Who is Moses Kibalama Nkonge? Flash Uganda Media looks at his biography, early life, education of the former leader of National Unity Platform.
Moses Kibalama Nkonge is a Ugandan politician and former leader of National Unity, Reconciliation and Development Party (NURDP) currently National Unity Platform (NUP) headed by Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.
NURD Party has been a dormant political party known to only a few individuals until July 22, 2020, when it attracted media and public attention after it changed into NUP.
Early Life and Education
Moses Kibalama Nkonge aged 58, was born in Buwambo Village, Wakiso District. Kibalama attended Uganda Martyrs High Senior Secondary School Lubaga (O’ and A’ Level).
Later, Kibalama joined Makerere University and studied Business Administration and then Derbyshire Constabulary, Midlands, UK between 1983 and 1985 where he obtained a Diploma in VIP Protection and Escort Duties, Arms Detection and Disarmament Techniques.
Work and Experience
In December 2004, Kibalama applied to register NURD party which he has led for 16 years at the time he handed it over to Hon. Kyagulanyi. In his argument, it was time now to hand it over to young leaders.
In a media briefing, Kibalama announced that he, Kyagulanyi and the Electoral Commission signed all the legal documents and Hon. Kyagulanyi is now the new President of the National Unity Platform (NUP) former NURDP).
Reports indicate that for over a year, Bobi Wine and Kibalama had seen working out modalities to ensure People Power pressure group’s smooth takeover of NURD. The name NURDP was changed to NUP in July 2019 according to Bobi Wine’s statements.
NURDP’s official colours were navy blue, white and red. Its slogan was “we need unity, reconciliation, and development” while its symbol was an umbrella. NUP maintained the colours, symbol, however, it changed the slogan to ‘People Power, Our Power’ with red being its dominant colour.
At the official unveiling of NUP in Kamwokya, Kampala, where NUP offices are based, Bobi Wine said National Unity Platform was a political wing of the People Power pressure group. And so he lauded Mr Kibalama for being supportive of the cause and receiving the people power merger with grace.
Kibalama’s objectives were working towards reconciliation, unity and development, and once attempted to contest for the presidency. On October 2010, Kibalama picked nomination forms to challenge President Yoweri Museveni in an election for the country’s top seat but later dropped his presidential bid after failing to submit the nomination forms for presidential candidature.
So, Kibalama opted to compete for an LCV Councilor for Gombe Sub County in Wakiso District, stating that politics was not only about the presidency. He said he pulled off after he realized that everyone, including comedians, was fighting for presidential candidature. Kibalama explained that starting from the grassroots would help strengthen his party.
Before NURD formation, Moses Kibalama Nkonge had served as a police officer for 15 years where he worked as President Milton Obote’s escort, driver and bodyguard. However, after a few years of rumination, he decided to join activism to oppose the government that had waged a Bush War against his boss in the 1980s.
“I wanted to continue with politics and that’s why I registered a political party in 2004 called National Unity, Reconciliation and Development Party (NURDP). I have been doing my work and that’s why my party might have been silent for now,” he says.
Kibalama reasons that he had formed NURDP to pursue his ideals of struggling for a better democratic Uganda and that he was happy to turn it over to Bobi Wine who shared the same values. He said he handed over the party to Bobi Wine in the interest of the struggle for change.
The NURD party had 25,000 registered members but has struggled to find office space and taking the party forward.
“I know Bobi Wine is one of the leaders that proclaim the values that we as a party stand for. He is a leader of the new era and I trust that he can change the government,” Kibalama said.
He said the change of the party’s name was necessitated by the need to have a national appeal and have a shorter name, NUP. Kibalama explained that the party leadership sat on July 14, last year and resolved to change the name to NUP, because the name was too long.
After Bobi Wine acquired NURDP, political analysts said Bobi Wine was restive without a political home which had put him in a tight situation ahead of the 2021 General Election. But now with NUP, they say he has found a shelter he needed to circumnavigate the political waves in the run-up of the 2021 general elections.
Some members of the NUP led by Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine gave their brief perception about Moses Nkonge Kibalama, the man at the centre of the political storm hitting their party.
One of them said that Kibalama has a great appetite for money, and from behind the scene details, it appears Kibalama likes his money big.
In the same respect, the NUP/People Power strongman Robert Kyagulanyi denied money exchange with Kibalama at the time of NURD party take over and Kibalama initially backed him on that.
But days later, Kibalama who had earlier reported getting death threats went missing and the military took control of his home in Buwambo Village in Wakiso District, a video of him popped up on social media.
Kibalama was now claiming that Bobi Wine’s group promised him $5million (Approx.Shs18 billion) in exchange for his party.
“Of course when someone turns up with an offer as good as $5m anybody would go with it. That is how we fell into the trap, it was a good promise and we hoped so, but since we had not worked with this group we did not know them until we got closer and saw for ourselves. So when they gave us very good promise, we chose to take them on hoping for that good offer to come our way” Kibalama says in a widely shared YouTube video.
Then he said in the video, Bobi Wine has failed to meet his end of the bargain and he now wants his party back.
