By Kasadha Kao Kamuntu
Tempers flared and accusations were exchanged during a meeting held at statehouse on March 29th, 2021. The President who had summoned the contestants for Speaker and Deputy Speaker to a sit down in a bid to put out some fires, was left in a worse mood than he was found due to the tensions that the race was subjecting the NRM party to.
In attendance was the Speaker of Parliament Ms. Rebecca Kadaga and her challenger for the Speakership seat, Jacob Oulanyah. The Prime Minister Rugunda, NRM S.G Kasule Lumumba and Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa had also been invited. Also in attendance were those vying for the position of Deputy Speaker; Anita Among, Thomas Tayebwa, David Bahati and Jacob Oboth.
The meeting which started close to noon, went on for hours with reports confirming that it ended close to 10pm. The lengthy hours according to sources were attributed to Ms. Kadaga’s “Emotional see-saw” which kept taking the meeting into back and forth discussion with no clear way forward as most of the issues in contention surrounded her conduct.
Among issues raised were; Ms Kadaga’s undermining of the Party processes, her premature upbeat public campaign and untamed utterances to imply the Museveni Presidency owed it to her intervention to secure victory.
Kadaga who a few days ago publicly launched her campaigns at Speke Resort Munyoyo, boasted of a regulated attendance due to Covid-19 cut from 300 members to 150, a thing that was disputed by some of the Members whose names she publicly read and weren’t in attendance. Many described it as a muscle move which didn’t achieve its desired outcome as it was about 85 Members only in attendance.
Some MPs whose names Ms. Kadaga read out, strongly protested the falsehood of her claim to their support with some threatening to make public their denouncement of her candidature on grounds that their sentiments were misrepresented intentionally.
Hon. Robinah Rwakoojo and Hon. Jacob Oboth also followed suit in more modest ceremonies to launch their campaigns. With the rest tightly holding their cards to their chests, only 3 of the 7 interested NRM candidates, openly launched their campaings.
The Oulanyah camp has been engaged in more covert wooing of voters, same as Anita Among, Thomas Tayebwa and Minister Bahati.
During Kadaga campaign launch, Oulanyah was hurled with all sorts of accusations. He was accused of bailing on the contentious Age Limit Bill, which seemed to be Kadaga’s claim to fame in the NRM politics, a thing that didn’t sit well with the Party chairman as it seemed to portray him as vulnerable until she came to his aid.
The president is reported to have furiously responded to this, asserting that he didn’t need Kadaga’s help in securing his Presidency but it took the convincing of the Chief whip to have him go Parliamentary as he was already preparing for a referendum on the matter.
Amidst all these accusations and tempers, Oulanyah hasn’t as expected by many, come out to rebuke in the same language and manner, but seems to have chosen to downplay the accusations as little matters of no bearing to his bid.
Oulanyah is known for a great sense of humor and calmness, a thing that seems not to allow him be dragged into a muddy wrestle as many say, “he always takes the high road. ”
An MP from western Uganda said, “Whoever is openly identifying with Kadaga is doing so out of fear, a fear of what if she comes back?, because the lady can hold a grudge for eternity whereas even if those same people walked to Oulanyah and explained their predicament and promised to vote him secretly, he would smile and welcome them. ”
Still attributed to the President’s reaction is the difference in character of the two, Oulanyah has always been described as calm but firm, while Kadaga is described as tough and rabid when one loiters her sacred path.
An analyst had this to say, “All the President has said isn’t in any way connected to the other candidates, he is cracking the whip on Kadaga, none has campaigned but her, none has insulted anyone but her, so its really clear even for a blind man to see.” Further adding that, her attacks on senior party members will haunt her bid to its cremation.
Accusations against OWC boss Gen. Saleh and Gov’t Mouthpiece Ofwono Opondo didn’t end well for the Rt. Hon. Kadaga as the the President rebuked her reliance on rumors to drive her affairs.
With Oulanyah counting his teeth with his tongue before he speaks and keeping in good books with the big and small wigs alike in the party, could his calmness and firm resolve be the mysterious attribute in his visible upper hand?
The President at the end of the meeting promised to write to the contestants and further guide them on how to proceed with their campaigns.
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