Tomorrow (Thursday December 16, 2021) is the day the Electoral Commission scheduled for the Kayunga district by-election. And following the cessation of the campaigns, voters in Kayunga district will go to the polls to choose their LC5 district chairperson to replace late Feffeka Sserubogo whose life tragically ended in bizarre circumstances when he was found hanging on a rope. The by-election has attracted six candidates including National Unity Platform’s (NUP) Harriet Nakwedde, National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) Andrew Muwonge, and Democratic Party’s (DP) Anthony Waddimba. Others are independents: Boniface Musisi Bandikubi
(NRM-leaning), Nyanzi Majidu (Nantaba-backed & NRM-leaning) and Kamoga Jamiru Feffeka (NUP-leaning).
According to reports so far gathered on ground, the race is between NUP’s Nakwedde who is by far the likely victor as per local opinion polls and NRM’s Andrew Muwonge.
During the past weeks, NUP and NRM camps have intensified vote hunting for their candidates, with NUP’s cause being boosted by party bigwigs including Fred Nyanzi Ssentamu, betty Nambooze and area politicians including Bbaale County MP Charles Tebandeke, and Ntenjeru South MP Patrick Nsanja and Joseph Ouma; both of whom recently defected from the NRM party, among others.
Our field inspectors have closely followed events in Kayunga and here is a detailed investigative analysis on the issues that put NRM at a disadvantage of likely being trounced tomorrow:
NUP’S STRONG STRATEGY, CREATIVE LEADERS
Whereas many NRM strategists have continued to undermine NUP as a party for lumpens, it is clear that in many instances, the opposition party has outsmarted the ruling party in terms of strategy. The same has played out in Kayunga and is not surprising that NUP has managed to gather bigger rallies than NR M’s throughout the campaign period for this by-election. To begin with, in Nakwedde, NUP chose a more formidable candidate than NRM which zeroed on Muwonge. It should be noted that unlike Muwonge who only elevated himself from youth politics to come and stand for the district seat, Nakwedde is running in her fourth electoral campaign. Hitherto a staunch NRM supporter and councilor, Nakwedde crossed to opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) to compete against NRM Florence Nayiga Ssekabira in the 2011 Kayunga Woman MP elections. She lost to Nakabira but returned in 2016 to stand against Idah Nantaba, who trounced her. In the previous elections, Nakwedde crossed to NUP and nearly trounced Nantaba in a heavily controversial poll which was heavily meddled by Kayunga political bully Karangwa Kariisa who also fielded his daughter.
Analysts however say that overtime, the Busaana-born Nakwedde has gained ground. Local political pundits say that having come second to Nantaba, NUP was wise to choose her over Jamiru Kamoga, the son of Late Feffeka Sserubogo. But most importantly, she also boasts of the woman’s bloc vote, being the sole lady in the race.
Sources say that while Kamoga was earlier thought to be in position to ride on the sympathy vote like Florence Nebanda, Proscovia Alengot, among others; a NUP local poll found Nakwedde to be more popular than the late Chairman’s son. It should be remembered that a similar poll was used in the previous election when 22 parishes out of 24 in Bbaale county picked Tebandeke as flag bearer ahead of a perceived more popular Denis Katongole Omutongole of the Beat FM fame. Much as the decision perplexed many onlookers, the party would be vindicated when Tebandeke raked a landslide of over 12,000 votes, beating his runner-up by over 5000 votes.
But bar the choice of the right candidate, NUP’s fortunes have also been boosted by the industriousness of its leaders. It is worth noting that currently, NUP boasts 2 of the 3 direct MP slots in the district. Going by the previous polls, Tebandeke dislodged NRM from its Bbale county stronghold while Nsanja who identifies as a NUP took the populous Kangulumira and Nazigo sub-counties to Bobi Wine’s party. Intriguingly, Nsanja is a mirror of NRM’s increasing crumble in Kayunga.
This is because during the primaries, he stood against then incumbent Fred Baseke in the Ntenjeru south NRM MP party primaries. He however lost to Baseke whom he claimed rigged him out with the assistance of the district party bigwigs. He thus defected to NUP and stood against Baseke as a NUP-leaning candidate. Sources say he teamed up with Nakwedde and was thus instrumental in helping her perform very well in Kangulumira and Nazigo sub-counties where she defeated Nantaba.
Nakwedde also posted strong results in the urban Kayunga Town Council and her cradle of Busaana sub-County. She was however decisively beaten in Galiraaya and Bbaale sub-counties where Nantaba is a darling having concentrated her fight against Karangwa and his land grabbing cartel in those two areas. Nakwedde was also undone by the fact that apart from Nantaba’s popularity in Bbaale and Galiraya, Karangwa also hails from the same area and as such his daughter managed to get a sizeable bloc vote from there.
