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Why NRM top organ delayed roadmap

By David Lumu

Added 1st July 2020 10:25 AM

The structures, CEC sources said, lie at the heart of not only the re-election campaign of the President, but all the would-be flag bearers, who urgently want the roadmap for internal elections to be announced and debated.

Why NRM top organ delayed roadmap

Centre is President Yoweri Museveni with the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni and NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC) members attending the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at State House Entebbe on January 24

The structures, CEC sources said, lie at the heart of not only the re-election campaign of the President, but all the would-be flag bearers, who urgently want the roadmap for internal elections to be announced and debated.

When President Yoweri Museveni, who is also the chairperson of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, summoned the Central Executive Committee (CEC), many members expected to debate the party's roadmap.

However, multiple sources have said the political mood on Saturday necessitated that another equally important political gear be engaged — the leadership of the NRM district structures.

The structures, CEC sources said, lie at the heart of not only the re-election campaign of the President, but all the would-be flag bearers, who urgently want the roadmap for internal elections to be announced and debated.

The district structures, CEC members agreed, need to be fixed before the roadmap is rolled out, if at all the mobilisation momentum of the party, is to be oiled ahead of the forthcoming general elections.

"These structures need to be aggressively activated because it is easy to mobilise members when district structures are active and not kept guessing about the roadmap and other political activities that underpin the national electoral roadmap," a CEC source said,

adding that the President also emphasised the need to activate the district structures to be ready for the internal party primaries, campaigns and mobilsationrelated activities.

The NRM has an established party structure that runs from the national secretariat, district, subcounty, parish and village level. District party offi ces across the country are open, but have not been active due to the COVID-19- related challenges.

Another challenge CEC members noted on Saturday, is the fact that when the party rolled out massive registration of members in March, some of the leaders of these structures were not paid.

Some of the NRM registration books, CEC sources noted, are still being held at the district, parish and sub-county offices, which makes it diffi cult for the party to hold primaries until these hurdles are overcome.

Under the NRM structures, there are constituency or municipality executive committees, which consist of the NRM MPs or NRM candidates in the preceding elections as chairpersons.

In March, the NRM secretary general, Justine Kasule Lumumba, rolled out the mass registration of members and updated the party's register.

The exercise was meant to prepare the party for the party primaries, which were scheduled for September.

ROADMAP POLITICS

To be set for the 2021 elections, insiders say, CEC members resolved that all district structures be set up across the country, especially in the new districts, constituencies, villages, parishes and sub-counties that do not have them, before internal elections are held.

"The roadmap will be discussed on Wednesday and thereafter, we shall release it. On Saturday, CEC concentrated on the establishment of district offices in preparation for moblisation and elections," Dr. Tanga Odoi, the chairperson of the NRM electoral commission, told New Vision recently.

It is the third time that CEC has deferred the release of its adjusted election roadmap, citing the need to deliberate more the proposals of the members.

"The party membership and the entire public is hereby informed that CEC convened again this Saturday under the chairmanship of His Excellency Yoweri Museveni. Discussion of the party roadmap was key on the agenda and given the importance of this item, more consultations and discussions will continue," Rogers Mulindwa, the NRM party spokesperson, said in a statement issued after the meeting at State House, Entebbe.

"The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday," he added. Political parties were thrown off balance regarding the forthcoming 2021 general elections when the Electoral Commission (EC) released a new national electoral roadmap on June 16, rooting for scientifi c elections that prohibit mass campaign rallies in favour of media/digital campaigns.

The NRM roadmap was expected to be launched on Monday but, Odoi said, CEC is yet to conclude deliberations on the matter. "There is no disagreement on the roadmap. When time comes to discuss the roadmap, we shall discuss it. I know that when one delays, people start speculating.

We went for lining up because that is what the party constitution provides," Odoi said.

On the other hand, NRM insiders have pointed at a possible disagreement over the mode of voting, as the key element that is causing delays on the part of the ruling party in rolling out its roadmap for party primaries.

Some of the issues NRM sources say have caused the delay to release the party's roadmap are how to conduct party primaries without flouting COVID-19 regulations and a possible amendment of the party's constitution to re-introduce the secret ballot as opposed to lining up.

However, in the face of COVID-19 threats, sources within CEC have said that lining up could be disregarded in favour of secret ballot, which is in tandem with the social distancing measures.

"Under the current circumstances, a secret ballot is preferred to wade off the consequences of COVID-19 that lining up might bring. The challenge, however, is that the party needs a delegates conference to effect this proposal, which is almost impossible to convene during this lockdown period yet the political clock is ticking," an NRM insider told New Vision.

NRM deputy secretary general Richard Todwong says there is no existing disagreement over the roadmap.

"We did not even discuss the roadmap. We know that several people are eager to hit the campaign trail and that they are badly waiting for the roadmap.

However, we are not going to be pushed around by such. They should wait for the discussion on the roadmap to be concluded. Responding to their claims now would tantamount to an illegality," he said.

Odoi also emphasised the fact that internal party elections will take place employing the agreed mode of lining up as per the NRM constitution.

PARLIAMENT SUMMONS EC BOSS

As the NRM CEC reconvenes on Wednesday, the committee on legal and parliamentary affairs will also be interfacing with the justice minister, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu and the chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Justice Simon Byabakama, to forge a way forward regarding the proposed ‘scientific' elections.

Giving pointers to the issues that will shape Wednesday's committee interface with the EC, Jacob Oboth-Oboth, the chairperson of the parliamentary committee on legal affairs, told New Vision over the weekend that the key issue was whether they could hold elections under the current legal framework.

"Are there suffi cient legal provisions to accommodate what they are proposing and the COVID-19 standard operating procedures? We also want to establish whether those COVID-19 procedures can be incorporated and we make special legal provisions because an election is about the law, not standard operating procedures.

These procedures should be standardised by legislation when it comes to elections," he said.

"We shall, after our interaction, report to the House, and then, MPs will make resolutions on that," the West Budama South MP added.

CEC DEBATES NEW TEAM

The Saturday CEC meeting also debated the recently proposed changes at the secretariat. The proposed changes by CEC saw the NRM director of fi nance and administration, Dr. Hassan Wasswa Galiwango, replaced by Medina Naham, the NRM party chairperson for Koboko district.

Former Butaleja MP Emmanuel Dombo was also appointed as director of information and publicity, Jacqueline Kyatuheire as deputy national treasurer and Mathias Kisamba as director for mobilisation.

While some CEC members vehemently opposed the appointment of some members, the meeting resolved that the new team is up to task and will be unveiled to the National Executive Council and delegates conference once the COVID-19 prevalence wanes or necessitates the summoning of the meetings, which have over 1,000 memberships.

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