Thursday, 4 June 2015

Understanding Mbabazi's cryptic language

He had remained ambivalent for nearly a year and a half, much to the irritation of many of his supporters and the waiting media.
Ever since the dramatic NRM party retreat at the National Leadership Institute at Kyankwanzi in February 2014 when he was booed and denounced, Amama Mbabazi had mostly kept his cool and continued to pledge his loyalty to President Museveni and the cause of the NRM.
Further heckling and criticism followed through most of the year, including being dropped first as prime minister (in September) and as NRM secretary-general (in December), but Mbabazi remained calm and courteous amid these developments.
His wife Jacqueline became the face of the rumoured Mbabazi presidential bid, with some frustrated political analysts and supporters speculating that Mbabazi lacked the ambition but was being urged on by his wife.
After he was dropped as secretary-general with barely a word of protest or reaction, many started to conclude that the whole Mbabazi presidential story had been cooked up by the media desperate to find the next exciting political story or Opposition hero.
Some in the media, though (this writer among them) persisted with reporting on an impending Mbabazi bid largely because it was a true story, despite Mbabazi’s evasiveness.
Last week, the issue that has been reported on and speculated about for more than a year and even longer, finally and publicly began to fall into place.
Statements at wedding
At the wedding of the “rebel” NRM MP Barnabas Tinkasiimire of Buyaga West in Kibaale District, Amama Mbabazi made significant statements about government, the delivery of public services and the political direction the country ought to be taking.
The government-owned New Vision paper sort of reported Mbabazi’s presence as chief guest at the wedding, but also sort of dodged the part of reporting what Mbabazi had said.
It fell to the Sunday Monitor to report the revealing details.
“If you teachers decided to let the struggle go, it is upon you because the increment was every financial year to channel a percentage,” Mbabazi is quoted to have said, starting off with this comment on the ongoing national teachers’ strike.
Mbabazi was targeting popular sentiment with that statement on the teachers.
Doing what the NRM government and the police usually term “inciting the people”, Mbabazi referring to the dilapidated Kigumba-Kyenjojo road said: “I am really surprised that you continue to support leaders who have not met the demands made. It’s a caution for you to take lessons whenever voting.”
“Roads in Bunyoro should have been tarmacked yesterday since it’s the rich region blessed with natural endowments like oil, but because you ‘vote well’ here compared to Kabale and Kanungu where I come from, such leaders think all things are okay,” Mbabazi added.
His tongue-in-cheek reference to “voting well” was clearly aimed at President Museveni who a decade ago had remarked that it did not matter what Members of Parliament did on the floor of the national assembly as long as they voted “wisely”, meaning voted to support Bills or political moves that favoured Museveni.
The actual bombshell, at least in the sequence of the Sunday Monitor story, came toward the end of the speech Mbabazi made. No words could have been more plain than these in describing Mbabazi’s plans:
“I have kept many people guessing on my next step, but now I tell you confidently that in not more than a month I will be declaring my intentions or ambitions,” to which the crowd, understanding what this meant, cheered wildly.

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Africa | 20 March 2014 23:19 CET
IUIU Disqualifies All Guild Candidates
By Abdulhamid Ibrahim Manzil With Additional Files From Alex Onanyanga & Saidi Haruna
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All four contending candidates for the position of guild president at the Kampala Campus of Islamic University in Uganda have been found unfit for the task and disqualified.

According to the university vetting committee, also known as the Shura council, all the candidates scored below the pass mark of 70% in the ten examinable aspects.

'Somebody could be asked something as basic as reciting or locating the opening chapter of the holy Quran and would respond 'for sure I can't,' said Mr Ali Ssegirinya, the secretary Shura committee and also administration officer in charge of students' affairs (AOSA.)

'Surely how such a person could be entrusted with leadership at an Islamic university?' asked Mr Ssegirinya.

Despite a sizable number of non-Muslim students, the guild leadership at IUIU is exclusively ring-fenced for Muslim students on the presumption that are already grounded in basic concepts of Islamic leadership.

According to the committee report dated March 17, 2014, which this reporter has seen, none of the candidates got the required pass mark and the electoral commission was ordered to organize fresh nominations, an exercise that ended on March 20.

The candidates who included Fauza Mubiru, Ahmed Nkono, Issa Ogomba, and Saddam Hussein scored 64.4%, 55.7%, 59.06%and 60.8% respectively against the required 70%.

'None of those is eligible to recontest since they failed to satisfy the Shura council,' reads the committee report in part.

This, however, was not well received by one of the affected candidates Mr. Issa Ogomba who said, 'I am not satisfied with the results because I have not been given an opportunity to see how I was assessed.'

'We are engaging in dialogue with administration to see that the committee reconsiders its decision to let us rerun,' he said.

'If dialogue fails then all other options will be opened,' he said without specifying which other options.

A university alumni who preferred anonymity said, from experience the university Shura has a faulted attitude towards law students that seek guild leadership.

'It has in the past had problems with them as they are always quick to think about courts of law for even minor disputes,' he said.

As it is, all the affected candidates are from the law class.

But the Shura secretary, Mr Ssegirinya dismissed all these claims as 'reckless and false.'

'The candidates failed the stipulated benchmarks and they knew that as a result they had to be dropped. That is a standard, measure in any world system,' he said.

He said what happened is not actually unique to Kampala campus as it has once happened at the main campus in Mbale and the females' campus at Kabojja.

'We would expect the law students to know all the procedures prior to contesting rather than cry foul after failing to impress the committee,' he said.

Leadership crisis
On whether the unfolding events would create a leadership crisis, Mr Ssegirinya said the students' guild constitution was replete with provisions on how to go about such an occurrence.

'In 2011 at the main campus, the interim guild that runs for the transitional period had its mandate extended as stipulated by law so we shall apply that precedence,' he said.

The criteria for vetting the candidates, also seen by this reporter, indicates that the prospective candidate should know how to recite at least 15 chapters from the holy Qur'an, general knowledge of Islamic core principles, leadership experience, knowledge of current affairs and have a Cumulative Grade Point Average(CGPA) above 3.0 with no retakes among others.

Some aspirants for other positions managed to sail through the grueling committee by a whisker. These are Lady Vice Guild President Aisha Galabuzi with 70.1%, Sewaya Haruna for speaker with 74.2% among others.

Mr. Saddam Hussein, one of the contestants, said he is going to concentrate on his studies as he has other commitments to pursue.

'I am ready to move on. My course is wanting and I have other ambitions to pursue', he said.

Other axed candidates were not available for comment as they were reportedly recuperating from the huge blow of disappointment they suffered.

Meanwhile, by press time, four new nominations for the guild post had been submitted to the electoral commission but this reporter managed to identify only that of Mr Kassim Ssekalema, who was run-up in the 2013 race. He is a third-year law student.

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