Ministers Raphael Magyezi and Wilson Muruli Mukasa consulted President Yoweri Museveni before finally deciding to quit elective politics, it has emerged.
Magyezi, the local government minister, has confirmed he will not seek reelection for the Igara West MP seat. In the same vein, Muruli, the public service minister is not standing in Nakasongola’s Budyebo County in 2021.
Read: Another Museveni Minister quits elective politics
On August 05, Magyezi revealed Museveni, also the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) chairman, had allowed him to quit elective politics.
Museveni reportedly told Muruli and Magyezi, in separate meetings, that it was better for them to quit if they were not sure of support in the heated 2021 elections.
Museveni and Magyezi, who had struggled in both NRM primary and general elections in 2016, are said to have candidly talked about the challenge awaiting the local government minister.
Although Magyezi denied he had feared his growing list of opponents, including his predecessor MP Prof Tarsis Bazana Kabwegyere, Kasambya’s Gaffa Mbwatekamwa and his 2016 closest challenger, reports from Igara West indicate that his support had dwindled.
Emphasizing that he wants a united NRM chapter in Bushenyi district, Museveni made it clear he didn’t want to lose Mbwatekamwa to People Power again after the prodigal son asked the president to forgive him.
Before he made peace with Museveni weeks ago, Mbwatekamwa was the People Power pressure group coordinator for Ankole sub-region.
Magyezi certainly learnt from the 2016 humiliation of now East African Community Affairs minister Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire of the neighboring Ruhinda County.
With NRM choosing the lining up method, the party expects to have free and fair elections and those who lose in the primaries will be required to back those who will have floored them — giving no excuse of electoral malpractice.
This means that it would be more difficult for one to use their ministerial and financial muscle to cheat their way to the NRM ticket.
The two-term MP could not rule out returning to reclaim his Igara West MP seat in post-2021.
This could be a tactical withdrawal that could help Magyezi capitalize on the mistakes of his successor for the next five years he won’t be an MP, and return to Igara West to seek votes.
In the meantime, both Magyezi and Muruli seem certain they could keep in government, pointing to a likelihood that Museveni assured them of ministerial positions.
Museveni appointed Magyezi minister at the end of 2019, almost two years since the MP championed the removal of the presidential age limit from the constitution.
Without that amendment, Museveni, in power since 1986, would not be on the the 2021 presidential election ballot.
Museveni, 75, is already the NRM sole candidate for next year’s race for the country’s top seat.
Slowly emerging as a key figure in Ankole’s politics, Magyezi is likely to make it to the 2021 cabinet if Museveni wins reelection to extend his rule to four decades.
With Magyezi among those at the helm of making decisions on creating new administrative units — constituencies and districts — some had suspected he could push through a plan to split Igara West.
But factors like size of population didn’t favour him, limiting him to the constituency he has represented since 2011: he had to either face his opponents or quit.
Opposition politicians have criticized the creation of new counties, arguing it would be an extra burden to the tax payers and would be a classical case of gerrymandering.
Read: MP Nsereko: New constituencies created to give Museveni’s NRM ‘abnormal majority’ in Parliament
However, Magyezi and the government he works for insisted the hewing of new constituencies from existing ones was within the law, meant to bring services closer to the people and to offer them better representation.
Could Magyezi, by accepting to pull out of the Igara West parliamentary seat, be working out plans to split the Bushenyi-based constituency post-2021?
LAW ON APPOINTMENT OF MINISTERS OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT
Ministers quitting elective politics could also be reading much into the rumor in corridors of parliament that cabinet might soon table a bill barring the president from appointing MPs as ministers.
Those pushing for this amendment say as ministers, elected MPs do not have time to fully execute their roles as people’s representative in the legislature.
For example, ministers are not assigned to committees of parliament, and some of them miss plenary — except when their ministries have an important bill to present or a response to make on an issue.
This divided attention — with one having to fulfill one’s responsibilities as an MP and as a minister — is what proponents of this bill seek to cure.
If such a bill went through, it could mean that no MP could qualify as a minister.
If passed before the 2021 elections, it could allow politicians to choose whether to start lobbying for ministerial appointments or courting the electorate.
Could Magyezi and Muruli be privy to information on such a plot?