Embattled Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago would sweep to a landslide victory if elections were held today, a new survey shows.
Mr Lukwago was impeached from office last November after 29 councillors against three voted to uphold the findings of a tribunal that concluded that the Lord Mayor was incompetent and had abused his office.
Mr Lukwago, who has since been locked out of office and has taken his fight to the courts, blames his woes on the National Resistance Movement (NRM), which he says wanted to fail him as a Lord Mayor.
But if results of the survey commissioned by the Daily Monitor and the Uganda Governance Monitoring Platform are anything to go by, Mr Lukwago still remains a force to reckon with 60 per cent of the respondents saying they would return him to office.
The survey conducted by Research World International sampled a total of 120 voters based in Kampala across the city’s five divisions. The survey had a margin of error of +/- three per cent. Researchers asked the question; “If Kampala Mayoral elections are conducted today, who would you vote for?”
Mr Lukwago’s strongest showing was in Makindye Division where 73 per cent respondents said they would vote for him and the least support came from Kawempe Division where 38 per cent said they would vote for Mr Lukwago.
However, Kawempe also has the highest number of undecided voters with 38 per cent returning the answer “don’t know” when asked whom they would vote for. Kawempe Division has traditionally voted for the Opposition and is currently led by a Lukwago loyalist, Mr Mubarak Munyagwa.
Respondents in Nakawa and Rubaga divisions returned support at 67 and 57 per cent respectively, while Kampala Central returned 40 per cent support for Mr Lukwago.
The survey showed that Mr Lukwago’s rival, the NRM-backed Peter Ssematimba, would come second, with 13 per cent of respondents backing him. A similar percentage of respondents (13) indicated that they “didn’t know” whom to vote for.
In third place was Kampala Central MP Mohammed Nsereko and former minister and area MP Capt Francis Babu getting three per cent backing each, while former Mayor Nasser Ssebagala had support of two per cent, placing him in fifth position.
NRM’s work cut out
The undecided, those who refused to reveal whom they would vote for, make out the remaining 9 per cent of the respondents.
While the results may provide some comfort to Mr Lukwago’s supporters who accuse the ruling party of orchestrating his political troubles, they, on the other hand, portend hard work for the NRM which was moving ahead with plans to replace Mr Lukwago.
The by-election plans were put on hold by a court ruling which is yet to resolve whether the impeachment was conducted within the law or not. The NRM had already held primaries and Mr Sematimba picked as its candidate for the by-election.
Mr Lukwago is separately challenging the report of the tribunal and the process that recommended his impeachment.
A further analysis shows that Mr Lukwago draws most of his support from women (62 per cent) while 58 per cent of men support him. Divided according to social class, Mr Lukwago has block support among the C1 and C2 classes which constitute the lower middle class, drawing 68 and 64 per cent respectively. He managed to draw only 44 per cent of the section of Kampala categorised in the DE class.
In the 2011 election, Mr Lukwago garnered 229,325 votes (64.41 per cent of the total votes cast), almost doubling the votes got by his closest challenger, Mr Ssematimba, who scored 119,015 votes (33.43 per cent).
After winning the hotly contested mayoral race, Mr Lukwago boasted that he had defeated President Museveni and the entire state machinery, statements now believed to have set the stage for his run-ins with the State that culminated into his censure last year.
Mr Medard Ssegona, Busiro East MP who has also been representing Mr Lukwago in court as he attempts to save his office at City Hall, says the Lord Mayor’s approach to politics endears him to the Kampala electorate.
“He came with a people-centered approach.
He had to choose between the people and personal well-being and he chose the people. The approach of the government was that Kampala should be left to the rich but he insisted that the rich can exist with the poor. Consistence and resilience have also played in his favour because he has been specific in fighting for the issues of rule of law and justice,” Mr Ssegona said.
The Kyadondo East MP and a keen watcher of the Kampala politics, Mr Semujju Nganda, agrees that Mr Lukwago’s ratings remain high because of his emphasis on issues that matter to Kampala residents in the lower tier.
Mr Godfrey Nyakana, the Kampala Central Division Mayor who subscribes to the NRM party, argues that the impasse at City Hall has earned Mr Lukwago sympathy among the electorate.
Mr Mubarak Munyagwa, the Kawempe mayor, says voters view Mr Lukwago as the solution to the often not-so-clean processes at City Hall.