INSIDE STORY: Why M7 Will Sack Mbabazi
One afternoon in the late 1990s, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni summoned Col. Kizza Besigye and Gen. David Tinyefuza to State House, Nakasero.
The President had gotten a brief that the two army chiefs were planning a coup against his government.
Museveni asked them: “Is it true you want to overthrow my government?” The army officers denied the allegations. Besigye said the author of the brief intended to cause bad blood between the Chief Executive Officer of the country and his hardworking army officers. Besigye further asserted that Museveni should probe the intention behind that intelligence report while Tinyefuza simply described it as rubbish.
According to impeccable sources, at that time, Amama Mbabazi advised the President to always reshuffle the two officers and beef up intelligence gathering on their activities. However, reports of a blossoming coup deepened in 1998.
Besigye and Gen. Mugisha Muntu, who was army commander, consistently told Museveni that war in Northern Uganda would never end because his own officers had turned it into a lucrative venture.
“The corruption in the army cannot allow us to defeat Kony. There are ghost soldiers, money for logistics is swindled and salaries for soldiers are eaten. Many of our soldiers will continue dying if you do not change command,” Besigye told off Museveni in a security meeting. Muntu concurred that things were getting out of hand.
Besigye’s boldness was rubbing the army hierarchy the wrong way.
In December 1998, a source said, another report came in that Besigye was busy planning to cause regime change! Mbabazi swiftly advised Museveni to immediately arrest Besigye.
But the Commander-In-Chief hesitated, thinking he would soon bring the ambitious colonel back on track.
“He was uncomfortable arresting a man who had voluntarily sacrificed his job as doctor at Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi to join guerrillas in Luweero. Besides, Besigye was his close pal and physician,” recounts a source in the army.
Immediately after capturing power, Museveni had appointed Besigye, then 29-years old as State Minister Internal Affairs then State Minister in President’s office and National Political Commissar. In 1993, he was commander of Mechanised Brigade, Masaka before his appointment as senior military advisor.
The turning point of Museveni and Besigye relations was 1998 when he married Eng. Winnie Byanyima. Tinyefuza was best man. The closeness of the two independent-minded army officers made Museveni uncomfortable. In 1999, Besigye penned a strongly-worded dossier criticising Museveni for abandoning the NRA’s famous 10-point programme. Mbabazi again advised Museveni to arrest Besigye but the president refused. In 2000, he asked to retire from army and Museveni never took action! Mbabazi openly told the President that “If you do allow that Colonel to retire, you are in trouble.” However, Besigye retired from the army after a few hurdles.
On that day after picking his retirement papers, he telephoned Wafula Oguttu who was editor at Monitor newspaper to prepare for a weekend cover story. Since then life has never been the same again with Museveni now spending billions of shillings to keep Besigye’s plans to take over power at bay.
It’s because of this very reason that Museveni now treasures Mbabazi. Throughout his rule, Museveni has lived a harmonious relationship with Mbabazi. He has served his boss satisfactorily in areas of defence, law and politics to rise to Premier.
Together they planned to defeat Kony. Together they laid strategies to annihilate ADF, PRA and other rebel groups sponsored by
NRM enemies especially Sudan. And together they planned and defeated Besigye thrice in hotly contested elections.
Others like his best childhood friend Eriya Kategaya have crossed to opposition and returned. Others including Richard Kaijuka, Amanya Mushega, Augustine Ruzindana, Miria Matembe, Jim Muhwezi and Mugisha Muntu have since left Museveni but Mbabazi is still around!
It’s also speculated Museveni intends to ensure Mbabazi succeeds him.
With all this in mind, will Museveni allow his only trusted man to be skinned alive by politicians he usually refers to as ‘our political allies?’ According to Parliament resolutions two weeks ago, Mbabazi was to step down but he is still defiant.
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga told legislators yesterday she forwarded resolutions to Museveni to take action.
The Prime Minister is accused alongside Sam Kutesa and Hilary Onek of accepting millions of Euros from oil companies as bribes.
Senior presidential advisor Gen. Elly Tumwiine appealed to Mbabazi to stop his arrogance and step aside. The army general said Mbabazi should emulate Kutesa, Mwesigwa Rukutana and John Nasasira who stepped aside to allow investigations into reports of abuse of office during preparations for Common Wealth meeting in 2007.
M7 IN TROUBLE
This situation has put Museveni between a hard rock and hard place. Leaving Mbabazi means opening up to other power hungry politicians who intend to steal his presidency.
There is no shed of doubt that corruption allegations against Mbabazi have hugely tainted NRM. The man has grown increasingly unpopular in and out of the party. Despite being brainy and a good manager, Mbabazi will bring problems for the incumbent president.
When a source in State House was contacted on whether Museveni would budge, he said: “I really don’t think so. They are always together all the time. When Mzee (Museveni) is going out of country, Mbabazi takes charge. They are like brothers.”
Nevertheless, despite the love Museveni has for Mbabazi, the head-of-state must act by law. A resolution of Parliament is what he cannot afford to defy. Doing so, according to MP Geoffrey Ekanya, would leave the House with no choice but to invoke the censure article which would humiliate the Premier and throw his career into the dustbin of history as a man who was kicked out of office for corruption.
There are reports that donors are pressuring Museveni to drop all corrupt ministers. Saving Mbabazi is equally suicidal.
Stepping down now saves face and calms nerves.
Interestingly, Mbabazi still has two chances of survival –to stay in office and mobilise his fellow NRM MPs to be by his side when the censure motion against him is tabled. NRM enjoys a healthy majority in Parliament. The second is to encourage media focus on anti-gays bill!
Hilary Onek who promised to resign a few weeks ago is yet to live to his promise. He recently joked that his secretary is a sluggish typist who took long to prepare the resignation letter and whenever he intends to bring to table it before Parliament, either he forgets or it rains heavily. Whether Museveni will sacrifice Mbabazi, only time will tell.
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Updated on 2013-05-09 09:25
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