NRM EALA FRACAS: WINNERS & LOSERS REVEALED
By Our Reporters
The dust has finally settled and the NRM 6 EALA representatives are now known. They are Mary Mugyenyi, Paul Musamali, George Odongo, Rose Akol, Mathias Kasamba and Denis Namara having been elected in State House Entebbe during the NRM Parliamentary Caucus session on Wednesday.
The total originally was 43 and many others lost and are still licking their wounds. In this article we reflect on some of the things that happened behind the scenes and also disclose the losers and winners of the dramatic events at the two day NRM Caucus retreat.
A lot of camps emerged and some of the key actors never slept since Monday. On Tuesday the first set of voting was cancelled after fracas played out and MPs physically attacked NRM EC boss Odoi Tanga prompting Vice Chairman Moses Kigongo to intervene urging MPs not to thump the cantankerous history professor from Kisoko in Tororo.
That night events were an opportunity for some of the strong teams, whose candidates were trailing, to reorganize. This is how candidates like Lillian Aber and Sarah Kagingo, who had been performing well, trailed in the end. For instance Mary Mugyenyi’s backers, patronized by veteran Ankole politicians like Sam Kutesa and John Nasasira, held an impromptu meeting somewhere in Bugolobi that very Tuesday night. Despite the money at her disposal, Mugyenyi was badly trailing in Tuesday’s first phase of voting. At Bugolobi meeting, Nusura Tiperu and fellow cheerleader Okot Ogong were ideologically and logistically facilitated to go on the offensive in the hours that were remaining to commence the 2nd phase of voting on Wednesday.
The duo worked so hard and some MPs claim their Wednesday campaign activities were well oiled. An MP was caught red handed with huge sums of money in one of the State House toilet and was busy dishing it out to fellow MPs urging them to vote for Mary Mugyenyi, the gracefully ageing babe from Nyabushozi. State House security minders first bounced the MP but let him be after being assured he hadn’t stolen Museveni’s or any other person’s money in State House. “It was simply too much money and the security guys thought it had been stolen from one of the President’s strong rooms [for keeping cash] in State House,” said a source.
Mugyenyi’s defeat was going to be a shame to the Ankole power brokers that were backing her. Some say the realization she was losing badly partly contributed to why chaos erupted on Tuesday to enable her get time to reorganize. The Bugolobi meeting also resolved to forge an alliance between Paul Musamali’s Easterners and MPs from Northern Uganda.
Musamali looked headed for victory from the word go and was among those clearly wining as of Tuesday. This made him unavoidable for whoever wanted to forge an alliance. He has been serving in the GCW’s office for donkey years and has always been the secretary taking minutes in most of the Caucus meetings. This was his 2nd time running for EALA and the sympathetic MPs clearly wanted to reward him. This is the reason the Bugoloobi meeting badly needed him onto their side to boost Mugyenyi’s numbers. Northerners had to be reached as well and this was strongly recommended by Nusura Tiperu. Sure they would have a block vote from Western Uganda, the Bugolobi plotters resolved to ignore “unreliable Buganda” and instead reach out to MPs from North. This is how Nusura mooted the idea of backing George Odongo, a weakling who clearly had no chance as of Tuesday.
Okot Ogong argued that Odong would be easy to control and patronize since he didn’t have any power base within NRM. This is how it was agreed they boost him with votes from Western region and Musamali’s Eastern. A successful electoral alliance was forged comprising of Mary Mugyenyi, Musamali and Odongo. That is how Kutesa, Nasasira and others left the caucus smiling from ear to ear after their candidate survived strong contenders liked Yona Musinguzi.
They were smart unlike their contemporary Otafiire who preferred neutrality to preserve his seniority and to avoid unnecessary hatred. Otafiire was in the meeting but wasn’t active in behind the scenes mobilization and occasionally commented to his neighbors when someone said or did something funny. “This is really the typical DP way of doing things. You make a lot of noise when actually you aren’t saying anything,” Otafiire remarked to his neighbors when much heckled Stella Kiryowa, until weeks ago of DP, made a vague presentation asking MPs to vote for her “in order to enlarge the East African integration.” This sexist comment sexcited MPs who started referring to her as “extra large” in reference to her sexiness. On her part Stella Kiryowa suddenly won the support of Kampala Central MP Mohammed Nsereko in whose name a parallel meeting was hastily organized at Pope Paul on Tuesday night after the State House fracas. Nsereko’s agents told MPs that they should rally behind Kiryowa and a grateful Nsereko aka Supreme Leader, who happens to have a curious friendship with her, would market them before Museveni in subsequent meetings. The MPs were told Kiryowa is a new recruit for Museveni and the big man would be happy with MPs if they treated his new blue eyed girl favorably.
