In an extraordinary comment, which would have reminded many of Riek Machar who leads the ruling South Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement in opposition (SPLM-IO); the national vice chairperson of the NRM’s Central Executive Committee, Rebecca Kadaga told the press she had decided to stand as an independent because she is “determined to continue to speak for the rights of ordinary people…the people who are marginalised.” (Rebecca Kadaga to run as an independent for Speaker, 23rd May 2021).
She hastened to say, ‘there had been multiple attempts to force her out of leadership positions in the NRM…for example, there had been tremendous state interference and funding to prevent her winning the Central Executive Committee national vice chairperson.’
Crucially, just as Riek Machar might have addressed South Sudanese both in English and his Nuer tribal language, so did Ms Kadaga use both English and Lusoga to address Ugandans in general, and her primary power base in Busoga in particular.
The unavoidable question is whether Kadaga is becoming [the] leader of the NRM-in-opposition to Museveni’s NRM-in government.
‘‘If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck’, goes a timeless English maxim, which implies that a person can be identified by observing their habitual characteristics.
It has been one of Kadaga’s characteristics in recent years to make opposition-like comments about the ruling NRM.
This is intriguing, not least because Kadaga is the vice chairperson of the powerful Central Executive Committee of NRM. What is more, she is also constitutionally the second in line of succession after the Vice President!
Yet, Ms Kadaga has, in effect, told Ugandans and the world that the NRM under President Museveni has abandoned the vast majority of Ugandans, ‘ordinary people…the people who are marginalised’
And what is Kadaga’s next move?
My friends in FDC in particular, and the opposition in general have jumped to their predictable conclusion that Kadaga’s ‘inside story’ is an incontrovertible and final proof of the existential threats facing Uganda – the NRM led by president Museveni is a government the few, by the few, for the few’ – paraphrase Abraham Lincoln.
We recognise that Kadaga has a sizeable support base, eloquently demonstrated in the impressive 197 votes she received in her contest to remain the Speaker.
However, the apparent split in the NRM is not going to lead to the kind of genocidal tribal war we have witnessed in South Sudan since December 2013. Nor is Kadaga likely to form her own political party, nor join the opposition. The most she could achieve is to be a rallying point for “peer-review” within the NRM
More importantly, we believe that the Kadaga incident, and it is no more than an incident, is another proof that Museveni is a tolerant leader, who respects dissent even within the NRM. Elsewhere in Africa, Kadaga’s rebellious public comments would have been her self-certified prison sentence, or worse.
In other Africa countries, Kadaga’s public outbursts would have been an immediate, self-certified prison sentence, or worse.
With or without an apology, as some commentators are suggesting, the pragmatic Museveni should take a leaf from his friend Slava and offer Kadaga a soft landing on a suitable role in government or one of its agencies.
Like Riek Machar, who will leave the SPLM, Rebecca Kadaga, is only exhibiting her love-hate relationship with the NRM. No one explains the dilemma facing Machar and Kadaga, who were youth in the 1970s than the 1970s country music legends Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner in ‘The pain of loving you’:
“You just can’t stand to see me happy; seems you hurt me all you can; still I go on loving you; but I never understand.
Oh, the pain of loving you; oh, the misery I go through; never knowing what to do; oh, the pain of loving you!
To love and hate at the same time; the line between the two is fine; but truth has bound me heart and soul; so strong that I can’t let you go.”
REBECCA KADAGA STATEMENT WHILE ANNOUNCING DECISION TO RUN AS INDEPENDENT FOR SPEAKER POSITION
Fellow Ugandans, I have come to inform the people of Uganda that the NRM party has opted not to give me the party flag for the position of Speaker of Parliament.
I have therefore decided to contest as even before, there have been very many attempts to eject me from the party leadership.
Today I was not given an opportunity to present myself to the electorate and one of the major reasons why am being pushed out is because of speaking on the issues of ordinary people.
I want to assure you, the people, that I will continue speaking on those issues.
Secondly, despite the constitution provisions, the position of the women has been relegated, this is against article 32. So I want to stand up for the rights of those who are still marginalised.
Therefore, I am appealing to the people of Uganda, to ask your representatives in Parliament to do the needful.