From the Outside looking in
If you were thinking of video images, there would be clips representing Dr. Tanga Odoi’s ascendancy to power within the NRM party. Those clips would however show contrasting and contradictory presentations.
A few years ago, as chairman of the Makerere University Staff Association (MUASA), was not even associated with NRM. Instead, he was combative against the NRM regime on the issue of the MUASA pensions that should have been paid by the National Insurance Corporation (NIC). Government was on NIC’s side, for whatever reason, resisting that payment is made to the university staff to settle their emoluments.
Two weeks ago, Odoi, now an avowed NRM apparatchik, and as the chairman of the party’s internal electoral commission, continued presiding over the nomination process for the candidates for the NRM party offices. The video clips would now show that he is far from combative. Odoi was simply kow-towing as he was attending to President Yoweri Museveni, presenting his papers for the sole candidacy of the party in vying for the position of the nation’s president.
It was a far cry for and from a person, who as an academic, should be pandering to intellectual integrity and excellence, and not being a mere courier. This stance, moreover, was far different from that when the other then-NRM intending presidential candidate, former premier, Amama Mbabazi, wanted to present his papers.
Odoi was not polite to Mbabazi and picked on him for what appeared to be a choreographed harassment. The clip: it appeared obvious that Mbabazi was being boxed into a corner where it was intended for him to compromise himself.
It was also obvious that Mbabazi was careful not to commit himself to the machinations. The one scenario was that Mbabazi would be registered as an NRM presidential aspirant, but in the end would be blocked from contesting for the presidency in the NRM delegates’ conference due in October.
Any kind of trick would have been used to deny him the nomination. Having been the architect of that kind of gerrymandering before, when he was an NRM celebrity, Mbabazi saw through what Odoi was trying to present and used legalism to evade the trap.
Mbabazi had two choices: either to go independent, or join the Democratic Alliance (TDA), the fledging opposition trying to unite under one candidate.
It is possible that Museveni was anticipating this. The fracas that is taking place within all the opposition parties is symptomatic of outside interference being wrought within the parties. There appears to be a lot of dangling of financial incentives before some of those opposition leaders intending to stand for the presidency.
That is why within the UPC, DP and FDC, there is chaos and evident forming of factions. In the UPC, Jimmy Akena, has flaunted all the party’s legal and procedural structures to ascend to the presidency of the party. In effect he has caused a splinter group within the party, which may not benefit him nationally. So who would it benefit?
In the DP, a similar situation is developing between the party’s president, Nobert Mao, and one of the up-and-coming national politicians, Erias Lukwago. There is not a lot of imagination to decipher that the whole intention of Mao’s undiplomatic abuses leveled at Lukwago, are intended to amuse a third party, who must be lurking in the background.
The insistence of the re-emergence of Dr. Kizza Besigye, in the FDC, even when he had earlier declared that he would not seek a presidential shot within the party, is another indicator that forces outside the party are rending apart the presence of Gen. Mugisha Muntu, as president of the party. If you add all these, the only party that would have an unchallenged presidential aspirant, would be NRM’s Museveni. And because the other parties would be weakened by internal party wrangles, it would almost certainly assure his re-election as the president of Uganda: talk of the talk of democracy!
Again, Mbabazi seems to have foreseen all this. He is now standing outside the whole rigmarole, and within his own “Go Forward” dictum, and claiming that he is going to be president. In the situation where the national electorate is getting fed up of the bickering, machinations, bribery and undemocratic means to access power, Mbabazi may well attract the majority vote of the disconcerted electorate, were the country to go to an election.