By Max Patrick Ocaido
Members of the public have reacted to a resolution by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) district leaders from Eastern and Karamoja regions to endorse President Yoweri Museveni as the party sole candidate for the 2021 elections.
On Friday last week, NRM district Chairpersons for Eastern and Karamoja regions held a private meeting at Resort Hotel, Mbale where they passed 13 resolutions, which among others was returning President Museveni as the sole NRM Presidential candidate for 2021 elections. The meeting was also attended by NRM Secretary General Justine Kasule Lumumba, Vice chairperson Eastern region, Capt Mike Mukula, the Vice Chairperson Karamoja, Simon Peter Aleper and the chairperson Women League, Lydia Wanyoto.
This resolution has left tongues flipping among members of the public and political leaders with some castigating the NRM district chairpersons, while others have defended their resolution saying that for the last 33 years NRM has been in power, there has been a lot of social and economic transformation with President Museveni being at the helm.
Capt Mike Mukula says the decision by the NRM leaders to return Museveni as NRM sole candidate is backed by the glaring peace and security, economic transformation and fulfillment of NRM manifesto and programs.
“The region [Eastern and Karamoja] believes that the president has fulfilled his pledges and he is still strong. He has never fallen sick in the last 33 years nor has he taken holiday. He is still very strong and the region believes that we should continue to utilize his current state to drive the country forward,” Mukula said.
He added that the district chairpersons based on the prevailing peace and security that Museveni has achieved to endorse him as an NRM sole candidate for 2021 polls.
“Museveni has got more experience than any other person in the country. So with that experience, they [district leaders] want him to continue helping the country to navigate through the challenges of maintaining peace and stability and gain economic prosperity. The other element is pan-Africanism, where he [Museveni] is pursuing the aspect of East African regional cooperation. Uganda is now an exporter of peace and we also now export more goods to Kenya than the latter does to Uganda. Uganda is also exporting peace to other countries like Somalia, South Sudan, and we are the largest peace keeping force in the world,” he said.
Mukula added, “Citizens of other countries like Eritreans, Ethiopians, Somalis, South Sudanese, Congolese, Burundians, are running to Uganda because of peace and stability and they are no people running out of Uganda, so this shows that Uganda is stable and peaceful.”
Under the NRM government, Uganda has had a longstanding history of hosting refugees with more than 1.2m refugees and asylum-seekers as of October 2018, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and was recently named among the world’s most friendly refugee countries. Mukula adds that the NRM government under Museveni has achieved economic transformation coupled with improved infrastructure.
NRM government has been credited for developing the road infrastructure, where over 10 roads have been constructed with tax payers’ money. Among them include; Mukono-Katosi(74km), Acholibur-Kitgum-Musingo(87km), Hoima-Kaiso-Tonya(92km), Mbarara-Kikagati-Murongo(74km), Mpigi-Kanoni(65km), Moroto-Nakapiripirit (93km).
Public policy analyst, Godber Tumushabe agrees that indeed the NRM government must be commended for addressing the issue of security and stability. He however, disagrees with Mukula on the aspect of peace in the country.
“I think the government must be commended on addressing issue of security and stability. So, on security and stability I would give the government some 70% mark but what people in this country often confuse is security and stability and peace. These two are fundamentally different. Security and stability create conditions for creating sustainable peace and peace does not mean the absence of war, peace is a condition that creates an environment where citizens thrive and this element of peace is still missing in the NRM government,” Tumushabe said.
Usuk County MP Peter Ogwang equally agrees with the decision of the NRM district leaders to return Museveni as sole candidate. He attributes this to the popular support that Museveni still holds among the citizens and also the overall contribution of the NRM government in impacting the livelihood of Ugandans.
Willis Bashasha, the director manifesto implementation unit in the office of the president wants those who criticize Museveni to think twice and give credit where it is due.
“You have been under your father's roof for all these years, now you want to take over simply because he has lived longer? NRM is more organized and it knows how to run its business. This man [Museveni] is really workaholic and I think he has done a lot for this country, he is also humane, I mean he has got shortcomings but let’s give him credit,” Bashasha said.
At the moment, Uganda is the most secure country. We have no internal wars and the only experiences we are having are those of criminality which are being handled internally,” he said.
However, Workers MP Sam Lyomoki (NRM) is not ready to let Museveni’s sole candidature come to pass without putting up a fight. The controversial MP on Tuesday announced that he will contest against Museveni in the 2020 NRM Primaries.
“I will contest against Museveni in NRM primaries and if I win I will restore the two presidential term limit. Now that road map has been announced, we are ready to battle in the primaries and even ready go to court, last time they called rebels and so on, but this time, we are prepared with a strategy,” Lyomoki said.
It is not the first time Lyomoki has threatened to contest against Museveni in the NRM Primaries. In 2011, he attempted to contest in the primaries but chicken out. He attempted to take another shot in 2015 and again withdrew his candidature and even snubbed the NRM Party's National Conference in Namboole.