So far John Patrick Amama Mbabazi is the only Ugandan politician to run rings around President Yoweri Museveni and escape without any major disorganization. Unlike many of the others, his sacking from the premiership has not daunted his style. This has to be getting the NRM in a straight jacket.
His long-awaited announcement made on Youtube video threw the NRM militia in disarray. Only a day before, the Police had warned Mbabazi against holding any public rally since they had not allowed it. They did not foresee the intricacies of the social media in flaunting their obviously intended rough action of tear gas and batons against Mbabazi.
Interestingly, his bid for the NRM chairmanship came immediately after the majority of the Opposition stars had sat to approve the formation of The Democratic Alliance (TDA). And in that conference he had been represented by his relative and another of Museveni’s fallout politicians, Hope Mwesigye.
Then, the recent NRM Secretary General, Justine Kasule Lumumba, got fronted to react. For good measure, she tied in the name of Gilbert Bukenya so as to appear that it was not only a Mbabazi affair but concerned all those in the party who were unruly. Lumumba is now investigating Mbabazi with a view to disciplining him.
This is intended to fob off the challenge against Museveni, that to all intents and purposes, is embarrassing for a man who is supposed to be very popular that, he wins anywhere, either unopposed or by a landslide. The essence of this is that Mbabazi will not get anywhere near to be on the same podium to challenge Museveni for the chairmanship of the NRM.
Lumumba is going to pose a number of disciplinary scenarios: the most likely two are either suspension or dismissal from the party. Mbabazi no doubt has considered all the options before he went on his social media video. The one that has been variously mentioned, but not within the ambit of the party structure, is the one of arrest.
Nothing can surprise Mbabazi; and that is why he has bitten the bullet to challenge the otherwise indomitable Museveni. Political pundits and other observers are agreed that having been with Museveni for more than 35 years, as a close aide and underling, Mbabazi reads Museveni’s mind like a book he has authored.
Many acts associated with Museveni are Mbabazi’s handiwork; from planning to financing and the execution of those acts. There is credible talk that most of the administrative appointments in the NRM government have been done by Mbabazi; from some of the high ministerial ones to the mundane ones like the Gombolola Intelligence Officers (GISOs).
Recently there has been a lot of hullabaloo about how Mbabazi has divided the NRM party. This should not be a surprise at all. He has occupied some of the most important offices in the NRM structure. He has been security minister, defence minister, attorney general, secretary general of the NRM, Prime Minister, Leader of the Government Business, and the like.
All these positions have brought him into contact with all the types of the acolytes Museveni would like to hob nob with and for him. So when Museveni was sending Mbabazi to carry out these tasks he (Mbabazi) was leaching himself to those people, preparing for a future such as this one when he finally would step out Museveni’s shadow into his own man.
Indeed, Museveni’s and Lumumbas’ assertion that Mbabazi has been in the inner circle of the NRM all along and knows where the mistakes are, is a valid point. Actually, Mbabazi, in his announcement, goes to the extent of saying a similar thing; and that since he knows what is wrong, he is therefore in a better position to fix it.
Ditto Museveni; he too, can say similarly; the only problem for both of them is: why haven’t they fixed all these problems; and only now when Mbabazi makes a bid for the top post!
Knowing all this, it would appear that Mbabazi is also making a ploy and play for the TDA unifying opposition figure to challenge Museveni; that is why Mwesigye represented him in the TDA talks. His ploy is that since he knows Museveni in and out, he is best placed to unseat him. His play is that when the NRM expels him from the party he will be available for the TDA position to challenge for the presidency
Neat, isn’t it? Either way he gets to challenge for the presidency.