By John Njoroge
The seminar on national validation of the Uganda African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) programme of action kicked off at 8:45am on June 18 in what appeared a normal start. Apart from frequent interruptions by late comers who kept walking in and around the hall looking for a seat, nothing was out of the ordinary. This meeting was special to the whole APRM process for Uganda since it was one of the last preparatory activities before President Museveni delivers Ugandaâ€™s country assessment report to his peers (fellow heads of state) in Libya on June 30.
It was supposed to be a clarity session where participants were re-acquainted with the Peer Review assessment report and asked to make clarifications or additions on its content before Museveni presents it to other African leaders. Bishop Dr Zac Niringiye, who chaired the session, had made it clear to the participants that this was not a session for airing out political views but for people to fine-tune the review report. This didnâ€™t seem to go down well with certain participants.
At about 9.40 am, former Rubaga South MP Ken Lukyamuzi (The Man) requested to make a submission. â€œIs it constitutional for a man like me to be kicked out of parliament by the IGG? I have been in the Constitutional Court for three years now looking for justice,â€ Niringiye tried to stop him but Lukyamuzi shot up again. â€œWhy are Ugandans out of the loop over oil exploration? Is it a national resource or a private matter? Was PGB (presidential guard brigade) trained to guard oil wells? Why donâ€™t we see these things in the report that Museveni is going to present to his peers?â€
The NRM Chief Whip Daudi Migereko could not contain Lukyamuziâ€™s outburst. He fired back. â€œI want you Lukyamuzi to know that you are wrong. All Ugandans will have access to the Albertine region when the time is right. We are not producing oil. We are in the process of exploring it. Do not blame a delay in your legal processes on the NRM,â€ Migereko charged. At this point Niringiye intervened to fault both parties. â€œLukyamuzi and Migereko, you must watch your language. This process is for all Ugandans, not for individuals.â€
Towards tea break at 10: 30 am, drama was just unfolding. Rubanda West MP Henry Banyenzaki grabbed his turn. â€œThe issue of separation of power has not been addressed fully in this report. Why is it that as an MP, I cannot express myself freely in parliament without my Chief Whip complaining?â€ Migereko moved uneasily in his seat. It was abundantly clear he wanted to react to Banyenzakiâ€™s accusation, but Bishop Niringiye denied him the opportunity. However, he finally persuaded the bishop to pass over a message: â€œYou must see me after thisâ€ to Banyenzaki.
At 11:15am when the participants were allowed to go for the tea break, Banyenzaki and Lukyamuzi could be seen trying to interact with other participants. Many of them were notably steering clear of the two â€˜venomousâ€™ politicians. Every group they joined quickly retreated and regrouped at different corners. It was easy to see participants exchange a few words with the two politicians at different spots and quickly move away.
At one occasion, Banyenzaki joined the group which included a Prisons and CID officer and three local leaders. The latter were the first to leave the group, after saying â€˜hello.â€™ They later regrouped at the entrance of the conference hall. The next to leave the group was the CID officer.At this point, Banyenzaki expressed his dissatisfaction with the APRM. â€œThe whole process is not conclusive. Many things are missing in that report. One may think itâ€™s just a PR stunt for Uganda,â€ he charged. Lukyamuzi was not doing better either. He could be seen talking to enthusiastic journalists but could not quite interact with other participants.
Migereko and Minister for State for Finance and Planning, Ephraim Kamuntu looked around probably for a quiet corner away from journalists and enthusiastic participates who were bothering them with approaches for handshakes. Vellupillai Kananathan formerly of Tri-Star Apparels was among the participants. Little is known about what he is doing now after the demise of his Tri-Star Apparels exports business, which collapsed with over Shs20 billion of taxpayerâ€™s money courtesy of President Museveniâ€™s generosity.
By midday Richard Ssewakiryanga, the seminar facilitator, asked the participants to re-assemble in their thematic groups.
Upon returning from their groups, they adopted the report as satisfactory.Â What remains now is President Museveni to present the report to his peers in Libya on June 30.