By Patrick Matsiko wa Mucoori
Is she power hungry or a victim of bad politics?
Former minister of Agriculture in the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) shadow cabinet Beti is described by many who know her as ‘excessively ambitious’ but also shrewd.
To them, the current friction between her and the party is not a surprise.
Her sacking last week from the position of shadow agriculture minister has led many to ask questions about the conflict.
Genesis of the friction
Her fallout with FDC first came out in public after the death FDC national chairman Sulaiman Kiggundu last year. But insiders say Kamya’s bitterness with FDC started long before Kiggundu’s demise.’
Many trace it to 2004 when Reform Agenda, a splinter body of politicians formerly allied to the National Resistance Movement (NRM) of President Yoweri Museveni, merged with the National Democrats Forum and Parliamentary Advocacy Forum to form FDC.
At the time, the new party appointed a National Council (NC) as a transitional body to prepare for elections of substantive national FDC leadership. Kamya wanted to be appointed to the NC as vice president for Buganda region. But the members appointed Prince Vincent Kimera (RIP) instead. That’s when her bitterness with FDC began. In fact insiders say that up to the time of Kimera’s death in March 2006, he and Kamya were not seeing eye to eye.
In December 2005 FDC held a Delegates Conference to elect its national leaders. At that time there was a general agreement by the party that the election to National Executive Council (NEC) positions be by consensus. This means there would not be competition between or among members for a particular post. Prior to the Delegates Conference there were a lot of informal consultations among the party members on who should take which position. Kamya sought to be become FDC’s National Chairperson. But the members preferred the late Dr Sulaiman Kiggundu. They argued that Kiggundu had both national and international stature and on the balance of merit, he was a better candidate for that position. Kamya wrote an angry email to the members castigating them for importing newcomers to the party top leadership yet there are those who had been around for a long time and had sacrificed a lot for it.
After Kamya’s interest in the chairman position was thwarted, she decided to go for the Secretary General position. Augustine Ruzindana from the western region and Cassiano Wadri from West Nile region were interested in the post. At this point the issue of regionalism was taking centre stage. The easterners asked what their share was in the party’s national leadership. There was also the gender issue. The FDC had these two issues to sort out. Ruzindana and Wadri were persuaded to withdraw their interest and they abandoned the race. Alice Alaso entered the race. Alaso comes from Teso in the East. So with her becoming Secretary General, FDC would solve both the gender issue and representation of the East in the party’s executive hierarchy. The National Council tried to explain to her why they had chosen Alaso. But this time Kamya would not accept to lose without a fight. She decided to go down fighting. She told off the members that she would present her candidature to the Delegates Conference which would determine her fate through a vote. She and Alaso were nominated for Secretary General. When the post was put to vote, Alaso won. Kamya cried foul and said the process had been manipulated and that Buganda was being marginalised.
Soon after the elections, the FDC president Dr Kizza Besigye appointed Kamya as Special Envoy in the party president’s office; a post described by some FDC members as ‘ultra vires’ the party constitution’. Kamya held that post until July 2008 when she resigned after Kiggundu’s death.
Some people blame the current Kamya-FDC saga on Besigye. They say he erred by appointing Kamya as special envoy in his office yet all the party’s envoys here and abroad had been elected by the Delegates Conference. They say if she had not been appointed special envoy, all this would not be happening.
When Kiggundu died Kamya revived her 2005 ambition for party’s national chairman. But in the meantime the party’s executive was receiving stories that Kamya was working closely with the state. There was fear of what would happen to FDC if a person holding such a key position in the party decided to defect to the Movement. This fear was compounded by Kamya’s outbursts on FM radios where she would castigate FDC for being undemocratic internally.’ ‘
Insiders say Kamya wanted to succeed Kiggundu but using Buganda as the springboard. She started talking and writing in the press that Kiggundu should be succeeded by a fellow Muganda. Sources say that by saying that Kiggundu’s successor should be a Muganda, Kamya was not looking at any other candidate but herself.’ They say that her behaviour after Kiggundu’s death increased FDC fears that she was an agent of the state to bring down the party. The conflict between FDC and her escalated when FDC appointed John Butime, the national chairman. Kamya said Buganda had been marginalised. She started mobilising the FDC Buganda leadership against the party.
