INSIDE STORY: IS SPEAKER ANITA AMONG A ‘POLITICAL ACCIDENT’ & UNWANTED IN NRM?

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Additional information by Red Pepper Intelligence Unit.   By the close of 2017, the Red Pepper newspaper and the parent company had been closed by the state. A story had been published about serious bad blood between Uganda and Rwanda prompting the entire state machinery to clamp down on us.

The raid of November 8th, 2017, left the newspaper factory damaged beyond repair, all assets seized and operations halted sine die.  We had been told only the President of Uganda would give an order to reopen Red Pepper. But we had to seek him out and plead our case. For those who know, arranging a meeting with the President of Uganda is a herculean task, almost impossible.

Going through the official channels of petitioning the Principal Private Secretary (PPS) can take years. The PPS and staff rarely reply to letters or return phone calls. So you need near divine intervention to go through that path and see the President.

The easiest way is to go through someone with easy access, who can take you without going through official channels. We tried all our long retinue of friends and nobody seemed to succeed.  We wrote dozens of letters through everyone that mattered in town and in government but there was no reply.

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Even a pre-Christmas meeting between Red Pepper directors, then Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda and ministers Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, Frank Tumwebaze and David Bahati, with promises of arranging for us a meeting with the President had yielded no results.

As 2017 gave way to 2018, the situation was becoming desperate with creditors and all manner of obligations mounting. Stanbic Bank was breathing fire and brimstone, demanding for loan payments or a foreclosure.

When all hope seemed lost, one evening a call came in and a friend suggested that for any chance of meeting the President, we had to go to an FDC lady called Annet Anita Among. Who knew her among us? BenB, our then editor, had apparently been personal friends with her so we asked him to call her up.

Long story short, Among was able to deliver us to State House Entebbe, within a week and without an official appointment.

Such was and still is the power of the now speaker of parliament. And watchers say this immense power is largely to blame for her current woes, where she finds herself sanctioned by the United Kingdom, UAE with other states expected to follow cue.

In today’s Intelligence Briefing, we will unpack the genesis of Among’s current woes and how the whole drama may play out going forward.

THE RED PEPPER – STATE HOUSE MEET:  To understand the extent of Among’s power, let’s give you a few snippets of that January 23rd,2018 meeting with President Museveni which led to Museveni immediately pardoning us, dropping all court cases against the company and allowing us to function again.

When BenB had contacted Among, she immediately agreed to take us to the President. She said she would be taking five other delegations to him on that day so she would “sneak” us in as well.

We quickly bought new suits. This is because at an earlier meeting between us and President Museveni in 2003, he had joked about our dress code, saying he had expected us to come dressed like rebels. So this time we wanted to appear in our modest best.

Intelligence had told the President that a foreign country had given us lots of money to destabilize his government, so we had to be careful what we put on for the meeting.

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By 2pm, we were already at Café Javas Entebbe, waiting for Among who had already entered the State House, to call us. Around 4pm, her call came in asking us to drive to the gate of State House, where she had put a list of our names and we were quickly cleared to enter. We found her in a waiting area, with over 30 people whom she had brought to see Mzee, as she fondly calls Museveni.

The delegations included many widows and orphans from the Kasese military encounter between King Mumbere and the UPDF, in which scores had died.  She also had a delegation of the Ugandan deputy envoy to the United States of America, Dickson Ogwang, who had been forced to leave Washington Dc for allegedly beating his wife.

Ogwang was at the State House to plead his case before the President having been kicked out of the USA.

There were a host of other delegations, some of them foreigners. In total, we were about seven different groups. She started instructing us on the dos and don’ts.

“Mzee is angry with Red Pepper, so, when you get in, the first thing is to ask for his pardon. Don’t waste time….”

She went on to say, she was going to see the President first. “If I find him angry, I will first take the Kasese women and their babies. Mzee likes young children very much, they will lighten his mood,” she said.

And so after, she entered through the door and talked to the President. When she came back, she took the Kasese group first. We understood she must have found the President in a bad mood.

A while later, she came out with the Kasese people and took in envoy Ogwang.

She would later tell us that, as soon as the envoy saw the President, he fell prostrate on the red carpet and  Museveni asked him , ‘you are a man who beats his wife?.

The envoy reportedly pleaded, saying it was a mistake but that the subsequent sanction meant that his sick child who was surviving on expensive medical care in the US, would die if he did not return to the US.

Because he talked about his sick child, an irate President now cooled down and started asking how the child was fairing. The envoy was pardoned and later redeployed to an embassy in North Africa where the child could access specialized medical care.

