Will the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi finally become the man to wrestle down President Museveni? Or will President Museveni finally put his new Prime Minister down to his place? These questions appear difficult to give answers especially because politics is dynamic and keeps changing. But some clear picture seems to emerge about the internal strife in the ruling NRM party and especially the role of Mr Mbabazi. Several Movementists [as they call themselves] have cried foul about the rift that Mbabazi is causing in the party but the boss, Museveni, has acted dumb.
Will he remain dumb forever given that the man he so much trusts and describes as Mr Clean seems to nurse real interest in the seat? Only time will tell but signs are that Mr Clean could soon turn out to be Mr Abominable. Here is why? Notwithstanding the cajoling of party MPs in a recent retreat at Kyankwazi, NRM faces serious questions from within.
Several anti-Mbabazi forces are coalescing. And Mbabazi is not relenting. He has told some young party MPs and his loyalists that he had dedicated himself to serving NRM and Museveni, therefore; it was only proper that he becomes President with the support of Museveni. He is maneuvering his way. Part of the maneuver is looping Museveni into his troubles.
While MPs genuinely want him like Kutesa and Onek to pay for his alleged role in the oil bribery, Mbabazi has managed to convince Museveni that the MPs were not just after him but the ultimate target was Museveni. The Prime Minister is so shrewd that he has ensured that the political intelligence information received by the President is largely from the spies sympathetic to him. And the result is that Museveni has often sided with Amama. But this has further widened the wedge between Amama and the MPs. But because the President listens to Mbabazi, the political tensions between Mbabazi and the other party leaders is likely to be extended to Museveni.
And it has begun in parliament with the demand that all ministers named in the oil bribery step aside. This position is now being fought by Mbabazi who has looped in the President. They seem to have temporarily succeeded. For how long; it’s hard to tell.
With Speaker Rebecca Kadaga appearing determined to make her own political statement, Mbabazi, who clandestinely fought her election as Speaker, might not enjoy the best of times as Leader of Government business in the House. And the MPs appear to be on her side.
While this would have been Mbabazi’s cross to carry, trouble for NRM is that Museveni has made it look like his cross as well and therefore; the party’s burden. His approach could be informed by the desire to keep the party cohesive but the consequences appear to be dramatic. Clearly, Mbabazi’s work methods show that if he fails to become President, then he goes down with Museveni.
What happens if MPs insist that Mbabazi must give way? Of course Museveni will be tempted to disregard parliament. And what would have been the message to the international community about respect and independence of different arms of government? The negative vibes will have been sent. With the new world order, no one can afford to be law unto themselves. In his defence of Mbabazi, the President has often argued that the man is not corrupt. Parliament is to probe the bribery allegations, so what will Museveni say if the probe reveals that actually Mr Clean is a big fraud? The implication will be that Mbabazi is corrupt with the knowledge of the President. Some unpalatable news to the international community again, I guess.
And questions are also being asked: How come that Mr Clean was named in the NSSF-Temangalo saga? How come he is also named in the oil saga? And why is Mbabazi named and not, for instance, ICT minister Ruhakana Rugunda?
Is President Museveni also aware that Mbabazi suffocated the computerization of the army payroll? The deal to computerize the UPDF payroll and to avoid ghost soldiers was worth US dollars 11million and up to date, nothing has been done. Who ate the money and why? Is Mr Museveni also aware that ESO bought three houses in London for its operations but the houses are now reportedly in the names of Mr Mbabazi? Sources say one time, disgraced deputy ESO boss, Emmy Allio travelled to London and wanted to stay in one of the houses to cut costs since they belonged to the organization he worked for but the man was turned away because he did not have permission from Mbabazi. The former journalist tuned spy relocated to another property but received similar treatment. Is that a man Museveni should vouch as Mr Clean? Is Museveni aware that Mbabazi’s radio station in Kanungu was reportedly meant for ESO?
If Museveni wants Mbabazi as his successor, their approach could sweep both of them out of the political scene especially if they start by antagonizing the institution of parliament. In these days, when even hardcore dictators end up hiding in culverts like Libya’s Gaddafi did, you just can never know what political mistake will mark your downfall. For Museveni, at least for now, it seems his obsession with Mbabazi against all conventional wisdom could kick up a storm that will shake his hold onto power. It should have occurred to Museveni that his word alone, these days does not convince his party. Most often, as he and Mbabazi did in Kyankwazi, money is paid out to MPs to soften their stand on contentious issues. Bogus approach if you asked me. To keep the MPs silent, more money will have to be used. Hehe… the economic crisis won’t make it sustainable. Let us watch this 9th parliament keenly. They might surprise us.