The men and women to determine NRM’s choice for Speaker

CEC members in a past meeting

President Yoweri Museveni Tibuhaburwa who also doubles as the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party chairman, has summoned its central executive committee (CEC) for a special sitting at the National Leadership Institute (NALI) Kyankwanzi where MPs-elect subscribing to the party are currently undergoing political orientation.

 The CEC, NRM’s topmost policy organ is expected to among other issues handle the selection of the candidate that the party will present to contest for the post of speaker of parliament. 

 Stiff competition to lead the second arm of government is between the current Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, her deputy, Jacob Oulanyah and Rakai woman MP, Juliet Kinyamatama.

 According to the NRM constitution, CEC is vested with powers to vet candidates to compete for the highest offices both within the party and at the national level. With NRM’s commanding majority of 337 MPs out of the 529 MPs who will constitute the 11th parliament, it is safe to conclude that the person that the party will select as its candidate will become the next Speaker of Parliament. 

 It is understood that after CEC’s meeting tomorrow, the name of the person or persons they will have agreed upon will then be forwarded to the caucus to either confirm or in case of more than one candidate, choose who will be the next speaker. 

 Today, we highlight the members of CEC who are vested with enormous power to determine the destiny of parliament in the next five years. 

 1. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni – He is the chairman of the NRM since 1985 after the death of Professor Yusuf Lule who was the inaugural chairman. Since then, Museveni has never been subjected to intra-party competition for the top position. He has also been the party’s presidential candidate in the last six elections. According to sources familiar with Museveni’s thinking, he is lately not very happy with the current Speaker of Parliament for allegedly not being a very loyal cadre of the party. 

Museveni is also understood to be angry with Kadaga for making it harder to pass some legislations in the house that are deemed to be in NRM’s interest. Although CEC is made up of more than 24 members, Museveni holds considerable sway over all of them. 

It’s highly unlikely that a position he supports can fail to sail through CEC. However six years ago when he wanted to give former secretary-general, Amama Mbabazi, a soft landing, CEC members ‘rebelled’ and dumped Mbabazi completely. 

 2. Haji Moses Kigongo – 1st national vice-chairman: Like Museveni, Kigongo has been NRM’s number two for as long as the party has been in power. He has also never been subjected to an internal challenge for the position. During the 2020 NRM elections, two men who had expressed interest in the position were either knocked out on a technicality or were persuaded to drop out of the race. Those who know Kigongo told us that he is a Kadaga supporter. 

 3. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga -2nd national vice-chairperson (Female): The current Speaker of Parliament is also the third most powerful person in the NRM. In the 2020 party elections, she resoundingly defeated her single challenger, state minister of Lands, Persis Namuganza, to retain the position. Of course, if CEC is charged with voting who will be the next speaker, Kadaga will be voting for herself. But in the recent past, she has been on record for saying CEC has no power to determine who will be Speaker of Parliament. She maintains that come rain come shine, she will be a candidate for the country’s number 3 seat regardless of the CEC decision. 

 4. Justine Kasule Lumumba – secretary-general: She assumed the role in 2015 when the party amended its constitution and gave Museveni powers to appoint office bearers at the secretariat as the party chairman moved to dislodge the then out of favour secretary-general, John Patrick Amama Mbabazi. 

Mbabazi was interested in the presidency and there was fear that he would use his position in the party to dislodge Museveni.

Lumumba is said to be “not so friendly” with Kadaga although they are both from the same Busoga sub-region. An MP from Busoga who talked to us on the condition of anonymity to speak freely said the bad blood between the two women is over who is superior and therefore kingmaker in the region. “It’s just a battle of ego really; there is nothing serious that separates them,” the MP said. He added that Lumumba covertly campaigned for Namuganza to try to defeat Kadaga in the NRM elections.  

 5. Richard Todwong – deputy secretary-general: Todwong is also a beneficiary of the 2015 amendments. Before that, he was the Nwoya county MP, and the appointment ended his aspirations to seek re-election in the 2016 general elections.

Because he’s from Acholi just like Oulanyah, it would be safe to assume his candidate if left to choose freely.

 6. Rose Namayanja- Treasurer: She had announced her retirement from Parliamentary politics in 2015 when Museveni appointed her as the party’s national treasurer.

The former Nakaseke Woman MP hasn’t indicated who she favours between Kadaga and Oulanyah although she is known to be friends with Oulanyah. In the past five years, she has hosted the Omoro MP at least twice – in Nakaseke at a family thanksgiving, and at Najjanankumbi during a fundraiser for the expansion of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. 

 7. Jackeline Kyatuhaire –Deputy Treasurer She was a former MP for Kanungu district. She was appointed last year to replace Dr. Kenneth Omona who had been appointed as the presidential principal private secretary. Kyatuhairwe’s views on who should be the Speaker of Parliament are not publicly known. 

