The National Resistance Movement (NRM) vice chairperson for eastern Uganda, Capt Mike Mukula, has criticised the former Security minister, Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde, for deciding to contest for presidency and warned him that he should be prepared to face the full might of the ruling party.
Capt Mukula said yesterday that Lt Gen Tumukunde, who has been a party insider, has no capacity to dislodge President Museveni and NRM from power.
He said the former spy chief, having been in NRM for all this time, knows that he cannot dislodge the party from power in only eight months.
"Nobody knows NRM better than Tumukunde. And he knows that the NRM machinery is very resilient, respective and dynamic. It's able to meet its challenger effectively as a mass organisation," Capt Mukula said.
'Not the first'
"Tumukunde will not be the first one to take on the NRM machinery. All the renegades have tasted its might. Actually Amama Mbabazi knew it more than Gen Tumukunde. It's not possible anywhere in the world to take on a strong system like NRM within eight months [to the election] and you think you will do much," he added.
The General Election is scheduled for February next year.
On Tuesday, Lt Gen Tumukunde wrote to the Electoral Commission (EC), indicating his intention to stand for president in 2021 and that he is set to start nationwide consultations about his bid.
The EC has set presidential nominations for October 1, and 2 2020.
Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi, the chairperson of NRM Veterans League, was also dismissive of the political threat posed by Lt Gen Tumukunde's candidature to the ruling party.
"We are not bothered about him because he does not belong to us. I am the chairperson of the NRM Veterans League and we belong to NRM. If he belonged to the league, he wouldn't have done what he has done. So we are not concerned with the decision he has taken," Gen Muhwezi said.
The former army commander and now coordinator of the Opposition Alliance for National Transformation party, Maj Gen (Rtd) Mugisha Muntu, said it is too early to comment about Lt Gen Tumukunde's bid.
"It's still early because he is talking about making consultations and depending on the outcome of his consultations, he will decide whether to stand or not. But this is a normal process," Maj Gen Muntu said.
'Nothing will change'
Other leaders said with or without Lt Gen Tumukunde on the 2021 presidential ballot, nothing will change the current political fragility in the country.
Mr Godber Tumushabe, the associate director at Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies, said: "Every political analysis that is being done is faulty because it presumes we are operating in a normal electoral process. We are operating in a broken system."
The NRM vice chairperson for western region, Maj Gen Matayo Kyaligonza, said he is not interested in Lt Gen Tumukunde's candidature.
"Am I his brother, his father, his uncle or his relative? If he has gone to the Electoral Commission and wants to contest, so what? That is his choice. Leave me out of that Tumukunde issue," he said.
The Democratic Party president Norbert Mao said Lt Gen Tumukunde is a replica of the ruling NRM party system and Ugandans should not expect anything different from him.
"Tumukunde and Museveni are just two fingers of the same hand. Both are members of the bush league and there is nothing new he can bring, but we welcome him," Mr Mao said.
Stakeholders speak out
"I am the chairperson of the NRM Veterans League and we belong to NRM. If he belonged to the league, he wouldn't have done what he has done. So we are not concerned with the decision he has taken," Jim Muhwezi, the chairperson of NRM Veterans League
"Gen Tumukunde is one of the best we have in terms of military training, education and he is even articulate but his entry to the race is no consequence because we are operating in a broken system," Godber Tumushabe, Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies
"Tumukunde cannot bring anything new. If you want to know that Museveni is serious about it, especially with generals, you just look at people like Tumukunde because you know that elections can't take Museveni out of power," Yusuf Sserunkuma, a researcher