As part of his ongoing political mobilization of Toro/Rwenzori sub region, OWC Coordinator Gen Salim Saleh has occasionally attended public ceremonies in Bunyangabu district which is home to Defense Minister Adolf Mwesige Kasaija. But what is intriguing is that at least on two visits to the politically very polarized district, Gen Saleh has made statements that the public has since construed to be veiled declaration of support for Mwesige’s political rivals. For instance, he recently presided over a Church of Uganda fundraising ceremony at a place called Ruboona C/U. In his speech, Gen Saleh furiously wondered why Mwesige wasn’t present at the function “well knowing a very important person like myself would be here.” The anger with which Gen Saleh talked left his audience convinced that Mwesige’s act of apparent disrespect wouldn’t go politically unpunished. “He [Adolf] was aware of this function and that I would be here yet he is nowhere to be seen. Isn’t this a sign of surrender on his part? Or is it the triumph of Mugabe here?” jokingly said Saleh who made his address in a mixture of English and the native Runyakitara. Col Robert Mugabe, a senior army officer in the UPDF for 33 years, has previously expressed his wish to unseat long serving Adolf Mwesige and become the new Bunyangabu County MP only to be frustrated by the minister’s allies in the Mbuya-based defense Ministry. On that day, Col Mugabe was seated next to where his mentor Gen Saleh (who knows him pretty well) was speaking from. Gen Saleh complained of the leaders’ complacency and neglect as manifested in Mwesige’s absence at such a very important fundraising ceremony which comes with opportunity to mobilize and communicate government programs. To him, such gaps in political mobilization create vacuum and could in future cost NRM support of the rural grass root people. His utterances at the fundraising emboldened the crowd to denounce the already unpopular Adolf Mwesige even more in favor of Col Mugabe whose only hurdle is having his repeated retirement requests rejected by Mwesige’s friends at Mbuya. The Mwesige-Mugabe wrangling has become so serious that the Rwenzori diocesan Anglican Bishop Reuben Kisembo too has previously tried to mediate in vain. The wedge between the two has only widened.
SALEH STRIKES AGAIN
Weeks after Ruboona, Mwesige gathered his guts and fully participated in another public engagement Gen Saleh had in Bunyangabu. This was a tour of the successful model commercial farmers in the district and Gen Saleh deflated the Mwesige camp by permitting Mugabe’s camp (on this occasion represented by LC5 Chairman James Mugarama) to be the one to spearhead the coordination of his visit including determining farmers to host him. This left Mwesige optionless but to play along. The Minister, who hasn’t been very well health-wise, wore a bold face and came for the tour. However, Gen Saleh deflated him by disregarding the intelligence he had given about the political loyalty of one of the farmers to the Museveni government. Saying the man wasn’t a strong NRM supporter, Adolf Mwesige had urged Gen Saleh not to visit model banana farmer Daudi Nyakahuma’s farming activities saying it was unsafe for him to do so. Gen Saleh instead ignored this advice and deployed his own intelligence team which worked with pro-Mugabe James Mugarama (the LC5 Chairman) and returned with a report that totally exonerated the farmer. In their report, Saleh’s intelligence boys instead faulted Mwesige for trying to trivialize the General’s farming tour by bringing in local political feuds. In the end, Gen Saleh not only visited Nyakahuma’s farm but also accepted the Mugabe camp invitation to join other local leaders to have lunch in Nyakahuma’s home. Clearly deflated, Mwesige reacted to this by driving to his home and leaving Gen Saleh to dine with members of Mugabe’s camp. As he stayed with local leaders, Gen Saleh told them he now knows why mobilization to market Museveni’s NRM programs was increasingly becoming difficult in Toro sub region. This, he said, is largely because of the complacency of the leaders who hold ministerial positions which ideally are supposed to be used to unite people and keep NRM strong. “Gen Saleh we would like to inform you that the conduct of Honorable Adolf is the reason why Bunyangabu which has two ministers [Adolf and Peace Mutuzo] is trailing districts like Kabarole which don’t have a single minister when it comes to development. The ministers we have are clearly very divisive and indifferent about wealth creation and other poverty eradication programs in Bunyangabu,” Kabonero Sub County LC3 chairman John Kyaligonza (a leading Adolf hater) reportedly told Saleh as they enjoyed lunch at Nyakahuma’s residence. “This man [Nyakahuma] clearly has potential to inspire and uplift many farmers to become wealth creators but he can never make it because the Minister hates him for supporting James Mugarama whom he [Minister] doesn’t like to see occupy the office of LC5 Chairman.” Saleh is characteristically a guarded and very respectful general but that he can publicly fault a minister simply shows how disgusted he has lately become with some political leaders. Indeed his public remarks have since inspired Bunyangabu residents to begin standing up to their long serving MP Adolf Mwesige including a recent meeting where Kabonero Sub County residents passed a vote of no confidence in him. More about this in our subsequent coverage of the Bunyangabu politics. For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.