By Joyce Namutebi
KAMPALA - Government Chief Whip, Justine Kasule Lumumba wants former Vice President, Prof. Gilbert Bukenya to explain why he never attended the recent NRM Parliamentary Caucus retreat at the National Leadership Institute, Kyankwanzi.
Lumumba said on Tuesday that Bukenya never wrote to her to explain why he could not attend the caucus retreat.
“I am going to write to him to find out,” Lumumba said at a press conference she called at Parliament Building yesterday to brief journalists about Kyankwanzi resolutions.
In an exclusive interview with Vision Group’s Urban Television at his country home in Kakiri recently, Bukenya on why he is not attending the retreat said the money being spent in Kyankwanzi should have been used for service delivery.
Asked why he did not attend the retreat yet he is an insider, he answered; “The problem is that the NRM has a core group who own the party and the rest of us are deemed outsiders who only lift luggage.” He said the President Yoweri Museveni knows this core group.
“This clique still exists and when I was Vice President, it was pumping wrong information to the President that at night, I meet the Cardinal and Catholics in the villages, yet during the day, I am with him,” Bukenya said.
Lumumba, who was responding to a question about absentee MPs at Kyakwanzi, explained that those who never went for the retreat wrote to her stating so. “For MPs who never came, there is a reason,” she said.
Some, she said, wrote saying they had personal challenges. She noted that even those MPs who came late to the retreat explained in writing.
Among other MPs who never attended the retreat was the First Lady and Minister for Karamoja, Janet Museveni, who is also the MP for Ruhama.
Health Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, who is an ex-officio said he is chairman of the NRM Electoral Commission and could not go to Kyankwanzi. Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Kahinda Otafiire was in Mozambique attending a workshop.
The Speaker and Deputy Speaker did not attend the retreat by virtue of their positions.
According to the new Caucus rules of procedure every member is required to attend all caucus meetings. A member who is unable to attend a caucus meeting shall seek leave from the chairperson of the caucus.
During the retreat, the NRM MPs endorsed President Museveni as sole party flag bearer for 2016 presidential elections.
Lumumba, however, said any NRM member who feels is a good candidate is free to contest for the seat.
“Let him come out and tussle it out.” She explained that the caucus resolution will be passed over to the party Central Executive Committee (CEC), National Executive Committee and up to the Delegates Conference, which has power to decide on it.
She described as lies allegations that NRM is intending to extend its stay in power for another three years. The party, she said cannot violate the Constitution.
“Constitutionally, it is a term of five years,” Lumumba, who is also the chairperson of the caucus, said.
On reports that some youth addressed a press conference at Makerere urging the Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi to contest for presidency, Lumumba noted that the youth were entitled to their views. She stressed that Mbabazi had signed the resolution backing Museveni and urged the youth not to oppose him.
Present at the press conference was MP David Bahati (vice chairman) and Robinah Nabbanja (treasurer).
Nabbanja said if Mbabazi thinks that what he did was not in good faith “let him come and withdraw his signature.”