By Bob Roberts Katende
Between June 25 and 26, the NRM party delegates from across the country draped in yellow outfits gathered at the Mandela National Stadium Namboole for their National Conference.
The conference reviews the party’s performance and strategic planning for the future. Instead, the conference ended up exposing internal rifts in the party.
The anger that had been simmering among the delegates since the accreditation process at Kololo Airstrip over allowances, erupted at Namboole when the party’s Secretary General, Amama Mbabazi, started addressing the conference. They shouted him down as they chanted his rival Otafiire’s name. Otafiire is one of the aspirants for Mbabazi’s SG post. ‘Order, Order,’ Museveni implored the delegates until calm was restored.
‘As we look to the 2011 elections, the NRM remains an extremely formidable force and trusted repository of the deepest yearnings and aspirations of the people of Uganda,’ Mbabazi resumed his speech.
He outlined the achievements of the party. The NRM presidential candidate scored 59.2% of the vote, 68.5% of the parliament seats, 72.5% of LC5 district chairpersons, and 79.9% of the positions of sub-county women councillors.
He outlined the challenges the party, including intrigue, corruption, and the presence of Residence District Commissioners in some districts who had actually become part of the political problem.
Then it was Museveni’s turn to speak. He outlined six achievements of his government since 2005: The economy expanding to Shs 34.2 trillion, about six times bigger than it was in 1986 when he took over power, Universal Primary Education that has increased enrolment from 2.5 million children to 8 million.’
On the last day of the conference, it was the turn of the delegates to speak. They tried to out-compete each other in praise of the party and the president. ‘Mr President, I work for the Movement at the grassroots and I have been called names by many people. The people you give money at the top just eat it and we get nothing. I would be glad if at least I accessed that NAADs money you have promised,’ said one man who identified himself as Kidomole.
Several amendments were made to the party constitution. One was adoption of universal adult suffrage instead of electoral colleges in electing party candidates in general elections. This move was intended to limit the number of people standing as independents on account of rigged primaries. There are 42 independent candidates in parliament and NRM signed a memorandum of understanding with 24 of them. Most of the independents were offshoots of the NRM, who broke ranks with the party for alleged rigging of the primary elections.