By Haggai Matsiko
Ruling party set to pick flag bearer early October
When Tanga Odoi, the electoral commission chairman of the ruling party on July.10 launched the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party’s electoral road map for party structures, he officially launched what is expected to be one of the fiercest political races.
The most coveted dates on the road map are Oct.1 and 2 when the party’s supreme organ—the Delegates Conference—is expected to pick its presidential flag bearer at the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole.
Observers are looking to this meeting because if the party does not block former party Secretary General and ex-Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, he is expected to face off with President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the party unchallenged for the last 30 years. But the likelihood of this face off depends on whether Mbabazi registered again as a party member.
Party officials insist that whoever wasn’t re-registered during the recent registration process will not qualify to be nominated. In an interview with The Independent, current party SG Kasule Lumumba advised Mbabazi to register afresh if he wanted to contest.
Mbabazi has said that he co-founded the NRM and therefore cannot be blocked from the party. Now, observers are now waiting for the Delegates Conference to see what will happen.
The party released the roadmap a day after Mbabazi had just suspended his countrywide consultations campaign on July 9 after police arrested him and kept him in detention for close to 10 hours in order to block his first meeting that was supposed to take place in Mbale.
Because the meetings are seen as a major launch-pad for his candidature, many expected Mbabazi to announce fresh plans after returning from the burial of his elder brother, who passed away the same day Mbabazi was arrested.
Away from Mbabazi, the same Delegates Conference will choose parliamentary (workers and candidates for youth MPs).
Before that meeting, however, party candidates are expected to first make their interest known. According to the new road map, all aspirants for presidential, parliamentary, party leadership positions, Lord Mayor and Local Council, have July 14 to 31 to do exactly that.
During these dates, candidates will be expected to pick forms for the positions they are interested in after paying nomination fees into the party’s EC account in Centenary Bank.
Presidential candidates are expected to cough Shs.10 million, party national chairman the same amount, party vice chairperson five million, regional vice chairpersons 2.5 million, MPs two million, Lord Mayor Shs. 1.5 million, LCV Chairpersons one million and Lord Councilors Shs. 200,000.
To calm down potential contenders who find the fees exorbitant, party officials have explained that this is the only way the party can raise funds to print ballot papers and take care of the entire internal elections expenses.
Apart from the picking of forms, Odoi marked out July 20 to 25 for conducting elections for special interest groups, Aug. 3 to7 for parish level polls, Aug.10 for sub-counties, Aug.12 for primaries at municipal and city levels and Aug. 14 for party district level elections.
From Sept. 9 to 11, the party will be carrying out nominations for primaries for presidential, parliamentary, Local Council V, Lord Mayor and Local Council III.
Odoi cautioned that the programme was in line with the party constitution and called on all registered party members to adhere to the strict guidelines and effectively participate in their enforcement at a press briefing held at the Kyadondo-based party headquarters in Kampala.
One of the guidelines is that civil servants interested in contesting must resign three months earlier. The party’s road map also takes care of potential conflicts like the ones that marred the party primaries of 2010.
Odoi said the whole of October on the road map, which was approved by the party’s Central Executive meeting Committee (CEC) on July 6, would be devoted to handling petitions and complaints arising from the primaries.