Now, Nakwedde’s chances have been emboldened by the fact that this time round, Nsanja and Tebandeke have teamed up to lead her campaign effort. The beauty with this is that the NUP wave still reigns in Kayunga since NRM has not done much to redeem its image in the district. The current covid-19 mismanagement has increased poverty countrywide thus causing much polarization between the led and the leaders. “There’s a general feeling that the lockdown only benefits the political class while the citizens are being punished over something yet to be disclosed,” a source revealed while revealing the general feeling of the voters on ground. As such, many voters are waiting to again cast a protest vote against NRM like was the case in the previous general election.
TEBANDEKE’S RARE TOUCH
And particularly for the case of Bbale, Tebandeke has distinguished himself as a top performing MP thus endearing himself to the voters. Sources say he is a hands-on man with a knack for touching the real problems of the people. For instance, he was recently credited for writing an SOS letter to Prime Minister Nabbanja to address the plight of hundreds of Galiraaya sub county residents that were displaced by floods. Indeed, premier Nabbanja went to the troubled area and the residents openly noticed Tebandeke’s efforts. Already, he has outsmarted former NRM MPs in Kumama, Madada by buying an ambulance that is used to transport pregnant mothers and other patients in remote areas of Kayunga to hospitals. Also, through his “Bbaale ku ntikko” drive, he has launched a fisherman’s approach to empowering youth. Oftentimes, he has visited stone quarries, bodaboda stages and gardens where he finds youth and other constituents and gives them implements to use in their jobs as opposed to money tokens. For instance, he gives fuel to boda boda cyclists to use for business purposes and now locals are aware that he has no money to give to idlers. He also gave quarrying tools to stone crushers in Bbale as well as hoes to farmers. The emphasis is finding people at their duty stations. He also recently launched a tree planting campaign to address the massive deforestation in Bbale County since most forests have been cleared by land grabbers for sugar cane growing while other trees were heavily cut down for charcoal burning.
“Already, people are saying they did the right thing to vote out NRM because it has given them a chance to get better performing MPs who are dedicated to uplifting people’s lives. That tells you that it is easier for people to accept a candidate such a performing MP supports rather than the NRM candidate whose party is associated with empty promises and non-performance,” a source said.
We have learnt that while NRM’s weakness is in popularizing its programs on ground, NUP has mastered the art of drumming about its small achievements. Tied within this is also the venom with which they demonize NRM achievements and twist them in their favour. This was clearly pointed out by former NUP mobiliser-turned NRM presidential advisor, Jennifer Nakanguubi aka Full Figure. While appearing on a recent talk show, she noted that NUP had completely obliterated NRM when it came to mobilizing support for their candidate in this by-election. Full Figure decried that despite NRM carrying heavy personnel led by Prime Minister Nabbanja, Hon. Rose Senninde and Godfrey Kiwanda among others, the party’s vibe wasn’t felt in Kayunga, with very few people coming to their rallies.
Conversely, NUP with less prominent people was attracting very huge rallies. More concern though stemmed from the lack of vibe even on social media for the Kayunga election, while NUP was all over the net with live feeds done by its agents. In its messages, NUP has been majorly preaching the gospel of change, well knowing that many people especially youth have political fatigue from NRM’s overstay in power. Relatedly, the incarceration of MPs Muhammad Ssegirinya and Allan Ssewanyana has been prominent, with NUP campaigners convincing voters that government has resorted to blackmail of innocent Ugandans. In fact, the NUP gurus claimed that the government was behind the recent Bijambiya attacks and instigated them with the aim to frame opposition politicians. They thus told masses to give Nakwedde votes as a way of immunizing Ugandans against NRM’s newfound torturous stance.
NUP’s current tactic is reminiscent of the previous election when NRM MP Nsamba Kumama successfully lobbied for the Kyerima-Lukonda-Kitimbwa ring road. Incidentally, this is the only tarmac road in Bbaale County and comes off the murram Kayunga-Bbaale-Galiraya road. We have gathered that while this road would have helped Nsamba and his NRM party garner votes, the NRM quietly launched the road and failed to explain to people that it was part of a national pilot project. This gave opportunity to NUP
guys to claim that the isolated ring road which leads to a wetland was built to aid the grabbing of land from people in that area by the government since oil had been discovered in that place. They added that the strange road was therefore built to aid the transportation of fuel by the oil looters’ trucks.
