In a blistering attack, Buyaga West County MP Barnabus Tinkasiimire has slammed the ruling NRM party of “deliberately neglecting” the countryside, saying majority of the rural poor continue to grapple with low household incomes and lack basic necessities of life.
Tinkasiimire said despite ruling Uganda for the last 34 years, President Museveni’s government had fallen short of economically empowering Ugandans to afford decent housing, medical care and education for their children.
“What type of leadership have you provided when majority of the population live on one meal a day; when you have not helped farmers market their produce; when people can’t afford an air ticket to treat a serious heart condition?” charged Tinkasiimire.
The fiery NRM lawmaker, who spoke to us in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, was reacting to NRM Secretary General Kasule Lumumba’s remarks that the so-called NRM rebel MPs were not invited for the party’s National Conference planned for January 25 at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole.
The main purpose of this conference is to effect amendments to the NRM Constitution.
The National Conference will be proceeded by the Central Executive Committee (CEC) and the National Executive Council (NEC) meetings that will be held on January 23 and 24 respectively.
Lumumba told journalists in Kampala on Tuesday that, “The NRM chairman gave guidance that for those members of Parliament who didn’t move with the party when we were having Constitutional amendments will not be invited and we don’t expect them.”
She was referring to likes of Tinkasiimire and other NRM MPs who voted against the removal of the presidential age limit clause from the constitution.
This paved way for President Museveni, who has since clocked 75 years, to stand for reelection in 2021.
Under the previous law, Museveni would not have been eligible to seek another term in office.
Lumumba said, “Since they (NRM rebel MPs) will not have invitations, they will not come to attend the national conference. And so when you talk of someone coming to cause havoc, we have already written to the IGP as per the Public Order Management Act (POMA) to offer security at different venues. We expect government to offer security to these Ugandans who are coming to perform their constitutional roles.”
In response, Tinkasiimire said blocking them from attending the conference “is an outright indicator that NRM is being led in a dictatorial way.”
He charged: “Under what law or basis did they decide to block us? If they thought we had broken any rules, they should have taken us to the disciplinary committee.”
Tinkasiimire, who has previously opposed NRM positions on several contentious issues including Museveni’s stay in power, said he remained an elected party MP and member of the Parliament’s NRM Caucus which are mandated by the party’s constitution to attend the national conference.
“Until a decision is made that I am no longer a member of these entities, then I can’t be excluded from this conference,” he observed.
NRM accuses Tinkasiimire and his colleagues – Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga), Winfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) and Sam Lyomoki among others of fuelling divisions in the party.
But Tinkasiimire says it’s high time the party woke up from slumber to “work for the people in the countryside because poverty is alarming. We are a mass party. We should be working for the prosperity of a few people.”
Asked if he would storm the delegates’ conference, Tinkasiimire observed: “The reason we are being blocked is we wanted to field our presidential nominees – Theodore Ssekikubo and Sam Lyomoki. These are people who are going to transform the country. Museveni has been our candidate but has failed to develop the countryside.”
In Lwemiyaga, Ssekikubo has in recent weeks been taking on security forces in running battles.
Ssekikubo is accused of jumping bail in a 2010 electoral offence case, a charge he denies.
It remains unclear if the conference will take decisions on the party’s candidature in the 2021 presidential elections.
It’s rumoured the delegates will endorse Museveni as the party’s sole candidate in the much-anticipated poll.
SG Lumumba was cagey on the matter.
“The issue of sole candidate cannot arise in this National Conference because we are not going to hold elections. This is a national conference which will majorly handle issues to do with the constitution. And when it comes to holding elections, the Electoral Commission will bring out all the guidelines for the elections..,” said Lumumba.
She quickly added: “However, the Chairman can cause discussion on what he chooses to discuss with members.”
Several gatherings of NRM leaders across the country have since endorsed Museveni as their “sole candidate” in the 2021 polls.