- Published on Monday, 30 July 2012 10:39
- Written by Nkwasibwe Geofrey
- Category: news
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Muhammad Nsereko’s recent statement that he is ready to vacate the parliamentary seat he won on the NRM ticket, and seek re-election under another political shade, has opened a Pandora’s box within and outside the ruling party.
While some have hailed the Kampala Central MP for standing up against what they call injustice and unfairness, others see a naïve, excited young man trying to make a mark on the political scene. Writing in Daily Monitor on Friday, David Mafabi, the Private Secretary in charge of Political Affairs at State House, sided with the latter view.
Mafabi wrote: “Is Mr Nsereko throwing down the gauntlet of battle to his own party, or bluffing? If the latter, what is this distasteful game of brinkmanship all about? What is he holding out for? How can he comfortably and responsibly bear the unease his utterances must cause among the rank and file?”
However, Mr Mafabi and those who think like him must read this. Nsereko, it has emerged, takes himself far more seriously, and is far more ambitious than his 31 years of age would suggest. Nsereko’s close associates have told us he wants to form a political party.
The party, our sources add, will target the youth, workers and women, while championing access to social services, respect for human and workers’ rights, and good governance — issues he claims the NRM has failed to deliver on.
We have learnt that since April, Nsereko has been quietly mobilizing youth in NRM across the country, along with youthful MPs and district chairpersons, to join him in his new political arrangement.
Our sources further say that before venturing out, Nsereko first contacted some NRM historicals and senior leaders, including former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya, who allegedly encouraged him on his chosen path. He also tried to persuade fellow NRM legislators to jump ship. One MP who received Nsereko’s message claims that the Kampala Central MP is frustrated that NRM has failed to fulfill its promises.
NRM under threat?
According to the same sources, Nsereko has recently been trying to identify sources of funding, and has tried to reach out to his network of friends at home and abroad. When contacted, Nsereko told The Observer that he has not encountered any problems in sourcing funds, but that his biggest challenge “is about convincing Ugandans to support our political agenda.”
He declined to reveal the identity of the party he intended to form. Some senior party officials warn that if Nsereko leaves the party, it will reinforce the view within some circles that NRM has run out of steam. This view has gained currency in the wake of the successive defeats the party has suffered at the hands of the opposition in the recent parliamentary by-elections.
“Many disgruntled members and youth are likely to follow his rhetoric, and this will not be a surprise to those who have always known the fact that the NRM is dead,” said Magode Ikuya, a member of NRM’s National Executive Committee.
Explaining how the NRM has lost its ideological spirit and foundation, Ikuya says that plundering of national resources has become the identity of the NRM, instead of such objectives as service delivery, zero tolerance to corruption and good governance.
“You should expect many of such things to happen because the ideals that formed our struggle have since died,” he warned.
Yet others, especially youthful lawmakers that one would expect Nsereko to be able to convince, say his decision is at best laughable.
“There is no political ideology formed based on personal vendetta that succeeds. Any political departure should have concrete ideological direction,” said MP Kenneth Omona (Kaberamaido).
Hamson Obua (Ajuri), who some people consider to be a rebel NRM MP, says Nsereko should fight from within NRM.
“He has been suppressed and is yielding to the suppression, and I think that is likely to conceal his potential, yet he could have posed some force from within,” Obua said.
Even Chris Baryomunsi the outspoken Kinkizi East MP, says NRM is still the strongest party, which only needs reform rather than replacement. Sources within NRM told us that Omona, Obua, James Kakooza (Kabula) , Peter Ogwang (Youth- Eastern) and Ronald Kibuule (Mukono North MP and minister of state for Youth) are among the young NRM parliamentarians that have been deployed to counter Nsereko’s move.
As Nsereko maps out the steps he should take, some analysts counsel that since Uganda’s political terrain can at times be fluid, he should reflect deeply on what became of politicians that left their parties to form new ones. For inspiration, Nsereko will do well to study Dr Kizza Besigye’s example. Besigye ditched the Movement in 1999 after authoring a controversial paper calling for sweeping reforms in government.
Currently, the president of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Besigye has drawn heavily on his association with the military and exploited his fearless, charismatic character to build what has turned out to be Uganda’s biggest opposition party. Nsereko can also examine Jaberi Bidandi Ssali’s predicament. The veteran politician spectacularly fell out with Museveni in 2003 after opposing attempts to amend the constitution and lift presidential term limits.
In 2006, Bidandi helped form the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), which has struggled to establish itself as a formidable party. There is also the example of Beti Kamya, the president of Uganda Federal Alliance (UFA). When she first emerged on the political scene in early 2000s, Kamya was the archetypal, unyielding politician.
Organised, hardworking and always armed with facts to challenge government’s positions, some people tipped Kamya to replace Besigye as FDC leader.
But she left FDC in 2008 after disagreeing with the direction the party was taking. Her shot at the presidency in 2011 failed miserably and today she has descended into near obscurity.
To cut Nsereko some slack, Dr Sabiiti Makara, a senior lecturer in the department of Political Science at Makerere University, says the young politician’s fate could be different from that of others that have found themselves in a similar situation before.
“People are always willing to identify with change agents, just like it was the case for Besigye,” Makara said.
Mwabutsya Ndebesa, a political historian at Makerere University, says if Nsereko is not playing to the gallery and has a concrete political ideology, his departure from the NRM could make impact.
“Political departure is based on real ideological foundation that leads to a marketable political organisation that attracts people,” Ndebesa said.
Source: The Observer