NUP is also buoyed by acting Chairperson Joel Kayiira’s ability to drum about small achievements he has managed to score in this short time of holding office. Recently, for instance, he convinced locals that he had managed to prevail upon a contractor who did shoddy work on a government school in Busaana to rebuild it for being substandard. Many locals are thus convinced that NUP leaders are performers and hence voting Nakwedde is the only way to get better services.
NRM POOR STRATEGY, ENDLESS FIGHTS AND DEFECTIONS
According to local analysts, the ruling party would still be formidable but structural problems within its leadership have prevented it from rebranding its image within the district. For starters, the party is said to have failed to attract fresh blood, leaving the same players on the party’s political scene yet most of these are soiled individuals.
As clearly highlighted by the president and NRM party national chairman during his address at Kayonza, the party is divided between Moses Karangwa and Idah Erios Nantaba as the ultimate polarizing figures. Sadly, each of their factions work to annihilate the other instead of working for the party’s good.
SPLITTING THE VOTE
Going into tomorrow’s polls, it is clear that the party’s vote is heavily fragmented and the cause is the Karangwa-Nantaba feud. For instance, it is common knowledge that once the party executive zeroed on Muwonge as the party’s flag bearer, Nantaba single-handedly threw her weight behind kayunga town council mayor, Nyanzi Majidu. The trouble in this is that it has automatically weakened the NRM vote. For starters, results from the previous general elections show that Harriet Nakwedde is very strong in Patrick Nsanja’s Ntenjeru South (Kangulumira and Nazigo sub counties). Her only threat there is DP’s Anthony Waddimba, who is very weak in this race. She is thus expected to win those places with a landslide; with the area having been the source of majority of Bobi wine’s votes in Kayunga in the previous polls. Nakwedde is also expected to win in Kayunga town council where she also performed very well in the MP elections.
It is imperative to note that being born at Namagabi, Muwonge hails from Kayunga town council and so would be expected to win it. Trouble though is that even in the last polls, he lost his home area to NUP’s Feffeka Sserubogo. It is therefore possible that he could still lose to Nakwedde, with some votes also likely to go to Sseubogo’s son Kamoga.
Nakwedde’s only challenge could have been Busaana Sub County because it is the same area where Nantaba-backed Nyanzi also hails from. However, if rallies are to go by, it is evident that Kasota village born Nakwedde has beaten Kireku born Nyanzi hands down; with the latter literally going unnoticed. That shows that Nakwedde still maintains her voters from her birth area. This thus means that the major hotspot will be Bbaale and Galiraya sub counties.
Local analysts however say that Muwonge’s chances there are affected by the other two NRM candidates in the race namely Boniface Bandikubi, who hails from Kasokwe in Galiraya sub county and Nantaba’s candidate Nyanzi. To begin with, this is the area which has been most affected by land grabbing majorly courtesy of Karangwa and it is where Nantaba’s works have been most visible. It is thus thought that with Nantaba freshly energized by president Museveni’s praises, her candidate is likely to perform well. Sources say that Museveni’s recognition of Nantaba’s fight against land grabbers was a major indictment to Karangwa and the NRM candidate Muwonge since Karangwa is seen as the poster boy for land wrangles in Kayunga. Locals therefore view any candidate he supports as an agent of land grabbers.
Coming to Bandikubi, he has been a long time politician in Galiraya where he served as councilor for Galiraya sub county in 2006-2011 during which time he went on to become district speaker and later acting district chairman following the interdiction of Chairman Thomas Mulondo on charges of abuse of office. Since then he has been a perennial contestant and in the recent polls he was third behind Muwonge and eventual winner, late Feffeka Sserubogo.
He is thus not a pushover especially with him boasting of a small bloc vote from his former students at St. Boniface SS Kasowke for which he is proprietor. Being the one of the only two secondary schools in Galiraya sub county, the school has churned out so many students since its inception in 1999; who are now of voting age. Nakwedde’s chances in this area are dependent on the influence of Tebandeke who managed to defeat NRM’s Kumama alongside a host of about 7 other contestants to become area MP.
GRUMBLING YOUTHS, DEFECTING MOBILISERS
Before taking a shot at the LC5 chairmanship slot, Andrew Muwonge was the chairman Kayunga district youth league. However, his tenure has been characterized by grumbles and fights, with members accusing him of advancing Karangwa’s interests instead of working for youth empowerment.