These revelations from Kibalama suggest that money, not the ideas of struggling for a better democratic Uganda, could have been the key motivator for him to hand over leadership of NUP to Bobi Wine.
Nevertheless, Bobi Wine and NUP administration dismissed Kibalama’s claims. They say, before making the claims and turning around to reclaim his political party, Kibalama and his former party Secretary-General had reportedly been abducted by security operatives. It is soon after his alleged abduction that Kibalama made the allegation in the video.
But the army reasoned they held Kibalama for his safety.
Responding to these allegations, Bobi Wine said Kibalama could have been compromised by the government of President Yoweri Museveni.
He and his team claim that Kibalama has been working closely with the NRM. Other sources within NUP say Kibalama has “a great appetite for money” and could have struck a better deal with the NRM.
The NUP said, in a statement, that Kibalama has appeared on TV several times confirming the legality of everything they did to change the party leadership. So, the turn of events where Kibalama wrote affidavits in court that they never followed the law surprised NUP leadership.
He had accused the NUP leaders of illegally taking over leadership of the party without going through the rightful procedures.
The NURDP party members want the court to declare that it was illegal for Kibalama to hand over leadership to Kyagulanyi and also want the court to issue an order to declare all changes illegal and the party returned to the rightful members.
But when he appeared in court on Sept 25 2020, Kibalama again shifted his position; he denied selling any party to Kyagulanyi.
“I am not aware of it (the video recording). I was not selling any political party. There is no supermarket where political parties are sold. You ask them (Bobi Wine) if they bought the party,” Kibalama informed court.
Paul Simbwa, the former Secretary-General of National Unity Platform informed the court that the Electoral Commission was duped to approve minutes and resolutions indicating that a delegate’s conference had been conducted and Robert Kyagulanyi elected as the new leader of National Unity Platform (NUP).
Simbwa, said this as he was being cross-examined before the High Court Civil Division on how the party leadership changed hands from its former leader Moses Kibalama Nkonge to Kyagulanyi. Simbwa was appearing before Justice Musa Ssekaana, the deputy head of the civil division of High Court in a case filed by two members of NURDP, Difas Basile and Hassan Twaha who were aggrieved by the said transfer of ownership and change of names.
Simbwa told the court that he and Kibalama forged minutes and resolutions approving Kyagulanyi and his current leadership.
The court heard that there was no National Delegates Conference held to facilitate the process although it was a prerequisite for the party to change its leadership, name and symbols.
Simbwa said that instead he Kibalama and Winston Kigozi, the treasurer of NURDP, sat in Kakiri, Wakiso District and forged the delegates’ conference minutes for submission to the Electoral Commission for approval.
Simbwa told the court that they had limited time to make changes as the electoral process was coming closer. He added that they had verbally agreed that “When things come out properly,” they would be given USD 5M (18billion Uganda shillings).
Simbwa further disclosed that the group also agreed that some of the leadership position would be left for the founding members of the NURDP, which however was not done.
The judge, however, got angry with the witness at one point, complaining that he was making contradictory statements. “Do not talk that rubbish here. Do not think we are all fools. Go and say that in your Bufundas somewhere, “said Ssekaana.
NUP lawyer to Simbwa
During a cross-examination during the court session, NUP lawyer Medard Lubega Sseggona asked Simbwa if he knew the political implication of submitting false returns to the Electoral Commission. Sseggona also asked Simbwa to explain why he did not ask the EC to intervene and resolve their grievances.
In response, Simbwa said that he never wanted to involve the EC because he knew that he was part of the group that forged the minutes and decided to keep the grievances he described as irreconcilable to be internal.
Earlier on, the court heard from Kibalama who was tasked to explain why he swore two affidavits with several inconsistencies, on the same day. In one affidavit Kibalama was saying the changes made in NUP were done following the party rules and was signed at a later time, while in the other, he disputed the same statements, but signed earlier that the first.
Kibalama said in the first affidavit, he had been approached by the lawyers from Wameli and company Advocates who gave him documents to sign without giving him time to read through and comprehend what he was signing.
Subsequently, Kibalama consulted his lawyers who advised him that he had erred. He then vowed before the court that he will never sign any document again before reading it.
At one point, Kibalama was asked to tell the court the name of his lawyer but only pointed at him citing that he was given to him by a friend identified as Prosper when he was recently under state protection in Mbale district.
In the court, Kibalama kept taking medication at one time, laughing and moments later crying during the proceedings. Kibalama later told the court his concern with the current leadership of NUP, was that they sidelined him and his members as soon as they took over his party.
But Electoral Commission lawyer Eric Sabiiti asked Kibalama why he didn’t make use of the National Consultative Forum to be guided after being aggrieved by the actions of the current to make recommendations to the DPP to institute criminal proceedings against Kibalama.
In the same proceedings, Kibalama disowned a video that went viral on social media in which he was captured saying that he was promised USD 5 Million to sell his party to Kyagulanyi. He said that political parties were not for sale.
Presiding judge Musa Ssekaana ordered the partied to make written submissions by October 6 to enable him to make his judgment in the matter on October 16 2020.
