By The Independent Team
City meetings raise money for 2011 election
With presidential elections barely 18 months away and President Museveni looking old and ‘lonely’ as many NRM ‘historicals’ remain either lukewarm or opposed to his bid for a fourth (seventh) term as president, a group of young supporters under the umbrella name of Nyekundire group are positioning themselves to help secure victory come February 2011.
The Independent has established that the group “ whose membership reads like who-is-who of the 1986 millionaires“ has been having informal meetings disguised as dinners at selected members’ residences in Kampala to plan how to win the election, and which other people to draft into the effort.
Nyekundire (Runyankole for ‘volunteers’) group is mainly driven by a sense of gratitude and fear because many of them have largely benefited from the NRM government and feel that it is only Museveni who can guarantee their continued success. They are insecure and fear that any other leader could possibly jeopardise their ‘successes’.
According to information The Independent came across, the group which is coordinated by a one Willis Bashasha is in advanced stages of meeting President Yoweri Museveni to get his blessing and brief him on their strategy to help him win the 2011 election.
Bashasha is currently employed in URA as a senior manager. He is a diehard NRM supporter and a confidante to President Museveni. However his leadership of the group is being contested by some members, especially the president’s son-in-laws, who are instead fronting city lawyer Kiwanuka Kiryowa and James Mugira, the head of Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI). Kiryowa who is also a partner in President Museveni’s son-in-law Edwin Karugire’s law firm has been one of the key organisers of Nyekundire.
But Nyekundire is not a new group altogether. In fact it first came onto the political scene during the 2001 presidential elections led by the late Brig. Noble Mayombo after it emerged that the main NRM party structure was “eating” most of the campaign money and yet Dr. Kizza Besigye was pulling ground from Museveni. During that election, it is alleged, a lot of money went missing from the Shs 25 billion NRM campaign kitty and at some point, the party was grounded and yet many sympathisers had poured in billions and billions of shillings.
It is at this moment that Nyekundire was first formed to run a parallel network. At first it was headquartered at one of the houses owned by AMPROC managing director Robert Mwesigwa in Bugolobi on Port Bell Road. However, since the association and operation is largely ad hoc, Nyekundire tends to fizzle out immediately after the presidential and parliamentary elections.
It was not very prominent during the 2006 elections, possibly because the military played a bigger role but it is apparent that this time with many of the NRM “historicals”in the army and politics largely ambiguous, the group will be a key pillar in Museveni’s re-election strategy.
The Nyekundire group is supposed to remain covert, largely mobilising money through well-wishers to bankroll the real activists who will traverse the countryside campaigning for Museveni.
The reason the group chooses to stay in the background is because most of them are related to President Museveni and therefore their open support might not augur well. Many voters would interpret it as a family agenda. Others are successful businessmen and women who prefer not to come out openly fearing that their businesses would be jeopardised by partisan politics.
Interestingly, the Nyekundire group is heavily fused with senior members of the UPDF especially heads of intelligence and other key UPDF departments.
Also, many heads of government parastatals and other departments form part of this association â€“ with some already members while others are on the list of those to be recruited. Their participation is highly covert and in many cases limited to contributing money.
The Independent has, from our sources, been able to obtain a few names of individuals that are already part of the group or have been approached to join.
Who is who in the Nyekundire Group?
Shedruck Nzeire Owomugisha
Nzeire is President Museveni’s younger brother. He is also an NRM mobiliser who stood and lost to Mary Mugyenyi in the Nyabushozi parliamentary election in 2006. Nzeire is apparently vying to unseat Mugyenyi who is suspected to have strong feelings for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). Mugyenyi’s stance on corruption has not endeared her to the NRM party of late and Nzeire is the favoured candidate.
Asiimwe was formerly employed in the Uganda Revenue Authority. He is the young brother to the late Kakwezi who died in Luwero fighting with President Museveni. He apparently runs a clearing and forwarding business and also runs one of the companies that manage top events in the country.
Although Hassan Basajjabalaba is the official chairman of the NRM ‘entrepreneurs’ league’, he is more at home working with this informal group. He is said to be in touch with the boys and as usual he is very willing to offer substantial amounts of money.
Robert Rukaari Mwesigwa
Robert Mwesigwa is the typical “1986 millionaire”. It is believed that together with his long time friend Odrek Rwabwogo and the late Noble Myombo, the three were the brains behind the formation of this Nyekundire group. Mwesigwa is the managing director of AMPROC, a procurement firm that has had many deals with the government of Uganda. Before AMPROC came into place, Mwesigwa owned SWIPCO that for many years was solely handling pre-shipment inspection services for all government procurements. He made a huge fortune and to date the government of Uganda owes him over Shs 10 billion. SWIPCO later metamorphosed into AMPROC to offer the same services. Currently, Mwesigwa is also the Malawian consul to Uganda. His AMPROC is the sole pre-shipment inspection service provider to all Malawi government procurements.
