MATHIAS MPUUGA SPOTLIGHT, CENSURE POLITICS AND THE BROADER PICTURE

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Four months ago, Mathias Mpuuga, the Nyendo-Mukungwe MP was still flamboyantly flying his coat and necktie as Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LoP) on the ticket of a recently formed National Unity Platform (NUP) which he, and other DP-Buganda politicians joined on the eve of 2021 general elections. It is still early to determine with finality if Mpuuga has come to the end of his teether, but he has increasingly become a lone traveler towards a sad ending of opportunistic political cohabitation. 

It must be energy draining being in continuous political pain generated by his fellow NUP leaders over the last eight months where, Mpuuga is generating a bloodletting hard to see when and how all ends. Mpuuga and a host of DP MPs in 2020 abandoned DP due to disagreements with Norbert Mao, its president General for a decade, and a half accusing him of running DP into ground, and secretly hobnobbing with President Yoweri Museveni, for which they have been vindicated.

On an essentially ethno-tribal and religious sectarian election campaign, NUP drove a political wave that swept the National Resistance Movement (NRM) from large swathes of Buganda, a hitherto stronghold that even the boisterous Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) under the sharped-edged Kizza Besigye Kifefe had failed to break.

In his dying days as LoP, Mpuuga almost outdone himself falsely accusing government of grotesque human rights violations including ‘disappearances’ of persons hoping to provide a political lifeline until the 2026 election. Seeing Mpuuga running away from his NUP trailers today, while hiding in plain view over accusations that he and threesome NRM backbench commissioners irregularly and corruptly awarded themselves 1.7bn, they christened ‘service award’, hardly a year into office, one cannot help, but pity his ending among hounds.

The threesome of Solomon Silwany (Bukholi), Esther Afoyochan (Zombo), and Prossy Akampurira (Rubanda) are said to be quite loathed within the NRM caucus seen as the perfumed embodiment of political arrogance who should be culled. But they could still be saved by Speaker Anita Among or President Museveni who carry more favours within parliament. Their status is made worse by not much know beyond their rural constituencies. But unlike Mpuuga, they can pass unnoticed along Kampala Road.

Without pouring cold water on Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga) censure efforts, many colleagues hitherto considered him like late Aggrey Awori, as repellant personality whose hands never, previously brought good fruits. In the unlikely event that the censure motion aided by Sarah Achieng Opendi (Tororo) sees light, it could be dimmed in Abdu Katuntu’s Rules and Privileges Committee, or on the House floor. MPs who have publicly spoken for the censure motion, have given flimsy reasons often coming off as petty, greedy, vendetta-habouring, and unserious backing up a greasy tree, as if they didn’t approve the parliamentary budget. The reports of blackmail, bribery, and intimidation in the signature collection, too could dent the process. 

As Mpuuga like FDC’s Patrick Amuriat Oboi struggles to reinvent himself, he is already seared in recent political memory. As for NUP-Robert Kyagulanyi faction, hounding Mpuuga, except for electoral opportunism, it is hard to see its trajectory countrywide. Early pointers indicate that individually many MPs from across the political isles are feted to be felled in the next election which should be a real bedwetter for them, although NRM even with its inertia will still get a victory.

The last many years of solid NRM majority hasn’t magically translated into faster economic growth rates, shared prosperity, or delivered an effective public service, let alone a parliament built on good purpose. A huge majority has meant spending more energy and resources keeping fractious NRM MPs contented rather than productive. Size is good, but NRM isn’t doing much with it lately.