BY SIMON PETER EMWAMU
Until 2016, Ms Alice Alaso had built unwavering support and engraved her name in every household.
Being eloquent, the former Teso College Aloet history teacher, rode to fame, building a strong following in the politics of Teso Sub-region.
That kind of support came to test in 2016 when the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party fielded, Ms Helen Adoa, now appointed State minister for Fisheries, who defeated her with 48,762 votes against 32,651.
Not convinced with the outcome, Ms Alaso, who served for three terms as both Soroti and Serere Woman MP, petitioned but lost at the Court of Appeal, which exonerated Adoa of any wrong doing in 2016 General Election.
Going into the 2021 elections, the rivalry between Adoa and Alaso in Serere politics is still as fresh as when the duo first took on each other in 2011.
Ms Adoa, who enjoys the privilege of being a state minister, says the politics of advocacy which Alaso survived on, are long gone, adding that we are in an era of action-oriented politics.
The duo is coming through unopposed.
Ms Adoa has sailed through NRM party unopposed and so is Alaso from the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), the other competitor in this race is Ms Susan Akiror, an Independent.
Ms Adoa said: “The people of Serere know what they want, my sister had the honour to serve, but she offered no solutions, she was bent on advocacy, lamentation and offered no solution. I am a solution maker and that is my politics,” Ms Adoa said.
She has organised women and men into saving groups. “Together with the people, we have put Serere right compared to the time I found it,” she added.
In the run up to the previous 2016 elections, as Ms Alaso set the oratory pace and counting on her support in Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) base, Ms Adoa was busy in charity work, screening women for cancer and organising multiple medical camps, education grants and saving groups.
However, irrespective of Adoa’s approval by voters, Ms Alaso says her successor has failed in representing her constituents.
“You must have read in the national papers about her performance in the scorecard, I am offering myself to correct this. I have also moved around Serere to declare my intentions. It is no longer a new thing, my candidature is known and it has gained momentum,” she said.
To Alaso, the critical issues to her coming is the need for effective representation in Uganda. The ability to legislate and the ability to play an oversight role.
“We need people who are able to defend the rights of the citizens, people who are able to legislate and make good laws,” she added.
Ms Alaso said her prospects are high. “I believe God will fight my way through now that the people of Serere have understood that they are not represented,” she said.
Until her recent fallout with some people in Teso, over her continued attack on the person of Mr Patrick Amuriat, now FDC party president, Ms Alaso was much revered as the defender of peoples’ rights.
She too is a defender of peoples’ land and is a crusader against alleged torture of fishermen by the army on Lake Kyoga, among other things.
How she will replicate such strength and also market Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu in Teso, time will tell. Whether FDC members will be carried to her new ANT party ideology is another determinant factor.
However, Mr Patrick Eninu, a resident of Kamurojo, Kyere Sub-county, said Ms Alaso’s confidence will have a bigger test this time than 2016, adding that if the former FDC legislator is counting to ride on FDC votes, she is mistaken.
“In the event that we have no FDC candidate, I am more comfortable voting for Ms Adoa,” he explained.
On the other hand, Ms Susan Akiror, who is vying as an Independent candidate for Serere Woman MP seat, said she has bigger ambitions for the people.
“I need strong and vibrant constituents empowered using the available resources. No leader has offered solutions to Serere’s problems. People have been given empty promises, I come in to help people earn from their field outputs and lobbying for value addition,” she said.
Ms Akiror said the connection between the voter, and the leader shouldn’t be tagged on gifts but development.
“I will lobby for funds to enable women to take on value addition, we know that the bulk of domestic agriculture is done by women, this will be one among the many projects I intend to use to empower them,” she added.
For Adoa, going into 2021 General Election seems even much rosier after backing from Maj Betty Akello, who lost to her in the previous 2016 NRM primaries.
Maj Akello said there is nothing new that she will be coming to do. “My sister has offered to address all that I had in my aspiration when I contested in NRM primaries for the flag for 2016 elections. I will come in some other time in future,” she said.
Before 2016, it was illusionary to even think that anyone outside FDC had any chance of sailing through as an MP in Serere, but how Adoa and Patrick Okabe for Serere County, pulled off victories against seasoned FDC stalwarts, is another beaconing tide that will shape the 2021 race.
Mr Max Ekolu, a resident of Kamod Town Council said, it is hard to state the numerical strength of both FDC and NRM in the district. He said they are running neck and neck and whoever shows relevance in politics will take the day. “I subscribe to FDC, but seemingly we have no candidate for Woman MP, but that doesn’t mean I will not vote,” Mr Ekolu said.
He added that going into the 2016 elections, Ms Alaso had solid support in the FDC, but warns that with the latest developments, many FDC supporters will not be comfortable voting for her under the ANT party.
Mr Anthony Otiang Omer, said he will be giving his vote to a person who promises to execute social communal projects and also be ready to lobby the government for better road networks and equip health centres, among other things.
For Sarah Atim, another local, there are a lot of injustices that women continue to face and have remained unraised. “We also need income generating projects for women,” she said.
Ms Christine Ourum, the district vice chairperson-women’s league, said they are waiting for “campaigns of ideas”.
“As women, we have been left behind for long. Many people cannot afford basics. However, if charity works and community projects are common, the poor will benefit,” she said.