As former Mbale District Woman Member of Parliament Nagudi Wangwe Rutangye wonders whether to have another go at the constituency that eluded her in 2011, the incumbent, Ms Connie Nakayenze Galiwango (NRM), has already indicated that she will run again -- to accomplish the tasks she started.
A tough-talking secondary school teacher of music and history, previously unknown, Ms Galiwango ran away with the seat in 2011 on the promise of salvaging the rural woman in Mbale from poverty, improving social service, especially in public health, and fighting for the welfare of teachers. There will likely be an audit of her progress in that direction at the next polls.
The opposition Forum for Democratic Change party has lined up Ms Marriam Nagudi, who has been trounced twice in the same constituency (2006 and 2011) and Ms Margaret Wokuri Madanda, a former research and policy analyst at the party headquarters ahead of what promises to be another exciting contest.
Other contenders include Ms Fatuma Namutosi, formerly a news anchor at Step Television, and Ms Shadia Luwungule, a former student at the Islamic University in Uganda.
But what could really be a game changer is the news that the ruling party vote could be divided by the expected entry of former East African Legislative Assembly MP Lydia Wanyoto Mutende, into the race.
In a race which was marred by electoral malpractices, Ms Galiwango beat Ms Nagudi (FDC), who garnered 43,256 votes to become the first runner-up, Ms Wangwe Rutangye (Independent) garnered 7,527 and the UPC’s Robinah Masibo who got 3,056.
Mbale district has a total of 217, 467 voters.
Opposition forces now say Ms Galiwango has failed in what she set out to do.
“She made many promises that she has failed to fulfill. She has become very arrogant and emotional, especially when you ask her about the promises and when you talk about Ms Wanyoto she tells you off straight away,” says Ms Sarah Wamboya, a local leader.
Ms Wanyoto for her part told the Saturday Monitor that she wants to serve the people in Mbale. “My decision to contest for the Mbale District woman seat should not be confused,” she said. “I just want my people to know that I have been driven by the passion to serve them and develop them. I do not have any problem with my sister Galiwango. She is my area MP. I respect her, but I have to come against her in 2016.”
But while Ms Wanyoto projects a public image of civility, behind-the-scenes word is that there is no love lost between her and the incumbent. Locals fear that the Wanyoto-Galiwango wrangles could set the stage for a chaotic run-up to the 2016 general elections.
Ms Galiwabngo has her backers. For instance, Mr Sulaiman Waniale, a member of her election taskforce, maintains that: “Our MP has done well. She has lobbied for us in Parliament and represented our women well. She has many plans for the people in Mbale District. Why don’t we give her another term as an MP?”
But the internal strife in the NRM could cost the party the seat in a constituency which President Museveni dominated in 2011, winning more than 70 per cent of the vote, pundits say.
“Besides infighting within the NRM party, there is nothing government has done for us. Ever since they took over the constituency, we don’t have anything to show. The target now is to get a good candidate from any party provided we find her development-minded,” said Mr Sulaiman Masifa, a local opinion leader.
Mbale LC5 chairman, Mr Bernard Mujasi, who refused to commit himself on a particular choice, said NRM supporters in the district will choose their leader.
“Ms Galiwango has played her part, many of us are grateful but we don’t decide for everyone. For now, these are all our daughters, we need to look at them squarely,” said Mr Mujasi.
The NRM chairperson for Mbale Municipality, Mr Zubairi Galiwango, is however, optimistic that President Museveni will intervene to quell any animosity between Ms Galiwango and Ms Wanyoto.
“We shall definitely forward this matter to the President to sort out. And I know that with the President’s intervention,we shall have peace,” he said.
It seems though that the perceived power struggle between the President and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, could be more of a factor in the district woman race. Like Mr Mujasai, Bungokho LC3 chairperson Ahmed Washaki (independent) hinted that this perceived struggle could leave the ground divided as many people now do not know where to belong.
