Senior officials of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) government are quietly reaching out to newly elected MPs from the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) party with inducements to encourage them to rebel against the party’s leadership.
The opposition party shocked the ruling establishment when its little-known and poorly facilitated candidates defeated well-grounded politicians including at least 13 ministers who had stood for election in different constituencies in Buganda region.
Recapturing Buganda is a top priority for the NRM and disorganizing the party which swept most of the elective positions at both the national and local government levels is part of the strategy.
Available information shows that over the past couple of weeks, Gen Caleb Akandwanaho (Salim Saleh) has reached out to some of the NUP MP-elects and asked them to work for his elder brother – President Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Museveni.
“I have been contacted, and they were telling me to defect to NRM and in return, they support my projects,” one of the incoming MPs told The Witness on Sunday.
A defection at this moment would mean that the MP loses his seat in Parliament and goes into a by-election if he is to regain the seat.
The MP specifically mentioned Gen. Salim Saleh as the person who has made the offers. The decorated army officer’s first interest was in knowing this particular MP’s background and how he joined politics.
Some of the new parliamentarians said to have met the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) chief coordinator did not answer our calls, some declined to comment while others denied having any contact with the influential senior army officer.
“I haven’t been there but I heard that some of our colleagues were taken to meet him in Nakaseke during the campaigns and he gave them some money,” the MP said.
Interviewed, NUP spokesman Joel Ssenyonyi (Nakawa West) said that although it could be true that some party members are being approached by the government, it could as well be a propagandist narrative intended to put the party leadership on a collision path with some of its members.
“I think it is a narrative being driven to wage a war between our MPs and the party leadership. I haven’t heard about it but I think it is diversionary,” Ssenyonyi said.
While different sources privy to the engagements insist that the president’s brother has indeed met some of the MPs, an aide said that the army man is not involved in any schemes aimed at antagonizing NUP.
“The people he has met are mainly creative artists; musicians from different political formations to talk about how they can be helped to promote their talents,” the aide who preferred not to be named said.