Inside the Entebbe NRM caucus meeting

At about 4pm, President Yoweri Museveni who also doubles as the NRM chairman walked into the Entebbe State House’s conference hall where his party’s MPs had been waiting since 1pm.

The three-hour-delay according to sources was due to a long queue of delegations that were waiting to meet the president.

Some of them appeared to be investors from China, according to one of the MPs that attended the meeting.

When Museveni finally walked in, the Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa called the meeting to order, and went on to tell Museveni that some of the ‘rebel’ MPs had finally returned to the caucus and were in attendance.

The party leadership blacklisted all the 27 MPs that voted against last year’s Constitutional (Amendment) Bill that deleted Article 102(b) which limited the age of aspiring presidents.

But in Wednesday’s caucus meeting at Entebbe, about 10 of the 27 ‘rebel’ NRM MPs attended. These included, Robert Migadde Ndugwa (Buvuma), Lowela CD Otekayot (Pader Woman), Sarah Temulanda (Mpigi Woman), Johnson Muyanja Ssenyonga (Mukono South) and Anthony Ssemuli (Mubende Municipality) among others.

Nankabirwa reported that other than Dokolo South MP Felix Okot Ogong who had sent her an apology for being unable to attend the meeting, the rest of the group had not given reasons for their absence.

She nonetheless told Museveni that the ‘rebel’ MPs were remorseful and want to have a meeting with him.

In response, Museveni asked Nankabirwa why she had invited the ‘rebel’ MPs without his authorization. He later said that the matter would be discussed by the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC).

He then turned to the controversial taxes on mobile money transactions and the social media, explaining to the lawmakers why government imposed a tax on the two IT products.

The explanation was not any different from what he has previously published on his social media platforms, and why the tax on mobile money should be reduced from 1% to 0.5%.

The revision to 0.5% is contained in a Bill to amend the Excise Duty (Amendment) Act 2018 that is expected to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday, July 19.

After his nearly two hours lecture,  the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development Matia Kasaija was invited to explain the changes in the tax but the MPs did not allow him to speak.

They demanded that Kasaija apologises to them for the comments he made in the media denouncing the tax.

Kasaija was adamant, and when Museveni asked him why he can’t yield to the MPs’ demand, the minister said, “Okay, I apologise.”

This only served to create more anger that Kasaija offered to make a formal apology on the floor of Parliament.

Nankabirwa then invited the MPs to make reactions to the president’s speech but in unison, the MPs said, “Let’s go with the president’s position.”