For instance, we have learnt that some members of the district youth executive like Kayemba Ivan, Mukasa Samuel among others rejected working with Muwonge after cows the party had sent to the district to be given to the youth somehow went missing. It is said that the ten cows were discovered to have somehow ended up at a prominent party executive’s farm at a fee of Shs500,000 each. Incidentally, many of these disgruntled youth are on Nyanzi Majidu’s campaign trail instead of Muwonge’s. Muwonge is also accused of being a weak orator and is said to have done little talking at rallies; instead leaving the party elders like Nabbanja, Sseninde, Kiwanda, Rogers Mulindwa to speak for him yet they are not even area locals.
Apart from the cracks within the youth league, there’s a huge rift between the youth and the old guards. For instance, sources revealed that the youth are disgruntled that each time there are campaigns, the old guard leave the youth to do the groundwork but when facilitation comes, they are quickly sidelined and the money shared amongst the oldies.
This possibly explains why Full Figure observed the glaring lack of crowds. Unfortunately the youth revealed to us that the same has happened.
“The Prime Minister and her team came here but still overlooked us and they have been moving around with the old party members like Madada, Kumama and others yet these are people that are no longer popular within the masses. It is the youth that have the energy to move to very corner of Kayunga but we are left behind because they want to eat all the money alone,” said one of the youth leaders in Kitimbwa, preferring to remain anonymous.
These money fights do not only end with youth, with other party mobilisers also grumbling about discriminative distribution of funds. For instance, it emerged recently that even before the party’s budget for the by-election was announced, the district party leaders warned the NRM Secretariat against snubbing them in terms of funding. Kaggwa Kasolo, the Kayunga Town Council NRM chairperson warned that they would not campaign for the party flag bearer if they are not well facilitated. He was backed by Diriisa Kimbugwe, a mobiliser at Busaana who blasted the party secretariat for always sending alien mobilizers and facilitating them to ostensibly campaign in Kayunga where they have no influence at all— yet the NUP campaign is majorly spearheaded by resident politicians like Tebandeke and Nsanja.
In fact, such grumbles have been persistent and have partly led to defections of key mobilizers to other parties.
For instance, recently the district publicity secretary Kizza Mutwalibu abruptly announced his resignation during a meeting chaired by Karangwa at Ntenjeru. Prophesying doom for the party in tomorrow’s polls, a furious Kizza was bitter that he is sidelined each time the party sends money to the district. A limping Kizza then brought all his party paraphernalia and threw it at Karangwa. He bemoaned the discrimination within the party, narrating that his leg was badly injured during the previous general elections campaign but he received no help whatsoever to get treatment; putting his leg at the risk of amputation.
He thus vowed to join a rival party.
Kizza’s defection followed that of Joseph Ouma, who was the Kayunga District NRM secretary General. Ouma defected to NUP, accusing the party of engaging in vote-rigging and bribery. He is now on Nakwedde’s campaign team together with Patrick Nsanja, who also defected to NUP citing voter rigging, discrimination and lack of transparency within NRM.
Nsanja is now in charge of Nakwedde’s vote protection team, saying he brings efficient expertise having worked with NRM and known all their rigging tricks. “We only have one position to vote for. I have been moving with the NRM party and I know they’re good at rigging votes but this time they should understand the team I have joined is ready to protect its votes,”
Nsanja’s claims tie in well with reports that emerged last night that a team led by Premier Nabbanja was giving shs4000 to each voter to vote NRM party candidate Andrew Muwonge. The irony is that many of these voters were threatening to vote NUP’s Nakwedde. While a section of them were angry that the money was meagre yet they were summoned to pick it late in the night, others utterly said they will eat the money but vote the NUP candidate. These openly displayed the money in a clip that went viral on BBS TV aka Terefayina. Earlier on, we had got reports that this team had distributed such monies in eateries all over Kayunga.
SSERUBOGO, SYMPATHY VOTE FACTOR
The structural challenges put aside, NRM also faces the threat of a sympathy vote to NUP relating to the death of Sserubogo. It has emerged that while the postmortem report indicated that the late chairperson committed suicide, many locals are convinced that he could have been murdered by people who wanted to dispossess NUP of that slot. It is because of such sentiments that Sserubogo’s son Kamoga was pushed to stand. However, it is now clear that while he would get some few votes, the sympathy votes will likely go to NUP as a party. NRM was also hard done-by by Tuesday’s skirmishes that left some NUP big shots with injuries. According to many locals, this showed that NRM is already scared of the vote and thus decided to resort to intimidation.
People also were angered by the Police’s refusal of Bobi Wine to go to Kayunga. This explains why president Museveni made a quiet entry into Kayunga, with many people opting to deny him a grand welcome since his party had decided not to level the ground.
The general outlook shows that NRM is in a tight spot now but it remains to be seen how it will turn the tide in the remaining few hours!