John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, who declared his intention to unseat president Museveni, web auto-graphing T-Shirts worn by his supporters while at his home in Kololo recently. Pix from Mbabazi’s Facebook page
The saying that the Past is always a good guide to the future may finally be coming to haunt former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi as his record appears to be his greatest obstacle in his bid to unseat his former boss Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as President of Uganda.
Days after breaking his silence on his political future, Amama Mbabazi is battling deep-seated public suspicion, and even possible spin from government officials that Mbabazi and Museveni are one and the same.
In his announcement, Mbabazi criticised Museveni’s government as tired, corrupt, exclusive, and inefficient in its provision of services especially in the crucial areas of education, health and public services.
Mbabazi said: “The coming election is about the future, about making Uganda work for everyone. It is about reinvigorating our country and making it fit for the 21st century and beyond.”
He added: “And it is about breathing new life into our system of government – a system that has become weak and inefficient. We need to revive our mission to improve education, health and public services and ensure that they are delivered fairly and to high standards.”
To many observers, Mbabazi’s audacious criticism of a system he created, nurtured and served for over forty long years and one he quit only months ago, is inexcusable.
Mbabazi also spoke of desiring to take his NRM party back to roots – of a “Genuine, accountable and democratic movement.” he added: “And we, as a country, need to rediscover our democratic principles.
Less surprisingly, perhaps, among the many people who are keen to highlight the oddity in Mbabazi’s statements is President Museveni himself. Museveni did precisely that in a rebuttal video released shortly after Mbabazi’s, not just to avert criticism, but also to undermine his former right-hand man as an insincere, hypocrite who all of a sudden is blaming his own mistakes on others.
Museveni took on Mbabazi on almost all his claims.
He said that Mbabazi’s claim that he now wants to work for everybody has already been achieved by the NRM.
Museveni said: “First he (Mbabazi) says he wants to work for everybody. Well, that is what NRM has been doing all this time. When we said Bonnabasome, Education for all, UPE, USE, that is what we meant.”
Museveni added: “He says the country is tired. Well. Rt. Hon. Mbabazi has been at the centre of our system all these years,” Citing the many positions of responsibility and influence Mbabazi has occupied for several decades, Museveni said Mbabazi shares greater responsibility in the weaknesses he claims he wants to address because he had the responsibility of supervising them and by extension is liable for their shortcomings.
“On the issue of monitoring or reinvigorating government systems, that is the job of the Prime Minister,” Museveni warned voters about Mbabazi’s claims.
Museveni admitted there is a sense of ‘tiredness’ as well as corruption and lack of commitment in the execution of government programmes, but added that it’s because of the people Mbabazi hired to perform those jobs while he was in charge.
President Museveni is not alone in painting the former prime-minister as dishonest with Ugandan voters.
NRM’s stalwart and Luwero district chairman Hajj Abdul Nadduli said this week that Mbabazi and Museveni are friends and should not confuse Ugandans that suddenly they are different.
One Ignatius Bahizi posted in a similar debate about Mbabazi’s claims that: “When JPAM [John Patrick Amama Mbabazi] was still in government as a Super Minister in different portfolios and finally as leader of government Business (PM), Mbabazi had the capacity to change things he is talking about.
“He was not sacked ten years ago, but a few months ago. Really, he is talking of rule of law and good governance who has forgotten when on the floor of the Parliament he defended the action of blinding Besigye by the Police and when the police fondled Ingrid’s breasts,” Bahizi states in the post.
Bahizi asks: “Where does he [Mbabazi] get the moral authority to talk about the rule of law? Who was behind the Public Order Management bill and the Phone tapping bill? He was behind all the draconian laws Uganda has today, which favoured the system that he served.
“Now that he is on the other side of the fence and the laws have started catching up with him, he starts talking about the rule of law.
Talk about corruption, who did Museveni defend at the International Conference Centre when Opposition MPs pointed at Mbabazi. Talk of Temangaro, CHOGM, Oil, OPM scandal.”
All these dents clearly shows that it will never be an easy ride for JPAM even if he came draped in the best camouflage.