When our turn came to go in, the President was in a jocular mood. We found him seated with Among-just the two of them-on a large conference table. No aides, no escorts, no body, just the two.

“Tindabagambiire ngu eraafe erigatsa empango?” Museveni joked as we took our seats trembling. This is a Runyankole proverb loosely meaning that “the bull that will be slaughtered provokes the knife by licking at it.”

We were very glad to meet the President and explain our case. We had been blocked severally from meeting him and lots of lies had been told to him about us. With Among prodding us on, we explained ourselves.

The meeting we had expected to be tense became jovial. We even took many pictures with the President. Then he said the state had over hammered us badly.

He gave us Ugx 100m to go and buy newsprint and restart us off. He dropped all the court charges. He even gave us copies of his book, ‘Sowing the Mustard Seed’ and a famous speech he delivered on Nelson Mandela memorial.

As we left after a very long meeting, we were all wondering and amazed by the power of Among.

WESTERN UGANDA ACTIVISTS CALL FOR SPEAKER ANITA AMONG’S RESIGNATION & ARREST

In time, Among continued to grow in power and influence because she understood how to deal with the President.

She understood which buttons to press, if she wanted anything from the head of state. She used Museveni’s love for children, for cows and for cracking stubborn opposition politicians to cement herself in his heart.

ANITA AMONG FINALLY JOINS NRM: She took to him the hardest guys in the opposition to cut deals. Then she eventually crossed to the NRM in 2020 and won for it a landslide in Bukedea.

Coming back to Kampala she convinced the President to let her be deputy speaker of parliament because the August house had become a stone in the President’s shoe.

Things were moving on well for her until her boss Jacob Oulanya died in the US in Seattle on March 20th, 2022.

Many politicians from Northern Uganda had hoped that an MP from the region would replace Oulanyah as speaker since Among already had a job as deputy for five years.

When she offered herself for the job, this angered many northern Uganda leaders.  But being the president’s blue eyed girl, she easily won the race. And that, there and then, marked the start of her woes.

Many in NRM saw her ascendency as an accident which shouldn’t have happened. They accused her of hypocrisy. Having cared so much to see her boss well treated in hospital, they wondered why she didn’t let one of their people take the job.

These people quickly teamed up with other forces in the state who had long been raffled by Among’s closeness to the President.

And she perhaps gave them more ammunition. She would tell friends that the President had told her that only two people can change his mind, his daughter Natasha and now AMONG.

The President apparently likes her so much because she doesn’t booze and fulfills assignments without telling lies, sources said.

Among has gone ahead and named some of her buildings in Bukedea after the President’s kids and in-laws.

There are dormitories named after Natasha, Charlotte Kainerugaba and Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

State sources say some powerful people take this as provocative kamanyiiro.

While such a carefree attitude of naming buildings after other peoples kids, or calling friends to a house warming party may pass as innocent, Anita didn’t realize she was stocking fury.

Such acts may not go down well in a mafia infested environment where every action is read with magnifying tinted lenses.

Such wouldn’t go down well with other power centres in government.

They started seeing her as another Idah Nantaba or Amelia Kyambadde—two ladies who had become close to the President and enlisted jealousy from other power centres.

Remember Nantaba had become so fond of the President that she could afford to call him directly and put the phone on a loud speaker for the President to address victims of Kayunga land wrangles.

Some even say, at the height of her power, Nantaba had a military jacket, an exact replica of that worn by the head of state.

To tame her, one day she was at parliament and all her SFC bodyguards were unceremoniously withdrawn. She would even survive what she thought was an assassination attempt by one Sebulime while in her constituency.

This Sebulime was later executed in the custody of police under suspicious circumstances. Nantaba thinks she was fought by the deep state and fearing the worst she has since kept quiet.

Because of Museveni’s deep trust in her, Among has led clandestine efforts to pacify South Sudan, where sources say she made a lot of money.

Our intelligence sources say Among is a victim of powerful people in NRM who see her as a threat to their influence. She is a victim of an intelligence led operation to fail her.

Her detractors want to either ensure she does not finish her term as speaker or if she scrapes through she doesn’t get a second term in 2026. We shall get back to this topic.

Does Among have a house or houses in the United Kingdom? Many watchers say it is unlikely that the UK high commissioner could seek out the President early morning to tell him wolokoso about Among.  These sources say perhaps there could be something behind the smoke.

Perhaps a property in the name of a proxy or something like that. But it is also possible that local intelligence actors could plant false information to the UK government in order to finish Among.

