He has also been serving as People Power pressure group coordinator of Bukedea district and the entire eastern region
The Democratic Party (DP) has suffered a major blow after its vice-president for the eastern region, Yusuf Mutembuli, crossed to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).
Mutembuli was on Tuesday officially received by the NRM vice-president for the eastern region, Capt. Michael Mukula, at NRM headquarters on Kyadondo Road, Nakasero.
"This is a big fish. We have captured empuuta (Nile Perch)," Mukula told a press conference as a group of NRM leaders from Bunyole East constituency which Mutembuli is eyeing under the ruling party ticket cheered him on.
"With the heart of NRM, you are most welcome home. I will officially deliver the message to the chairman of NRM, who is also the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, that Yusuf Mutembuli, the lawyer, the vice-president of DP, is now your son and is ready to take the mantle and fight for the party," Mukula said.
He then handed the NRM regalia and its constitution over to an elated Mutembuli.
Mutembuli, who has also been serving as People Power coordinator of Bukedea district and the entire eastern region, joined NRM with Peter Nsubuga, the DP vice-president of Butaleja district.
"I am just exercising my constitutional right to join any party and that is what I am exercising now. I know a lot will be said but like any other politician, you must have a political agenda," Mutembuli said while renouncing his DP membership.
"At the time I joined DP in 2005, I informed those who recruited me that I am only willing to be in opposition for 15 years and therefore we have a duty to ensure that after 15 years, we are in charge of this country. However, when I look at the circumstances now, DP has about 50 years to be in charge of this country," he said.
He also claimed intrigue and lack of focus forced him out of DP, Uganda's oldest political party. "[There is] infighting everywhere to the extent that you can find someone who can call himself a chairman of the party just because he has gone to court. As a person who is focused, I cannot accept to remain in such confusion," he said.
He assured Ugandans that he had made the decision to defect to NRM willingly because he loves the country.
"I have made a decision as a man and my decision is to benefit my people of Uganda, especially those of Butaleja and those of Bunyole East. I have come to NRM to work with whoever is there, not to fight within as some people say," he stated.
His defection comes at a time when DP is embroiled in leadership wrangles between some of its members led by Busiro East MP Medard Sseggona and party president Nobert Mao.
Fred Mukasa Mbidde, DP's national vice president, told New Vision on Tuesday that Mutembuli as an asset to DP in the eastern region.
"We have lost a very important colleague of ours because he is an advocate of all courts of judicature like me. We have always been interpreting the Constitution almost with similar minds," Mbidde said.
He, however, noted: "I am extremely comfortable confirming that his crossing is related to his ability to win the next parliamentary elections where probably the opposition has failed to guard his votes each time he has gone to an election because he has won and the NRM has rigged him out."
Magidu Katende, the DP youth chairperson in Mbale district, also said Mutembuli's defection to NRM was a major blow to their party.
Katende accused the top DP leadership of abusing the party constitution and failure to support Mutembuli during the time when he was battling Bunyole East MP Moses Musamba Nagwomu in court after losing the 2016 elections.
"We believe the failure by top DP leaders to support Mutembuli while in court might have contributed to his crossing," he said.
Nagwomu won the last elections with 17,464 votes against Mutembuli's 16,292. However, Mutembuli, who had contested as an independent, sued him jointly with the Electoral Commission claiming that the O-Level certificate which Nagwomu presented during nomination belonged to his cousin, Moses Musamba Nagwomu who is a security officer.
However, the court dismissed the case on the grounds that the petitioner had failed to prove that Nagwomu lacked the O-Level certificate.
"Court also ordered Mutembuli to pay legal costs of over sh100m incurred by Nagwomu which he has since failed to clear. So he crossed to NRM may be to be bailed out," Katende said.