“When you belong to Mr Mbabazi, you are victimised and when you belong to President Museveni, it is the same story. So, the camp that will wield a lot of power in 2016 is likely to help their candidates go through. I don’t belong to NRM but that is my thinking,” he said.
Ms Gwaliwango is the wife of Dr Hassan Galiwango, the NRM director for mobilisation and recruitment and both of them have been branded as being in the pro-Mbabazi camp. She, however, refutes this allegation, noting instead that “the NRM primaries will decide the flag bearer in 2016 and then each of us will know where he/she belongs”.
“Those who haven’t benefited from my projects are the ones who keep loitering in the constituency and expect to meet me along the roads to give them something but I am in touch with my people, I have projects for the people,” Ms Galiwango said.
Like the NRM, the opposition FDC does not seem to have its house in order either with Ms Madanda Wokuri fearing that she is likely to face undue opposition in the party primaries.
“I decided to stand on FDC ticket because of my quality which I feel I should bring to my people, but should the (primaries) have malpractices and I lose, definitely I will present my case back to the electorate as an independent candidate.”
Some locals say Ms Madanda would be the most suitable compromise candidate.
“We are all looking at Ms Madanda of FDC to salvage our constituency because she is a development-oriented person with a good track record,” said Yekosefat Magomu, a local leader in Wanale Sub-county. “We would vote for her as the best for the constituency even when she belongs to the opposition.”
Ms Zalika Manake, who identified herself as an NRM supporter, said: “We just wish Ms Madanda was in NRM, she is a good lady, so developmental and you cannot find her fighting about small issues.”
Another hurdle facing both the incumbent and Ms Wanyoto is that they both hail from neighbouring Sironko District although they grew up in Mbale municipality.
A number of voters from Bungokho North and Bungokho South (constituencies in Mbale) who this reporter has talked, to think the two should not be contesting for a post in Mbale.
“How do two people fight from our district as though we don’t have any woman who has gone to school to stand in the constituency? In 2011, we voted the MP from Sironko and now the two presenting themselves are both from Sironko again as though we don’t have children who have gone to school,” said Mr Stephen Mukhooli from Bungokho South. “I think this is the time to rethink and vote our own child even if she is from another party.”
While this growing sentiment may give Ms Madanda an edge over other candidates in the race, she also still has a problem; another local child, Ms Nagudi who trounced her in the 2011 in party primaries.
Similarly, Ms Shadia Luwungule (NRM) and Ms Namutosi both come from Mbale District.
“Ms Galiwango has not delivered; she is a good player in NRM but does not know how to score. I am the only one who can score and here I am to help the people of Mbale district score,” says Ms Wanyoto.
“For the last five years we have only heard about government programmes over radio but we have not seen them on ground.”
The former EALA member has started early, traversing villages for support. She also says she will invest in poverty eradication, an area where she says there has been no progress.
ASPIRANTS FOR THE MBALE WOMAN MP SEAT
Ms Connie Nakayenze Galiwango: Born in 1967, Ms Galiwango, the incumbent, is a teacher by profession and a social scientist. She holds a master degree in education management. She was a teacher and head of history, guidance, counselling and music department at Mbale High School from 2004 to 2010 before she contested for a parliamentary seat. She also taught at Nabyonga Primary School in Mbale.
Lydia Wanyoto Mutende: Born in 1974, Ms Mutende is a former East African Legislative Assembly MP. She is a board of trustees member of the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment. She is a regular political talk show debater for the National Resistance Movement.
Ms Fatuma Namutosi: Ms Namutosi, who was born in 1987, holds a degree in Social Sciences. She has been a news anchor at Step Television. She hosts a show on commercial and community agriculture on Step TV.
Ms Madanda Wokuri: Born in 1970, MsWokuri holds a diploma in Education (Literature and English), degree in Education and a master in gender, women and politics. She has been a research and policy analyst at the FDC offices and a director for communication at Inter Party Organisation Campaign Bureau.