What has all along been a silent war between the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa has escalated into a full-scale fight between the two NRM bigwigs ahead of Wednesday’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) elections.
While Nankabirwa has all along denied having any disagreements with Kadaga, she went bare knuckles on Sunday, circulating messages through the social messaging application, WhatsApp, speaking about her rocky working relationship with Kadaga.
“I have gone through a lot in Parliament; we want people who are committed to fighting for the party, not those that betray us, working with the opposition to undermine our party. You have been following on TV how Rebecca Kadaga conducts herself in Parliament. Let us support Persis Namuganza [state minister for Lands] to help President Museveni by working for the party,” Nankabirwa said audio circulated on WhatsApp.
The audio was followed by two text messages urging the NRM delegates to make a statement by rejecting Kadaga and choosing Namuganza.
Kadaga and Namuganza are contesting for the 2nd national vice-chairperson (female) position on the NRM CEC. The two women have for at least two years enjoyed a frosty relationship which stems from a 2018 disagreement over the traditional leadership of Busoga kingdom.
Back in Busoga, Namuganza subscribes to a camp opposed to the Kyabazingaship of William Gabula Nadiope while Kadaga is an avid Nadiope supporter.
The matter was referred to Parliament’s Rules and Privileges Committee which after a seven-month hearing recommended that she either apologizes to the speaker Rebecca Kadaga or face suspension for her behavior that they say insulted the Office of the Speaker.
Namuganza rubbished the report because the committee never summoned Kadaga to testify.
Their current fight for positions in NRM is seen by some within the ruling party as connected to their Busoga rivalry while others see Namuganza as a front from the top.
This is so because Kadaga has been using her position as Speaker of Parliament to shoot down decisions by CEC intended to keep party MPs in check. What is most disturbing to the NRM top leadership is that Kadaga as a member of CEC ignores the organ’s collective responsibility to side with errant MPs.
“It is possible that Nankabirwa is speaking Number One’s voice,” a senior party official who preferred not to be named said.
During the recent CEC meetings at Entebbe, the two have clashed in front Museveni with Kadaga accusing Nankabirwa of being good at rumour-mongering while Nankabirwa has repeatedly accused the Speaker of not being loyal to the party and the President.
Kadaga is yet to respond to Nankabirwa’s latest attacks.