HOW BUGWERI POLL COULD DEMISTIFY BOBI WINE
By Our Reporters
With NRM done with its primaries (disputedly won by Racheal Magoola), it won’t take long before the EC releases date and road map for the election of pioneer LC5 Chairman and Woman MP for newly created Bugweri district. The woman MP race has attracted many contenders including 75 year old Kalule Norah (FDC), Sarah Babirye (JEEMA), Mercy Walukamba and Magoola. Amina Mutesi could be the other running as NRM-leaning independent to protest the shamness of today Wednesday NRM primaries won by Magoola. There was general voter apathy towards the NRM voting exercise that was equally shunned by big shots from Kampala. As Magoola’s supporters began celebrating, fraud allegations remained wide spread with some claiming to have seen guys selling bundles of ballot papers (each containing 100 ballots) selling at as low as Shs10,000. One aggrieved NRM supporter referred to
A polling station where less than voters turned up but Magoola was declared in the end to have scored close to 1,000 votes from there!
Dr. Kimack Hamidu, a political activist of many years in the new district says a number of factors make Bugweri one race in which the opposition groups can, once organized, beat NRM hands down for both Woman MP and LC5 seats. “They will have to unite otherwise there will be a vacuum and frustrated voters will protestingly fill that vacuum by swinging to the NRM candidate Racheal Magoola depending on how well she plays her cards,” he says. “Once the opposition unite and rally behind one candidate, NRM is finished. They can only survive on a divided opposition.” Kimack says that apart from factors like religion, ancestry where candidates come from and the Obaisemena clan, Bobi Wine and his People Power Movement is the one largest factor that will become game changer at the end of the day. “If they wish Bobi Wine well, all opposition forces must honor him by rallying behind one candidate otherwise Mr. Wine will leave Bugweri demystified to have become a spent force and all the momentum he has built will end there,” Kimack says. Sources close to him say Mr. Wine has so far been too careful to avoid losing his clout in Bugweri. Kimack says the Bobi Wine momentum is too much that not even Bugweri being largely a rural constituency will save the NRM in the face of a united opposition. “We have Makutu which is the remotest sub county in Bugweri but even there, the youths who are now the majority in most of these communities are saying we shall elect whoever Bobi Wine tells us. They badly want him to come and directly speak to them. They say they want to hear him live and they will kill whoever he endorses with votes,” says Kimack who actively has participated in Bugweri electioneering and campaigning for such a long time. But he fears the Bobi Wine momentum risks being neutralized if the active fighting and conflicting between the Mercy Walukamba camp and that of JEEMA’s Sarah Babirye doesn’t relent. “The fighting is too much to the extent that on all the People Power whatsapp groups they spend the whole day accusing each other. The Mercy Walukamba camp of the Moses Bigirwas has been accused of getting money from Walukamba and the Walukamba boys say JEEMA is sticking on Babirye because she is a girl friend to one of the top party officials,” says Kimack who is an active member on most of these whatsapp groups. “We have had two rallies recently one by Sarah Babirye’s group and another by Walukamba camp. They both got big crowds after the young people travelled kilometers to come and attend just to listen to Bobi Wine who never turned up in both cases and this caused disappointment to the young people.” He says even if the two candidates remain in the race but Bobi Wine decisively backs one, she will win but that will be costly to him because the camp he shuns will open war on him and begin demonizing him yet he is currently the most feared opposition figure who you can’t criticize and escape consequences including facing the wrath of the voters. This is the status Dr. Besigye has enjoyed for a long time amongst opposition supporters across the country.
Abdul Kyamundu, the JEEMA party spokesman who lately has been at loggerheads with DP colleagues who back Walukamba against his own Sarah Babirye, sounded more cautious and restrained when we reached him via telephone. “We realize the importance of working together to have a joint opposition candidate against the NRM and politics of confrontation is clearly now behind us. There is a candidates’ evaluation committee that has been put in place to travel to the ground and assess the strength of the candidates. It’s their report that will decide. It’s not a matter of JEEMA and People Power anymore. It’s a broader front and even our colleagues in FDC are part of this. Sam Walter Lubega Mukaku is one of the members and JEEMA is represented by Asega Habib,” said the JEEMA militant adding that this approach would apply in all areas where any elections are upcoming to ensure the opposition forces rally behind one person. Lubega Mukaku confirmed being part of this efforts and said all change-seeking forces including FDC had embraced this arrangement. In Bugweri, Mukaku said it had been decided the joint candidates would be Walukamba and Matambire of FDC for LC5. Kimack says whereas this would be the ideal thing to do, he doubts it’s going to be genuine unity especially in Bugweri’s case “because the insults have been too many and yet there isn’t enough time remaining to allow for the healing process.” He says how fast reconciliation comes to prevent NRM winning Bugweri will all depend on how fast Asuman Basalirwa and Bobi Wine sit down to agree to convince their followers who between Babirye and Walukamba becomes the joint People Power flag bearer. Whereas Kimack has previously backed FDC candidates, he currently doesn’t seem to have much hope in the FDC candidate Norah Kalule whose age he fears is a major turn off for the voters that are largely youths. We separately established that the manner in which Norah Kalule (backed by big men in FDC headquarters in Kampala) became the flag bearer after trouncing two other ladies (including one backed by Abdul Katuntu—Musenze Sylivia and Kasir) has since alienated many FDC youthful voters to embrace Mercy Walukamba who is increasingly distinguishing herself as the People Power candidate. She has big money which has attracted many young people like magnet. Kimack instead says the best strategy would be for the FDC to forego the women MP Seat and instead market its LC5 flag bearer Yusuf Matambire as the joint opposition candidate to face the NRM candidate. Matambire is currently the LC5 district councilor representing Ibulamu Sub County on the Iganga district council. On the whole despite being rural, because of the Abdul Katuntu influence, Bugweri has largely always been an opposition stronghold. As part of Iganga, Bugweri County has been having 13 councilors 6 of whom are FDC, another 6 NRM and one for the elderly being independent. The other reality about Bugweri polling patterns is groceries always playing a very big role. Katuntu has always overwhelmed stingy Kivejinja because of his generosity which has always seen him buy one hoe for each family in the 32 parishes. It’s a venture that has always cost him Shs27m per parish. That contrasts with Kivejinja who is so mean that people coming to visit him must come with bread and butter and milk to be served during their stay. The generosity issue too explains why electrical engineer Daniel Ibare of UMEME, using close to Shs2bn, nearly trounced Katuntu in 2016 elections for the MP Seat. A relentless fighter, Ibare pursued Katuntu up to court of appeal where lawyers Erias Lukwago/Medard Segona (for Katuntu) had to tussle it out with Hassan Kamba for Ibare. In the end, Ibare has to pay Katuntu close to Shs100m because he sued Katuntu thrice in three courts namely the Magistrates court (for a recount), Jinja High Court and Court of Appeal. He was aggrieved Katuntu accused him of not having a decent home in the constituency and for sometimes sleeping in hotels including on the day he came for nominations. Saying even today she who gives more groceries will carry the day and become woman MP, Kimack says Mercy Walukamba stands the highest chance being the richest of all the opposition-leaning candidates. “Even when she has the money, she can only win if she succeeds in becoming the sole opposition candidate,” Kimack concluded insisting that Bobi Wine could become demystified in case his efforts to sit with Basalirwa to resolve the row fail to yield. For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.