That is the next level of the power struggle between Museveni and Mbabazi – for the soul and hearts of the party members. The venue is the grassroots at the sub-county level where the MPs are being press-ganged to go and campaign for Museveni’s bid to be declared the sole NRM candidate for the presidential elections.
The NRM MPs must be viewing the next week or so with relish. They are being provided with slush funds to go to their constituencies to do the needful. Usually, it is Parliament that has the authority and the funds to manage such mobilization.
Not anymore. This is a presidential initiative and order to sound out the people of Uganda about Museveni’s bid for the umpteenth time to stand. And it concerns the NRM party only so the rest of the parties can do their own thing. As such the Parliament can be sidelined. In actual fact the first salvoes have been fired for the campaign for the 2016 general elections to begin. And the Electoral Commission has not been consulted, either.
One interesting thing that came out of the latest caucus was that Mbabazi never uttered a thing and only took notes, commensurate with his role as the secretary general of his party. This silence can be construed to mean that he may be considering moves of his own to shore up his supporters within the party to stand up for their man.
The NRM youth wingers who were allegedly arrested two weeks ago for supporting Mbabazi may point the way for him; they averred that they were going to support their man come what may. So, the way this turn out at the grassroots may also indicate the continuation of the rift.
Moreover, Inspector General Kale Kaihura, quite unconvincingly, states that he is not after Mbabazi’s supporters even when he was the one interrogating the three youth leaders in the Kireka Barracks, arrested in Kampala for being Mababazi’s supporters.
More of this against Mbabazi is on the way. In the first instance, NRM Chairman Museveni is now attempting to shift the powers of the secretary general, to Mbabazi’s deputy, the minister without Porfolio, Richard Todwong. It may not work, seeing that Todwong does not carry the same weight within the party as the elected secretary general. Also it is said that Mbabazi has allegedly laid out other office space where he can ably carry out his mobilization without other party apparatchiks, like Museveni nosing in on him.
Nevertheless, Museveni is taking more measures to undercut Mbabazi in this power play. It is said that there is a possibility that Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire could fill in Mbabazi boots as prime minister, come the next reshuffle. This will be sweet revenge for Otafiire against Mbabazi for having soundly defeated him in the last NRM delegates’ conference for the position.
If Museveni’s mobilization plan using the NRM MPs to campaign for him at the grassroots takes root, he can then afford to call a delegates conference of the party to face up to Mbabazi’s unassailable control of the party using that position. It is what pundits have been pointing out that Museveni was not sure of himself at that conference where Mbabazi could have sprung him a surprise by even defeating him as the NRM party chairman.
The county will now have to wait for one and half weeks to see if Museveni’s gambit will pay off. If it does not, we are likely to see a further rift in the NRM party.