In Summary

Ruling party’s Parliamentary Caucus meeting follows electoral loss in Bushenyi by-election to FDC candidate and reports of in-fighting among rival factions

An emergency meeting of the ruling party parliamentary caucus was yesterday called over concerns of growing divisions within the NRM which have reportedly contributed to the spate of by-election losses suffered by members.

A number of MPs Daily Monitor talked to yesterday confirmed that top on the agenda for yesterday’s meeting that sat in State House Entebbe, under the chairmanship of President Museveni, was to be discussions of the internal divisions.

The power-play between various party factions jostling for position ahead of an expected transition from the current leadership, sources said , is partly the reason their party could be facing a potential split in ranks.

Sources within the NRM but who are not authorised to speak on behalf of the party, told Daily Monitor yesterday that the party leadership was particularly alarmed by NRM candidates repeatedly losing to the Opposition in a number of Parliamentary by-elections even after being well facilitated by the party.

The meeting was also set to discuss the fall-out generated by recent confusion during the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) polls in Arusha that saw NRM’s official candidate Dorah Byamukama, dropped in favour of Ms Margaret Zziwa for the speakership. Another emerging view was that the by-election losses should alert the NRM leadership, in power for more than 26 years, to the consequences of its perceived failure to deliver on its promises.

Wakiso Woman MP Rose Mary Sseninde said the losses should be “an eye-opener” that Ugandans are disgruntled about poor service delivery. “Maybe we have lost out on service delivery and that is why people are losing trust and faith in us. We need to pull up our stocks otherwise we may get a shock,” she said.

Buyaga West MP Barnabas Tinkasiimire cited corruption and unfulfilled promises as the reason NRM candidates are losing. “People are annoyed with us because we are delivering air. As much as we are in charge, we have problems ranging from civil servants and some politicians being corrupt. Our voters are seeing us as terrible liars and maybe they think the opposition is sincere. Most NRM people are thieves and never deliver,” he said.

Kajara County MP Stephen Tashobya blamed the losses on disagreements within the leadership of the NRM party. “There is now a growing tendency of some NRM leaders openly de-campaigning others. We should also review the party constitution so that the NRM party flag bearers are not necessarily the only NRM candidates to stand on the party ticket.”

NRM recently lost its Bushenyi-Ishaka municipality parliamentary seat to opposition FDC. Mr Tayebwa Odo defeated NRM’s Nasser Basajjabalaba in the President’s home backyard. In Jinja Municipality, NRM’s Igeme Nabeta lost to FDC’s Paul Mwiru. The party has earlier lost other seats.
Findings from an Afrobarometer research conducted between December last year and February indicated that 74 per cent of Ugandans felt the country is heading in the wrong direction and that support for NRM is dwindling.

Basking in their by-election victories, opposition politicians last evening said the NRM government has lost track and people need change from a party which they still contend pick-pocketed the 2011 ballot.

Ms Angeline Osege (Soroti Woman, FDC) said Ugandans are tired of the NRM. “Ugandans no longer see a vision and future within the NRM party and they want change.” Dr Bayiga Lulume (Buikwe, DP) said the NRM has lost direction and as such its popularity has dwindled. “Service delivery has been a failure of the top leadership so lots of things are boiling within the NRM.’’