A month ago, President Yoweri Museveni dispatched his brother, Rtd Gen Salim Saleh, to sit down with Amama Mbabazi, identify his soft spot and then talk him into abandoning his 2016 presidential bid.
Gen. Saleh famed for his negotiation and mediation skills, accepted to try his luck with the former Prime Minister and former NRM Sectary General.
According to Chris Obore, KFM Breakfast Show presenter and former senior investigative editor at Daily Monitor, Saleh did visit Amama accompanied by Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda.
For some time, according to insiders, Saleh has wanted to see the two NRM big wigs (Museveni and Amama) bury their differences and has been actively pushing for a reconciliation.
“He was actually mad over Mbabazi-Museveni fall out. No one in NRM has done what Mbabazi did for this government. It is possible that without Mbabazi, the two brothers could have abandoned the Luweero rebellion,” intimated an insider.
With that background, Saleh visited Amama to discuss terms and see if Mbabazi could give up his presidential ambitions come 2016 general elections.
Saleh suggested that Amama that it was even possible for him to be appointed Chief Justice.
The retired General had another proposition, Mbabazi could be made the Vice President after Museveni has been left to win 2016 elections without inhibitions.
In his usual calm manner, Amama told Saleh that he could not accept the position of Chief Justice because the NRM Chairman had stripped him of all dignity by sacking him from important positions and using party organs to humiliate him beyond measure.
Secondly, he would not accept the position of Vice President because it was not right for the President and his deputy to hail from one region, western Uganda.
It was clear to Saleh that Amama would not be swayed upon which the retired army officer returned home empty handed, frustrated.
In his analysis, senior journalist and proprietor of Kampala Express, Timothy Kalyegira, believes there have been secret “behind-the-scenes negotiations between Museveni and Mbabazi” which fell apart and Saleh’s failure to “buy him off” means Amama is determined to stand.
Mbabazi’s calm shake off of Saleh, continues Kalyegira, suggests that “Mbabazi is being propped up by powerful forces, most likely foreign and so he no longer feels beholden to Museveni’s patronage”.
Museveni turns to Mbabazi’s sister-in-law
When Saleh met a dead end, Museveni opted for alternative means.
Towards the end of last month, Museveni met Joy Zatwoshaho, an elder sister to Mbabazi’s wife, Jacqueline, at State House Entebbe.
Zatwoshaho told The Observer, that she alerted Museveni on how his standoff with Mbabazi had torn apart the people of Kigezi region.
This is the same region that Museveni gave 10 ministers in his new cabinet both as reward and strategy for eliminating Mbabazi support.
While Zatwoshaho says she had gone to demand Shs 150m unpaid to a Kabale woman group by Naads, inside information indicates Museveni summoned her purposely to discuss the Mbabazi question.
Without divulging the details word per word, sources have it that Museveni asked Zatwoshaho to convince Mbabazi, if it means going through her sisters, to abandon his ambition for 2016.
Security investigates Amama
The confidence with which Amama turned down Saleh prompted security to dig deeper in all regions across the country and find out what he has been up to.
Obore also revealed in the KFM Morning Show, that an intelligence task force, headed by Presidential Advisor, David Mafabi, was deployed to eastern Uganda to gauge Amama political support.
The state fears that Amama has deep roots in districts like Mbale, Butaleja, Bukedea, Busia, Sironko to mention but a few which he planted back in 2013.
Eastern region, especially Busoga, is believed to be anti-NRM, the reason Museveni usually visits money offers and promises of more.
This could explain the major reason why Museveni appointed Kasule Lumumba, the daughter or the land, as NRM Secretary General to appease Busoga and break ties with Mbabazi.
We are yet to get the findings of the investigate team’s report on Amama support in the east.
Mbabazi shares his political future
Just a week or so back, Mbabazi while appearing at a cultural gala organised by Kyambogo University students from Lira district, made it clear that he was still strong to serve the country in whatever capacity Ugandans deem fit.
While we recall his refusal to declare presidential ambitions even when prompted by NRM Poor Youth Forum, Mbabazi was presented a spear and shield-tools of power.
“I am still strong both mentally and physically,” he stated, adding, “I will give what effort is required for the transformation of our society.”
“This country is yours today not tomorrow. Be ready. Next year around the same time, we will have finished the elections.”
Asked whether he will contest, Amama tactically told an NTV reporter: “But didn’t I tell you that I would tell you about it?”
Yet, his fan, Benjamin Alipanga, who recently filed a case seeking a court injunction against Museveni’s standing in 2016 on account of old age, says Mbabazi is “waiting for the formal opening of the 2016 election programme to declare his position on his speculated candidature”.
In talks with Besigye?
Former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) President, Dr Kizza Besigye, told Daily Monitor, that he had “held talks with people closely associated with former premier Amama Mbabazi to discuss the country’s political direction ahead of the presidential and general elections next year”.
Besigye, however, clarified that he had not personally met Mbabazi: “Not really. Not directly, but I have held discussions with some of the people he relates with…those discussions are about the politics of this country. There is nothing else we would be discussing.”