Mbabazi said that despite having run against Museveni in the 2016 general elections, their relationship was not affected.
He said despite having run against Museveni in the 2016 general elections, their relationship was not affected. He added: “We may disagree politically, but the association we have is not affected. This is what I call maturity in leadership,” He was speaking during the Kuhingira (give-away) of his niece, Bridget Birungi Rwakairu, at his residence at Nyonyi Gardens in Kololo.
Birungi became the wife of Andile Ramaphosa, the eldest son of Ramaphosa. She was given away in Kikiga tradition and was received in accordance with the Venda culture.
The traditional ceremony attracted high-profile figures from the Government, business fraternity, envoys, as well as an entourage of 150 South Africans. Mbabazi said the ceremony was an opportunity for him to catch up with his former comrades. He was fired from government in September 2014 and he went on to stand as presidential candidate against Museveni in 2016.
After losing the election, Mbabazi unsuccessfully challenged the results in the Supreme Court. He has since kept a low profile, but there has been speculation that he could take up new position in government.
From history Museveni said he contacted Mbabazi in 1974 after an attack on Uganda backfired and some prominent people, including Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda (now Prime Minister), who were part of Museveni’s underground network, had to flee the country. Mbabazi was among the leaders of the Front for National Salvation (FRONASA) movement that recruited combatants to fight the dictators such as Idi Amin in the 1970s.
The group later transformed itself into the National Resistance Movement/Army and fought the second regime of Milton Obote and the military junta, led by Okello Lutwa (1981-1986). However, in 2014, Mbabazi disagreed with Museveni when he was dropped from the post of Prime Minister. He (Mbabazi) was also fired as NRM secretary general. Under his Go Forward banner, Mbabazi received the backing of the Democratic Party, Justice Forum, a faction of Uganda People’s Congress, led by Dr Olara Otunnu, and some civil society organisations.
Former United Nations secretary General Kofi Annan unsuccessfully mediated a deal between Mbabazi and Forum for Democratic Change’s Col. Kizza Besigye for a joint opposition candidate. On the other hand, Mbabazi said he met Rugunda when they were students and the two stayed in his village. He said Rugunda, who was also he chairperson of the organizing committee for the Kuhingira, was a leader in the student struggles of the 1970s.
He also pointed out that he had invited Lt. Gen. Koreta and Gen. Salim Saleh, who were among the 29 freedom fighters, who were sent by FRONASA to Mozambique for training. Koreta and Saleh were unable to attend the ceremony. Another member of the group Col. Bosco Omure was also not able to attend. Only one, he only identified as Rutebandama, attended.
At the ceremony, Museveni hailed Mbabazi for looking after Birungi and the family after their father was killed. Museveni said on account of bad politics, over 800,000 Ugandans were extra-judicially killed between 1966 and 1986, adding that those atrocities resulted in a number of orphans and widows.
He said when the NRM took over power, an attempt was made to manage the crisis by setting up schools for the children of the fallen fighters in Nakasongola, Jinja, Masindi and a Kadogo school in Mbarara. He said, however, because of the overwhelming numbers, the next of kin had to lend a hand in raising the orphans. Museveni said Shadrack Rwakairu, Birungi’s father, supported Uganda People’s Movement, an off-shoot of FRONASA by giving it fuel.
As a result, Rwakairu was harassed together with his wife, Peace Ruhindi and their children. He was kidnapped and murdered on December 3, 1983 in Kireka barracks by soldiers of the now defunct Uganda National Liberation Army under Obote. Ruhindi, a sister of Jacqueline Mbabazi, fled to Kabale, where they stayed with their parents, Geresomu Ruhindi and Everina Ruhindi. Birungi attended Gayaza High School, before going to China for further studies.
While in China, she met Andile. Museveni handed two envelopes containing undisclosed sums of money to Birungi and Ruhindi. He said it was not in order to come for Kuhingira empty-handed.
Museveni, on behalf of his wife, Janet Museveni and the people of Uganda, congratulated the couple, and thanked them for linking the Great Lakes region and South Africa. He thanked Mbabazi and Jacqueline for inviting him and Janet to the ceremony. He also gave the couple cows.