When an organization carries your father’s names, it at times becomes unthinkable to delink its activities from your own aspirations.
It is in such a situation that Uganda Peoples Congress President Jimmy Akena, Milton Obote’s son has found himself entangled: a battle with the Milton Obote Foundation (MOF), the financial arm of the UPC, a party founded by his late father Apollo Milton Obote.
And today while addressing a press conference Akena blasted the Directors of MOF for trying to throw his party out of Uganda House, the most momentous of the several properties controlled by MOF.
According to Mr Akena, MOF has no legal grounds to evict the party from a building that was erected to act as the national headquarters of the UPC.
The tough-talking Akena also said the MOF, founded in 1964, has failed to execute the objectives for which it was established, namely the advancement of knowledge and education for the relief of poverty and ignorance, and instead turned to ‘non-core issues’.
The Foundation has not awarded a single scholarship in the past 10 years; it has not helped the UPC party in any way and it cannot eject the party out of Uganda House since it’s not a beneficiary of its projects. There hasn’t been support given to any party sector,” Mr Akena charged.
The vitriolic diatribe by Akena comes in the wake of an August 19 MOF statement in The Daily Monitor newspaper, imploring the Uganda Police Force to evict ‘illegal occupants’ from the building.
Interestingly, the MOF statement followed calls by Akena for the disbandment of the UPC financial arm, claiming it was infested with corruption. Mr Akena alleged that the former UPC President Dr Olara Otunnu, his cabinet and MOF officials had mishandled the Foundation’s funds.
In the seemingly unrelenting exchange, the MOF countered by saying that Akena’s ascent to power was constitutionally challengeable and that he had no right to call for the disbandment the Foundation. “These are legally registered companies in the Republic of Uganda; it (Akena’s Camp) has no oversight mandate, “read a statement signed by Nelson F.O Ofwono, the MOF Chairperson.
In 2005, when Mr Akena’s mother Miria Obote was UPC president, a dispute arose after the party lodged caveats on all MOF properties. The party also filed a suit seeking to determine the ownership of MOF properties. Finally, the two warring parties reached a consensus that both MOF and UPC run as separate legal entities. MOF also undertook to provide one floor to the UPC, rent free.
In another development, the Uganda Peoples Congress is set to hold internal party branch elections and primaries, following the National Council’s establishment of the party’s Electoral Commission and carrying out a review of the election guidelines for establishing party structures.
According to the UPC Administrative Secretary Higenyi Hamba the internal party elections will extend to areas where there were no branches.
“We are going to establish branches in areas where they don’t exist,” he said and added that this time round, party members will actively contest for Local Council One (LCI) posts, which ‘the government has turned into NRM functionaries’.
“We won’t allow EC to postpone LCI elections, whether EC has money or not,” Higenyi charged and disclosed that contestants for the UPC parliamentary seats would start picking forms from August 31 to September 18, supervised by the Office of the Secretary General.
Local Council Chairpersons and Councilors will pick forms starting September 1 to September 18 Higenyi said and added that internal party elections for flag bearers will be held on October 6.
Of recent the UPC has been embroiled in supremacy battles between Dr Otunnu and Mr Akena, a development that has sent mixed signals to both supporters and political observers, some of who have predicted harder times for the party in future.
“The (UPC) are not even clear as to whether they will join The Democratic Alliance,” a party supporter and political observer who sought to remain anonymous told The Eagleonline.