Although those attending the retreat claim that the purpose of their presence is to lobby for NRM support amendments to the Constitution, the chairperson of the Independents Caucus Sam Otada says their presence in Kyankwanzi depicts betrayal and deviation from the principles of Independence.
The accusation is based on the presence of a number of independent legislators at the ongoing NRM Caucus retreat at the National Leadership Institute, Kyankwanzi.
At least 35 out of the 43 Independent MPs were invited to attend the 8-day retreat, an invitation which was honored by several of them. Notable among those seen at the meeting were Mariam Nalubega, Fox Odoi, Kafeero Ssekitoleko, Haruna Kasolo, Vincent Ssempija, Rosemary Nawat, Jacob Oboth-Oboth, Rose Lilly Akello, Cadet Benjamin and Dr. Sam Okuonzi.
NRM's Secretary General, Justine Kasule Lumumba said the Independents were lobbying for support on a number of constitutional amendments needed ahead of the next general election in 2016.
One of the amendments seeks to Article 83(1)(h) of the Constitution which forces Independent Members of parliament to forfeit their seats once they join any political party. The independents argue that such a provision unfairly denies them â€˜a right to belong.'
But the chairperson of the Independents Caucus Sam Otada dismisses the claim saying the attendance tantamount to crossing to NRM-O.
//Cue In: "Once somebody isâ€¦
Cue Outâ€¦for our democracy//
Similarly, the Independents caucus spokesperson, Gerald Karuhanga says the caucus has never endorsed the group to represent their interests. He instead faults the members for pushing for personal interests.
//Cue In: "There was no meetingâ€¦
Cue Outâ€¦lying to the nation//
//Cue In: "Tetunaba kutuulaâ€¦
Cue Outâ€¦eyo nsobi yabwe//
In 2013, a voter dragged Mawokota South MP, Kenneth Kiyingi Bbosa, to the Constitutional Court on grounds that he attended an NRM retreat in Kyankwanzi despite being in parliament as an independent member. The case was dismissed by Justice Remmy Kasule on grounds that there was no evidence that he had crossed to NRM.