“I was neither tortured nor beaten. I’m under UPDF’s protection. Some people want to harm me.”
Bobi Wine’s statement after the court session
Addressing the media soon after the court session, the current NUP leader Kyagulanyi claimed that Moses Kibalama had been tortured.
“He is clearly under detention and he is not expressing his free will,” Kyagulanyi said adding that “I want to ask all of you peace loving Ugandans. Pray for Kibalama. Those who can demand for his freedom, i told him to be strong, because he is in a situation I was in when in detention in Arua. Unfortunately we do not have the same strength levels. Do not castigate him but pray for him, and demand for his freedom.”
Kibalama however later in the day called a press conference and denied Bobi Wine’s allegations that he had been tortured. He was photographed at the briefing at Mosa Courts having a beer.
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesman, Brig. Flavia Byekwaso also denied what Kibalama had told the court earlier about his meeting with the CDF Gen David Muhoozi.
Brig Byekwaso has made clarifications on allegations by Moses Nkonge Kibalama who today confessed to the judge that he was being held against his will. It was a dramatic conclusion for the day.
It had all started early when judge Ssekaana had temporarily stopped the hearing of the case. The proceedings were halted temporarily after the rowdy supporters of the NUP Principal Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu stormed the court in big numbers demanding to attend the session. But the courtroom was locked by counter-terrorism police officers to block the hundreds of NUP supporters from joining the session.
The turn of events began in July 2020, when Kibalama announced that his NURDP has re-branded and morphed into NUP and that he had ceded the party’s leadership to Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.
However, days later, people claiming to be NURDP founders petitioned the EC seeking for the nullification of the party’s name change process and the appointment of Bobi Wine as president and 2021 flag bearer.
The petitioners were Lillian Odinga and Edward Seremba. Through their lawyer James Byamukama, the group says the change of the party’s name, colour and symbol was illegal and contravened its constitution and national laws.
In their petition to the EC chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama, the ‘founders’ further claim that Bobi Wine got the party’s nomination as a presidential candidate in 2017, years before the nomination process even started.
This, they argue was illegal, and contrary to NURDP’s constitution and the laws of the land.
They also punched holes on July 14, 2020, delegates’ conference that “rubber-stamped” Bobi Wine’s appointment as party president, saying only 51 of the 400 delegates were in attendance.
Through their lawyer, the founders said they wanted to restore control of the party to its rightful founders and members. But, Kibalama denied knowledge of these ‘co-founders,’ saying their names “do not appear anywhere on the register of the party.”
“We don’t know if they actually exist but if they ever came up, we will sue them for impersonation; we will certainly go for them,” Kibalama threatened.
Electoral Commission’s Reaction
Reacting to the development, the Electoral Commission said it was reviewing a petition challenging how Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine became president and presidential flag bearer of National Unity Platform.
EC Chairperson Simon Byabakama argued that the commission did not know that the people who applied to change the name from NURDP to NUP were not authorized to do so by the party members.
Byabakama said that when then party president, Moses Kibalama Nkonge wrote to them last year, changing the National Unity Reconciliation and Development Party to NUP, they had no reason to suspect he didn’t have the authorization of the party members.
Byabakama’s explanation follows a letter written to the commission by members of NURDP querying how the name and the leadership of their party had changed.
The members questioned the entire extraordinary delegates conference alleged held on July 14 2020, and attended by only 51 unverified members out of a delegate’s member list of 400 delegates.
The meeting allegedly rubberstamped Kyagulanyi as the new party president and his associates as party office bearers without conducting a proper election. But this, the petitioners said, violated the party’s constitution and provisions in the national constitution on internal democracy of political parties.
Byabakama confirmed receiving the letter and said that the EC legal department is studying it to see whether they have any remedies and if not they advise the authors to seek court redress.
”We shall look at the petition looking at the leadership of Mr Kyagulanyi of that party,” Byabakama added. On the contested red colour between NUP and the Uganda People’s Congress, Byabakama said the red colour is synonymous with the UPC and therefore, NUP is using it illegally.
Byabakama told the press that according to their documents, NUP has registered a white umbrella with a blue background as their colours. Therefore, for them to seek to change over them, the law requires that they first write to the Electoral Commission and then wait for the same to be gazette for the change to become effective.
But although they wrote, Byabakama says that the change could not be effected because red had already been gazette for UPC. ”UPC which has been in existence for as long as we can remember its dominant colour is red. NUP applied to change its colour, the colour of its symbol whatever it is with red and blue against a white background. In other words with red as a dominant colour, t is within the law, I think, Section 11 of the Organisations and Political Parties Act.”
”The Electoral Commission is the superintendent of political parties. 16 years ago, these people went and registered this political party with the EC and had all those colours approved.”
Bobi Wine was elected unopposed as the president, David Lewis Rubongoya as Secretary-General, deputized by Aisha Kabanda, Flavia Kalule Nabagabe as Secretary for Women, Joel Ssenyonyi as the Publicity Secretary and Fred Nyanzi as the Secretary for mobilization.