KAMPALA: When President Museveni posed with Democratic Party President Norbert Mao at State House Entebbe on Wednesday, the writing was on the wall that something was cooking in the top echelons of power.
To many, the scene was what was long coming. This is because, for many years now, Mao’s flirtations with the State House/ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) have been an open secret.
Matters came to a head when the DP President General received plaudits from First Son and Commander of Land Forces Maj Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba early this year.
“My big brother @norbertmao is the most brilliant opposition leader in Uganda today. He has Presidential skills,” Kainerugaba tweeted on February 3, 2022.
To many this was a sign of the behind-the-scenes engagements with the ruling party.
A few weeks later, Mao attacked National Unity Platform (NUP) party leaders for criticising the government decision to airlift Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah to the US for specialised treatment.
Mao said all government officials are entitled to specialised treatment if their condition is complicated, indicating that NUP leaders and supporters are not being honest in their attacks on Oulanyah.
“NUP is trying to score political goals but they are not only doing bad politicking but also bad manners. In my culture, you don’t criticise a sick person, you wait for them to heal before you attack them,” Mao said.
To many, this was a further sign of a man seeking to impress the appointing authority.
So on Thursday, July 21, 2022, when he was appointed the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in the ruling party, sources say this was a culmination of the long flirtatious relationship between Mao and Museveni.
Now, sources have intimated to this website that Mao has been tasked with passing the controversial land reforms as well as ensuring that the law is changed, allowing Parliament to elect the President.
Recently, the government released its legislative priorities for 2022/2023 financial year. Key land-related Bills on the list include the Land Acquisition Bill, Valuation Bill, Real Estates Bill, and the Land Act (Amendment) Bill. Some of these laws have been drafted while others are at early consultative stages.
Speaking during the 32nd Heroes’ day anniversary at Kololo Independence grounds, Kampala, last year, President Yoweri Museveni expressed dismay at the century long “very bad” Mailo land tenure system used in Buganda kingdom stating that it’s “an evil system”.
President Museveni who is opposed to the system that subjects land ownership in Buganda to independent kingdom laws, customs, norms, and values, said there’s a need for reforms.
Although the government isn’t planning to amend the Constitution to remove the Mailo Land Tenure System, the plan is to amend land law and make mailo land ownership meaningless.
It is alleged that the process is being spearheaded by the State minister for Lands, Dr. Samuel Mayanja.
However, the land reforms are highly popular and are expected to put the government on collision course with many agencies, cultural institutions, especially Buganda kingdom, and individuals.
However, Mao has been tasked to push these reforms through Parliament.
Also top in Mao’s in-tray is the need to push through the proposal to have the President elected by Parliament as opposed to the current universal suffrage.
A group of ruling NRM party candidates who lost in the previous parliamentary elections have been pushing through this proposal.
Describing themselves as Transformer Cadres Association Uganda with Felix Adupa Ongwech who lost in the Kioga County MP election as the president, the group proposes the creation of a Senate or Upper House in parliament.
“Members of the senate of Upper House will be nominated by political organization parties with representation in parliament. Representation in Senate will be according to strength of parties in the lower house. This is intended to rise the quality of debate in as far as legislation is concerned,” the groups said.
However, sources close to the powers that intimated to this website said that this proposal has all the hallmarks of someone bigger.
The move has been mooted to benefit President Yoweri Museveni and his successor, believed to be his son, Kainerugaba.
Mao, sources have said, has been tasked to work with the Chief Justice, Alphonse Owiny-Dollo, to ensure that these reforms are effected.