NRM BUGWERI FLAG BEARER DEFECTS TO BOBI WINE: SAYS VOTERS ARE TIRED OF NRM
By Our Reporters
Mercy Walukamba, a renowned NRM cadre who has been among the five women vying for flag bearership in the impending woman MP election for newly created Bugweri district, has acrimoniously jumped ship and says will now be campaigning under Bobi Wine’s People Power Movement (PPM). She was a front runner in the ruling party primaries along with Racheal Magoola in a race of 5 ladies. “People Power is everyone. It’s you and me. It’s all the people who are dissatisfied with what is happening in Uganda and are determined to work towards a fairer society that works for everyone and not for a few people,” she defiantly told this news website. “I don’t perceive myself as someone who has joined any party because People Power isn’t a party but a platform of change-seeking people who are unhappy with the way NRM has messed up our country.” Walukamba, who has previously twice vied for the NRM ticket for Iganga woman MP slot and says there is a syndicate that has always been stealing her votes, says she opted to quit NRM largely for two reasons. One was the impending rigging of the party primaries and the second one was the desire to respond to the changing political dynamics in Bugweri where she says “majority of the people including the young and old are saying enough is enough with NRM.” She says it would be risky for her as a politician seeking to win to stick to the NRM which her Bugweri voters clearly don’t believe in anymore. “There is a clique of powerful people in Busoga who are scared of vibrant self-made leaders like myself. They are used to weaklings who go benching at their offices for assistance. It’s not the case with me. They are all panicking that if this woman ever makes it at the national scene, Museveni will notice her leadership credentials and sideline us. This is the reason they have twice rigged me out of the primaries and even in Bugweri they are planning the same thing. I reported to Dr. Tanga in writing that the NRM register is being inflated with ghost voters and the sub county party registrars are biased and have been compromised to favor one candidate. To my surprise no action has been taken to address my concerns,” she explained. She implied that the Obangaina singer Racheal Magoola is the one favored by those organizing the NRM primaries. Renowned political analyst Semujju Nganda says the fact disgruntled NRMs can openly associate with an opposition group is indicative of how cracked up the NRM has become even in rural constituencies like Bugweri. Nganda says the fact that they now can denounce NRM openly (like the Sheema man did recently joining FDC) is evidence that it’s no longer politically risky as before to walk away from NRM.
Walukamba says she is clearly the best suited for the position but, because NRM naturally fears vibrant leaders, the party bureaucrats are determined to sacrifice her in favor of weaklings who will allow being patronized once in Parliament. “Why would you plan to rig against someone who is the most suitable to represent Bugweri if you really wish Busoga well? We have a family house there in Busembatia which is the 2nd largest township after Idudi. It’s our home. It’s where we stay unlike all the other contestants who are from Iganga and everyday just drive to Bugweri to campaign and go back.” In a bid to illustrate the extent of intrigue in NRM, Walukamba said: “Those NRM leaders are so petty. When I complained and raised many pertinent issues, they said ‘this one should never get audience with the President’ but I somehow got my way there. I met the H/E and told him everything that has gone wrong in NRM and why people are losing interest in the party. When they learnt of this meeting, the intrigue intensified. They started saying I’m an indisciplined person who goes to the President without going through them.” In that meeting, Museveni was enthused to learn that Walukamba was a Makerere BCOM graduate, took her papers and promised her a job which unfortunately never materialized. Walukamba, who is wealthy and runs successful businesses in several townships in Bugweri, has lately been much visible in Bobi Wine-related activities. In Masaka during the DP reunion last weekend, she was part of his entourage and featured prominently at the event to the excitement of the crowd. Whereas the DP members claim she is their candidate, Walukamba denies this saying “I’m not in any party. I’m just campaigning under the People Power banner because that’s what my people want now regardless of age and gender.” She said her campaign posters have been made in a way that captures the different party colors because she wants votes from all Bugweri residents and not just a fraction of them. In Iganga campaigns, Walukamba (who worked in Makerere finance department before quitting for politics towards 2016) famously had a long convoy of posh cars which made even ministers very frightened. Even President Museveni noticed her opulence and that’s how she finally got audience with him. Apparently the big man from Rwakitura wanted to understand who this evidently wealthy MP candidate was. We asked her about this opulence and Walukamba said: “I made friends in Makerere and we always operated in solidarity. When they heard that I was contesting, they all came out and give a hand making various contributions.” Since returning from the US, Walukamba has thrice been to Mr. Wine’s Magere home. She has been leading delegations of young people from Busoga and has always carried plenty of goodies for the Kyaddondo East legislator.
MAGOOLA SPEAKS OUT;
Magoola denied planning to rig the NRM primaries and instead said that, having lost elections many times before, it’s the fear of an impending defeat that is emotionally tormenting Mercy Walukamba “otherwise I wish her the best of luck in her new political journey of People Power.” Magoola dispelled claims that NRM popularity has diminished in Bugweri and said it’s the DP boys led by Moses Bigirwa that are misleading Walukamba to begin underestimating the NRM which has always been her party. Magoola said it’s understandable someone who spends so much money in an election to get emotionally broken losing on two occasions. Walukamba refused to discuss claims that she previously spent Shs1.5bn on one election cycle.
WAR IN BOBI CAMP;
But Walukamba’s candidature and association with People Power has created some rifts in Bobi’s camp. Two factions have so far emerged namely one that supports her and another that is backing Sarah Babirye of JEEMA. Whereas Walukamba did BCOM, Babirye is a well accomplished lawyer practicing in Kampala. She is being fronted by the JEEMA section in PPM who are eager to ride on the momentum Asuman Basalirwa win crated in nearby Bugiri. As a JEEMA member, Babirye is the one Basalirwa is backing for the MP Seat, a thing that hasn’t gone down well with the Siraje Lyavala camp members who backed Basalirwa in Bugiri against NRM flag bearer Oketcho and are now backing Walukamba. Having failed to secure concrete commitments from Mr. Wine regarding their candidate, the JEEMA group in PPM have resorted to accusing the DP-leaning PPM faction of improper conduct. “Those guys who are trying to confuse Bobi to back Walukamba, who is clearly an NRM person, have been given Shs33m which they shared and it’s the reason they are marketing and bringing her to ferment confusion in People Power. But God has been on our side because having failed to agree on the sharing of the Shs33m, some of them came out and confided in us everything and this deal-making must stop is People Power is to achieve its objective,” furiously said a JEEMA official backing Babirye. Walukamba vehemently denied bribing anyone and explained that the DP-leaning PPM activists like Moses Bigirwa, Sam Walter Lubega Mukaku, Alex Waiswa Mufumbiro and a one Mado (of Kawempe Republic) are supporting her because she has support and they have seen an opportunity to deliver a new person to Parliament is going to win for confessing People Power. “We might be having some money but we don’t use it for such things. To buy support to get the backing of Bobi Wine? That is totally out. That’s not how I work,” she said. Walukamba accused the JEEMA camp of trying to use social media to create a wedge between her and Bobi Wine, something she says won’t succeed. The feuding between the Walukamba and Babirye camps first manifested the day Basalirwa drove to Bugiri to celebrate his Kampala inauguration as MP. There was pressure by the DP group for him to stop over in Bugweri and the JEEMA camp vehemently objected to this after realizing the DPs planned to use that stop over to create an impression that Basalirwa was behind their favored candidate Mercy Walukamba. For comments, call/text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.