By Mbarara News Reporter
Former prime minister Amama Mbabazi has said he has rejoined President Museveni and is returning to the mainstream National Resistance Movement (NRM) for an active role in the party’s affairs.
Mr Mbabazi made the revelation while meeting 138 NRM councillors from all five divisions of Kampala: Nakawa, Kawempe, Rubaga, Makindye, and Kampala Central on Tuesday. They said they were 406 NRM councillors in Kampala.
Mr Mbabazi, who was representing President Museveni, said he has never left the NRM party despite his disagreements with the President that made him contest against him as an Independent candidate in 2016 General Election.
“I am NRM. Those who thought that because I contested against our chairman that I left NRM are wrong because they do not know what they are talking about. I was among those who started NRM so why should I leave it, I cannot,” he said.
“I have been silent and I have my issues. I will not discuss them here today but time will come, we shall sit together as NRM and talk about them,” Mr Mbabazi said.
He said he cannot abandon President Museveni despite the disagreements.
“Museveni and I, there are certain times we do not agree and it caused the other problems you witnessed in 2015. But me, I can never leave him. I have spent 50 years with Museveni in the struggle,” Mr Mbabazi said.
He added: “When I had a wedding at my home, I told Museveni that ‘even if we disagree, it will not take me out of NRM. If I have been with you for 50 years in the most difficult conditions, I will not part ways with you because of the disagreements I have with you today. But if I have disagreements with you, I tell you.’”
President Museveni sacked Mr Mbabazi as prime minister on September 18, 2014 after a long silent power struggle between them. Later President Museveni said he sacked Mr Mbabazi because he had gotten involved in “divisive politics”.
Sources within NRM at the time said President Museveni sacked Mr Mbabazi after he developed ambitions to stand as president in 2016 elections.
The NRM deputy secretary general, Mr Richard Todwong, told Daily Monitor yesterday that he was not aware of Mr Mbabazi’s meeting with NRM councillors but said if he rejoins the party, he is welcome because he never left officially.
“We know he has never left NRM. He had never denounced the party officially. He just went and contested under a different platform as a presidential candidate but he remained a member of NRM just like any other member of the party who goes and contests as an Independent,” Mr Todwong said.
“He is a founder member of the party and he cannot really leave what he founded. In every political organisation, there are contradictions, and it is normal. The beauty with NRM is that you go and come back and proceed from where you ended. So we welcome him, we are excited and it is good that the founder members are coming back to make the party stronger,” he added.
In the meeting that was captured on video, Mr Mbabazi is seen apologising to the councillors for not meeting them last Friday when they went to his home in Kololo, Kampala because he was away.
“When I got your message, I spoke to our chairman (Mr Museveni) on the phone. I told him that some of our people want to meet me. He said ‘go and meet them and tell me what they will tell you,’” Mr Mbabazi said.
During the meeting in Kawempe, the councillors told Mr Mbabazi a number of challenges they are facing which he promised to take back to the President for redress.
Kawempe Division deputy speaker Hamidah Nambajwe, who presented a petition to Mr Mbabazi, proposed that each NRM flag bearer contesting for LC3 be given Shs30m and Shs50m be given to LC5 contestants.
“As we talk right now, we are like orphans in Kampala. We do not have any NRM MP or mayor in Kampala divisions. Even the LC5s we have are very few. If we get that money from NRM, we shall be able to win many seats in Kampala,” Ms Nambajwe said.
“We need this money to make more posters that are being destroyed by our competitors. We have to put up posters every day, which are very expensive. To convince voters, you need to have very many posters. Where there is red, you put yellow,” she added.
She said the door-to-door campaigns they are currently conducting are good but expensive.
The councillors also complained that President Museveni does not meet them yet he meets other people who pretend to be defecting from Opposition and give them money but leaves out NRM supporters.
In response, Mr Mbabazi said: “I have heard many things are happening in our party and I am not happy, but we shall discuss them when I come to the party organs.”
“I look forward to coming into the mainstream of NRM to discuss how we can strengthen the party and we can move together in the transformation of this country,” he added.
He, however, appealed to them not to leave NRM for Opposition and urged them to continue mobilising votes for the party to win more seats in Kampala and assured them that if President Museveni is meeting the Opposition, he is trying to bring them to NRM, so they should not be annoyed.
The councillors appointed Mr Farouk Nsubuga to manage any facilitation that will come from Mr Museveni.
President Museveni and Mr Mbabazi fell out following what insiders said was a power struggle.
They said President Museveni was not happy after Mr Mbabazi developed presidential ambitions.
During the NRM National Executive Committee meeting at Namboole in 2015, Mr Mbabazi was removed as the party’s secretary general. He later contested against President Museveni as an independent in 2016
However, in 2018 President Museveni and Mr Mbabazi spoke fondly of each other during the traditional giveaway of Mr Mbabazi’s niece Bridget Birungi to Mr Andile Ramaphosa, the son of South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa.
In the run up to the elections, political parties and other groups fronted Mr Mbabazi to be the joint Opposition presidential candidate.
Majority of Opposition members who had formed The Democratic Alliance (TDA) endorsed Mr Mbabazi as the suitable presidential candidate for 2016 polls. However, dissenting Opposition voices contested the choice of Mr Mbabazi for a joint presidential candidate.
The then Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) women league chairperson, Ms Ingrid Turinawe, warned that Mr Mbabazi had not publicly denounced the NRM and making him a joint candidate would literally hand over the Opposition to President Museveni.
The dissenting voices preferred Dr Kizza Besigye, who had been the epitome of Opposition since 2001.
The efforts for a joint candidate collapsed and Mr Besigye was elected flag bearer for his FDC party while Mr Mbabazi contested as an Independent candidate.
Source: Daily Monitor