From the Outside Looking in
Odrek Rwaboogo’s much-publicized candidacy for the NRM vice chairmanship of the Western region, came to a sudden screeching halt over the weekend at the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting.
From the start of his campaign, one could view that it had overtones of political hype and a sense of testing the waters of the political temperature in a variety of ways.
So, when Rwaboogo’s father-in-law, President Yoweri Museveni, dismissed him as a political novice who had not dug roots in the NRM establishment, it probably meant the exercise had achieved the objectives it had been set out to do. It must also have exposed a number of people and their positions in so far as the single NRM presidential candidacy is concerned.
It is inconceivable that, without the sanction of his father-in-law, the son-in-law, could have used the argument that his candidacy was designed to get “rid of the old guard” from the top echelons of the party.
This flew directly in the face of a “bush guard”, Brig, Matayo Kyaligonza, the current incumbent of the office, who is still interested in holding to the office. So, it was possible to discern the direction of the hype.
Unless otherwise scripted, Kyaligonza would not have reacted in the way that he did, to Rwaboogo’s abusive discharge of him, that it was the time for that generation of leadership, to give way to the youthful and more energy-filled youth in the party.
Kyaligonza reacted angrily that, if that were the case, Rwaboogo should also have been pointing a finger at his father-in-law, the president, who is also an old guard. It also drew condemnation from further afield of other old-guard contestants, notably, from Abdu Naduli, the vice chairman from the Buganda region, who posited a similar argument to Kyaligonza’s.
Museveni let this sentiment ride all the time Rwaboogo was hitting the road, until the CEC – and this is also where the hype is noticeable. If this was a way to elicit a democratic opinion of the some members of the party, without it having been discussed in the right “forum”, it certainly brought out the positions of certain members, which might not have been got in other “wrong fora”.
Conversely, Museveni and Rwaboogo, did not need to have gone all the way to the CEC, for the father-in-law to realize that his underling was immature in the party politics. This could have been ably done in a family tet-a-tet, where the father-in-law would have advised and directed his son-in-law to first cut his political teeth in any of the relevant political positions, before ascending to the high office of the vice presidency, immediately below that of the father-in-law’s presidency.
So, coming to the period of the campaigns in the general elections, Museveni would have been able to judge the feeling of the NRM electorate in the party towards him, in so far as they regard his continued occupancy of the high office.
That the CEC apparently approves of his rapping his son-in-law publicly, and by having the other contestant, Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire, withdraw from vying for that office, it indicated a much-needed approval from the old guard. Also, that the young guards slunk away, shows that the old guard can still go on.
That the other areas of the country of the NRM vice presidency contests, notably, the East and the North, largely kept away from the controversy, is another indicator that they are ready and willing to campaign as one, for the lone presidential candidate in their areas.
That obviously adds to the acceptance of the NRM voters in the Western region, if Rwaboogo has not already riled the many of them who were not aware of the hype.
In the coming campaign, Rwaboogo can still go and explain that he was acting to see how the other electorate considered the father-in-law’s candidacy. By then the waters would have been called down and the people ready to go to the next face of the general election.