By Dan Wandera
As the election fever for the 2021 polls gains momentum, the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party is plotting to reclaim the Nakaseke South constituency currently occupied by Mr Paul Luttamaguzi of the Democratic Party (DP).
Big shots from NRM have camped in Nakaseke District and launched an early campaign.
Led by the NRM treasurer, Ms Rose Namayanja, and backed by several party supporters, they have fronted businessman Charles Nsereko as the party flag bearer for the constituency.
Mr Nsereko, who is Ms Namayanja’s husband, defeated Mr Arthur Nkalubo in the just concluded NRM party primaries.
“The reason why NRM supporters in Nakaseke South have come out early to mobilise support is to regain the MP seat snatched by the Opposition. The NRM party has bigger projects to deliver to the people of Nakaseke South and I am championing this cause,” Ms Namayanja said in February.
She said Mr Luttamaguzi has no capacity to lobby for developmental projects.
“Mr Luttamaguzi is a beneficiary of a political mistake created by NRM supporters that saw the party lose the seat to an Opposition candidate in 2016. You cannot mention a single project that Mr Luttamaguzi has lobbied from the government for his people in Nakaseke South,” Ms Namayanja said.
“The supporters instead approach us and ask for help. This is the reason why we have decided to strategise and reclaim this constituency,” she added.
Mr Muhammad Gubya, the NRM district chairperson, said Kasangombe, Semuto, Kapeeka sub-counties and Nakaseke and Semuto town councils command a big percentage of the NRM supporters.
“There is no doubt that Nakaseke District is an NRM party stronghold if we refer to the voting patterns for the past elections where the NRM party has always scored highly,” Mr Gubya said.
“During the same election (2016), the very constituency voted overwhelmingly for President Museveni against the Opposition and independent presidential candidates. Our assertion that Nakaseke South is an NRM constituency, which the Opposition grabbed accidentally, is not misplaced,” he added.
Ms Juliet Nakandi, 55, a resident of Nakaseke Town Council, however, says Mr Luttamaguzi has fought off many land grabbers and helped residents get justice in a hostile environment.
“Land grabbers have the money to bribe anybody willing to help them achieve their selfish ends,” Ms Nakandi says.
Mr Luttamaguzi says for the NRM party to label him a non-performer in a constituency where he has immense support, is “misplaced and bound to backfire”.
“Residents in my constituency know what their MP has done for them. I challenge those individuals in the NRM to go to the locals and challenge my work. I promised to help my people get justice and this probably explains the many battles that I am involved in with the suspected land grabbers who think that they have the right to deny the people of Nakaseke the right to own land,” he said.
“This has been the biggest challenge. It is also evident that I challenge government about the poor service delivery system for the different sectors, including roads, health and education. Particular individuals within the NRM government are not happy with the support I command on the ground,” he added.
Mr Luttamaguzi said those who are plotting to dislodge him should study the reasons why the electorate is close to him.
“You cannot force the people of Nakaseke South to love NRM when the very people in government are evicting them from their ancestral land. Our people remained with only land after losing most of their property during the five-year Bush war that brought President Museveni to power 35 years ago,” the MP said.
Mr Erasto Kibirango, the greater Luweero DP chairperson, says despite Luweero being the epicentre of the war, the area has a traceable DP history which needs to be re-awakened.
“The NRM regime claims that Greater Luweero is their political ‘Mecca’ but there is nothing to show more than 30 years after capturing power,” he said.
The constituency is home to an industrial park flagged off by President Museveni under the supervision of his brother, Gen Salim Saleh.
Several officials in government offices, including high ranking army officers own land and ranches in Semuto, Nakaseke and Kapeeka sub-counties which fall in Nakaseke South.
In 2016, Mr Luttamaguzi garnered a total of 11,519 votes while his closest rival and the NRM party flag bearer, Mr Denis Ssekabira, got 11,157 votes.
Mr Ssekabira has since shifted to Luweero District where he has shown interest in contesting for the Katikamu North MP seat currently occupied by Mr Abraham Byandala.
THE LAND QUESTION
Unlike voters from the greater Nakaseke that is predominantly a cattle corridor area, voters in Nakaseke South have categorised themselves into farmers. Some of them are victims of land grabbing, which has discouraged them from engaging in agriculture.
A section of voters want leaders who will solve the land wrangles.
Mr John Mary Ssenjobe, a resident of Kijjaguzo Village in Semuto Sub-county, claims that the endless fights between landlords and the bibanja holders have frustrated farming activities. “We want to elect leaders who will engage government in streamlining land-related laws. We are very insecure because of the many eviction threats. I lost five acres out of the original 12 acres that I used to own to a landlord despite my attempt to have the court resolve the problem. I will only vote for a candidate who is ready to fight for our land rights,” Mr Ssenjobe said.
Ms Freda Nantaba, a resident of Kasangombe Sub-county, said Nakaseke has lagged behind in service delivery programmes.
She says she will support a candidate who will advocate a better health service delivery system. Statistics from the Nakaseke District production office reveal that 80 per cent of the food consumed in the area comes from Semuto, Nakaseke, Kapeeka and Kasangombe sub-counties that fall in Nakaseke South. Nakaseke South has 18 factories in Kapeeka Sub-county. They deal in textiles, ceramics and tiles, electronics, food processing and packaging.
About Nakaseke South:
Nakaseke South has five sub counties that include Kapeeka, Kasangombe, Nakaseke, Kito, Semuto and the town councils of Nakaseke and Semuto. It has an estimated population of 118,299 according to the 2014 National population and Housing Census.