Kamya’s potential cannot be underestimated. She is vocal, articulate and intelligent. So she can be a good mobiliser or demobiliser. Late last year, FDC had to postpone its grassroots elections in Kamya’s Rubaga North constituency because her mobilisation had swayed many supporters away from the party.
Her campaign was not costing the FDC support in Rubaga North alone, but Buganda as a region. The National Executive Committee (NEC) convened a meeting with the Buganda FDC leadership. Kamya attended. She first accused FDC of manipulating the party constitution. The FDC attorneys Yusuf Nsibambi and Wandera Ogalo explained how there was no breach of the constitution in appointing Kigundu’s successor. The Buganda leadership seemed convinced by the explanation. But Kamya’s arsenal was not yet exhausted. She alleged that FDC was marginalising Buganda in executive leadership positions. Alaso, Secretary General, read out the list of Baganda on the national FDC leadership. Baganda were occupying about 25% of the leadership slots while the rest of the country was sharing about 75%. Then Kamya accused the party of sidelining Baganda on foreign trips. Alaso pulled out the list of members who had travelled abroad on the party ticket. It transpired that Baganda had taken most trips and Kamya was the biggest beneficiary of all. At this moment one of the FDC chairmen from Buganda stood up and apologetically said Kamya had misled them to believe that Buganda had been marginalised. The meeting ended. A source said that after that, Kamya tried to persuade the Buganda leaders to reject the food the party had prepared for them at the FDC headquarters in Najjanankumbi. One of them went and informed Alaso what Kamya had told them. Alaso told him it would be pointless not to eat food yet it was theirs. Alaso confirmed this to The Independent and said the delegates went ahead to eat the food.
Plot to kill Kamya
Sources inside FDC told The Independent that some time late last year the party had been getting information that Kamya was working closely with Minister of State for Defence Ruth Nankabirwa, but they had downplayed it as a mere rumour. Then in November a man called Ssekubulwa from Kiboga came to FDC offices and said Kamya and Nankabirwa had approached him to implicate top party officials in rebel activities. Nankabirwa dismissed this allegation as false. ‘That’s an absolute lie. This is madness of the highest degree.’ ‘ Secondly, I am not close to Kamya. I know Kamya is my MP because I stay in Mengo, but that’s where we stop,’ she told The Independent.
According to the source, Ssekubulwa was supposed to get a few others from Kiboga who would confess that FDC officials had sought to recruit him into the shadowy’ People’s Redemption Army (PRA) rebel group. The source said upon getting the information, FDC reported to then Minister of Internal Affairs Dr Ruhakana Rugunda. Rugunda assigned senior police detective Elly Womanya to handle the matter.
Then FDC called Ssekubulwa to the party headquarters at Najjanankumbi. They also invited Womanya. Ssekubulwa met the FDC security team, the party administrator Wycliffe Bakandonda and Womanya who was introduced as an assistant to Kizza Besigye. According to our sources Ssekubulwa narrated how he had been briefed by Kamya and Nankabirwa to implicate FDC leadership in treasonable activities. Womanya listened carefully and took notes. According to the sources, Ssekubulwa said he and a few others (all from Kiboga) were supposed to confess about the rebel recruitment. The FDC officials recorded Ssekubulwa’s testimony. After the meeting Womanya left.
The FDC decided to dispatch its Secretary for Security Maj. John Kazoora to Kiboga to investigate the matter. He went with another person. They returned and confirmed what Ssekubulwa had told the NEC meeting.
FDC say they are disappointed that despite Ssekubulwa’s confession police have not done anything.
The FDC decided to make a preemptive move. They told the press that the state was planning to frame Besigye and the party with subversion. According to the sources, when the story appeared in the press the mission collapsed.
Sources say that after the ‘rebel mission’ fell apart, there emerged the story that some FDC officials were planning to kill Kamya. The same man Ssekubulwa was reportedly asked to say he had been briefed by Besigye and Bakandonda to kill Kamya and that FDC Secretary for Publicity Wafula Oguttu was an accomplice. Again FDC reported the matter to police. Kamya has repeatedly denied that she was conniving with the state to frame FDC officials on criminal charges.’
Last month Ssekubulwa was published in the government-owned Sunday Vision saying he had been detailed by some people in FDC to murder Kamya, but that he had declined the mission. FDC now accuses the police of failing to take action on matters of such serious nature.