The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party meets again today, July 16, at State House Entebbe to agree on how the party will conduct its internal polls without breaching the Covid-19 related restrictions.
Besides the party’s electoral roadmap, the NRM chiefs are also expected to discuss the fate of some 37 NRM MPs that voted against the 2017 Constitutional amendment that scrapped presidential age limits.
The constitutional upper age cap of 75 years had remained as the only legal hurdle against President Yoweri Museveni’s desire to extend his presidency beyond 35 years.
MPs Barnabas Tinkasimire (Buyaga West), Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga ), Patrick Nsamba OShabe (Kassanda North), John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya), Sam Lyomoki (Workers), Monica Amoding (Kumi Woman), Louis Mbwatekamwa Gaffa (Kasambya), Sylvia Rwabogo (Kabarole Woman), Silvia Akello (Otuke Woman), Maurice Henry Kibalya (Bugabula South), Johnson Muyanja Ssenyonga (Mukono South), James Acidri (Maracha) and Felix Okot Ogong (Dokolo) voted against the 2017 age limit amendment.
Others were, James Kaberuka (Kinkizi West), CD Lowila Oketayot (Pader Woman), Suzan Amero (Amuria Woman), Denis Sabiiti (Rubanda West), Evelyn Chemtai (Bukwo Woman), Richard Gafabusa (Bwamba), Alex Ruhunda (Fort Portal Municipality), Justine Khainza (Bududa Woman), Helen Kahunde(Kiryandongo Woman), Robert Migadde Ndugwa (Buvuma Islands), Geoffrey Dhamuzungu (Budiope East), Anthony Ssemuli (Mubende Municipality) and Sarah Nakawunde Temulanda (Mpigi Woman).
Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa recommended to CEC to expel these MPs for acting against the official party positions.
Their defiance of the party position on the age limit bill and later on their rejection of a law that slapped taxes on mobile money transactions and the social media put them in Nankabirwa’s bad books that she started sidelining them on all NRM related issues.
Even when Museveni sent cash incentives like the most recent Shs 40 million Covid-19 cash relief to the MPs, the ‘rebels’ were left out much as some opposition MPs were given.
After distributing the Shs 40 million, The Witness has learnt, Nankabirwa invited Gafabusa, Nyambeshe, Acidri, Mbwatekamwa and Nsamba Oshabe for a meeting at her office at Parliament. Oshabe and Acidri declined the invitation forcing the group to add Amoding unknowing that they were inviting trouble for Nankabirwa.
A few minutes into the meeting, Nankabirwa and Amoding started trading insults and soon, the meeting turned into a shouting match between Nankabirwa and Amoding.
“Amoding hadn’t been invited but since she has always been part of us, we asked her to accompany us but my dear! Getting there, they started quarrelling with Nankabirwa and at some point, they threatened going physical,” an MP who was part of the meeting said.
The source of the altercation between the two, according to our source, was Nankabirwa’s statement that Museveni will never forgive the ‘rebel’ MPs for voting against the age limit bill.
Some, among the 37 MPs, had wanted to meet Museveni and explain themselves and later ask him to give them a share of the Shs 200 million that he gave to each of the 317 MPs that voted in favour of the constitutional amendment.
Amoding reportedly assured Nankabirwa that she would get her way to Museveni even without the Kiboga Woman MP’s input.
“She called someone who fixed an appointment for us with Museveni although the trio of Nambeshe, Oshabe and Acidri refused to join the group since they were determined to seek re-election under [Bobi Wine’s People Power movement],” a source said.
About 18 MPs notably, Amoding, Ssekikubo, Tinkasiimire, Muyanja, Temulanda, Mbwatekamwa, Dhamuzungu, Amero, Migadde, Chemtai, Rwabogo, Kaberuka and Sabiiti met Museveni for at least 15 minutes on Wednesday, July 15, at State House Entebbe.
NRM secretary general Justine Kasule Lumumba also attended the meeting which Museveni said was organized for him to hear their word before CEC takes a vote on their fate in Thursday’s meeting.
“He told us that he wanted to know whether we are still interested in NRM or we are quitting because he was told that we had decided to leave NM,” an MP who attended the State House meeting said.
Ssekikubo and Amonding did most of the talking for MPs telling Museveni that they had never left the party because they haven’t made any formal pronouncement. They instead turned the blame on the party leadership at Parliament that they accused of sidelining them.
“Why are we being treated as rebels? Why are being discriminated against just because we speak our minds? The views we expressed during the age limit debate are the views we got from our constituents when we went to consult them on the bill,” Amoding reportedly told Museveni.
Museveni told them that he was to present their position to the CEC for a final decision. He later saw them off without giving them a penny.