Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Natasha M7 to stand for Parliament

As Nyabushozi MP is asked to cede seat to president's brother...

KAMPALA - With just 17 months to the 2011 Presidential and parliamentary elections, first daughter Natasha Museveni Karugire is seriously considering running for the Gomba County Parliamentary seat.

Some members and friends of the first family, according to impeccable sources, have asked Natasha to take over Gomba County from Rose Najjemba. “Meetings are already going on and Natasha is giving it a serious thought,” the source said. Gomba is in Mpigi district and President Museveni has his second home, Kisozi Ranch, in the area. This constitutionally qualifies Natasha’s candidature.

Natasha, who is currently the Private Secretary to the President for Household Affairs, is backed by Janet’s facion of State House. An insider was heard saying: “We are set for everything! The aspirant (Natasha) is in a good mood and ready to take on the mantle of leadership.” Reports from Gomba indicate that Natasha already has spies on the ground to do Kakuyege (mobilization) for her.

The current MP, Rose Najjemba, is said to be extremely disturbed by the development. She is reported to be slowly falling out with the first family due to Natasha’s imminent candidature. Her impending fallout was witnessed during last week’s NRM NEC meeting at State House, Entebbe. Whereas over 400 delegates voted against the proposal of having the NRM presidential candidate determined through adult suffrage primaries, where all registered NRM members would vote on him, Najjemba showed a lot of resilience and opposed the move.

Together with Bugiri woman MP Christine Lumumba and Lyantonde LCV chairman Kyamuzigita, Najjemba continued differing with the majority even after Museveni had spoken. She narrated how it was crucial to subject Museveni to a rigorous primary. “We need to test the popularity of the candidate by subjecting him to a rigorous process. I feel it’s the only way through which we will get the best candidate,” a source quoted Najjemba as saying. Yet Najjemba is what she is because of Museveni, who gave her her first job when she confronted him as he drove in his Kisozi ranch.

Natasha, born in 1976, is a Fashion Designer and Consultant. She is married to Edwin Karugire, a city lawyer. She is Museveni’s second born child after Lt. Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, commander of the Special Forces, who was born in 1973. She is followed by Patience and Diana.

After completing her education in London, Natasha began a career as a fashion designer. Though little is known about her political disposition, Natasha is a down to earth woman, quite like her mum. One of her friends said: “I think she can make a serious politician. She likes kids and has an element of humanitarianism. Since she has the financial muscle, she can make it on humanitarian grounds, although she is shy.” She recently dedicated proceeds from the auction of her clothes (House of Kaine) to the internally displaced people’s camps in northern Uganda.

However, Natasha is not immune from controversies that have in the past surrounded the first family. In 2004, the presidency spent £70,000 (UShs240M) so she could give birth in Europe. She flew in the presidential jet to gave birth to a daughter in Germany, and was flown home a month later. Opposition politicians attacked the “waste”, but Museveni refused to apologise, saying security threats against his family left him no choice. “When it comes to medical care for myself and my family there is no compromise,” he said in a statement. In his defiant statement, Museveni said he was a constant target for assassins, who would not hesitate to use local doctors to breach his security. “I regard myself and my immediate family as principal targets for the criminal forces,” he said.

Meanwhile, all-powerful Amelia Kyambadde, the president’s principal private secretary, has upped the ante for the Mawokota County North seat. The seat is currently occupied by Peter Mutuluza. Amelia is doing serious ground work, and has already distributed thousands of piglets, chicks and fish to the locals. She obtains money from the poverty alleviation fund at State House. The minister for the presidency, Beatrice Wabudeya, recently toured Amelia’s poverty alleviation projects in Mawokota and nodded in appreciation. Yet the big story is not Amelia's cndidature; there is talk of Amelia being tipped to replace Gilbert Bukenya as Vice President in 2011 once she wins the crucial seat. Bukenya, apparently, has been short-listed for a big job at the UN.

The first family is further extending its political tentacles to Nyabushozi, the constituency of the president. The current MP, Mary Mugyenyi (former animal husbandry state minister) told a meeting in Rushere last week that she had come under a lot of pressure and would cede the seat to the president’s brother, Nzeire Kaguta. She told the meeting that she was disgusted with politics. “Due to too much pressure, I have decided to relinquish the throne to Nzeire. I’m tired, let me go and do my own things."

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