 8. Ruth Nankabirwa- Government Chief Whip She is the government chief whip and before that, she had occupied various ministerial positions. Nankabirwa who was defeated in the previous election as Kiboga Woman MP is an unapologetic supporter of Oulanyah. She has been on record in parliament reminding Kadaga of the pact that CEC had in 2016 to have her as the speaker for one more term before Oulanyah takes over. 

 9. Godfrey Kiwanda- vice-chairman (Buganda): He’s the outgoing MP for Mityana North, and also state minister for Tourism. During the last speakership race, Kiwanda openly campaigned for Oulanyah and is believed to be still stuck with the same choice. 

 10. Singh Katongole- vice-chairman (Kampala): He was briefly an MP for Lubaga South before he was replaced by Moses Kasibante after a court process. It is not yet known who Katongole prefers of the two candidates. 

 11. Chris Baryomunsi – vice-chairman (Western): He is the MP for Kinkizi East in Kanungu district. He’s also the state minister of Housing. Baryomunsi replaced Maj Gen Matayo Kyaligonza, the legendary hero of the NRA bush war. Baryomunsi’s support is not known but he has had on and off cooperation with Kadaga. 

 12. Mike Mukula – vice-chairman (Eastern): Mukula was Soroti Municipality MP until 2016. He has been the party’s vice chairman for eastern region since 2005 after NRM’s formal registration as a political party 

 13. Jacob Oulanya – vice-chairman (Northern): He joined NRM in 2006 after losing his re-election bid as Omoro MP. Prior to that, he was an ardent supporter of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC). He rejoined Parliament in 2011 and went on to become deputy Speaker. In the 2020 NRM elections, he defeated former minister, Sam Engola to become vice chairman for Northern Uganda.

He first attempted to wrestle the speakership from Kadaga in 2016 but his aspirations collapsed after Museveni, before a CEC meeting at Entebbe, asked him to retain the deputy Speaker slot.

It is from that 2016 meeting that Oulanyah and his campaigners talk of a gentleman’s agreement with Kadaga that 2016-21 would be her last term and she cedes the chair for him. “What are agreements for?” he keeps asking, casting aspersions on Kadaga’s honesty.

 14.   Simon Peter Aleper- vice-chairman (Karamoja): He is the MP for Moroto Municipality and has been a member of CEC for two terms. Aleper has not showed his preference for speaker of parliament at least publicly. 

 15. Nasur Gadhafi – chairman, Youth League: He’s a former candidate for Katikamu North constituency in Luwero district. Nasur was also the person who nominated President Museveni for both the party chairmanship position and presidential candidate. It is not yet clear who Nasur favours among the two candidates.  

 16. Lydia Wanyoto- chairperson, Women League: She is a former MP for the East African Legislative Assembly. She contested for the Mbale City Woman MP but lost to Connie Galiwango, who is a close confidante of Speaker Kadaga. Wanyoto has also spoken out her preference to have Kadaga retired from speakership of Parliament. 

 17. Jim Muhwezi – Veterans League: He has held different ministerial positions on top of being an MP for Rujumbara County in Rukungiri district. In the 2021 elections, he bounced back as MP after defeating FDC’s Fred Turamuhweza. Those close to Muhwezi say he supports Kadaga.

 18. Dr. Tanga Odoi – chairman, NRM Electoral Commission: He’s a former lecturer at Makerere University where he also once the chairman of Makerere University Staff Association. One source who asked not to be named said he is a Kadaga supporter.

 19.  Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda -Special Nominee He’s the current Prime Minister, the position he occupied after the sacking of Amama Mbabazi in 2014. Rugunda is not known to be supporting either of the candidates against the other. 

 20. Historicals’ League is unrepresented since Kivejinja died last year in December after battling coronavirus disease. His position is yet to be filled by another person. 

 21.   Kato Gabriel- PWDs: Kato has been a PWD advocate for a long time. It’s not known who he favors for speaker of parliament. 

 22. Gidudu Mafabi – Elderly League: He was recently elected as the MP for the elderly after the creation of the position in 2020. It is not yet clear who he favors for speaker. 

 23. Robert Rukaari – Entrepreneurs League: He is the MP-elect for Mbarara City North. He replaced Hassan Basajjabalaba as the chairman entrepreneurs league. It is not yet clear who he favors for speaker. 

 24. James Tweheyo – Workers League: He is a former secretary of the Uganda Teachers’ Union (UNATU). Tweheyo is yet to indicate his preference at least publicly for who the Speaker of Parliament.  

 25. Huda Oleru – Special nominee: She is the MP-elect for Aringa county in Yumbe district. It is not yet clear who she backs for Speaker.

 26. Kahinda Otafiire – special nominee: He’s the current minister for East African Affairs and recently bounced back as the MP for Ruhinda county in Mitooma district. Otafiire has previously clashed publicly with Kadaga over the selling of Njeru stock farm in Buikwe district. He may therefore not back Kadaga. 

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