Political temperatures in Kashari constituency are rising day by day. Jostling for the MP seat, currently occupied by Mr Wilberforce Yaguma, has already kicked off.
Five candidates, and still counting, have declared they will contest. They are mainly ruling NRM party members.
In 2010, five NRM candidates contested in the party primary election won by Mr Yaguma. In 2011, he defeated five other contenders including two independent candidates and one each from the Uganda Peoples Congress, Forum for Democratic Change and Uganda Federal Alliance.
Mr Yaguma, 52, says he will seek re-election but it’s too early to get his constituents worked up with two years still left to the next election.
“People have started too early; they shouldn’t disturb the population. For me now I am not into campaigns, I am working. It is what I will have done for the people that will make them vote me back to Parliament,” he says.
He says he is pursuing extension of power to the constituency. In one of the places that have been recently surveyed, power will be extended from Kakiika Sub-county up to Kyenshama. According to Mr Yaguma, this power line will light up Rwebishuri, Bunenero and Itara areas that have for many years been without electricity, although he is not sure how soon this will be.
Safe water is being tapped from Mbarara to Bunusya, Biharwe and Rubaya sub-counties. “There are many projects like these ones that I have initiated which will not be complete by 2016. That’s why I want to continue and accomplish them,” Mr Yaguma says.
If he wins, many will be surprised. After being elected Mbarara LC5 chairman in 2006, Mr Yaguma, an economist, immediately set his 2011 political plan rolling. He declared he would go for then MP Urban Tibamanya’s seat which this lawyer had just painstakingly won from FDC stalwart Maj (rtd) John Kazoora.
Mr Yaguma is believed to have used the chair in the interest of the people of Kashari, a local politician close to the MP says. The politician, who does not want his name revealed to avoid souring their relationship, further says of Mr Yaguma’s strategy: “He used his donation allocation at the district as the LC5 chairman to give every primary school in Kashari Shs1 million. He would allow people to get tractors to work on their personal projects like wells, foundations and access roads.”
Mr Yaguma’s generosity and down-to-earth character earned him the ‘man of the people’ tag.
A wealthy livestock and banana farmer, Mr Yaguma, who also runs a beer distribution agency, will be the man to beat in 2016.
Mr Tibamanya, who defeated Maj Kazoora and stemmed FDC’s growth in Kashari, had been rewarded with a ministerial appointment by President Museveni. But the profile which comes with a ministerial portfolio was never enough to secure his seat even when he spent a lot of time in the constituency.
At the height of campaigns ahead of the NRM primaries in 2010, an angry Mr Tibamanya slapped Mr Yaguma during a community function in Nyamiriro Rubindi Sub-county. Mr Yaguma had quoted Mr Tibamanya’s wanting performance in the 8th Parliament as captured in the scorecard.
That slap sealed the minister’s fate in the intra-party primaries and later as an independent candidate in 2011.
“There is no way Yaguma was going to lose the election. His simplicity endears him to the local people. But he also has that acerbic language he can use to incite voters against you. You will find him at a burial or party mingling with those very local people, drinking with them. His competitors were equally hardworking but aloof,” says Richard Tabaaro, a former chairman Rwanyamhembe Sub-county and now deputy RDC Bushenyi.
Mr Tibamanya has never come to terms with the 2011 defeat.
He is preparing to run again in 2016. This will be his fifth contest in the constituency. In 1994, he represented Kashari as a delegate in the Constituent Assembly which drafted the 1995 Constitution after defeating Maj Kazoora. Two years later, in 1996, he lost to Maj Kazoora in race to Parliament. Five years down the road, Mr Tibamanya toppled Maj Kazoora only to be removed by Mr Yaguma in 2011.
He has always been in the good books of the President. Their relationship stemmed from his secondment to Mr Museveni by Catholic Church leaders as a trustworthy person. The 65-year-old politician’s wife, Ms Grace Nyakwenegura, is a State House employee.
“I am coming back because I want to give the right leadership for the development of Kashari. Last time I had an opportunity and did extremely well but people voted someone else. Now, they have had time to compare and contrast. They will make a choice from an informed point of view,” he says.
After he had lost, the former Urban Development minister retreated and has been preoccupied with private practice, including attending to his law firm and farming.
“I never wanted to carry out mobilisation programmes before the right time, I thought people of Kashari deserved a chance to be led by the person they chose such that if he fails I don’t become the excuse that I have been here politicking all the time,” he says.
The other candidate in the picture is Mr Nathan Itungo, the director of Makerere Business Institute (MBI). He appeared on the political stage in 2010 when he was elected party vice chairman in the district.
In 2011, Mr Itungo supported Mr Yaguma but at last year’s national Independence anniversary celebrations his intentions became clear. He sponsored youth football tournaments in the nine sub-counties of Kashari.
During the training of crime preventers in the constituency last year, Mr Itungo provided all food and drinks to help the trainees. He has donated money to almost every church in Kashari, attended virtually every fundraising where he contributes handsomely.
Mr Itungo, who is a successful dairy and banana farmer, has offered free computer training to more than 200 students from Kashari at MBI.
“What I am doing is mobilising for the party as the district NRM vice chairman. I am following the party manifesto which runs up to 2016. If people see that what I have done merits taking me to another level, they will give me that mandate,” says Mr Itungo.
And then we have Mr Fred Bamwine who hails from Bubaare Sub-county. Mr Bamwine is the current RDC of Ntungamo.
“I declared my intentions two years back. Over the last one and half years, I have been in Kashari physically over weekends, mobilising. One main reason I want to stand is to bring effective representation. Kashari has cattle keepers, cultivators and business people. But what is disappointing is that Kashari, which is two miles from Mbarara Town, has no power, water, hospitals,” he observes. “What we call government is not felt. I want to bridge the gap between Kashari and central government.”
It promises to be a very crowded race in the constituency where even the LC5 councillor for Rubindi, Mr Didas Tabaaro, has made up his mind to join in. Mr Tabaaro a rabble-rouser in the council who hopes to use the tactics of his close friend, Mr Vincent Kyamadidi (MP Rwampara) who got elected largely on account of being very vocal, down-to-earth and poor.
“The biggest challenge for Kashari is lack of effective representation. We have had leaders whose way up has always been effected by money. They don’t mind representing people in a way that can address their needs,” says Mr Tabaaro.