Uganda: Museveni Rallies NRM Party On Campaign Top Agenda

26 January 2020

With all signs clear that President Museveni is a sole presidential candidate for the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, he has moved ahead of his political opponents to rally all structures of the ruling party ahead of the 2021 elections.

As he addressed the party's top ranks, the National Executive Council (NEC) at State House Entebbe on Friday, Mr Museveni was visibly jovial and even joked that he can now clearly see that his own "road to 2021 is now clear."

Mr Museveni then listed key accomplishments in his current term of office, and urged the NRM top leadership to drive the implementation of the parish development model to help ensure all homes are engaged in income-generating activities, his pet theme for decades now.

Mr Museveni then promised again to undertake yet another political pilgrimage to the Luweero Triangle ahead of the 2021 elections to demonstrate to the NRM mobilisers and leaders the best way of mobilising the people for income generation.

"I am going to go back to the Luweero Triangle and show you what mobilisation looks like," the President said.

"The village people are simple to work with because they don't need to be given money but rather need advice on how to develop themselves," he added.

Luweero Triangle is of huge significance to the NRM as the cradle of the guerrilla war waged by the National Resistance Army (NRA) that captured power on January 25, 1986.

Much as the key agenda on the Saturday's National Delegates Conference at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole, was to amend the NRM constitution to pave way for the long-awaited change from secret ballot to the lining up behind candidates during primary elections, Mr Museveni has emphasised it is also for "auditing" the party ideology.

One of the ways the President thinks NRM can bolster its ideology is by industrialisation as a way of fighting poverty in Uganda and across Africa.

He said the ideology of the party now should evolve around promotion of innovations and inventions aimed at mass production for the wide market across the continent and around the world.

"Using a hammer, a blacksmith produces one hand hoe per day but when you use a machine, you produce many hoes per day. Modern factories can produce 25,000 hoes per day. The people in mass production (using industrialisation) have a different mentality because they only think about where to sell their products" the President said.

Taxes

As a way of reducing the burden of taxation on the low income earners, the President directed the leaderships of Local Governments, especially in the municipalities and town councils, to stop taxing people doing small scale business on roadsides, including those vending mchomo, plantains and maize, among others.

"You, municipal people, who are putting taxes on gonja (roast plantains), mchomo, leave those poor people. You are going to bring bad lack to yourselves (because) you are interfering with business. Let Ugandans make money and in the evening, they will go to the bars and drink beer. Just put tax on beer because it is voluntary," he said.

On tribalism

With Uganda being a heterogeneous nation with many tribes and cultures, the President warned the NRM leaders and mobilisers to shun politics of tribalism or that based on religion 'because it will cause divisions'. Instead, he asked them to unite the people based on the NRM principals of Pan Africanism and patriotism.

Free education

Ahead of the start of the new academic year, the President directed the NRM leaders to ensure that there is no more charging of fees of any form in government schools that are implementing the universal primary and secondary education. The government in 1997 started implementing Universal Primary Education (UPE), which was later followed by the Universal Secondary Education (USE) in 2007 programmes.

But the President regretted that the two programmes are at the verge of failing because of poor implementation.

He accused the teachers of convincing parents during meetings to introduce a charge on the education of their children.

"I want the NRM to go back on the issue of free education. I am totally against reintroducing a charge in government schools because it negates our principle of causing socio-economic development through education. When you find NRM people interfering with free education; that is hurting ourselves," he ordered.

On trade

With government having liberalised the economy, the President wants the NRM members to be at the forefront on promoting trade by ensuring there is a "united Uganda market.'

He said the NRM should be at the forefront of promoting industries that produce for the market. He said currently, 2.2 million Ugandans are employed in industries, which now number 4,920, with private sector companies (8,400) and also in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.

For this to be addressed, Mr Museveni said there is need for a united market across Africa that is not regulated by border restrictions between the different countries. African Union is implementing the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is supposed to create one market for African products.

"This closing of borders is because the borders are there. If people are uniting, what border will you close? We need political unity for the development of Africa. These barbed wires (borderlines between countries) are the ones causing problems in Africa," the President said.

Last year, neighbouring Rwanda closed its key border crossing points with Uganda, adversely affecting trade between the two East African Community member States. But the two countries are currently engaged in talks to solve the impasse.

Voting by lining up

As the NRM prepares to go into party primaries to choose flag bearers for the different elective positions in the country, the party has amended its constitution by ditching the secret ballot method that has in the past, especially in 2010 and 2015, proved chaotic. NRM then adopted the system of voters lining up behind candidates or their symbols or their portrait.

Explaining to NEC members why the Central Executive Committee recommended the system of lining up behind candidates, Mr Museveni said it will help the party spend little money in identifying candidates, and, curing excuses of people running as independents citing being cheated in secret ballot.

Despite the fact that the motion moved by Mr Richard Todwong, the party's deputy secretary general, and seconded by former Bukoto West MP Mulindwa Birimumanso was adopted, there were two MPs who dissented, raising concerns about the likely consequences of voting by lining up.

The Ngora District Woman MP, Ms Jackline Amongin, said: "Lining up will affect the participation of gender because during elections at the grassroots, women cannot take decisions independently without consulting their husbands; and, wrong elements will come in and cause violence."

Mr James Waluswaka (Bunyole West) also opposed the amendment saying "people will line up behind weak candidates."

He added: "Whoever proposed this system is an enemy of our party."

But the NEC members overwhelmingly voted for amendment of the party constitution with yesterday's approval by the National Delegates Conference rubber-stamping the change of system of voting that the party will implement with immediate effect.

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