President Yoweri Museveni has hinted he is not ready to take the fight between him and Rebecca Kadaga into a bitter endless war for fear it will tear apart his NRM Party.
In remarks following the declaration and inauguration of Oulanyah as the Speaker of the 11th Parliament, Museveni said he never takes sides with his juniors or seniors.
At the risk of appearing to contradict himself, Museveni though noted that he actively campaigned for Oulanyah against Kadaga.
But the point perhaps Museveni was making was that he is ready to close that chapter and restore the harmony in the yellow camp, which he is aware can be exploited by the opposition.
Museveni appeared to show respect to Kadaga’s faction by noting that it took him extra effort by working phones through the night and in the morning to try to persuade them to support the party candidate.
“My people were terribly divided,” Museveni said as he delved into how he managed to break the resistance of Kadaga’s supporters.
“Subsequently, I rang a number of them late in the night, others I met physically… you saw how a guerilla works… I called them, telling them that, “You have been with Kadaga but now Oulanyah is the official candidate.” I called the others in the morning [moments before the elections]. They had formed factions but you know factions can sometimes be subversive. There was a very strong faction for Kadaga and then a faction for Oulanyah.”
By publicly acknowledging Kadaga’s faction as having been very strong, Museveni demonstrated respect to the now former Speaker.
Museveni has often used unsavory and at times vulgar language while addressing his opponents. For instance, in the lead up to the 2016 general elections when supporters of then Go Forward Candidate and Former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, fought and damaged a car belonging to NRM supporters, Museveni said they had touched the anus of a leopard.
This time, despite the immense provocation and humiliating defiance that was displayed by Kadaga against Museveni, the president has so far not retariated with abuses or radical decisions.
In fact reliable sources have intimated to The Sunrise that having spoken with most people in Kadaga’s camp, he tried to reach her but she refused.
Economist Ramathan Ggoobi, who is also a columnist with The Sunrise argues that Museveni’s address on Monday after the election of Speaker was targeted at appealing to Kadaga to end her vindictive and egocentric attitude.
Ggoobi says that Kadaga is her own enemy by stubbornly trying to undermine the authority of the president especially in public fora.
“On several occasions she has ridiculed the office of the vice president as being useless and one without authority.
There are many others who believe that Kadaga’s exaggerated ego was her biggest undoing.
Makerere University’s Political scientist and analyst Mwambutsya Ndebesa, also blamed Kadaga’s naivity for having caused her downfall.
“Kadaga wanted to imitate Museveni not knowing Museveni captured the state machinery and it backs him in his exploits; The army, the state resources, the media, state institutions and personnel etc are at his disposal.
“For example, whereas President Museveni and Hon. Kadaga both told lies about promising to step down and both reneged, Kadaga has been punished for not keeping the promise and it has been used as one of the reasons against her bid for Speakership. That she is not to be trusted if she can say one thing and change her mind like that.”
What next for Kadaga?
For Ramathan Ggoobi, although her bargaining power has drastically reduced following her monumental loss to Oulanyah, Kadaga still has some clout in terms of her support in parliament.
Added to this is that she enjoys enormous popularity and influence in Busoga region, attributes that continue to endear her to the president.
“Museveni knows that Kadaga had a working relationship with some people in the opposition in Parliament. That is something he will not want to lose if he lets her to go away. He definitely cannot serve her to the wolves.
“My worry however is if she will accept to bend and be rehabilitated.
“I believe Museveni will appoint her to some position, except that after she declined the VP job, options up there are limited. Secondly she wants a position where she wants to be independent, and yet Museveni cannot tolerate that anymore given the way she has exercised her power of independence.
The way I see it is that it’s now up to Kadaga and those close to her to ensure that things don’t get from bad to worse especially by calming her down.
There are reports that she is already considering resigning from Parliament to perhaps wage a political war as an independent person.
But the experiences of Kizza Besigye, Bidandi Ssali and Amama Mbabazi, suggest this would be a suicidal move for her.