Failure by the NRM to agree on a single candidate in the Mbale parliamentary by-elections speaks volumes about our sluggishness as a party to transcend from individual to party merit. This raises many questions in regard to party cadreship and how a party works in a competitive multi-party democracy
Failure by the NRM to agree on a single candidate in the Mbale parliamentary by-elections speaks volumes about our sluggishness as a party to transcend from individual to party merit. This raises many questions in regard to party cadreship and how a party works in a competitive multi-party democracy.
I am generalising this bearing in mind that how the NRM conducts itself in a multi-party democracy impacts a lot on Ugandans.
Our challenge as was reflected in Mbale is that we are still struggling to inculcate true values of cadreship among our members and how I wish this is done even faster. What we saw in Mbale was the attitude of: â€œIf I cannot get it, let him also lose and the party as well.â€ And this goes with impunity?
In a related conduct, the reaction of DPâ€™s Sebagaala after his defeat by Mao is another pointer to ideological bankruptcy and pushing personal interests above those of the party. It portrays lack of organisational skills within our parties. Unfortunately, we have those who ride on the dissatisfactions contained in our parties to facade their wrangles.
I camped in Mbale for close to a week and indicators on the ground were that the NRM needed one candidate to take the race. Despite pleas from the NRM party chairman, President Museveni, Dr. Mutende refused to step down. He polled less than a third of the votes of the flag bearer. These votes added together would have given us 300 votes above what the FDC got, but some of our membersâ€™ failure to put party interest first gave it away.
In other countries where party interests take precedence over all other interests, there is sacrifice of the individual interest in favour of the party. For example, in Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete almost won primaries to become the Chama Cha Mapenduzi (CCM) flag bearer in presidential elections after Ali Hassan Mwinyi (RIP). However, on the advice of Julius Nyerere, Kikwete was told he still needed more grooming to understand statecraft. He stepped down in favour of Mkapa and accepted to serve under him as minister of foreign affairs. If a presidential hopeful can step down in the party interest, how about an intending MP who opts to slaughter his/her party.
Having heard a loud and clear voice from the NRM national executive committee that convened last month against independents, the â€œMbale suicideâ€ must never be repeated.
Everything now has been done, including the adult suffrage system, to ensure free and fair primaries. Whoever feels dissatisfied with the process should petition within the party structure, but never stand against the official flag bearer.
On the other hand, the Mbale political suicide gives the NRM homework. It may not be enough to just declare that there be discipline without building and developing our cadres. Even if there are internal dissatisfaction especially allegations of election malpractice, a cadre will always sacrifice for his party. Our biggest challenge remains; cadre identification, training, placement and follow up. We have a number of courageous members and supporters with outstanding merit in various fields including the talent to mobilise and recruit more members, but lack aspects of a cadre.
In this vain, the NRM needs to compare its script with CCM and the African National congress (ANC) because they seem to be better at cadre identification and development especially among the youth.
The challenges of party building cuts across all parties in Uganda.
The writer is the national general secretary, NRM youth league
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Party interests crucial in a multi-party system