Why incumbents lost in West Rwenzori, Bunyoro

Celebrations. NRM Supporters jubilate while results were being read at Kibiito in Bunyangabu District last Friday. Photo | Alex Ashaba

What you need to know:

  • They include former Bujenje County MP Kabakumba Masiko, who was defeated by Mr Ernest Kiiza in the race for the Masindi Municipality seat, and Mr Aston Kajara, the former State minister for Privatisation, who lost to Mr Donald Katalihwa in Mwenge South constituency.

BY MONITOR TEAM

Locals and analysts have weighed in on why long serving politicians were beaten in the just concluded NRM primaries in the western region.

Strong NRM bigwigs such as Defence Minister Adolf Mwesige and the State minister in the Office of the President, Dr Kasirivu Atwooki, lost their seats to newcomers in the party.

Mr Mwesige was beaten by Mr Davis Kamukama, a known businessman in the race for the Bunyangabu County seat, while Mr Atwooki was defeated by Mr Fred Byamukama in Bugangaizi West.
Some former ministers who wanted to make a comeback were also defeated.

They include former Bujenje County MP Kabakumba Masiko, who was defeated by Mr Ernest Kiiza in the race for the Masindi Municipality seat, and Mr Aston Kajara, the former State minister for Privatisation, who lost to Mr Donald Katalihwa in Mwenge South constituency.

Many of the incumbent MPs also lost their seats to the newcomers
Analysts blame the loss on the last minute directive by the party chairperson on the eligibility of the voters in the party elections.

“The exercise was unconstitutional because President Museveni’s position in disregard of the party constitution to allow unregistered people to vote, gave way to rigging,” Mr Haruna Kibirango, an analyst in Fort Portal City, said.

He added: “The winners are not NRM flag bearers because they are a product of non-NRM members. It is the register that determines the membership of the party but not the party card or national ID.”

But the NRM coordinator for Tooro sub-region, Mr Donanto Katsigazi, dismissed the claims, saying losers should work with the winners for the good of the area.

The announcement of Mr Kamukama as the NRM flag bearer for Bunyangabu County in Bunyangabu District shocked a lot of people in the community, especially in Kibiito Trading Centre, the hometown of Mr Mwesige, who many believed would retain the seat.
Mr Mwesige is one of the longest serving ministers in the country.

His influence in the region was most felt when he was the Local Government minister as he helped elevate most trading centres into town councils and municipalities.

This explains why Bunyangabu has more town councils than any other area in the Rwenzori sub-region. These include Rwimi, Kyamukube, Kibiito, Buheesi, Nyakigumba and Kakinga, among others.

It is believed that in the process of execution of government projects, some people felt they were sidelined by the minister, hence the growing dislike. This partly explains why he lost.

Mr Mwesige was very influential in carving Bunyangabu District in 2017 out of Kabarole but since then, there has been bad blood flowing between him and the district chairman, Mr James Ategeka Mugarama.
The two leaders became known rivals when Mr Ategeka stood against the minister in 2011 and 2016, although he lost both times.

Since Mr Ategeka commands a big following, it is believed he might have used his influence to decampaign the minister.
Mr Kamukama polled 22,445 votes, representing 50.57 per cent and Mr Mwesigye polled 18,067 votes, representing 40.70 per cent.

Another issue pointed out by a section of the public to explain the losses is that some prominent politicians lost touch with the people on the ground, which may have cost them their flags.

During the campaigns, Mr Mwesige bought airtime on the radio for his agents to go and speak on his behalf but he personally did not go on radio to speak for himself, which many people say was wrong.

However, Mr Justus Kurama, Mr Mwesige’s agent and chairman of Kyakatabazi Village, said he should not be blamed for the loss because some of his campaigning agents betrayed him.

Mr Kamukama told Daily Monitor in a recent interview that many people in the district were yearning for change.
In Buhagizi County in Kikuube District, the Buhaguzi County MP, Mr Daniel Muhairwe, lost the NRM primaries to Mr Francis Kazini, who has been the interim Kikuube District chairperson.

Mr Kazini says his victory is not a surprise because he demonstrated good leadership skills while serving as interim district chairperson.

He claimed that Mr Muhairwe has been shunning district activities and promoting divisions among the people.
Mr Muhairwe, however, claimed his votes were rigged.
“I will challenge the election results at the NRM electoral commission and if I do not get justice, I will contest as an Independent,” Mr Muhairwe said.

Dr Atwooki, who lost the NRM primaries to the son of NRA historical Karoli Kamanyire, said there was violence that intimidated some of his supporters from voting and some ineligible voters were ferried in by his political opponent to vote illegally.

In Hoima, the incumbent Woman MP, Ms Harriet Businge, lost to Ms Beatrice Wembabazi, a teacher.
Ms Wembabazi capitalised on an incident on August 18 where she was allegedly assaulted by a driver of Ms Businge in Kiryateete Village in Kigorobya Sub-county.
She was admitted at Edpa Medical Centre before she was referred to Mulago hospital in Kampala for further treatment.

“Assaulting a candidate was bad in the eyes of majority of voters. The suspect fled, leaving her opponent without any justice. After being discharged from hospital, Ms Wembabazi used radios to plead with voters to vote for her in order to get justice,” Mr Godfrey Sunday, an NRM mobiliser in Hoima District, said.

Ms Kabakumba who is also the Masindi District NRM chairman, said the recently concluded NRM primary elections were marred by election malpractices that led to the loss of patriotic candidates.

Victories
Some of those who maintained their party flags include: Finance minister Matiya Kasaija, Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities minister Tom Butime, Gender, Labour and Social Development minister Frank Tumwebaze, Minister of State for Health (General Duties) Robinah Nabbanja, Deputy Attorney General (Designate) Jackson Kafuuzi, and Minister of State for Gender, Labour and Social Development Peace Mutuuzo.

Compiled by Felix Basiime,
Alex Ashaba & Francis Mugerwa

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