New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: How Ruling Party Wants to Deal With Rebellious MPs

The National Resistance Movement (NRM) party is not about to give up on MPs who rebel against the party and criticize its leadership in addition to taking positions contrary to those of the party.

After the recent NRM caucus retreat at Kyankwanzi, the party's leadership is coming up with a chain of measures to deal with dissidence in Parliament.

The measures include mobilizing funds to take services to the constituencies of the party's MPs.

NRM Party Chief Whip Justine Lumumba told New Vision that the party has discovered that some MPs become rebellious because they do not feel the party at home.

"Many MPs have been asking us about the relevance of the party to them," Lumumba said.

The caucus spokesperson Evelyn Anite said the party intends to take electricity to the constituencies, improve road networks and purchase boats for the islanders.

"We are the richest political party in Uganda, so there is no way we shall fail to raise funds to help our MPs," Anite said.

Currently the NRM MPs have no special benefits from the party save for the small sums of money members get for campaigns in the general elections.

Lumumba said NRM MPs will, from next financial year, also be vigorously involved in the budgeting process to ensure programmes in their constituencies are not left out.

Before the Kyankwazi retreat, some NRM MPs were increasingly taking independent decisions on crucial matters on the floor of Parliament.

The decisions on several occasions left the party bruised in public eyes.

The party for example suffered serious bruises during the recent oil debate - that turned chaotic - when many of its MPs fought its position.

Anite said the party intends to use the sub-regional caucus meetings to establish the burning problems of its members before helping them out.

'Preach water, drink wine'

But Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo said the arrangement may not successfully deal with rebels because it is not the proper diagnosis of the problem.

"The problem is that we preach water and drink wine. There is double standard in the party and selective treatment of people," said the legislator, who recently graduated.

He noted that with the National Development Plan, there was no need for the party to help MPs on individual basis.

"What we need is an abstract of our manifesto and pledges for guidance," Ssekikubo said.

He added that failure to appoint a party Secretary General who commits most of his time to party activities is the major cause of rebellions in NRM camp in Parliament.

"We had chaotic party elections in 2010 which have never been properly addressed because the Secretary General is very busy," he said.

New Vision has also learnt that NRM had embarked on a chain of other projects all intended to bring about unity in the party in Parliament.

The programmes include amending the Constitution to ensure Government holds grip on Parliament.

The Attorney General Peter Nyombi confirmed to New Vision that there were several proposals to amend a cross-section of articles in the Constitution.

Busiro East MP Medard Segona said one of the proposals intends to give the President more powers to dissolve Parliament in case of a serious disagreement.

But Nyombi and Anite rubbished the allegations, saying the party has never made such a proposal.

"NRM has the majority in Parliament. So what will be the importance of dissolving Parliament? Certainly we have not talked about it," Anite said.

There were also talks that while at Kyankwanzi, NRM discussed a plan to oust Buganda caucus chairperson Godfrey Kiwanda and his deputy Betty Nambooze.

Kiwanda and Nambooze are accused of taking decisions contrary to those of the NRM party.

But Anite said issues of the small caucuses in Parliament, like Buganda are not binding to the big caucus, so they were not discussed at Kyankwanzi.

She said besides the party becoming relevant to its MPs, NRM is also putting more focus on the discipline of its members.

"We participated in the drafting of the party rules when we were at Kyankwazi. After those rules are endorsed by the party, anybody who will go against them will go straight to the disciplinary committee," Anite said.

Already some five NRM MPs have been committed to the disciplinary committed for serious action a sign of how determined NRM is to deal with dissidence.

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