Thought and Ideas
Who will succeed MP Nabanda in Butaleja?
Posted Sunday, February 3 2013 at 02:00
Perfect replacement. The search for a replacement for Cerinah Nebanda, the Butaleja Woman Member of Parliament who died under mysterious circumstances on December 14 last year, is underway. Campaigns started early this week in various sub-counties ahead of the February 18 by-election.
The hunt for votes in Butaleja triggered enormous excitement and renewed hope among many after the suspicious death of Cerinah Nebanda and the subsequent actions of the government, casting a blanket of suspicion in Butaleja.
Five candidates are vying for the seat. Innumerable promises have so far been made by the contestants as they traverse the district. The tempo of the debate and the issues that the five candidates articulate will either save or sink their personal fortunes and those of their respective parties.
Ms Peruth Munaba [Independent] started her campaigns in Busaba Sub-county, while Ms Betty Hamba [Independent] kicked off in Butaleja Town Council. Ms Sarah Logose [Independent] started in Mazimasa Sub-county, Ms Felistus Namwihiri [FDC] in Busolwe Town Council and Ms Florence Nebanda Andiru [NRM] opened the lid of her promises in Kachonga Sub-county.
The national census in 2002 estimated the population of Butaleja at about 157,500 while the annual population growth rate in the district was 3.3 per cent. Using those statistics, it is estimated that the population of the impoverished and rural district in 2010 was 204,300 with about 87,641 registered voters and 151 polling stations.
The ruling party’s electoral commission chairman, Prof. Elijah Mushemeza, revealed that the NRM had laid down a roadmap that would ensure Ms Andiru replaces her sister.
Pursuing the manifesto
“My sister passed away and I want to fulfil her manifesto. She fought for the common man, education, rights of women; which I am following through. Wherever she is, I am sure she feels happy now because I will not let her down,” said Ms Andiru.
Butaleja has been mainly pro-NRM and a no-go area for the Opposition, but the party candidate, Ms Andiru, has three hurdles to overcome: the suspicions over her sister’s death, the sudden change of mind by the mother, Ms Alice Numulwa, who had pinned government over her daughter’s death, and the alleged rigging of the votes in NRM primaries in favour of Ms Andiru.
Sub-counties in Butaleja that usually determine the winner are Budumba; which is mainly UPC, which is located in Bunyole West, while Kachonga and Mazimasa, mainly DP and NRM, are located in Bunyole East, where MP Emmanuel Dombo (NRM) comes from and is likely to peddle a lot of influence for his party.
But Mr Roger Wegulo, an NRM supporter, said: “When Ms Nebanda died, the first person to abuse the government over the death was her mother and then shortly she changes and endorses another child on the NRM ticket. Is she playing on our brains or is it true that government was involved in the death? These are the tough questions we need answered before we vote her.”
Mr Nathan Wangolo, also from NRM, says they want a person who goes by principle. “She [Ms Namulwa] made us hate the NRM but has made a total about-turn to sing NRM,” he said. After the ruling party was accused of rigging for Ms Andiru during party primary, it was inevitable that the race would see the entry of two NRM-leaning independents (Ms Hamba and Ms Logose).
There are other questions about Ms Andiru. Some voters in Butaleja like Mr Rashid Galama, said: “NRM’s endorsement of another member of the [same] family casts serious doubt whether she will contribute anything in Parliament for the people of Butaleja.”
“First, she is married in the UK and she just came to attend the burial. How do we give votes to a person who is a visitor? She has just changed her names from Ms Florence Andiru to Ms Florence Nebanda Andiru. Should we trust her? Do we see any democracy or promotion of one family?”
But her mother, Ms Namulwa, said her daughter was in the UK for studies and is not married.
Contrary to Ms Namulwa’s claim, during the NRM primary campaigns at Mabale Primary School in Butaleja Sub-county on January, 12, Ms Andiru told voters that she is married and has two children.
Another resident, Mr Eldadi Haumba, says all they know about Ms Andiru is that she went to Ntinda View Secondary School and after Senior Four she left the country.
Ms Andiru is stumping for votes, telling likely voters that like her late sister, she believes in humanity first. “It is my people first. I stand, not against anybody, but try to succeed where our MPs failed to score and I want to promise I will score for the people of Butaleja,” she said in an interview.
Although NRM has dented its image through the continued in-fighting between Ms Dorothy Hyuha, a former Butaleja MP and now High Commissioner to Tanzania, and Mr Dombo, the opposition also seems not to have its house in order. Political analysts, however, say that Butaleja has tended to vote their politicians based more on their individual character as opposed to their political affiliation --- which gives an advantage to Ms Namwihiri.
Ms Olive Kataike, a sub-county opinion leader at Mazimasa, says the ruling NRM has failed to fulfill pledges it made way back in 2006 and 2011.