KAMPALA – The Parliamentary Advocacy Forum (PAFO) that merged with Reform Agenda to give birth to the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) comprised of those who used to challenge NRM positions mainly in Parliament. The key members of Alliance for National Transform (ANT) are both Former Members of PAFO and FDC. Since 2006 the number of Independent MPs in Parliament has been growing and without any intervention from political parties to limit them, they will exceed 25% of Parliament in 2021. Majority of the Independent MPs come from NRM strongholds where the race is usually between the NRM Flag Bearer and the NRM leaning Independent Candidate. They hide under individual merit to challenge NRM Flag Bearers. Individuals members should not be stronger than the party and should be bound by party decisions. Thus, NRM members that will go against the NRM position and get nominated to contest as independent candidates should be defeated using NRM machinery and organs.
Independent Candidates in NRM strongholds will not win if NRM publicly disowns them and takes key steps to weaken them. Some of these steps may include the public withdraw of the NRM membership cards, ensuring that NRM members don’t serve on their campaign teams (as campaign coordinators, polling agents etc.), and sensitizing the NRM Committees at village level on how to de-campaign independent candidates. The key message should be to ensure that NRM members neither support nor vote for independent candidates i.e. they should treat them the same way they treat opposition candidates.
Furthermore, the NRM members that will want to join the campaign teams of independent candidates should be required to first resign from NRM and return NRM property including membership cards.
Independent MPs have a lot of freedom as they are not bound by any party constitution. There is a high possibility that they can be influenced and funded by foreign powers to enable a merger with opposition groups like ANT and give birth to the next major opposition party in Uganda. Thus, the timely action by NRM to eliminate NRM leaning independents will make NRM stronger and eliminate any form of serious opposition in the near future.
The writer is former Vice Chancellor, Makerere University and a member of NRM