Kabarole- In Kabarole District, an interesting sub-plot is emerging where the Woman MP Victoria Businge Rusoke race is likely to tussle it out with four other contestants in the 2015 NRM primaries as the first hurdle to jump in a bid to retain a seat she easily won in 2016.
This seat was first warmed by Ms Joan Kakima Rwabyomere before Beatrice Kiraso came in through a by-election in 1996 and run it for two terms before she threw in the towel and Ms Margaret Mugisa Muhanga Abwooli found a gap to fill in 2006.
Much as the voting has tended to maintain NRM dominance, elections in Tooro have been determined by socio-cultural, economic and political factors in the past. This time round, a combination of other factors are at play including party affiliation, the former premier Amama Mbabazi factor, individual merit, ethnicity, religion and service delivery.
Also, the existance of very many opinion leaders, and money will also be a determinant because of the poverty levels.
Asked whether people would again choose candidates based on party affiliation or individual merit, Ms Nyakato Rusoke, the FDC secretary for women in Kabarole District, said: “None of those will count for voters; politics in Uganda has completely changed. The NRM party has highly commercialised elections to the extent that now people follow money not the best candidate addressing issues or choose on party affiliation.”
However, Mr Yakubu Gowoni, an opinion leader who was delegated powers to hold the docket of the party’s chairperson in Kabarole, disagrees. “Party affiliation and the dominating person of President Museveni in Tooro region, particularly Kabarole, will again affect the result of the vote,” he insists.
Evidence from past elections show that the NRM enjoys overwhelming support and representation in Kabarole and Tooro at large. As such, the Opposition is likely to find it difficult to breakthrough in 2016. In 1996, President Museveni got 97 per cent of the votes cast. In 2001, he got 89 per cent then 87 per cent in 2006.
The victory determinants
“This is definitely an NRM area where there has always been landslide victories from local to national level. Party affiliation and the person of Museveni takes precedence here than any other factor,” says Gowon, adding: “Services takes number two, individual merit and then money last. Here, few people follow the money to decide who to vote for unlike their counterparts in urban settings.”
However, the LC I chairman in Karambi Sub-county thinks there has been a slight shift. He says all village chairpersons in Karambi met last month and resolved that they will mobilise for any candidate who brings money.
“We voted for the MPs and asked them to push government to raise our monthly allowances but to our surprise the first thing the MPs did in Parliament was to raise their personal pay, they are very selfish,” one of the LCI chairpersons, who preferred anonymity, told Saturday Monitor.
Ms Joan Kebirungi, a resident in Fort Portal, believes that the Mbabazi factor will trickle down and will affect the voting pattern both at national and local levels ahead of the 2016 elections.
“This is very clear, whether Mbabazi stands for presidency or not, his factor in the current politics will definitely affect the voting pattern in Uganda starting with the NRM primaries in 2015 up to the national level,” Kebirungi says, reasoning that: “People are just quiet but will choose some candidates basing on the Museveni-Mbabazi factor, the differences are there [though] very silent.”
Meanwhile, Mr Patrick Baguma, an opinion leader, says: “people in Kabarole tend to vote for candidates who they think are close to Museveni but not NRM, however, here ethnicity and religion are the other factors. The Bafuruki (Immigrants) have higher numbers than Batooro and tend to vote as a bloc that is why people like MP Kagwera (Burahya) will remain in Parliament until he retires”.
Although four aspirants have declared to stand against the incumbent, political watchers in Kabarole say it will be a two-horse race between the incumbent and Peace Mutuzo, senior private secretary in charge of welfare in State House.
Ms Nyakato Rusoke, the FDC secretary for women, indicates that her party is yet to decide whether it will field a candidate in this race. “FDC is yet to decide whether it will participate in the 2016 elections until the push for electoral reforms is effected,” Ms Nyakato said. “It is still early now for FDC to say we shall field a candidate for any position.”
The incumbent’s contribution
Ms Rusoke counts her lobbying for President Museveni’s support to Saccos in Kabarole, distributing culverts to different sub counties, lobbying for a tractor and heifers for Tooro babies home from First Lady Janet Museveni. She has supported education too, buying examination printing machines for schools in the district.
But Ms Mutuzo, Rusoke’s biggest challenger, is busy donating coffee seedlings to farmers and has organised some women and youth groups into self-reliance projects such as apiary. She says she is doing this in phases in Bunyangabu, later in Burahya and Fort Portal municipality.
“My survey so far is that families in Bunyangabu use three jerrycans of contaminated water per day instead of the required eight, they live on Bilharzia tablets.
They spend so much more on firewood, I have trained the locals in simple technology to tap safe rain water, use energy saving stoves, engage in baking, brick laying, soap making and bio gas,” says Mutuzo.
But Helen Kasande points at what she calls poor service delivery as the reason she is offering herself for election.
“There is poor mobilisation of women in this district if you compare it with other districts like Mbarara; the youth here don’t have jobs, there is no programme to cater for the youths who never went to school,” says Kasande.
In that respect, Kabarole is not very different from other constituencies around the country, but it still stands out as the one area where the President Museveni’s personality could still tilt the balance.
Who is likely to contest for Kabarole Woman MP seat?
Peace Ragis Mutuzo. Holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration and Management from Uganda Management Institute (UMI); Makerere University bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and a Diploma in Education at Bishop Stuart from NTC, Kakoba. At Bishop Stuart, she was elected guild president.
Before President Museveni put her in charge of Youth (National) in 2005, she was an assistant private secretary in charge of the Youth (Western).
Ms Mutuzowas promoted to senior private secretary in charge of welfare in State House in 2008.
Nestor Basemera. Holds a diploma in education from Bishop Stuart NTC Kakoba and a Kyambogo University Bachelor’s in Education. Worked at Mountains of the Moon University and Makerere University as a teaching assistant and at Nyakasura School as a senior woman.
Sylvia Rwabwogo. Is a journalist plying her trade at Hits Fm in Fort Portal town. Is deputy speaker for Kabarole council and a councillor representing East Division.
She advocates for women emancipation through her radio programme and also encourages people to work hard for the development of their families.
Holds a diploma in journalism and a Bachelor’s degree in Social and Community Development from Mountains of the Moon University.
Helen Kasande. Is the human resource manager at Mpanga tea grower’s factory.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Makerere University; a diploma in community-based rehabilitation from Kyambogo University; diploma in human resource management from UMI, and a certificate in administrative law.
Victoria Businge-Rusoke. A first term MP, the Kabarole Woman representative holds a Master of Education from Makerere University (2001), Bachelor of Education, Makerere University (1991), Diploma in teacher education from Institute of Teacher Education, Kyambogo (1986), Grade II teacher certificate, Makerere University (1980), East African certificate of education, 1977.
Was District Education Officer, Kabarole from 2003 to 2010; head teacher Kalinaabiri Primary School February to July 2003; head teacher Old Kampala Primary School 1997 to 2002; head teacher City Primary School 1994 to 1995; deputy head teacher Nakasero Primary School 1991 to 1993; tutor Kibuli TTC 1986 to 1990 and teacher Shimoni Demonstration School 1980 to 1985.
She sits on Parliament’s committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry and on the Appointments Committee.