In fact, there is a line of comments which brings out Oulanyah’s turning in his grave whenever Among’s alleged improprieties are discussed on social media.

Some circles even ask whether Among has seen UPDF Generals calling people for house warming. These see her as a show off person. With all this in mind, could the Among troubles be a hatchet job by some local forces seeking to finish her?

Our sources answer in the affirmative.  How therefore will this play out going forward? This group has in the past fought off Amama Mbabazi, Gilbert Bukenya, Amelia Kyambadde, Mike Mukula, Idah Nantaba, Kale Kayihura…among others.

The only way to survive, sources say, is to surrender to them and do their bidding or risk being crushed.

“It is not all about misusing government money, all heads of institutions use the money under their departments the way they please, these fights are always about power,” an eligible source said.

When the NRM chairman who is also President Yoweri Museveni recently launched the party’s register update as part of the roadmap to the 2026 elections, different camps went into jostling.

A source in the NRM has told our Intelligence Briefing desk that the anticipated party elections have pitted top guns from Eastern Uganda against each other.

Among, for example has privately expressed interest in contesting for the 2nd National Vice Chairperson – Female, on the party’s top organ, Central Executive Committee (CEC).

However, sections of party members feel it is too early to allow Among ascend to an all-powerful position like that in the party.

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“They [section of NRM members] feel the Johnny-come-latelies like Speaker Among and her Deputy Tayebwa are rising at a terrific speed and they must be checked,” our source reasoned.

“Many NRM cadres feel they have done a lot for the party and should be the ones occupying such powerful positions. So, there is an element of envy in all this,” a source further explained partly the source of resentment towards Among.

IS AMONG A ‘POLITICAL ACCIDENT’ IN NRM? Some have reached the extent of referring to her as a ‘political accident’ in the NRM party and they are out to fight her through all available means overtly and covertly.

We are told the plan is to expose Among as much as possible such that by the time the powers that be make a final decision, no one will be there to sympathize with her.

We are further told the recent leaks about the speaker’s expenditure are all deliberate and intended to leave her naked and vulnerable for any eventuality.

Two sources also tell us that a cloud of uncertainty has started hanging over a possible future without President Museveni at the helm of the NRM party in the post-2031 period.

While the President is almost certain of winning the next election given the chaos that has engulfed the opposition ranks of late, NRM insiders believe by 2031, Museveni, 79, will have clocked 85 years and probably unable to effectively hold sway over the party that shall have ruled Uganda for 45 years.

At that point, some NRM members are not sure if President Museveni would also be able to bounce back, hence the young Turks like Among jostling to command influence over parliament and beyond in areas such as community groups, women groups, youth groups, the churches, and mosques.

Thus, huge sweeping changes within the party are anticipated between 2026 and 2031 as Museveni paves the way for a likely successor and many will be affected.

While the NRM policy is that a Speaker of Parliament who usually comes from the majority NRM membership is allowed to serve two terms, Among is not sure she will be Speaker in the next term now that Kadaga has silently joined the ring.

And given Museveni’s plan to redirect the party, he might rescind this policy, Among’s tacticians reveal through our sources.

“Thus the fear is that some changes may affect Among chances to bounce back for Speaker beyond 2026,” the source adds.

The camp is said to have a lot of sympathizers particularly those who are not happy with Among’s rising star who could also have the signs of the lady from the east having eyes on the presidency.

“Her wings must be clipped early by the deep state with other interests,” our sources reasoned.

We are told the plan is to politically weaken Among come 2026 and beyond after reports emerged that she too, could be having her eyes on the top seat in the near future. Her wings must be clipped early.

We recently revealed how a splinter group is emerging within the NRM and it is plotting a new party.

Highly placed sources inside the party have confided in this publication that this breakaway group largely consists of NRM honchos from the East.

And in the grand scheme of things, they anticipate this new political party to swallow Teso, Bugisu and Busoga sub regions.

Clandestine plans are underway to make sure it will have gained momentum by 2031.

This move is alive inside NRM by people who feel incumbent President Museveni will be a spent force by 2031.

This splinter group efforts are reportedly led by Among allies and another outspoken NRM male guru who sits on the party’s top organs and also hails from the same region.

Intelligence gathered shows that they have a huge following among opposition MPs and former opposition MPs who have crossed to NRM.

They also believe it is time for the East to produce a president.

Central (Buganda), North and West have had their share.  Additional information by Red Pepper Intelligence Unit.

WESTERN UGANDA ACTIVISTS CALL FOR SPEAKER ANITA AMONG’S RESIGNATION & ARREST

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