Saturday July 5 2014

Rwampara County contest: Kyamadidi, Ngabirano to face off again

Mr Vincent Kyamadidi receives a motorcycle from his supporters

Mr Vincent Kyamadidi receives a motorcycle from his supporters during the 2011 Rwampara constituency parliamentary election campaigns. PHOTO BY ALFRED TUMUSHABE 



Mr Vincent Mujuni Kyamadidi’s stint in Parliament as Rwampara MP has largely been defined by controversies, though he has also made a mark in what is expected of him as a legislator.
He was subjected to three months suspension from the NRM on whose ticket he was elected, for criticising the party and going against its positions.

Back in his constituency, he fought with the party’s district chairman for Mbarara, Mr Jomo Mugabi. Although he lodged a complaint of assault and the matter had reached court, the two later settled it amicably.

There were images in the press of drunken Kyamadidi accosting police officers on duty, and others where court bailiffs were hacking into his garage at his home in Kamukuzi Mbarara to attach his Toyota Prado vehicle over debts.

Will such ugly displays be his Achilles’ heel is his 2016 re-election bid? People of Rwampara are quick to say they usually give their MPs one term. They say this is mainly on the account of failure to perform to their expectations. Could this be the fate that awaits Kyamadidi?

His outspokenness and combative displays have annoyed some of the voters here who are now castigating him for what they say is immaturity and indiscipline. But it has on the other hand earned him popularity.

Mzee Danson Kikaawa from Bugamba Sub-county says, “Our MP is open and frank, that’s why he has suffered, we will vote him back.” Mr Kyamadidi, who was LC5 councillor for Bugamba, went into the 2010 NRM party primary election as an underdog, limping on weak financial muscle.

Walking to campaign
However, some people, after realising his ability to articulate issues as he did while appearing on radio talk shows and emceeing at parties, mobilised money and financed his bid. They bought him a motorcycle and saved him from what some people had begun to call “walking to campaign”.

Mr Kyamadidi says he has courted controversy because of his shrewdness and openness which he says is in the best interest of his electorate.

“(Do) you know how I got elected? It was through popular vote; the community members organising themselves. Some area leaders thought I was not going through and never supported me. They got surprised. After I had gone through, I did not want to betray the people who supported me,” says Mr Kyamadidi. He says when he began fighting corruption, the heat was turned against him.

So, will he ride on being vocal to get back to Parliament? What has he delivered back in his constituency? Is it that of any concern to the voters?

Mr Charles Ngabirano, the immediate former area MP, says the incumbent has only capitalised on the projects he had initiated. “Our current MP has not initiated any new development projects for the people of Rwampara. The electricity, water projects he talks about are programmes I initiated,” says Mr Ngabirano who is plotting a comeback in 2016.

Mr Ngabirano who had ousted Mr Amon Muzoora five years earlier lost to Mr Kyamadidi in the NRM party primaries in 2010. He, however, has kept in close contact with the locals through tea growing and tree planting projects and wants to exploit this to reclaim his seat which he says was taken away from him prematurely.

The five-year tenure for an MP, he says, is a short time to accomplish ones programme and that he left when most of the projects he initiated had not gotten off the ground.

Other than focusing on national issues, Mr Kyamadidi justifies his seeking re-election on his intense lobbying that has given birth to extension of piped water to Kinoni, Nyakayojo and Nyeihanga areas, renovation of Mwizi , Bugamba and Nyakayojo secondary schools and reconstruction and upgrading of Ruti-Mwizi –Ryamiyonga and Nyakairu -Bugamba –Nyikibuga roads, the major roads in this constituency.

He disagrees with Mr Ngabirano that he has accomplished the projects he had started. Mr Kyamadidi says MPs do not initiate projects but they are demanded by community members and an MP takes them up and lobbies for their implementation.

“He (Ngabirano) went to Parliament and every time he would tell his fellow MPs and government that things in Rwampara are okay when there were no roads, water and power. I think the people of Rwampara can make a mistake not to re-elect me but cannot correct this mistake by re-electing Mr Ngabirano, maybe another person,” says Mr Kyamadidi.

The incumbent says the people of Rwampara started yearning for these services right from the reign of MPs Francis Butagira, Eriya Kategaya, Muzoora and Ngabirano but little was realised. He says besides pushing for their actualisation, he has also been lucky that these things are coming during his tenure.

Mr Elly Atuhereza is another contender that is stoking the heat in the race. Though he is seen as a new comer in the politics of Rwampara, the director of Ibanda Alliance Vocational School in Ibanda District could have hatched his plans to contest long time ago.

Mr Atuhereza used the opportunity of owning a vocational school to offer bursaries and employment to hundreds of young people from this constituency and his contribution is felt.

“What I know about Elly is that he has offered our children an opportunity to study further by giving them bursaries. If he wants to represent us then he qualifies,” says Mr Fulgence Ainemaani, a voter.

Mr Atuhereza has other projects in Rwampara including pepper growing, supporting youth and women groups with agriculture inputs and seedlings. He says he should be given a chance to offer what he called effective service delivery. “I am an educationist and social worker. I have a background of a common person and I think the people of Rwampara should offer me the opportunity to serve them,” he says.

Mr Wilber Ahimbisibwe, a teacher at Nyakayojo Secondary School, is also planning to throw his hat into the ring. He says at first he had trust in the current MP as a person who would deliver for Rwampara but has now changed the goal post from service delivery to mainly following the dictates of the NRM party and the President.

‘Lost track’
“He showed determination to fight for the people of Rwampara to get better services but since the time he appeared before the NRM party disciplinary committee and was summoned to Rwakitura, he has since lost track. He should have stuck to his truth and promise because he went to Parliament by people’s mandate not on that of President Museveni,” says Mr Ahimbisibwe.

The other likely candidate is Mr Gordon Mutiima, a businessman and an educationist. He could not be reached to be interviewed for this article.

While all these subscribe to NRM, Mr Israel Tukwatanise Kazooba of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) who came in third position in 2011, is preparing a comeback. However, the party chairman Mbarara District, Mr Stanley Katembeya, says the FDC candidate will be determined by the party primaries.

The district NRM chairman, Mr Mugabi, said while the ruling party has an upper hand in the constituency, people of Rwampara are very tricky and unpredictable.

“I think the people of Rwampara are not focused on the leadership they want. While service delivery like water, roads, electricity may be seen as the benchmark on which to choose their leader, you may be surprised when they vote for the one who can speak and dance for them better and buy them drinks,” he says.

Mr Grace Bwire, an elder, says people of Rwampara do not tolerate empty promises. He says it is the reason the area MPs have been finding it difficult to win a second term. But with commercialisation of politics, he says, this could change because people have begun to think that aspiring leaders are just selfish.

“Look at the number of people who have shown interest to stand. They are many like the red ants, not because their focus is to deliver to the people but greed to get to Parliament. Voters will have to demand money in exchange for votes. The electorate will end up choosing incapable leaders,” Mr Bwire says.