Sued NRM CEC member asks Museveni to intervene: faults secretariat leaders 

On March 12, a civil suit in which the NRM youth member Daniel Obal sued his party and eight others over many illegalities was received by the High Court in Kampala.

Among the defendants is Gabriel Kato, chairperson of the NRM PWD’s league.

To understand more, and the context of the case,  asked Kato to respond to a number of issues. Below are his responses.

There are a number of issues in the suit that the plaintiff is talking about, one of which is a demand that you vacate the office with immediate effect. Another matter is that NRM took a long time to hold internal elections. As we start this conversation, kindly confirm receipt of the joint suit and take us through the illegality.

Yeah, I am a member of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) representing the Persons with Disabilities and have been since 2016. When COVID-19 came in 2019, and 2020, we conducted elections for regional Vice Chairpersons and the national chairperson –Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Vice Kigongo, the 2nd Vice Kadaga and regional vice chairpersons. Why we conducted elections only within those regional chairpersons is that we feared converging in one place, so by that time 2020 COVID-19 was still in place and we said we could not risk Ugandans to elections for PWDs, women.

So we came up with a statutory instrument from Parliament which gives the political parties authority to manage their affairs in line with the Constitution and that is how we remain in the seats and keep on increasing our terms every 6 months. That is why we are in the office.

Now, there is Katemba [there is what they call a ‘prey’ within our party]. Take an example, my juniors, and my staff at the secretariat: I supervise Tanga Odoi, and I supervise Richard Todwong and the entire secretariat. In line with the NRM constitution, when Todwong was appointed with Rose Namayanja and Barbara Nekesa Oundo Bwekesa, as the national treasurer, others retained their seats.

When Mzee (national chairman) appointed them and deputy treasurer Jacqueline Kyatuheire to replace Dr. Kenneth Omono, it is CEC that sat because of the Covid-19 guidelines and statutory instrument I have told you that gave us some powers to approve them to take over offices as workers of the party because our terms had already expired but we were working in the law pending probating with the statutory instrument. They were approved and started working.

Now [for us we have a right to ask for accountability through CEC] on how they are using the government money, on how they are using the government resources because they are using the funds within the party; we have the authority to ask them. But when you ask a thief, a thief will feel unhappy why you are asking. So, he will look for all possible ways to see how to fight you or to bring you down so that you don’t ask him and for us, it is authority to ask them. So they went, convinced the national chairman Museveni. I think the national chairman accepted without consulting the Law. He was first supposed to consult CEC before approving them to go on with this exercise of member registration.

When we sat with Kigongo at Mosha Court in February, we said no, look here: Chairman, we are not supposed to go on with this exercise before consulting CEC, then immediately the national chairman summoned a meeting of CEC in the State House. We harmonized and agreed as a party. That is why we said structural elections should be on hold then NRM membership registration [the ongoing exercise is not NRM register update for voting, no. It is NRM membership registration from the age of 15 and above].

We agreed as CEC to go and supervise. But because these people had already received money for two activities: for elections and registration, these guys at the secretariat felt as if we had preyed: why are we saying you first halt the elections; we first clean our register and update it very well because now students are in schools. You are from Lango but studying at Makerere University, or in Mbarara, Kabala or in Gulu. You cannot register your details when you are in another place. So we are going to come back for the update and clean the register. When we update the register very well we shall roll out elections for the structures. That was the guidance of the CEC.

Also read: Museveni’s advisor drags NRM, Gen. Muhwezi, Dr Odoi; Wanyoto to court

Now, when it comes to CEC, it has 28 people but among the 28 people, the eight leagues plus the nominees [the special nominees of CEC] that is Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, Gen. Kahinda Otafiire, Huda Oleru and Dr. Crispus Kiyonga – they are five people. These are the leagues they are saying some of their terms of office have expired; these are the people who approved them to be in office.

So logically, if I approve you to be in an office and say my term has expired then you are also in office wrongly – illegally. And when you read the amended NRM constitution [because I saw what they quoted in the suit, I saw they quoted the NRM of 2016 copyright]. When you read the amended NRM constitution, the Secretary-General and team are ex-officials on CEC and the Secretary-General was approved by CEC.

