Strange as it sounds, government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, has defended former NRM Secretary General, Amama Mbabazi, saying police was wrong to block his visit to Mbale.
Ofwono, the NRM deputy Spokesperson as appearing on NBS TV Morning Breeze on Wednesday together with Severino Twinobusingye, lawyer to the former Prime Minister.
Ofwono started by diluting Amama’s alleged threat to the ruling party saying,”Mbabazi isn’t a concern to the NRM party, as it’s a large party with resources”.
Ofwono said he even never supported the Kyankwanzi resolution pushed by Youth minister, Evelyn Anite, to shadow Amama’s ambitions by making President Yoweri Museveni the sole candidate.
“I didn’t support the Kyankwazi resolution because I didn’t see any genuine contender to President Museveni,” Ofwono said.
To illustrate that Amama was not a threat to them, Ofwono said police that arrested him while travelling to Mbale should not have done so.
Amama was arrested with his daughter, Rachel Mbabazi, and FDC politician Kizza Besigye, by police under the command of then operations boss, Felix Kaweesi, who claimed they had not sought police clearance.
“The Uganda Police shouldn’t have interfered with the NRM internal activities by blocking Amama Mbabazi’s Mbale trip,” Ofwono said.
He believes what happened to Bidandi Ssali and the late Eriya Kategeya when they left NRM, is what will happen to Mbabazi.
Bidandi, Kategeya woes
Bidandi who clandestinely offered assistance to Museveni’s NRA worked with him in the new government as Minister of Local Government from 1989 until 2004.
In 2004, he resigned from the Cabinet after disagreeing with Museveni over the latter’s desire to run for a third term as President.
Bidandi then founded the People’s Progressive Party and stood as a presidential candidate in the 2011 presidential elections but lost to Museveni.
Kategaya, on the other hand, was part of Museveni’s Front for National Salvation (FRONASA), a group of Ugandan exiles in Tanzania who eventually helped topple Idi Amin in 1979 with the help of the Tanzania People’s Defence Force.
In 1980, he was a founder of the Uganda Patriotic Movement, headed by Museveni to contest in the elections.
When Museveni launched the guerrilla struggle against the Milton Obote II administration (1981 – 1985), Kategaya served in the ‘External Wing’ of the rebel National Resistance Movement (NRM) and National Resistance Army (NRA).
During Museveni’s second term as elected President (2001 – 2006), Kategaya, then serving as Internal Affairs Minister, famously fell out with the President when he opposed moves to have the Constitution amended to remove presidential term limits.
In May 2003, he was dropped from his ministerial position during a Cabinet reshuffle, along with other ministers who opposed the removal of term limits.
In December 2004, he participated in the formation of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) an anti-Museveni coalition which went on to become the main opposition group in Uganda after the 2006 general elections.
Following Museveni and NRM’s win in the 2006 general elections, Museveni re-appointed him to the posts of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs until his death on March 2, 2013 in Nairobi.
Ofwono sees bleak future for Amama
This is the future Ofwono sees for Mbabazi.
“If Amama Mbabazi had been accompanied by prominent political allies to the Electoral Commission, I would been worried,” Ofwono continues, saying he personally predicted that Mbabazi would run as an independent.
“We knew 2 years ago that Mbabazi was carrying out clandestine activities. He has bruised the NRM party, but 90% of the NRM party is intact.”
Ofwono said NRM party members are free to interact with Mbabazi because the “leadership in NRM is Museveni and the general consensus we have”.
Dismissing media as fickle (even a Ssekanyola making love can be made newsworthy in the media), Ofwono said they “are going to have Amama as breakfast and there won’t be any left for lunch”.