Democratic Party (DP) president general, Norbert Mao, for the lack of a better word described Prof. Gilbert Bukenya as a “papyrus reed” not the “mahogany” as the politician used to call himself.
While addressing a press conference on Tuesday in Kampala, Mao expressed his disappointment in Bukenya for betraying opposition and supporting President Yoweri Museveni just after he lost The Democratic Alliance joint candidate race.
Mao compared Bukenya to the late Paddy Bitama [a comedian] saying while “Bukenya calls himself mahogany, but I think we now know he is papyrus”.
He said a papyrus tree lives for a few months and withers by rain unlike the mahogany that lasts the test of time.
Accusing Bukenya of being power hungry, Mao described NRM MPs as mattresses that occupy space but are very light.
Bukenya defends himself
Addressing press on the same day at his Kakiri home, Bukenya, the former Vice President, said he first consulted his constituents in Namayumba before he made the decision.
“What attracts me to politics more is to address poverty in Uganda,” he told press.
“I didn’t go to opposition for money. I have enough of it.”
Yet reports linked Bukenya to a mouth-watering Shs7bn bribe from the president to re-join the movement.
There is no evidence to prove Bukenya received that money.
However, The Observer, reported of how Museveni’s “money girls” Maj Edith Nakalema, the Private secretary and Brig Proscovia Nalweyiso met Bukenya to finalise the return deal.
Many analysts, though without evidence, agree Bukenya was bought off and returned to NRM for the sake of money.
Bukenya said he was going to focus on land issues in Buganda and youth unemployment in the region.
“The explanations of Kizza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi on issues am concerned about were unsatisfactory and somewhere false,” he said.
Bukenya said all the candidates who have picked forms and returned, there is only one person who can lead Uganda forward.
“That is President Museveni whom I have vowed to support.”
Ugandan political “prostitutes”
Bukenya is not the first politician to play “the sell-out” through political “prostitution”.
In 2003, the late Eriya Kategaya, believed to be the second most important person in the NRM at the time after President Museveni, quit the party.
Shortly after crossing to the opposition, he is reported to have remarked that a Munyankore man can turn in bed but cannot turn on his word of honour.
He joined the Reform Agenda, the predecessor to the Forum for Democratic Change only to rush back to NRM in 2006.
He was appointed minister for East African Affairs, a positon he held until 2013 when he died.
Major Rubaramira Ruranga also quit the NRM Party for the Reform Agenda.
He recently returned to the ruling NRM saying only Museveni had a vision of fighting the HIV/AIDS.
The late John Butime, a founding deputy Chairperson of the Forum for Democratic Change who served as a substantive chairperson of the FDC after the death of Sulaiman Kiggundu, in 2008 later connected to NRM until his death in 2013.
Aggrey Awori, an ardent Museveni critic also in 2005 announced he had crossed to the NRM.
Awori had competed for the Presidency against Yoweri Museveni in 2001.
He was rewarded with a ministerial position in the NRM.
David Pulkol has changed allegiances from the NRM where he served as the External Security Organization (ESO) boss, to the FDC, to the Progressive Alliance Party and finally to the Uganda Peoples’ Congress.
He currently has no party, after falling out the former UPC president, Olara Otunnu.
[Additional reporting by NBS TV]