Kabale, The MPs: Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga), Barnabas Tinkasimire (Buyaga), Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala Central) and Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) were expelled from the NRM party in April this year for alleged indiscipline.
The NRM subsequently petitioned the Constitutional Court also to remove them from Parliament after Speaker Rebecca Kadaga declined to declare their seats vacant as requested by NRM. The petition is awaiting judgement.
The Saturday Monitor carried out impromptu interviews in all the MPs’ constituencies of Buyaga, Ndorwa East, Lwemiyaga and Kampala Central and the findings suggest the voters are warming up for fresh elections to return their ostracised MPs in case they are finally thrown out of the House by court. However some voters showed support for removal of the MPs from Parliament, saying the legislators’ behaviour was undermining the party ideals.
Below are views from sampled voters in the four constituencies.
Ndorwa East, Kabale District
Many voters, including NRM grassroots leaders, called for a quick disposal of the court petition seeking to remove their MP – Nuwagaba - from Parliament. They say they are ready to return him to Parliament should court order for fresh elections to replace him. They say he has satisfactorily represented their views in Parliament.
The NRM vice chairman for Ndorwa East, Mr Protaz Twine, said they intend to sue NRM chairperson Yoweri Museveni and the party secretary general, Mr Amama Mbabazi – who are President and Prime Minister respectively – for dismissing their Member of Parliament without consulting them.
Kabale Municipal councillor and resident of Kahondo in Ndorwa East, Mr Leopold Twesigye, said the voters are warming up to re-elect Mr Niwagaba in case court removes him from Parliament to seek fresh mandate.
“Suspending our MP from Parliament is not enough. Let them dismiss him and let the Electoral Commission begin the process of electing a new leader in this area. I am sure the people that voted Mr Niwagaba with over 70 per cent votes are ready to vote him back,” Mr Twesigye said.
Kabale NRM secretary Silver Baguma said they are only waiting for the final verdict from court to make a decision on whether to look for other candidates or retain Mr Niwagaba. There are already some aspirants watching the developments and waiting to contest for the seat in case Mr Niwagaba is removed from Parliament in a court verdict. Maj Innocent Tukashaba, the husband to Education minister Jessica Alupo, and Mbarara Town Clerk Johnson Baryantuma Munono are known to have expressed interest in Mr Niwagaba’s seat if it falls vacant.
Protaz Twine, Ndorwa East NRM vice chairman: “It’s only the people of Ndorwa East that can withdraw Mr Niwagaba from Parliament because they are the ones that voted him into power. Mr Niwagaba chose to be the flag bearer of NRM, but NRM never elected him. We are ready to take the NRM party chairman and the Secretary General to court for wrongful decisions against our leader without consulting us. The decision to dismiss our MP is just a joke because we shall vote him back to Parliament using all means. We voted him to parliament to speak, not to keep quiet. Our MP is more popular to us than NRM party.”
Leopold Twesigye, Kabale Municipality councillor: “Suspending our MP from Parliament is not enough. Let them dismiss him and let the Electoral Commission begin the process of electing a new leader in this area. I am sure the people that voted Mr Niwagaba with over 70 per cent votes are ready to vote him back.”
Silver Baguma, Kabale NRM secretary: “As NRM party at district level, we have no problem with Mr Niwagaba. Our district NRM party disciplinary committee has never summoned him. If he has problems with the centre [party executive], we are waiting for the final verdict. My appeal is to ensure there is no friction between the Constitution of Uganda and that of the NRM party.”
A big number of voters support their MP Ssekikubo but also many others do not know who is right or wrong between the NRM or the MP. They don’t understand the constitutional reasoning why Ssekikubo should or should not be removed from Parliament. For many, Ssekikubo is just their man, a dynamic politician who speaks his mind.
John Kyamutetera, resident
“If President Museveni fails to punish corrupt leaders and he instead turns against those who fight corruption, it means Mr Museveni himself supports corruption. What I must tell you is that when Ssekikubo leaves the party, we will also leave it because we will vote the same man in in the next elections,” Kyamutetera said.
Suzan Nampereza, resident
She said she will not forsake Ssekikubo no matter his political woes. She said he is being witch-hunted because he believes in honesty.
Corbel Mwebaze, NRM mobiliser
He said since the NRM started attempts to remove Ssekikubo from Parliament, many people have denounced the party. “We are likely to have a tough time in the next elections if we front a weak candidate [against Ssekikubo].”
