16 more Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday joined the National Unity Platform (NUP) of presidential hopeful and Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, ahead of the 2021 General Election.
This brings to 21, the total number of MPs crossing from Democratic Party (DP) and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) to Bobi Wine’s camp after five others joined a fortnight ago.
The five are Patrick Oshabe Nsamba (Kasanda North) and Mr John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya County), both from NRM and three independent MPs Mr Abdulatif Ssebaggala (Kawempe North), Mr David Lukyamuzi Kalwanga (Busujju County) and Mr Francis Zaake (Mityana Municipality). They will be unveiled any time.
The 16 MPs, who joined Bobi Wine’s NUP yesterday, are all from DP bloc which comprises the main party and the allied political organisations.
In the recent past, there have also been MPs crossing from their original parties to new parties such as the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) and NRM (see full table below).
Mr Bobi Wine unveiled the new political converts yesterday after a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between them and his party. The converts said joining NUP was the “only way to end President Museveni’s 35 years in power.”
Some of the MPs who were unveiled as new NUP members include Ms Betty Nambooze (Mukono Municipality), Mr Medard Sseggona (Busiro County), Mr Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka Municipality), Mr Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West) and Mr Moses Kasibante (Rubaga North Division).
Others are Ms Florence Namayanja (Bukoto East), Mr Muwanga Kivumbi and Ms Veronica Nanyonjo.
“A party which thinks they will end President Museveni’s dictatorship alone are lying to themselves. I would like to call all forces of change, especially those that are bent upon ending Mr Museveni’s leadership to come together and we surmount him,” Mr Bobi Wine told hundreds of NUP leaders and supporters at the unveiling ceremony.
“I salute the leaders we have been working closely with that have today taken a step to join NUP. Together with them we are taking on the dictatorship informally and formally. This is what we have been desiring all this time. I know we shall be in State House next year,” he added.
Sources close to NUP and DP intimated to Daily Monitor yesterday that the MoU signed between the two sides had issues to resolve, which included having single candidates in constituencies, funding of candidates and making sure the MPs who crossed to NUP retain their candidature unopposed in 2021.
“Part of the deal is that MPs from DP will not be opposed in their constituencies. There will be equal funding for all party candidates as well as campaigning for them, among other agreements,” the source said.
Daily Monitor could not independently verify this.
Mr Sulaiman Kidandala, the NUP organising secretary, denied that the joining MPs will retain their candidature unopposed in their respective constituencies, but added that they will promote a process of having one candidate in a constituency.
“Yes, an MoU was signed and talks of having a single candidate and making sure that resources are distributed equitably. But all our candidates will be given a chance to participate in coming out with a flag bearer,” Mr Kidandala told Daily Monitor.
Situation in DP
With 11 MPs crossing from DP, the oldest party in the country now remains with only four members in the current Parliament. The DP had 15 MPs in Parliament.
The MPs, who have remained loyal to DP, are Mr Mary Babirye Kabanda (Masaka District Woman MP), Mr Peter Okot (Tochi County), Mr Deogratious Kiyingi (Bukomansimbi South) and Mr Lyandro Komakech (Gulu Municipality).
Most of the MPs who crossed to NUP yesterday claimed DP president, Mr Nobert Mao, failed to manage the party, internal conflicts and “closed the door to them.”
“To me and my friends, it was the toughest soul-searching political decision we have ever taken. DP has been our life. We gave everything under the sun to make sure that we remain in DP and unite the party but Mr Mao was never seeing things that way. He has refused to change leadership and we have decided to look for democracy elsewhere,” Mr Kivumbi said yesterday.
The new members, who joined NUP yesterday, included current legislators, mayors and other local council leaders.
Mr Bobi Wine also announced the NUP leadership structure which provides for four vice presidents from the country’s major regions.
In the NUP structure, Bobi Wine is the president and the vice presidents are Ms Lina Zedriga (northern), Mr John Baptist Nambeshe (eastern), Ms Jolly Mugisha Kyomugasho (western) and Mr Mathias Mpuuga (central).
Bobi Wine also declared August 13 of every year as ‘Heroes Day’ on the People Power/NUP calendar. He said it is the day he lost his driver Yasiin Kawuma, who was shot dead by security forces during the Arua Municipality by-election violence. Bobi Wine recognised the lives of supporters who have lost their lives during his political activism.
DP president Nobert Mao said the defecting legislators were driven by the desire for re-election knowing that NUP is a threat to their chances at the elections.
“It’s like moving from one prison to another because we are still prisoners. I don’t think there was a compelling reason in DP to force them out, but I am getting so many calls all over the country where everybody is congratulating me for taking a strong stand for defending the party and its constitution rather than following a bandwagon,” Mr Mao said in a telephone interview.
He added: “This is not the first time it has happened. In the 1960s, 20 of 24 MPs crossed to the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) which was the ruling party then. Now we have an opportunity to rebuild and renew ourselves. We are going to carry out branch inspections to see that we know those who are still with us and those who have left. We knew that this was going to happen and that’s why we postponed the NEC meeting to next week.”
Mr Ssewanyana claimed: “We have been suffocated at DP, our places given out to other people without taking us through party primaries and that has disappointed us. We are here to offer leadership to our country but if we are not given a fair hearing, we seek space elsewhere.”
The DP Secretary General Gerald Siranda stated: “It’s very hurting that we have spent a lot of time in terms of a party banking on people who have decided to go but the other good thing is that it opens ways for us to walk with people who believe in where we are going.”