecca Kadaga who is number three both in NRM and government. She is equally respectful of Hajji Moses Kigongo and other CEC members. In fact, each time Gen Museveni gives her a mobilization assignment, she ensures CEC members, Ministers and MPs coming from the areas she is to work in are adequately notified about her activities and Gen Museveni likes that because it’s the best way to exhibit transparency while deescalating intrigue.
Babalanda has also acted very accountably while expending financial logistics availed or channeled through her Kyambogo office to facilitate political mobilization work for the President and the NRM party. It’s the reason that all the resources Gen Museveni has availed to facilitate his 2020/21 campaigns have ably been delivered to the intended beneficiaries through the Kyambogo office. It was her ONC office, for instance, which coordinated the delivery of the Shs300,000 the big man purposed to facilitate his campaigning effort in each of the more than 60,000 villages of Uganda. Nobody has complained so far of the money not reaching. And having realized this is such a major logistical operation, Babalanda worked with security to obtain protection services to ensure nobody got waylaid while delivering the money. She naturally has critics, like any other person, but none of them has accused her of financial impropriety. One can fault her on a certain decision or deployment but never for financial misappropriation.
Some people went as far as suggesting chewing some of the money arguing there is no way Gen Museveni would know even if some villages missed out on their Shs300,000 but Babalanda (saying she had a name to protect) consistently declined sanctioning such mischief. One of the conspirators went as far as grabbing a calculator and illustrating to her how a cool Shs600m would be hers but Babalanda, powerful as she is, declined and instead quietly shared the information with security. Away from the Shs300,000 her clandestine networks efficiently delivered, Babalanda is the one Gen Museveni once again entrusted with the identification, recruitment and training of his presidential vote protectors who must have a presence per village and at all polling stations. Huge facilitation monies were involved ostensibly to facilitate their work and logistical requirements on the polling day and to Gen Museveni’s satisfaction, Babalanda delivered the assignment on time and very meticulously without any of the intended recipients crying of exclusion.
Unlike for 2016 election exercise after which many volunteers remained unremunerated, Gen Museveni is appreciative of the fact that this time round all has gone well inspite of the COVID19-related operational constraints. Gen Museveni also likes Babalanda for operating very transparently ever calling meetings to ensure all the stakeholders inputting into an assignment are on board. She is also very clandestine, NRA guerrilla style, which explains why not many people physically know her despite of all the political power and clout she wields. Gen Museveni likes her for that deliberately introverted character too. Earlier in the week, Gen Museveni spoke to Moses Kigongo who heads his campaign taskforce and showed disgust with many of the people who he trusted but ended up messing up his campaign assignments. He told him he was disgusted with many except some few honest actors exemplified by himself (Kigongo) and the likes of Milly Doka Babalanda.
As we shall be illustrating in another separate story, Gen Museveni told Kigongo he was counting on his team comprising of the likes of Ruhakana Rugunda, Stephen Kabuye, Raphael Magyezi and a few others besides the one being coordinated by Babalanda using the Kyambogo office. The other factor enabling Babalanda to meticulously concentrate on the President’s assignments without major disruptions, just like Kigongo, is the fact that she despises material things and is also not eyeing any elective political constituency in Uganda such as wishing to become an MP. She is also humble and not confrontational to those who may seek to stand in her way, another admirable attribute she shares with Moses Kigongo.
Her presidential vote protectors’ team members will be Museveni’s eyes and ears at the more than 30,000 polling stations and theirs is the network through which candidate Museveni’s Results Declaration Forms will be collected and centrally tabulated from across the country. The idea is to ensure candidate Museveni, already paranoid about being cheated by the EC, gets to know his final score on good time before the EC even gets to release their final tally. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).