By Trevor Solomon Baleke
Section 44 (2) (b) of the Constitution of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) reprint 2020 states that; The NRM Parliamentary candidate for a constituency shall be elected by all registered members of NRM in the constituency. And Section 46 (1) of the same constitution says; Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the term of office of elected members of all organs of NRM shall be five years, unless terminated earlier and the incumbent members shall be eligible for re-election.
Accordingly, whatever the situation, the NRM was supposed to stick to its flag bearer, Philip Oucor whose term in office (as flag bearer for Serere County) ends in 2025.
The reason Oucor lost the election is ‘internal conflicts’ within the party especially on the ground. And what caused this? Our people don’t know their Constitution and some of those who know it, don’t want to abide by all its provisions. We are sometimes driven by emotions and personal attachment to a particular candidate.
A section of NRM members thought, the party should have just given the flag to the late Patrick Okabe’s son Emmanuel Omoding to complete his father’s political term. Others think flag bearers lose the flag when they lose in general elections and their assumption is that the party should organize election of a flag bearer for every election including byelections!
Political actors with such a mindset went as far as trading their campaigns on statements like, “let the son go and complete his late father’s term.” “Voting for Okabe’s son is the only thing we can do for the late and his family.” And of course they blamed the NRM leadership for not giving the card to Okabe’s family in Omoding!
But what the party leaders did is what exactly should have been done. Sticking to the party position and respecting the provisions of the NRM party Constitution.
Therefore in my view, the NRM party won the Serere byelection. The party demonstrated one of its key principles of democracy and good governance.
The NRM 1st Vice National Chairman, Al-Hajji Moses Kigongo, Hon. Rosemary Seninde, the Director of Mobilization, and Hon. Emmanuel Dombo, the Director of Communication, Dr. Tanga Odoi, the party Electoral Commissiom chairman and Hadijah Namyalo the chief Muzukulu among other party regional and district leaders pitched camp in Serere in solidarity with the party flag bearer.
In fact on the nomination day, Al-Haji Kigongo asked the members of NRM to remain solid and mobilize for Oucor. The seasoned party leader also warned the members against holding onto their grudges, if any.
“Let us unite for the good of the party,” he is quoted as saying.
But just hours later, a section of errant party members would move around, teeling people to sympathize with the family of the late Okabe and vote for his son.
But what the party leaders did is what exactly should have been done. Sticking to the party position and respecting the provisions of the NRM party Constitution. The party demonstrated one of its key principles of democracy and good governance.
And by Omoding scooping 15,638 votes and Oucor Phillip (NRM) coming second with 13,290 votes, it means the NRM won. The winner was supported by the NRM party members who didn’t follow and listen to their principals and the advice from the national leaders who pitched camp there days to elections. On the other hand Oucor got 13,290 votes from the very committed NRM members who vote basing on the party position. This means, in total, 28,928 were for NRM while a total of 7,110 votes were against NRM as scored by Alice Also of ANT, 3,335, Martin Onguruco (Independent), 2,523 and Emmanuel Eratu Emmanuel (FDC) with 1,252 votes.
The results were very Good, next to excellent, and it’s not about the Votes therefore, but the long term implications for the Party.
NRM’s main problem has been exactly how they would have treated Philip Oucor, whereby members who have been loyal to party principles are abandoned for the sake of sympathizing with a relative of a deceaed incumbent. Had it to be done, this would have demoralized strong NRM members especially in Serere. But even as he was not declared winner, Oucor and his supporters must remain strong NRM members – the party remained with them.
The results however, give NRM some very serious assignment that needs quick attention – sensetization of members on the principles of NRM and what multiparty politics actually means. It is total embarrassment for members of a given political party, organized at the level of NRM to despise a message for their principal and decide to vote basing on emtions. The District Administrative Secretaries of NRM should be empowered and facilitated to take their role of sensitization as enshrined in Section 41 of the NRM constitution 2020 reprint. When this is done, I doubt that seat shall go away from the hands of NRM in 2026.
As a member of the Movement and a loyal cadre, my love, trust and belief in President Museveni has increased just. Mzee tova ku main.
The writer is the Deputy RDC of Namayingo district and former District NRM Administrator of Kamuli district.