But according to the party constitution, he’s supposed to be approved by the National Executive Council (NEC).

For us CEC we proposed them to NEC. The chairman of the party will appoint the Secretary-General, bring it to CEC and forward the name to NEC. If NEC rejects him, he won’t be the Secretary-General. But because of the Covid-19 restrictions in the country that is why we said, ‘No, as CEC, we approve him substantially so that he goes on with the activities of the party as we conduct elections and NEC approves them officially.’

But now,[I saw it on social media, that Court case]. When you see Tanga Odoi involved in that court case when you read the mind and you read the whole statement, this is Tanga, this is Tanga’s plan. He’s trying to put it so they can scare us and go on and CEC approves Tanga. No, no, no. The Law is clear, we can either say ‘Tanga step aside and we first look at your conduct’. There is no fear of this.

The court petition is that we cease to be members of the CEC but for me to reply to the court it must be granted by the national chairman. It is the national chairman to act on our behalf: I am not quoting any person but the national chairman who is Mr Museveni – not as a President but as the chairman of the party. The court is supposed to serve him, he’s the one to act on our behalf and why are they looking at only leagues because we are 13 people? You can see the bias, have you seen the bias? The [plaintiff] fears these big-big people; we are all equal in that CEC.

How does the CEC monitor funds given to the secretariat

When we formed the finance committee of CEC which sat in State House recently, we tasked them to go and check how the secretariat is using finances. They are in panic; that is what I can say. Let them be free and give the committee what they are asked and when we go for CEC we shall review the report of the committee, report from the Rugunda’s committee and report from Sing Katongole’s committee.

How much was given to the secretariat for party activities 

The secretariat was given shs26b to conduct NRM registration exercises and at the same time conduct elections for the structures. But we halted the elections of the structures which means that the balance of the money for elections is there. When we clear our register very well then we shall go on for structural elections. But the national conference is supposed to sit twice in a term and that means we cannot call the national conference now, we can call the national conference towards the end of next year.

You talked about thieves at the party. Who are these specific people?

The people who misuse the party funds and do not give accountability to the right forum are thieves. We are fighting corruption in this country. You ask any member of the CEC ‘Have you ever seen accountability from the secretariat?’ then you will understand where those people who are corrupt are.

I understand there is some monthly pay each of you receives for the service and activities you are doing. Shs15m monthly and shs240m annually. The plaintiff in his suit prayed to the court to compel a refund. Is this true or it’s an allegation that we are hearing?

Allegations are ever there because where does the party get the money to keep on paying us? We are not permanent workers of the party, we are leaders who are supposed to serve other people. Now, this is a party where you have an activity like we are going for membership registration. They support you with some facilitations to go and monitor and supervise that activity.

So, they shouldn’t even say the monthly pay. They are trying to see how to hit people politically which are allegations and hitting themselves. Until you see the accountability of these people [at the secretariat] on how they are using the money, that is when you will get the whole link.

We are going to iron out this issue because NRM is a mass party, we are running the government, we cannot keep on fighting each other, and we are going to sort all these issues out. The fact is, when the Law establishes and gives you authority that you are to act this, even if you are aged, you are young – as long as the Law defends you, you have a right to exercise your suit not looking at the age and tribe… but you agree that if the CEC says you step down, go and do this: go and do it.

The money we get from the government is shs8.6b per quarter. When you multiply you will get about shs34.4b. This is good money to run the activities of the party and you can see the party is seen, too bad. How can a small office of the national chairman come and shut down the secretariat? The party should be faced from time to time and this is not the time for politicking. If the person loves the nation and has the nation at heart, this is not the time for politicking.

Because, if you elect the leaders of the structures now up to 2025 when we are looking for flag bearers all these office bearers in the structures will be in trouble, demanding and looking for voters; the Parliament is closed, they have gone for a recess; you disorganizes the whole system. 

But we approved the NRM membership registration; it is going on and will end tomorrow (Sunday). If there is an extension, it must come from CEC or the national chairman. 

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