A ten-minute phone exchange between President Yoweri Museveni and Kayunga district Woman MP Idah Nantaba greatly changed the dynamics of the recent Kayunga by-election, The Inspector can exclusively report.
Sources privy to this conversation between the two eminent NRM politicians have intimated to our Inspectors that had the President managed to have his demands met by the beautiful legislator, then the NRM party wouldn’t have applied full brutal force in the election which to many observers will go down as the most controversial poll in Uganda’s history.
“The election defied all laws of politics, logic and Math due to the blatant indifference the ruling party exhibited while seeking victory. It was an unfortunate hook or crook affair,” said one of the MPs who was arrested on the eve of the polls.
Already, NUP candidate Harriet Nakwedde has kicked off the process to contest the NRM victory in court while NRM’s Muwonge swore in as the district chairperson earlier this week. Currently though, the ruling party is fighting to justify its win in Kayunga, with many observers believing that it stole the victory after employing a victory-at-all-cost approach.
Now our sources say that this resolve to win the vote at all costs stemmed from a sharp disagreement President Museveni had with Nantaba. Apparently, Nantaba decided to depart from the party interests by fronting Kayunga town council mayor Nyanzi Majidu instead of backing party candidate Muwonge. This, sources say, rattled the president who is also NRM National Chairman. “The president and the NRM party know how critical Kayunga is and so would want the party leadership there to be united so as to strengthen the government’s grip on Kayunga. He therefore preferred that all party top cadres in the district take the party position and rally behind Muwonge; yet Nantaba chose to act otherwise,” a source said.
It is worth noting that in the previous general elections, Bobi Wine heavily defeated President Museveni in Kayunga, getting just 35% of the vote while the young singer polled over 60%. This worried the president and the NRM and this manifested when, while campaigning for Muwonge at Kayonza, he asked the district party bosses to explain how he only got 35% yet the people seemed to love him!
We have learnt that before setting off for Kayunga, the President sent the advance team led by Rose Senninde and group, and later by Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja to ensure they run a united campaign. High on the agenda, according to sources, was ensuring that Nantaba withdraws her candidate Nyanzi Majidu so that she rallies behind party-anointed candidate Muwonge Andrew. However, this team failed to achieve this target, largely due to the sharp animosity between Nantaba and her nemesis Moses Karisa Karangwa.
Sources say that with the failure of the advance team’s efforts, President Museveni took it upon himself to convince Nantaba to see sense in withdrawing her candidate, especially given that the vibe on the ground gave NUP’s Nakwedde an upper hand.
A source privy to this matter revealed that when the president approached Ssezibwa Bridge, he called Nantaba on his kabiriti phone.
“This is Yoweri Museveni. I have called you to ask you to tell candidate Nyanzi Majidu to withdraw from the race and rally behind the party candidate Andrew Muwonge,” the president is quoted to have said.
According to our sources, at that time Nantaba was with Nyanzi and his team heading to Galiraya Sub County for their last campaign.
“Your Excellency, with due respect I can’t withdraw the candidate because I’m not the one who brought him. He’s old enough to make independent decisions. For me I’m just his supporter,” Nantaba is quoted to have responded.
It is said that at this juncture, the President told Nantaba to stop her cheap games, reminding her that party unity and interests were bigger than anyone’s individual interests; not even Museveni himself.
However, Nantaba stuck to her defiance. “Okay, give me Nyanzi Majidu’s phone,” the president reportedly told Nantaba — which she did.
Our sources say that indeed, in pursuit of party unity, the President later called Nyanzi, who by that time was already in Galiraya.
“Nyanzi I want you to come to Kayonza and announce your withdrawal from the race. I want you to support the party candidate Muwonge for the good of the party,” the president is quoted as having told Nyanzi. However, Nyanzi refused the president’s proposal.
“Your Excellency I have already pumped too much money and resources into the campaign so it may not be possible to withdraw at this time. Besides, I’m already in Galiraya so it is not possible for me to come to Kayonza,” Nyanzi said. At this juncture, the President who was attentive told Nyanzi not to worry about resources as every penny he had so far pumped into the campaigns was to be refunded to him, on top of other compensatory perks.
Despite this promise from ‘Nanyini sente’, Nyanzi refused, telling the president, “Muwonge is very weak so I can’t withdraw for him. Let’s go to the ballot and the people decide!”
Sources say that this belligerence from Nantaba enraged Museveni so much and is the reason why during his address to party leaders at Kayonza, he blasted individuals like Nantaba and Karangwa who thought they were bigger than the party. He also scoffed at the claim that Muwonge was a weak candidate, saying the party candidate cannot be weak if he/she has support of the entire party.
It is said that such talk was a muted information signal to the vote hunters in Kayunga to ensure that they fight tooth and nail to prove his theory. And indeed, Nabbanja and group went out of their depth and did everything possible to disprove Nantaba and Nyanzi and in the end, the party chairman’s theory was proved to be an undisputed reality!