By Norbert Mao
Former President Godfrey Binaisa once famously said Kampala is a city of seven hills and seven rumours a day. It is not surprising that a low key visit to President Museveni’s Kisozi farm by former Prime Minister and Presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi on New Year’s Eve has become the subject of so much speculation.
Some say he’s back in the NRM fold or in his way back. Others say he went to discuss activities of the Brazzaville Foundation! Brazzaville Foundation? Most people have never heard of the Brazzaville Foundation – a UK registered NGO. The foundation’s goal is “Working for Peace, Prosperity and Conservation in Africa and beyond.” Amama sits on the Advisory Board of the foundation alongside a constellation of highly distinguished persons including former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, Amara Essy, former Foreign Minister of Cote D’Ivoire and the Secretary General off the Organization for African Unity (OAU) who presided over the transition to AU, Pär Stenbäck former Foreign Minister of Finland and Dr. José Ramos-Horta, former President of East Timor. The Patron is HRH Prince Michael of Kent, the fourth son of King George V.
The last time people saw the former PM and his old comrade together was during the ceremony at which he gave his daughter’s hand in marriage to the son of the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa. That was a social event. No big deal. Anyone who is anybody in the NRM inner circle was there. It was about fun and laughter.
This Kisozi visit was more formal. Two pictures were posted by President Museveni on his social media platforms. One where they were sitting as they usually sat in the days they were hand in glove. The other was captured while the two were walking in the grazing land. In the second photo Mbabazi was carrying a large letter size khaki envelope. Maybe something to do with Brazzaville Foundation?
When I saw the pictures I wondered why a host would tweet his photo with his visitor before the visitor has even returned to his home. In these fluid times the propaganda value of such pictures is huge. And Museveni and his machine couldn’t miss such an opportunity. It was power play par excellence!
The tongue wagging was swift. In some cases it even went severe. Some of us made sarcastic jokes. In these matters those who know the least say the most but those who know the most say the least. Blabbering is for the ignorant.
The remains of TDA were exhumed for fresh autopsy. Those of us who stood firmly by Amama Mbabazi who was the preferred candidate of the majority of the TDA Summit were flayed on social media platforms. In warned some people that I took copious notes during the closed TDA meetings. Those who walked out of TDA were praised as prescient. The assumption (which is baseless unless the contrary is proved) is that like Edward Lowassa of Tanzania, Amama Mbabazi will make a u-turn and rejoin the ruling party. In 2015 Edward Lowassa, a former Prime Minister, quit the Chama Cha Mapinduzi(CCM) after failing to secure the party nomination to run for president. He was embraced by the opposition coalition known as UKAWA and ran as a joint candidate nominated by the CHADEMA party. Four years later, he quit CHADEMA and rejoined CCM!
Unlike Lowassa, Mbabazi ran as an independent candidate. He never formed or joined any party. His Go Forward pressure group was an electoral vehicle to facilitate his participation in TDA which in turn was a special purpose vehicle purely for the 2016 elections. A Special Purpose Vehicle can be compared to a placenta. It carries a pregnancy and when the pregnancy is over, it’s purpose is served. It matters not whether there’s a live birth, a still birth or a miscarriage, the purpose is the same – to nurture and sustain an unborn life. Kenyans have demonstrated best how temporary these vehicles are.
So for now, I think all the mountains being built around the Kisozi meeting validates Binaisa’s statement. We are a city of seven hills and seven rumors a day!
(Published in Sunday Monitor on 12 January, 2020)
The author is the President of Opposition Democratic Party (DP).