The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Secretariat in less than a month after taking oath, had already divided itself into camps.
The new secretariat is headed by Justine Kasule Lumumba, the NRM Secretary General, and her deputy Richard Todwong while Rose Namayanja heads the national treasury as deputised by a one Prof Kenneth Omona.
On the other side is the overzealous Electoral Commission chairman, Tanga Odoi, who is currently in bad books with members who accuse him of being “abusive” and feeling way “too important”.
According to the indisputable information we received, Lumumba, Todwong and Namayanja have been imbrued in bitter disagreements since their appointment in December 2014 following a delegates conference that overthrew Amama Mbabazi as party Secretary General.
The bitter Kyankwanzi meeting
At the February 2015 NRM retreat at the national leadership institute in Kyankwanzi, the then fresh team had its own secret meeting.
The meeting of the NRM secretariat took place in the Secretary General’s tent [it was a Thursday].
The meeting was meant to harmonise the caucus resolution vis-à-vis the party positions ahead of the 2015 party primaries.
The meeting was supposed to be chaired by the party chairman, President Yoweri Museveni.
However, the President embarked on an impromptu journey to India where he attended the wedding ceremony of Sanjay Hinduja, the son of Hinduja Group of Companies co- chairman Gopichand Hinduja who married his girlfriend Anusuya Mahtani.
The wedding ceremony took place on Thursday and the President came back on a Friday evening.
Meanwhile, the secretariat’s meeting did kick off in the President’s absence.
The hot meeting: Todwong, Namayanja nearly grip each other’s necks
Before the meeting could even progress, disagreements broke out when Namayanja, the party treasurer, presented the preliminary party structures, the secretariat members’ salaries and allowances in accordance with their positions.
According to the source, Todwong leapt to his feet and threw his arms in the air in a hostile protest.
“He rubbished the said structures. He also went personal and ranted about how he could not earn less (salary) than a treasurer yet he is the deputy Secretary General,” said the source.
Still boiling, raging and mopping his sweaty face, Todwong demanded a quick clarification as to who, between the treasurer (Namayanja) and himself, the deputy Secretary General “is bigger than the other”.
If he was “bigger”, how then could Namayanja who is “smaller” earn more than him, queried the visibly agitated youthful NRM cadre.
Tension hang in the air as the members pondered what to do next; Namayanja having gone mum.
Suddenly, Lumumba, the powerful Secretary General herself, cut in with the same intensity and ordered Todwong to shut up.
“…and sit down immediately,” she was boiling too, maybe hotter than the former.
The defiant Todwong stayed resolute, refused to sit down or shut up as ordered.
“We are all at the mercy of the party chairman,” Todwong reminded his colleagues, telling them off that none had the right or power to order him around.
In a blink of an eye, everyone was up, shouting and ready to grip the neck of the nearest colleague, continued the insider who insisted on remaining anonymous.
“They nearly engaged in a fist fight. Afterwards, Todwong sat down but continued seething with sweltering anger.”
The meeting then resumed.
The Mbale ugly episode that disappointed Museveni
Back in January 2015, the newly unveiled team was dispatched to Busia to campaign for NRM’s Steven Wanyama Oundo who was battling DP’s Hasubi Deogratias Njoki in the Busia district LC5 chairman by-election.
While others were busy mobilising for votes, a section of the team accused Todwong of contributing nothing.
He is alleged to have spent “honeymoon days” in hotels with a junior minister who hails from the same region.
The furious team members could not hide their dissatisfaction and nearly went physical with Todwong.
Sources say it took the intervention of the president to save the situation else Wanyama would have lost the election.
Disappointed by what he heard, President Museveni dispatched his blue-eyed boys; Musa Ecweru and Peter Ogwang, who helped the team deliver victory for the party.
Heart-broken Museveni hopes for better
The new team has been wrangling silently since its appointment.
The matter reached the President who immediately expressed his disappointment but hoped that they would outgrow petty feuds and serve the party.
The President even lavished praises on the “young and effective team” while delivering his speech on NRM Liberation Day celebrations held in Soroti.
He said the disorganised and lazy secretariat headed by Amama Mbabazi had plunged the party into fights and quarrels hence losing to the opposition in by-elections.
However, noted the President, NRM is now well organised under young “turks” who took over the secretariat.
“We are having a government of the children now,” he said referring to NRM Secretary General, Kasule Lumumba and the national treasurer, Rose Namayanja.
He said the decision to employ a young team has already provided positive results.
He praised the new SG Lumumba for securing Busia victory.
Was that the end of it? Definitely not, since we have learnt that Lumumba and Todwong have resurrected their earlier “bad blood” and are up in arms again.