Lumumba shaking hands with Tanga Odoi at party headquarters in Kampala on Tuesday. Photo by Mary Kansiime
Oscar Kihika, the NRM legal director, in an internal memo sent to SG Justine Kasule Lumumba, said the MPs are entitled to attend the conference.
KAMPALA: The 30 National Resistance Movement (NRM) legislators who voted against the lifting of the presidential age limit should be allowed to attend the party’s National Delegates Conference, the legal director has advised.
Oscar Kihika, the NRM legal director, in an internal memo sent to the party secretary general, Justine Kasule Lumumba, said the MPs are entitled to attend the conference.
“It has come to my notice via press reports that there is a proposal to block some 30 NRM Members of Parliament from attending the National Conference…” Kihika wrote on Wednesday.
“As you are well aware, the 30 NRM MPs were entitled to attend the National Conference by virtue of Article 11(2) (i) of the NRM constitution which lists them as members of the National Conference,” he added.
Kihika said he was aware that the MPs who did not support the 2017 Age Limit Bill.
“Arrangements should therefore be made to ensure that they attend the conference just like all other members who were invited by virtue of the notice of the National Conference published in the New Vision some time in December 2019.”
While addressing the media on Tuesday, Lumumba said the party had not included the rebel MPs on the list of the invited guests, but had instead invited all independent MPs that voted in favour of the amendment of the Constitution.
She said the national chairperson of the NRM, President Yoweri Museveni, had instructed that the rebel MPs be excluded until they undergo disciplinary process.
“All the NRM MPs who didn’t work with the party during the amendment of the Constitution to lift the presidential age limit will not be invited. So we do not expect them to attend the National Conference because they have not been invited,” Lumumba said.
At least 30 NRM legislators voted against (No) the amendment to lift the presidential age limit which was passed by Parliament in 2017.
On December 20, 2017 Parliament passed the Age Limit Bill with 317 majority support. The Bill required the support of at least 290 MPs to pass at both the second and third reading. A total of 97 MPs voted against the Bill. There were also NRM-leaning independents who voted against the Age Limit.
Some of the NRM MPs who opposed the Age Limit Bill have since been hobnobbing with the opposition People Power pressure group headed by Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, a presidential candidate aspirant.
Speaking to New Vision about the party’s move to block them from attending the conference, Mukono South MP Ssenyonga Muyanga scoffed at the secretary general, saying it is not the party that voted for them.
“If we are not invited there is no problem and in any case, the party doesn’t vote for us, it is our voters whose views we represented when we voted No to the lifting of the presidential age limit. There is nothing to regret about this,” Ssenyonga said.
The party has since asked the members to apologise for going against the NRM position, which they have to date failed to do. In retaliation, the party has denied them participation in its various activities, including caucus meetings.
“We have invited Independent MPs that voted in support of the party. They have been invited as special guests by the party’s National Chairman, President Yoweri Museveni. So it is up to them to choose whether to attend or not,” Lumumba explained.
She said the lists of delegates to attend the conference had been verified and approved by the NRM district leadership. The lists are to be displayed at the NRM offices for any person to view and ensure that only those on the lists attend the conference.
She said accreditation for NEC will be on January 23, while for the National Conference will be on January 24 both at Kololo Airstrip. All delegates are expected to transport themselves to Kampala.
“The public is hereby informed and cautioned that only displayed delegates on the lists at the NRM offices will be accredited to attend the above meeting and, therefore, no claims whatsoever will be entertained from any non-participants travelling to Kampala for the conference. Delegates are also advised to come with their national Identity Cards,” Lumumba said in the statement issued at the briefing.
Party Constitution amendment mooted
The party is set to hold its national conference at the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole, where 14,955 delegates are expected to attend.
The major aim of the conference is to amend the party’s constitution, which was last reprinted in 2015, ahead of the 2016 general elections.
As the country prepares for the 2021 general elections, the party will revisit its constitution to consider introduction of new provisions, especially regarding internal elections for the party.
Highlighting some of the proposed amendments to the constitution, Lumumba yesterday told journalists at the party headquarters in Kampala that the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) had resolved that all party primary elections should be by lining up.
“After the successful LC1 elections, which were carried out by lining up, we said the party spends a lot of money on internal elections, why not adopt voting by lining up to manage these elections,” Lumumba said.
She was in company of other NRM secretariat officials; deputy secretary general Richard Todwong and NRM electoral commission chairperson Dr. Tanga Odoi. She noted that it is the national conference that will vote on the amendments before they are adopted.
She also said the party’s legal team headed by Oscar Kihika, had been asked to develop the amendments, which among others will require party leaders at the district level to monitor the implementation of the party’s Manifesto.
Lumumba, however, dismissed speculation that the national conference had been called to endorse Museveni as the party’s sole presidential candidate.
“This conference is not about the sole 2021 presidential candidate but to handle issues that deal with the party constitution,” she explained.
During the press conference, Odoi declared that he was now friends with Lumumba and ready to work together for the betterment of the party.
Odoi and Lumumba had hitherto been sworn enemies, publicly attacking each other.
Describing Lumumba as a hardworking secretary general, Odoi hugged her and pledged to work with her office.
A number of sub-committees have been set up for the National Conference.
National Conference Membership
The national conference includes the top party leaders as well as members of the National Executive Council (NEC), NRM municipal executive committees, the NRM municipal councils, promoters of the NRM organisation; executive committees of NRM branches in the Diaspora; NRM members of Parliament/parliamentary flag bearers, NRM Members of EALA, members of NRM historical leaders forum, the National Executive Committees of all special organs, NRM chairpersons of districts/flag bearers, municipality mayors, NRM district executive committees, district executive committees of all special organs, NRM district councils, chairpersons of sub-county conferences, and Twenty (20) special guests invited by the National Chairperson.
NRM MPs who voted against Age Limit Bill
1. James Acidri
2. Monicah Amoding
3. Susan Amero
4. Silvia Akello
5. Bildad Adome
6. Norah Bigirwa
7. Evelyn Chemutai
8. Hellen Kahunde
9. Justine Khainze
10. Henry Kibalya
11. Lowila CD.Oketayot
12. Sam Lyomoki
13. Gaffa Mbwatekamwa
14. Robert Migadde
15. Nakayenze Connie Galiwango
16. John Baptist Nambesehe
17. Niringiyimana James Kaberuka
18. Patrick Nsamba Oshabe
19. Felix Okot Ogong
20. Sylvia Rwabwogo
21. Theodore Ssekikubo
22. Micheal Timuzigu Kamugisha
23. Richard Gafabusa
24. Ssenyonga Johnson Muyanja
25. Sarah Nakawunde
26. Barnabas Tinkasiimire
27. Anthony Semuli
28. Micheal Timuzigu Kamugisha
29. Denis Sabiiti
30. Alex Ruhunda