Intense and harsh personal accusations have followed the Tuesday election of the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly â€“ EALA in Arusha, Tanzania. The all-Ugandan contest saw Margaret Zziwa defeat Dora Byamukama in the second round of voting, leaving some top NRM party leaders split.
The election which was an all-Ugandan contest between Margaret Zziwa and Dora Byamukama was eventually won by Zziwa in a second round of voting that has seen some top NRM party leaders split and with a bitter memory of the exercise. Byamukama was the preferred NRM party candidate.
Zziwa beat Byamukama by 33 to 12 votes in the 45 member assembly.
Those accused of betrayal include the NRM Vice Chairman for Eastern Uganda, Mike Mukula, Buganda Caucus Chairperson in parliament, Godfrey Kiwanda, East African Community Affairs Minister Eriya Kategaya, former EALA representative Lydia Wanyoto and second time EALA representative Nusura Tiperu.
The five are being accused by their colleagues of betrayal, bribery, treachery and dishonesty, following various boardroom agreements that were made in Uganda last week to offer a national support to Byamukama. Once in Arusha, however, they reportedly went against the party position and decided to nominate and support Zziwa.
According to the NRM Caucus Vice Chairman, David Bahati, Mukula was assigned to lead the official team from Uganda’s parliament to campaign for Byamukama on behalf of the Chief Whip, Daudi Migereko. Migereko confirmed the information on Wednesday.
But while in Arusha, Mukula is reported to have turned around and vigorously campaigned for Zziwa, especially among Kenyan EALA representatives, whom he is very close to through his political connections with the Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga.
Kategaya is accused by the pro-Byamukama group of campaigning for Zziwa and mobilizing his colleagues from other member states to convince their representatives to vote for Zziwa.
Wanyoto, who was dropped three weeks ago by her party after she insisted on standing after serving a two-year term, is accused of nursing bitterness against Byamukama whom she de-campaigned vigorously amongst her former colleagues.
Tiperu, who nominated Zziwa, is also accused of having distributed 1,000 dollars to each delegate targeted to support Zziwa’s candidature. It is not yet clear where she could have got the money that was reportedly distributed in the run up to the elections.
Buganda Caucus chairperson Godfrey Kiwanda is accused of sharing Byamukama’s campaign strategy with the Zziwa camp which helped give her advantage.
The bitterness amongst the MPs is so intense that the pro-Byamukama group who returned yesterday from Arusha together with Mukula and Kategaya on the same flight did not talk to each other. Some MPs who traveled on the same flight yesterday said that Barnabas Tinkasiimire, the Buyaga County West MP, during an exchange accused Kategaya and Mukula of being traitors while Kategaya responded that he had defeated them.
The sources said that Mukula and Kategaya entered the plane last and sat near the entrance to get out first, for fear of their colleagues from Uganda. The 46-seater plane carried mostly the Ugandan MPs from Arusha to Entebbe.
Mukula’s and Kategaya’s phones were unavailable while Zziwa, Tiperu and Byamukama are still in Arusha and their phones were not going through.
But the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Forum for East African Community Affairs, Mathias Kasamba, said he was shocked by what he experienced in Arusha. Kasamba said that the members’ transport costs had all been met by the Speaker who thought they were all going to campaign for Byamukama.
Kasamba, who is also the MP for Kakuuto County, was the one who put up a list of about 26 MPs, including Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, to travel to Arusha. Yesterday he said he would advise the party to call an urgent caucus meeting to review the events that happened in Arusha if the cohesion in the party is to be restored.
Kasamba confirmed having heard the bribery allegations but said he did not see it personally. He said he was not happy with his Buganda caucus Chairperson, agreeing while in Uganda but shifting camp when they reached Arusha.
Tinkasiimire has vowed never to trust his colleagues again on anything in future, given the shock he went through in Tanzania, at the hands of his colleagues.
Bahati has already congratulated Zziwa and pledged to work with her for the benefit of the integration and Uganda’s regional interest.
Upon his return yesterday, a visibly disappointed Bahati, who had to become the stand in team-leader after Mukula changed camp from Byamukama, said he would consult with his party Secretary General, Amama Mbabazi, to organize a caucus for a comprehensive report to be made of what happened in Arusha.