President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni has claimed he reconciled with Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga.
Museveni and Kadaga met ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party leaders in Kamuli District on December 05.
While Museveni is the national chairperson of the NRM, Kadaga is the second national vice chairperson.
With many still convinced Museveni and Kadaga still had their relationship strained by the handling of Covid19, Museveni sought to set record straight.
“If I am against Kadaga, why do I have to hide? It’s an insult to me to say that. Whatever issue I have had with Kadaga, we have discussed it and resolved it,” said Museveni.
“I don’t believe in quarrelling because we are not working for ourselves. We are working for Uganda and Africa.
Some people come in with other aims or personal motives, but you should always try to see how you bring people together.”
Museveni explained that he was always open to reconciliation in the interest of transforming the country.
“I quarrelled with people like my friend Eriya Kategaya and Amama Mbabazi. They were unfair to me, saying that I was hanging on to power. But you know I am not interested in power. If we were after power, we were in government but resigned to go and fight Amin. How can you say that I am interested in power? You never know how people think,” the president narrated.
“After that, I looked for Kategaya and asked him whether he was still in support of East Africa. He said yes. I said ok, whether you like me or not, you come and we work together. Kategaya came back and became deputy prime minister and minister for East Africa, and we worked. You know what Mbabazi said in the last election. We are now talking.”
He also warned that “when you have differences, you have got opportunists who make money out of lies. They come and say Museveni does not support Kadaga.”
In reciprocity, Kadaga rallied the people of Busoga to vote Museveni and NRM.
But there seems to be the gist of the public declaration of reconciliation.
Both Kadaga and Museveni are facing election battles in which their opponents accuse them of overstaying in power.
Museveni faces 10 opponents, including two bush war comrades Maj Gen (Rtd) Gregg Mugisha Muntu of the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), and Lt Gen Henry Kakurugu Tumukunde.
He will also be battling it out with Patrick Oboi Amuriat, a protégé of his fiercest challenger Dr Kizza Besigye, and youthful singer-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine of the National Unity Platform (NUP).
As for Kadaga, main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) strongwoman Proscovia Salaamu Musumba won’t be a pushover.
While Museveni has ruled Uganda since 1986 when he took power after a five-year bush war, Kadaga has represented Kamuli in Parliament since 1989.
The duo need each other’s endorsement and support.
Kadaga even needs much more than beating FDC’s Musumba.
Her battle to win reelection as speaker and remain the country’s number three seems to have already begun from inside the NRM.
Her deputy Jacob Oulanyah is interested in the seat.
Oulanyah, too, may not be a pushover, and Kadaga will hope that Museveni will rein in NRM MPs to rally behind her.
Those who watched the rift between Parliament and the Executive over the handling of the Covid19 situation thought the war of words between the heads of two arms of government could put an end to the relationship between the two.
Just over half a year ago, Museveni openly criticized a decision by Kadaga and MPs to share Shs10bn as allocation to facilitate the fight against Covid19 in their constitutions.
The Covid19 bonanza, as it later came to be known, attracted the ire of the public.
And Museveni openly rebuked legislators for being dishonest.
“If the MPs have spent the Shs20m wrongly, they will pay back using their salary. If they have spent the money on themselves, it’s a terrible thing. That Shs20m is bad planning because we had already planned in a certain way. It is morally reprehensible for MPs to give themselves money for personal use when the country is in such a crisis; and totally unacceptable to me and to the NRM,” Museveni castigated the MPs.
“When I met with the Speaker, I told her they should get out of that trap and the best way to do it is by not spending this money on themselves. I agreed with the Speaker to donate that money to the district task forces.”
About a week later, MPs passed a motion moved by Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda to express displeasure in Museveni over the “disparaging statements” he made in his April 28 address at State House Nakasero in Kampala.
Other MPs interpreted the statements as the executive’s attack on the legislature, while others saw an opportunity to encourage Kadaga to declare a presidential bid.
“At no time shall we surrender our power to the executive… It was unfair for the President to make statements that brought disrepute to this House,” said Bugiri Municipality’s Asuman Basalirwa.
“The Right Honorable Speaker has the highest potential to be the president of this country, so they are trying everything possible to undermine her achievements,” added Aruu County’s Samuel Odonga Otto.
It had also emerged that Kadaga and then chief Justice Bart Magunda Katureebe had advised Museveni to declare a state of emergency and push the 2021 elections ahead.
But postponing the 2021 elections would mean that Kadaga would take over as acting president, giving her an edge to use state institutions and pursue her presidential bid – as suggested by MP Otto.
Now, with elections on, Kadaga has to fight to retain both her Kamuli Woman MP seat and the speaker job. And Museveni has to fight to remain president.
Divisions between the two, or at least public display of discomfort, would not only confuse the voters but would also divide the party leaders and frustrate mobilization efforts.
The solution then would be declaration of reconciliation or a ceasefire until the battle that is January 14, 2021 election is over – then resume the war later.
For now, while Covid19 might have divided Kadaga and Museveni, the elections have united them for there are interests to pursue.