Andrew Gasuza, Lwemiyaga Sub-county councillor
He vowed to mobilise NRM supporters to hand over the party cards to President Museveni for expelling Ssekikubo from the party. “MP Sekikubo has helped us to fight some NRM leaders who had grabbed our land in Lwemiyaga and we have no land conflict nowadays. We cannot leave such a person who has been our ally in bad and good times.’’
Ibrahim Mukiibi of Tangiriza Village
“He speaks against corruption just as Museveini does; then why should he be thrown out of the party unless there are other ulterior motives? What is wrong with condemning people who have depleted our national coffers through dubious deals and cannot be punished?”
However, quite a number of NRM leaders from the sub-counties of Ntuusi and Lugusulu welcomed the move to remove Sekikubo from the party and Parliament. The Lugusulu Sub-county NRM leader, Mr Benon Burora, said it was the right time to disown Sekikubo. He said Ssekikubo has often disrupted NRM activities. “You remember the way he disorganised NRM primary elections which caused the NRM district treasury to lose huge sums of money. Do you remember that one day a man was even shot because of Ssekikubo’s violence? A lot of good NRM supporters lost because of his actions,” Burora said.
The district NRM secretary general, Dr Elly Muhumuza warned party supporters not to leave the party to join Ssekikibo. He said if they do, they too risk dismissal from the party. “Ssekikubo was elected as NRM chairman for Lwemiyaga County but defied the NRM constitution because of his selfish interests. It’s time for him to leave the party because he has done nothing good towards the strengthening and consolidation of the NRM,” Muhumuza charged.
Buyaga West, Kibale District
Pius Bataringaya, teacher.
“I do not support the expulsion of the MP because all powers and mandate are
vested in the voters who have to decide for their delegate’s fate.”
Pretty Prima, businesswoman
“NRM should not discriminate. Some big shots have ever misbehaved but they have never been punished. Which one is more dangerous? Talking or stealing money from the?government coffers which would instead be used for infrastructural development like schools, hospitals and roads among others?”
Mr Aggrey Muhwezi, Bwikara Sub-county resident.
“I am a member of NRM. But our party should be tolerant and reconcile with the MPs. They should not be victimised for speaking against corruption.”
Kibaale District FDC chairperson Ayebare Kanyarutokye:
“We had the same case where in FDC, [Mr] Alex Onzima, who is now Local Government state minister and [Ms] Beti Kamya, the now president of Uganda Federal Alliance were expelled from the party but FDC did not follow them up to Parliament.”
Tom Kisembo, a drug shop operator:
“MPs should be given freedom to express themselves since they are serving the people who voted for them. Other MPs in the House should not celebrate because they are going to face the same fate tomorrow.”
Mr Bosco Birungi
“The party is not only punishing the MP but the entire electorate. The matter is simple, let the party (NRM) leave the matter to the electorate to decide in 2016 but not wasting taxpayer’s money on by-elections.”
Dan Mayanja, market vendor: “He is on a right course and intimidating him with an expulsion from the party is not the solution. He is a blessing in disguise for the ruling party. Expelling such people is ruining the party. He represents our views. We shall always stand by him if the court expels him.”
Juliet Nabagala, LC Secretary, Kibuli Lubowa: “NRM did not vote for Muhammad Nsereko, he came to the ground and sought our votes and we elected him to represent our views, not views of the party. He should be left to stand by his views.”
Wilberforce Ssemanda, businessman:
“The reason government created Parliament was to listen to our views through our representatives. But if it’s not listening to what they are saying, then it does not want to get our views. I did not vote for the party, but I voted for the individual. Even if he is expelled, I will vote him back.”
Faridah Mayanja, trader: We voted him to represent voters’ views. Standing on the NRM ticket does not mean he should agree to all they say as a party even when they are wrong. We shall vote for him 100 per cent if he is expelled. NRM suffocates whoever opposes its views.
Vincent Katabaazi – LC Kisenyi I Zone: “Nsereko and his colleagues shouldn’t have wasted their time going to court. They should just come back on the ground and the voters prove to this government that the power belongs to the people of Uganda as it is in the constitution.
Moses Kauzi, businessman: “Government already feels guilty for the wrong things they have done to the country and its people, and it will do anything it can to suffocate those who tell the truth to the public.
Rehema Baleeta, businesswoman:
You can’t expel someone you did not vote for. They (NRM) should consult the voters whether he is not representing our views before expelling those we voted to represent us in the Parliament. All those so- called rebel MPs are on a right course and should not give up. We know that is politics playing, but they should stand firm.
Musa Kyebuzibwa, Imam: “Nsereko is right. He has helped the NRM to understand many wrong things they have been hiding through his critical arguments and he should be listened to rather than be expelled. Even when he is expelled, we shall vote him as an independent.