The Deputy Secretary General of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), Richard Todwong, while officiating in a counties’ dispute in Pallisa District nearly two weeks ago, made a very interesting statement. He said that people should feel free to criticize NRM; point out its weaknesses and faults; and not merely pile praises on it, so that the party improves delivery of services to the people.
Ditto, the Senior Presidential Advisor on Media Affairs, John Nagenda, a few days ago when he made, what appeared to be an impassioned appeal, for President Yoweri Museveni to seriously consider stepping aside from power. This came as his observation for the NRM decision to extend the term of Parliament from five to seven years.
These are either, very legitimate appeals to Ugandans, or ruses to draw out the Fifth Columnists in the NRM party to come out of their hiding places so that the party apparatus can spike them. As for the usual opponents, it would mean that Todwong and Nagenda wants them to drop their guard so that they can, either fall prey to the legal precept of sub judice, or that they are completely exposed to the NRM rank malice.
If Todwong is genuine, then it would mean that, in the case of those with opposing views, it is a ploy to draw people out of what they are really thinking about the regime, since he was in the know about it from the start. That means either, the reports being given by the intelligence organizations, are contradictory; or, Todwong, may have been conned by those higher-up in the NRM hierarchy to compromise himself. In that case he is likely to face the axe.
What both Todwong and Nagenda are asking for, is likely to cause a deluge of criticism and accusations of outright failure of the regime to govern. Yet, trusting what they are saying can be a very dicey action indeed, since one is unable to judge at what point the NRM principals will be real enough to actually take in the constructive criticism.
Take Todwong, himself. He comes from the northern part of the country. As he was talking in Pallisa, the issue of the Nodding Disease children came up in the media, for the umpteenth time. This paper has been at the forefront, highlighting the plight of these children, to no avail. Now, a recent video expose may yet bring results. But the issue has been on for about ten years! Is Todwong saying his NRM principals have been blind and deaf?
As a NRM party apparachitik, Todwong is undoubtedly in an influential position to have got the Ministry of Health to do something about it, especially as he, himself, comes from the Acholi Sub-region, where the children are hardest hit. Nothing so far realistic has been done about these children!
One wit on an FM station quipped that, had those children been from, here, in Kampala, and been children of the upscale parents, a medical emergency would have been undertaken to treat them, long time ago. So, what constructive criticism has Todwong been giving to his own party-run Government about these children? And if he has been doing so, where is the consequence of his action?
Almost at the same time Todwong was haranguing the Pallisa people about pointing out the wrongs in his own party towards public responsibility, the Minister of State for Ethics, in the Office of the President, Simon Lokodo, was exalting the NRM Government for having “succeeded” in fighting corruption. Then, a few days later his more senor colleague, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Matia Kasaijja, contradicted him, saying that corruption is “finishing” us. Can Todwong reconcile these positions with reference to the NRM service delivery?
Or indeed, Nagenda and Kasaijja; they are positioned as Ministers of State, and therefore, are supposed to be in the realms of collective responsibility. In which case, they should not have aired their views outside the Cabinet sittings. Only Lokodo was playing to the right tune. Should we then expect sanction on the others?
It is counter-productive to belabour the point of the NRM non-achievements. In almost every aspect of national endeavour, the NRM