Who will win the battle for NRM hearts?

Daily Monitor columnist Charles Onyango-Obbo commented last week that former prime minister Amama Mbabazi was thrown out of his position as secretary general of the NRM for scheming and nursing his presidential ambition stealthily.

Now that he is out with it, plans are underway to expel him from the party. John Patrick Amama Mbabazi (JPAM) must be a formidable opponent!

Right from the February 2014 NRM parliamentary caucus retreat in Kyankwanzi, when he was ambushed into signing a petition promoting the sole candidacy project for President Museveni, party activists have been consistent in planning against Mbabazi.

No wonder they were able to oust him from a powerful position at the secretariat and even went ahead to remodel it into a unit that is entirely pro-Museveni without a glitch.

Despite ‘disarming’ him plus the numerous put-downs, to which he had not responded for over a year, there was absolute pandemonium when he came out (so to speak.) And he must be clever because a five-minute video he released on an online medium that is not accessible to many dominated Uganda’s airwaves and media for an entire week.

Being one step ahead of both Camp Museveni and the opposition Democratic Alliance, he wrote to the Electoral Commission and published his programme quoting what is acceptable within the law. Why did the opposition parties not think about that first?

The NRM secretariat has since written to the EC disowning Mbabazi and both the police and EC have consequently informed the man that his intentions are illegal. However, one is left with the feeling that this war of letters quoting the law might be won by JPAM.

I know that Mbabazi is not a ‘fans’ favourite’, in terms of football jargon. However, by outsmarting powerful foes within the NRM, he is gaining great admiration. Many are crediting him for good functional knowledge of the country’s electoral laws. So far NRM party functionaries seem to be flailing in a legal haze!

It is strange that the party powerful have chosen to play Amama’s game! Just as I think that they may not win the battle of letters couched in legal terms, it is unlikely that they can win the war of words that is ensuing online.

I recall one time when he was on the Capital Gang, he said that one panellist on the talk show, Hon Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, had never grown up. This he said to others and totally ignored Ssemujju’s insults that had been addressed to him.

On another show, he called Hon Theodore Ssekikubo uncivilised and this was when the latter was shouting him out of a debate. NRM members loved and enjoyed JPAM’s style then!

So we have seen tweets and WhatsApp messages trending on #FoundWanting! Others claim that he never visited northern Uganda even once when he was prime minister nor did he visit hospitals in Kanungu. Then there are some urging us to look again at Amama’s scandals including the Temangalo land sale and the grand corruption in the office of the prime minister during his reign.

During the recent BBC radio interview, Mbabazi boasted that he was Mr Clean until recently and parliament cleared his name over Temangalo and that the record is there!

It is said that Camp Mbabazi, led by the vibrant Josephine Mayanja-Nkangi, has responded to many of the accusations. A riposte to the Temangalo saga catches the eye. It claims that while he sold and was paid Temangalo money, NSSF got the land. What about all other sales including Shimoni? Where is the money?

Of course Mbabazi should know where that money is because he has been part of the NRM government forever! However, the strategy taken by the party to combat him seems to work in his favour.

For example, why did President Museveni’s handlers arrange a press conference for him to respond to Mbabazi’s outing? He had just jetted in from South Africa, seemed tired and annoyed and the very opposite of a suave Mbabazi in the video released earlier.

Time and again, Museveni has demonstrated great prowess in political strategy and political combat! He is also articulate and smart! It is possible that Mbabazi learnt his mind games when working closely with the president.

The master, or the general, himself now needs to attend to this because the task may be too large for combatant assistants like Minister Frank Tumwebaze, who also need further refinement in the art of barbs!


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