This Pope Paul meeting was attended mostly by MPs from Buganda. Kiryowa had previously enjoyed mob support from Kasanda’s easily sexcitable MP Simeo Nsubuga who would logistically contribute to her campaigns when still campaigning as a DP-leaning independent. She also had support of EALA special friends Mukasa Mbidde and Susan Nakawuki in whose favor she quit the independent slot after being assured of how Museveni would be very happy with her decision. Museveni has previously praised Mbidde for being “a good DP” something that has since angered UYD leaders to the extent of calling for Mbidde’s expulsion from DP. Mbidde’s supporters led by Moses Katende are now blaming city lawyer Muyizi and Brenda Nabukenya for witch-hunting the politician with the very thick eye brows. Lulume Bayiga, former DP SG, also called for the same during a Wednesday appearance on NBS TV.
SG KASULE LUMUMBA
The other key power broker at Caucus retreat was NRM SG Kasule Lumumba whose backing greatly helped Mugyenyi overcome challengers like Yona Musinguzi who was as of Tuesday slated to send her to early involuntary political retirement. Yona was blackmailed with a whatsapp message that all MPs received claiming it was the 1st Lady urging them to vote for him. Ofcourse Janet, who only came to vote, wasn’t involved in this. It was just political chemical. GCW Nankabirwa had to go to the microphone to apologize to Yona Musinguzi strongly warning whoever was behind this forgery to tread carefully but it was too late.
Too much damage had already been caused to the pencil thin politician from Ntungamo. Sources say Lumumba at least managed to properly get three EALA MPs win including Paul Musamali, Mathias Kasamba and Mugyenyi. She only failed badly on Lillian Aber’s candidature. In fact many MPs punished Aber for her closeness to Lumumba and Molly Kamukama during the February 2016 elections. Her other biggest problem was the poor quality of speech she made when given the 5 minutes to campaign before heckling MPs. There were also claims that many MPs were contacted by powerful State House aides who urged them to ensure Sarah Kagingo isn’t elected. As of Tuesday, Kagingo was doing very well and had clearly emerged winner for Kampala region beating others like Capt Francis Babu aka Hard Power. Her speech got everybody up and cheering with many MPs chanting “our girl baby face; soft power.” Everybody felt she spoke sense clearly explaining what she intended to do in Arusha. Even first lady Janet Museveni reached out and shook hands with her. There are also claims Lumumba’s supporters disorganized the 1st polling on Tuesday to discredit Tanga. It’s also widely claimed Lumumba personally didn’t like Sarah Wenene despising her as “Kadaga’s proxy.” Wenene had created her own following right there in the sexually seductive way she introduced herself on the microphone. Within no time male MPs became horny and started cheerfully referring to her as “owenene” each time any one mentioned her name. Owenene in the vulgar street slung refers to a woman with a huge sex organ.
Its alleged Lumumba’s fans had to work extra hard to reverse the momentum Wenene had gathered through the Owenene slogan. This is a joke which even Museveni, serious as he is, couldn’t resist laughing at. Mary Mugenyi had earlier been heckled for making a speech that many dismissed as devoid of substance. She used her 5 minutes to market herself as one “with passion for restaurant business, farming and tourism.” This prompted hecklers to christen her “Director OWC.” The other interesting episode related to the embarrassment Capt Francis Babu aka Hard Power suffered throughout the retreat. On the 1st day he was among those who performed so poorly and things didn’t change for him even on the 2nd day. He had no body to escort him to the podium or even cheer him up. Many shunned him like a leper notwithstanding the strong campaign speech he made.
The man who was Kampala Central MP for almost 20 years in the end got less than 10 votes. He became a laughing stock during the vote tallying as those present including Museveni sarcastically laughed each time his rare vote was counted. He remained there looking very dejected as votes were counted. Many have since advised him to retire honorably and forget about elective politics in the NRM whose leaders seem to have vendetta against him. Since being floored by Erias Lukwago in 2006, Babu has endured countless electoral defeats within NRM occasioned by Peter Sematimba, Mohammed Nsereko and more recently musician Raga Dee. He also stood for mayorship in 2011 and badly trailed behind Lukwago and Sematimba. It remains to be seen what the very eloquent man from Mawokota will be doing next.