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Thousands storm Kampala for NRM meeting

By Vision Reporter

Added 26th June 2010 03:00 AM

THE National Resistance Movement (NRM) is holding a national conference at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole.

THE National Resistance Movement (NRM) is holding a national conference at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole.

By Joyce Namutebi

THE National Resistance Movement (NRM) is holding a national conference at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole.

Whereas NRM is the strongest party, members cite various challenges that they have to address. One of these, is how to make members accept that in a multiparty political dispensation must conform to party rules.

“People want to behave as if they are on individual merit,” says deputy party spokesperson Ofwono Opondo.

He believes that many major conflicts, such as disagreements among ministers, “make work as a united front difficult.”

Opondo adds that people are not separating the party from the State, which makes some members think NRM as government has unlimited resources.

Besides infighting, corruption is a menace which the NRM must address.
“When NRM people in government abuse public resources, the party takes the blame.

Abuse of public resources by senior members is a challenge. NRM has not been able to handle its culpable members as effectively as the public would want to see,” he says.

Party organisation is the other challenge. This, according to Ofwono Opondo, involves how the party is run, how members are recruited and retained and how to raise resources in a sustainable way to keep the crucial activities going.

He says nurturing and maintaining a cordial relationship with the public is another challenge. “We have had a very unhelpful opposition, who do not contribute positively to nurturing this new political dispensation.

While we extend an olive branch, other stakeholders are not helpful.”
He points out that they would want the opposition to distinguish between politicking and the common good. “We would want constructive engagement,” he says.

Some sources in the NRM say there is too much corruption and infighting in the party. They say infighting has gone up to the extent of having members sponsoring candidates against one another.

The Buganda question is another factor that the ruling party cannot afford to ignore. The sources warn that delayed settlement of the Buganda issue is not good for the party.

The standoff between Mengo and the central government reached a climax in September last year, with massive riots.
Thereafter, the two announced that they had resumed discussions and eventually the president and the Kabaka met.

But since then, not much has been achieved. “Everything is waiting for the President,” said an NRM source.
However, Gertrude Njuba, an NRM historical, says the issues have been complicated by politicians who try to use traditional institutions for political gains.

“Traditional institutions have been misused by politicians, not necessarily those who are fond of traditional things, but those who see it as an area to use to come to power.”

Njuba adds that NRM is faced with a challenge of creating jobs for its members and for the country at large.
She adds that whereas the NRM has fought to establish freedom of speech and political education, the challenge is how to manage this freedom.

“Our debates should be civilized, not undoing what we have achieved,” she says. The Government Chief Whip, Daudi Migereko, believes that the biggest challenge is that people are stuck in the individual merit system.

Citing the problem of independents, he notes that people think that the country is still governed under the Movement system. The challenge, he notes, is how to overcome people trying to contest as individuals rather than as members of the party.

He observes that preparing for the forthcoming general elections is going to take a lot of time and resources.
The party infrastructure also needs to be addressed.

“We are still a new party. We have to address the problem of infrastructure and logistical support,” says Migereko.

He observes that people think NRM owns properties all over the country such as office buildings in the districts and constituencies, not realising that the party is still young.

“They think that since we are in government, we should be have everything. So managing people’s expectations when we are still a young party and in government is a challenge.”
Justine Kasule Lumumba, an NRM MP and a member of the National Conference, says cliques in the party are undermining it.

“What hurts most is that you find that the party has no functional structure to work on settling differences,” she says. There is also the issue of people talking about others and branding them non-members, even when they hold party cards. “I wonder who is an NRM member,” she says.

She notes that although the NRM has been in power for some time, things are done at the last minute. She for instance cites the primaries, which she says are going to be carried out late.

She points out that there are challenges of how to mobilise for the party to get a big percentage of votes from the central region amid the anti-NRM sentiment from cultural leaders.

She contends that NRM cannot ignore cultural leaders because many people listen to them and believe in them.
However, according to Hajji Abdul Nadduli, the former Luwero district LC5 chairperson, the party is riding high and has no problems.

Thousands storm Kampala for NRM meeting

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