He is a son-in-law to President Museveni (marries his second daughter Patience) and is also managing director of TERP Consult, a public relations firm that handles most government functions. He was involved in the US$ 1.5 million deal the Uganda government spent on advertising ‘Gifted by Nature’ on CNN. Rwabwogo, is the man tasked with handling the “cantankerous” media houses that are perceived not to support President Museveni’s continued clinging on to power.
Gucwamaingi is currently employed at Uganda Revenue Authority as a supervisor. He is set to vie for the Mbarara Municipality constituency to try to unseat the incumbent, John Kigyagyi.
Kamuntu is another son-in-law to President Museveni, having married his third daughter Diana. The hitherto unknown man in the political arena is now finally’coming out’ as they say. Kamuntu is said to be the technical adviser especially on who to deploy in which area. Together with his other in-laws, Odrek and Karugire, they camped in Ntungamo and made sure their mother-in-law Janet Museveni defeated FDC’s Augustine Ruzindana in the 2006 elections.
Jovia is an old funder of this Nyekundire group. She has been funding them and will continue doing so. She is wife to Museveni’s brother Gen. Salim Saleh and a successful business woman.
Kabushenga is managing director of the state-controlled New Vision Printing & Publishing Corporation. Kabushenga is key in Nyekundire because of his perceived knowledge of the Ugandan media. It was partly because of this and his closeness with Mayombo that he was appointed to head the Media Centre shortly before the 2006 elections. He kicked off by deporting foreign journalists who were writing critical pieces on President Museveni. His first victim was a Kampala-based Canadian journalist Blake Lambert.
Opolot is the current head of the Media Centre. He is a trusted cadre largely because of his unwavering support to the NRM especially when he was still based in the UK. He will be tasked to do what his predecessor did best, i.e. sorting out the stubborn media.
Mirundi is the president’s press secretary. He will be part of Nyekundire group not for the money but because of his acerbic attacks on the Mengo ‘government’. His courage to attack the Mengo clique bare-knuckled is what makes him ideal. He will be tasked with handling the Luganda speaking FM radios.
He is the presidential assistant on political affairs. He is married to Janet Museveni’s cousin. He is a key player in the group because of his perceived experience in the Museveni political campaigns.
Rwakoojo is the secretary to the Electoral Commission. Although he prefers to keep out of the NRM politicking largely because of the current portfolio he holds, he is the man to look to so as to understand the dynamics of the Electoral Commission. Besides, it is alleged that already he has assisted the
’cause” by recruiting NRM cadre workers into the EC. For example the head of operation at the EC, a one David Musiime is an NRM zealot.
She comes around as apolitical but our sources say she is quietly supporting the Nyekundire group. Kagina who formerly worked at State House is an NRM cadre. She won’t be found politicking but the group expects her to throw in her financial weight.
He is an NRM zealot currently working with the Electoral Commission. He is the returning officer for Manafwa District and was a few months ago appointed to the all-lucrative board of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). Katambuka is a “historical” of the Nyekundire politics as he was among the Mbarara group that tried to install then RDC Ngoma Ngime as the Mbarara Municipality MP in 2001 but were defeated by Winnie Byanyima.
Bashasha is an NRM zealot who is known to take leave from his URA job to go and campaign for President Museveni. In his Bushenyi home area, he is a kingmaker “ at least among his peers. Bashasha is currently a manager in URA but has the ear of the president on the fragile Bushenyi politics. He is extremely shrewd and has a big following among the youth.
The newly crowned Rubaga LC-III chairperson is also on the list of the volunteers. Sematimba is no stranger to State House. He belongs to the Balokole Churches where the first family are active participants. As a result, he has endeared himself to President Museveni. His task will be handling the fragile Kampala electorate come 2011 elections.
Mukiibi is the commissioner for investigations at the Uganda Revenue Authority. He is the young brother to Michael Ezra. He belongs to the young generation that was recruited by the likes of Bashasha.
The leading sports philanthropist is a big contributor to the NRM party. He is largely unavailable to actively participate but he is said to be ever willing to offer huge sums of money.
Kafura is the young sister to Joy Kabatsi and a very prosperous businesswoman. She has many businesses with the Ministry of Defence. Besides, she is a close confidante to city tycoon Basajjabalaba. She is expected to come in on the financing side.
Nyakana is the Kampala LC-III chairperson. Having won that seat because of only two polling stations that happen to be in the barracks, Nyakana has been identified as a key force. Nyakana owesÂ his win to the ruling NRM because had it not been for the two polling stations in the Kitante and Kololo Summit View barracks, he would not have been the LC-III. He is rich and commands some following among the Kampala downtown crowds.Â
Kayonga is the woman behind the lucrative business of exporting guards to Iraq. Her company Askar Security won the multibillion deal of exporting recruits to Iraq a few years ago.
