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MUKASA MBIDDE FINALLY DELIVERS EALA FIRMLY TO M7’S NRM

By Isaac Wandubile 

During a recent NBS debate moderated by Simon Njala Kaggwa, both the moderator and Kasanda North MP Patrick Orishabe Nsamba told off DP Vice President Mukasa Mbidde for insisting on enforcing a court decision which only strengthened the hand of Gen Museveni’s ruling NRM when it comes to EALA positions as opposed to weakening or constraining the same.

Originally, the opposition was assured of at least 2 EALA positions which always went to the leading opposition party in Parliament as NRM had the last word on who took the rest of the positions. Mbidde’s court decision altered that whereby NRM was now able to leverage on its numeric strength to determine who went to EALA or didn’t. At the same time, the opposition was condemned to uncertainty whereby he who makes the best deal with Gen Museveni (not necessarily the NRM) is the one who goes to Arusha on behalf of change-seeking forces.

Shrewd as always, Gen Museveni initially did some PR by allowing the opposition to retain the two positions FDC had dominated for the preceding 5 years of multi-party politics (2006-2011). Immediately after kicking out FDC, which had to be severely punished and humiliated for insisting on each party in Parliament having a slot at EALA with NRM retaining the majority to reflect its numeric strength, Gen Museveni aided DP’s Mukasa Mbidde and UPC’s Chris Opoka (an obscure politician who 5 years earlier had returned from exile following Milton Obote’s death) to join the Arusha-based Assembly.

For being too principled and rigid during negotiations that followed the Mukasa Mbidde ruling, the biggest opposition party then FDC was totally locked out. Then powerful PM and NRM SG Amama Mbabazi represented Gen Museveni at the negotiations which occured at a time Nandala Mafabi had just become LoP.  The man from Sironko vigorously cursed Mukasa Mbidde and Mao for the dishonesty and deal-making they exhibited during those negotiations between JPAM and the entire opposition leadership.

10 years later, the equally very principled NUP has also found itself subjected to the same humiliation-the leading opposition party in Parliament not having representation at EALA yet small parties (willing to deal-make with NRM) like DP, have once again been stampeded into the Assembly because of the large say Mukasa Mbidde’s court decision has enabled the ruling party to continue having.

Back in 2011, Gen Museveni ensured his NRM remained with 6 out of the 9 EALA positions. The other went to the independent and all this was decided by the NRM Caucus which Gen Museveni was now able to use to gain upper hand in the EALA competition while leveraging on the Mukasa Mbidde court decision. Susan Nakawuki, who had badly lost the Masaka Municipality MP race to Mathias Mpuuga in 2011, found her way to State House and worked out her own deal with Gen Museveni who reciprocated it all by directing his Caucus members (some call them voting machines) to give the (independent) vote to Nakawuki who he described as a repentant foe.

After 10 years of being nice and pretending to be accommodative of the opposition, the true colors and intentions of Gen Museveni’s NRM have come to the fore. In the Thursday 29th September elections at Parliament, Gen Museveni’s NRM ended up dominating the 9 EALA positions. With the 6 NRM flag bearers home and dry (James Kakooza, Mary Mugyenyi, Rose Akol Okullu, Paul Musamali, Denis Namara & Stephen Odongo), the NRM already had 6 out of 9 even before voting got underway.

UPC, a lukewarm opposition party represented in the race by its SG Fred Ebil Ebil, was assured of one position as the other went to DP deal-maker Gerald Siranda. It was widely expected that one other slot of the independent was to be equally available for either an NRM-leaning person or any other contender who isn’t overtly hostile to the ruling party.

In the end, because it was open one man one vote (implying whoever gets the highest number of votes carries the day), two NRM diehards stepped forward and carried the day. These are Jacqueline Amongin and Veronica Kadogo. These are NRM diehards who only considered running as independents after Gen Museveni used both CEC and the Caucus to insist that the 6 incumbents had to bounce back unopposed as ruling party flag bearers so as to enable them exhaust their two terms as has been the practice since the commencement of EALA in 2002.

Instead of bowing out, NRM’s Jacqueline Amongin and Veronica Babirye Kadogo stayed put since it was their right to vie as independents. It’s a risky gamble they took which, in the end, has paid off. They actually got more votes than even Siranda whose DP considered it sufficient to get Gen Museveni’s endorsement.

Whereas Kadogo got 383 votes, Amongin polled 338. In comparison, Siranda managed only 233 votes and narrowly survived losing to Agaba, another NRM-leaning independent, who finished with 210. UPC’s Fred Ebil-Ebil got 139 as FDC’s Harold Kaija unexpectedly walked away with 99 votes. JEEMA Secretary General Mohammed Kateregga, whose party Gen Museveni had said he had no problem with, polled 36 votes! The 6 NRM flag bearers polled as follows: Namara 415, Akol 422, Kakooza 405, Odongo 403, the very eloquent Paul Musamali 401 and Mary Mugyenyi 367.

With everything said and done, NRM (cleverly leveraging on the dictates of the Mukasa Mbidde decision) has ended up controlling Uganda’s EALA representation 8/9. Only DP’s Gerald Siranda is officially not theirs. Otherwise the so-called independents Kadogo and Amongin are self-professed NRMs. And, unless someone prompts Court to once again intervene, this mischief is going to be in place at least for another 10 years up to 2031 because Siranda will predictably have to do 10 years just like the two independents (in actual sense they are NRM).

In 2026, should Musevenism continue reigning, only the 6 positions will be up for grabs and this will be for the ruling party as the NRM 6 incumbents won’t be eligible for re-election (competition will be within NRM itself for the 6 positions). And who knows? By that time, the cooperation between DP and NRM could have become more entrenched making Siranda even more aligned to Musevenism than is currently the case.

And going forward, authorities at Arusha must begin preparing putting up with a situation where all the 9 Ugandan representatives (2026-2031) will actually be Musevenists of varying degrees-clearly subverting the EAC treaty requirement to be as inclusive of all shades of political opinion as is practicable.

Not only are the ladies card-holding members of the ruling party, they are also former Woman MPs respectively for Buyende in Busoga and Ngora in Teso sub region and voluntarily served on the NRM ticket. Amongin, married to Kampala lawyer Archilles Lubega, was Ngora Woman MP from 2011 to January 2021 when she was succeeded by FDC’s Stella Isodo Apolot who polled 20,272 votes against her (Amongin’s) 13,954.

Even when all this absurdity is happening, Mukasa Mbidde remains unrepentant and recently praised himself during the NBS TV Barometer program for having levelled the ground and made EALA representation in Uganda more inclusive and more competitive that had been the case before. Mbidde advised those calling themselves genuine opposition to work very hard during the 2026 elections and grow their numbers in Parliament if they want to end the current status quo where NRM continues having the last word on who goes to EALA. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us atmulengera2040@gmail.com).

 

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