Manjiya Country MP, John Baptist Nambeshe says the decision by the NRM party to bar him and other NRM MPs who voted against the removal of the presidential age limit from attending the national delegates conference scheduled for January 25, has exposed the party as one that is committed to stifling divergent views.
Over 30 NRM MPs including Nambeshe, went against the party decision in December 2017 when they voted for the stay of the presidential age limits, a decision that would if it had not acquired the majority votes, bar the party Chairman Yoweri Museveni from contesting for the position of President in next year’s General Elections.
During the second meeting of the 3rd National Conference on Tuesday, Lumumba revealed that the party Chairman, Yoweri Museveni, had said that the MPs in question were not expected to appear at the event which will be held at the Mandela National Stadium. She noted that that can only happen only if they are cleared by the party’s Disciplinary Committee.
But speaking in an exclusive interview with SoftPower News on Wednesday, Nambeshe said he had received the news with excitement since it is one of the ways to reemphasize claims they have raised for years that there is no internal democracy within the NRM.
“I received that announcement by the Secretary General of NRM with a lot of happiness because it has now exposed the party I have always told the public about, a party that has that degenerated into a company limited with guarantee”.
“This is no longer a political party, NRM without Museveni will just collapse like a pack of cards just because they don’t adhere to internal democratic processes which provide for competition of ideas,” said Nambeshe.
“There are positions which are ring fenced for specific special individuals like the sole candidate which some of us are opposed to and because of that, we are being victimised for supporting the stay of presidential age limits,” he adds.
According to Nambeshe, it was not the initiative of the victimised NRM legislators to oppose the removal of the presidential age caps, but that of the electorate they represent.
“It came out of consultations. The institution of Parliament through the presiding officer allowed us to go and consult voters and in the case of Manjiya, the voters gave me express instructions not to remove the presidential age limits from the constitution. Why should one victimise me therefore for complying with the wish of the people I represent?” asked Nambeshe.
He says blocking the select MPs from the conference violates the party’s constitution since it provides that members who divert from its provisions are subjected to the party’s Disciplinary Committee which is chaired by the national Chairperson of NRM Moses Kigongo, something that has never happened.
“Blocking us not to attend the Namboole Delegates Conference in itself is a breach of that provision. Have they constituted themselves into a disciplinary committee, moreover without allowing the law of natural justice to take place? They should have heard us, they should have given us the opportunity to defend ourselves. In fact they shouldn’t have punished me, they should have punished the people of Manjiya,” he said.
Nambeshe however says he is not surprised they (rebel MPs) were blocked because this is the third time it is happening.
He said the same thing happened when President Museveni who is also the national party chairperson allegedly ejected 7 of them from the NRM Caucus meeting where the removal of the presidential age limits was discussed.
“It was still unconstitutional, the party’s constitution allows competition of ideas in promotion of democracy”.
He says the second time was in February last year when about 6 of them were denied access to a caucus retreat in Kyankwanzi. The caucus adopted an earlier resolution by the party’s Central Executive Committee to maintain President Yoweri Museveni as the party’s presidential sole candidate for the 2021 general elections.
Asked whether the affected MPs will forcefully attend the delegates’ conference, Nambeshe responded to the contrary on grounds that “any disciplined citizen who is law abiding can not gate crash in a meeting he or she is not invited.”
Meanwhile, NRM Director Legal Services Oscar John Kihika, has differed from the decision to block the lawmakers in question are still members of the NRM. He says locking them out of the conference violates the party’s constitution since they are are still members of the National Conference.