Until recently Uganda’s ambassador to the UN, Ayebare is a key figure in media related propaganda. He is being sought out to tap in on his domestic and international skills.
Kakoooza is the State minister for Health. Much as he is a key figure in the mainstream NRM party, the Nyekundire group feel he belongs to their clique because of his mobilisation skills. He is expected to do big work in Buganda.
Forget the fact that he was recently out of favour when he and all his assistants were thrown out of State House. Odoi is still a cadre; he is a veteran ‘planner’when it comes to winning the ever fraudulently managed elections. He has been there and the group expects to tap from his experience.Â
Bob Kabonero is another old funder to the Nyekundire group. He owns Kampala Casino plus a host of other businesses and is expected to come in handy to support the group.
Mugarura is a nephew to the governor Bank of Uganda, Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile. He formerly worked with Uganda Revenue Authority but later resigned to become a consultant in Ministry of Finance and Bank of Uganda on World Bank projects. He is also a business partner of Geoffrey Kamuntu.
Until recently, Karuhanga was the all powerful president’s assistant on legal affairs. He is a trusted cadre and because he is a cousin to Janet Museveni, his eggs and those of the first family are in one basket.
Tadwong is the senior presidential adviser on northern Uganda affairs. He formerly worked in the Uganda Revenue Authority. He was later appointed to be one of the commissioners on the Uganda Law Reform Commission. He is the only link to the otherwise tricky northern Uganda region that has consistently refused to vote president Museveni.
Muyunga is a city tycoon and deals in real estate. He is close to Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire and is expected to assist the group financially.
Mohammed Hamid, one of the Sudanese brothers trading as Aya Group is one of the beneficiaries of the land bonanza. President Museveni donated to them 15 acres of prime land to them to build the Hilton Hotel on Nakasero hill. He is lined up among those who will donate to the cause.
He is RDC Nakawa and a staunch NRM supporter. The group feels they can tap in on his mobilisation skills especially in the troubled entrepreneurs group.
Hashaka is the current RDC for Tororo. He was formerly in Kampala (Nakawa). His loyalty has been tested and not found wanting.
Col. John Mugyenyi
Mugyenyi may have failed to take the Kisekka Market but he is still a Museveni man. He is so loaded with money and owes his ‘success’ to Museveni. Nyekundire is looking to him for funding.
He has made lots of money under the Museveni regime and is said to be a Museveni diehard. Among others he has a huge inland car depot at Wankoko on Port Bell road. He is an old funder of Nyekundire.
Bemuga as he is known is another Museveni diehard. He hails from Bushenyi and his clearing and forwarding firm handles all equipment imports for Heritage Oil and a host of other businsses. He is expected to contribute to the kitty.
Nzeyi, owner of Crown Beverages, has always been funding Museveni elections. He always ensures there are ‘free’ drinks on most of Museveni’s campaign rallies. He was involved in the Temangalo-NSSF land scandal but was expeditiously exonerated. He is expected to support the cause financially.
City businessman Kirumira is another Museveni man whose wife is the NRM woman MP for Lyantonde district. He too is expected to join Nyekundire.
The owner of Wash & Wills Hotel in Mbale is another NRM man expected to contribute to the Nyekundire kitty and campaign in eastern Uganda.
Rugasira is an old funder and participant in the Nyekundire. He is CEO of Good African Coffee and other businesses.
Engola made a lot of money when Uganda ventured into the DR Congo. Todate Engola still does business with the UPDF. He is the NRM vice chairman for northern Uganda.
Kagimu has had big deals with the NRM government and Museveni as well. He recently won a lucrative deal with government to construct the oil pipeline from Eldoret to Kigali under the Libyan company Tamoil which he fronted. Kagimu has been lined up as a financier.
Muhabwe is the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of VIP protection. Muhabwe gained prominence in the NRM circles during the 2001 presidential elections that pitted President Museveni against Kizza Besigye. During the elections Muhabwe descended on supporters of Besigye’s Reform Agenda (now FDC) both in Bushenyi and Rukungiri districts and beat them into submission. He is a ruthless member of the Nyekundire Group. As a result he has been rapidly promoted in the police because of this role. Every election time he is quietly recalled and deployed to execute missions of coercion on the opposition especially in his Bushenyi area and the neighbouring Rukungiri district.
Haji Musa Katongole
Katongole of Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association has enjoyed the monopoly of managing the taxi business across the country. Because the NRM government has protected him from any other viable competitor in this lucrative business, he always reciprocates by bankrolling any group that promises to deliver election victory to Museveni. The Nyekundire Group is banking on his generosity and financial might.