By Moses Walubiri
The year 2013 was a veritable rollercoaster and for politicians, the rough and tumble that one has to weather in order to survive the mean realm that some fellows with thick skins choose to turn into a career has stretched many to snapping point.
That year also saw some political actors saunter into eternity with the passing of Eriya Kategaya, Dr. Stephen Malinga and the erudite Chango Macho particularly casting a dark shadow in the murky corridors of power.
Today, New Vision chronicles some politicians whose every ‘action and omission’ in 2014 will set political pundits into overdrive as to their real intentions.
Politics is not for the faint hearted, so goes the old, some say clichéd adage. Otherwise, Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah would have snapped on account of the pressure and controversies that he endured last year.
A rising, some say overly ambitious politician in NRM’s clogged ‘queue’ to the high table, Oulanyah was at the receiving end of some weathering brickbats for his unsavory standoff with opposition MPs.
When everyone expected the worst following Ssemuju’s ignominious ejection on his orders, Oulanyah disarmed many with his apology for his bizarre interpretation of parliamentary rules of procedure.
Oulanyah loves to deride journalists as pipers playing tunes of every Dick and Tom willing to meet their asking price but surprisingly rushed to the media, blaming his woes on Rebecca Kadaga – his boss.
Although he had vowed to ride roughshod over negative public perception, the Ssemuju affair and his subsequent apology seem to be pointing to a change of tuck – mellowing down.
True, the Speaker of Parliament has lost some of her luster since the euphoria that greeted her election as Uganda’s first female Speaker, failing to emerge out of many incidents smelling roses.
Kadaga has countered critics impugning her loyalty to NRM, saying the constitution, as in the case of NRM’s rebel MPs, will continue informing her decisions, not any other authority –spawning whispers of Oulanyah replacing her in the tenth parliament.
With a couple of media interviews late last year inadvertently parting curtains on the latent frosty relationship with her deputy, Kadaga will this year have to walk a tight rope patching her battered relationship with her party, while trying to make sure that her ‘chilly’ relationship with her deputy does not paralyze the ninth parliament.
How she juggles these hot potatoes without jettisoning her label of an independent Speaker will make interesting reading.
Whether it was bravado or it used to come from the heart, it’s very hard to make sense of Nsereko’s downplaying of threats of ejection from NRM over indiscipline.
As NRM top organs deliberated his fate, Nsereko used to ‘brag’ that he will continue sleeping soundly even if he got the boot.
May be he should never have tempted fate, because he got exactly that. Since his departure, the grapevine has been awash with talk of opposition parties – DP and FDC – Courting the fiery Kampala Central MP.
As 2016 approaches, Nsereko’s handlers must be working behind the scenes to ensure that he hangs onto his seat.
Will he do so on a party ticket or as an independent candidate? Watch out for telltale signs in 2014 for clues.
At less than 40 years old, Odonga Otto would by 2016 have represented Aruu County for a whopping 15 years – enough time to label one a veteran legislator.
However, it seems he has realized that 15 years is way too long even for a good legislator that he is. For some time, there have been whispers from reliable quarters that Otto, might be packing his bags for Obama’s land come 2016.
However, the mooted flight across the Atlantic with his family seems to have fallen through on account of some glitches forcing Otto to effectively turn his guns on Oulanyah’s constituency.
Will the fiery legislator make good his threat to “to rid Acholis of the Oulanyah problem?” This year might give us some pointers on his resolve.
Nandala Mafabi & Mugisha Muntu
The times have lately been tough for FDC with the internal horseplay coming in the wake of the acrimonious polls to replace Dr. Kiiza Besigye as party president two years ago threatening its very cohesion.
With the party’s top organ deciding to back eventual winner Mugisha Muntu to lead the party for five years, Nandala’s camp which has been clamoring for elections in two years must be licking its wounds.
FDC supporters have been following the cacophony coming out of Najanankumbi with remarkable trepidation – bearing in mind the circumstances under which Betty Kamya left the party.
With some quarters in FDC calling for Muntu to replace Nandala with Alice Alaso, Cecilia Ogwal or Abdu Katuntu as Leader of Opposition in parliament, the duo is facing judgment calls this year.
The Harvard Law School alumni has, like Periwinkle, who slept for too long only to wake up to a world he could hardly discern, has realized the hard way how politically counterproductive spending over two decades away from one’s motherland could be to any political career.
Used to tinkling glasses of wine during cocktails, jet setting and exchanging diplomatic niceties with the mighty and powerful as United Nations Under Secretary General; Otunnu has since his triumphal homecoming found Uganda’s political terrain tough.
Pundits contend that the man from Muchwini ought to cut down on his ranting against ‘Museveni’ and government and package a sellable message to Ugandans that can resuscitate UPC - lest he slips into irrelevancy. 2014 beckons for Otunnu.
Erias Lukwago’s woes at City Hall have spawned a heated public debate with some people questioning his rationale to contest for an office that he verily knew to be ‘ceremonial’ following the enactment of the KCCA Act.
But as Kampala Lord Mayor, cynics contend, Lukwago knew that his monthly bank balance would dwarf that of Kampala Central MP, so choosing the former was logical.
However, with his disagreement with Jennifer Musisi led technical wing polarizing City Hall, the jury is out on Lukwago’s leadership credentials as political pundits believe he wants to use his stint as Kampala mayor to take a shot at the presidency.
Will Lukwago, in 2014, realize the value of compromise and tradeoff in leadership to resolve the impasse, or refuse to put his ‘sword’ in its sheath? Expect more stormy clouds at City Hall.
It’s incredible how fate, especially in politics, can mean to be cruel!
A former Makerere University Guild President, articulate Gulu Municipality MP and Chairman LC V Gulu district, the sky seemed to be the limit for Norbert Mao when he took over from Ssebaana Kizito as Democratic Party President.
However, Mao’s star, following a dismal showing in the 2011 polls, is fast fading like a comet streaming across a cloudy night.
Mao’s handlers seem to be aware of this and people should get ready for a more assertive Mao in 2014 as the eloquent politician seeks to rebrand himself.