After serving Makindye West constituency for two terms, MP Hussein Kyanjo, Jeema’s sole legislator in the 8th and 9th parliaments, is among at least seven MPs who have publicly revealed that they will not be seeking re-election in 2016.
The 56-year-old says he is bowing out partly on account of ill health.
One of the leading lights of the 8th and 9th parliaments who made his mark as a solid defender of human rights and civil liberties, Mr Kyanjo was struck by dystonia of the tongue - an illness that impaired his speech - in July 2011, cutting short a promising political career.
As he bows out, unwell with an illness doctors partly attributed to poisoning, the ruling NRM party will want to produce its debut legislator from Makindye West. When Makindye West was created by the splitting of Kampala South during the 1995 Constituent Assembly elections, it returned the Conservative Party’s Yusuf Nsubuga Nsambu in the 1996 general election.
Mr Nsambu was a veritable thorn in Mr Museveni’s regime. He passed on the baton to Mr Kyanjo in 2006, another avid critic of the regime. -The ruling NRM will be keen to avoid a continuation of the same. In the NRM primaries, Ms Sarah Nkonge, a senior presidential adviser on land, could tussle it out with Lt Mulowoza Kayondo, who was deputy RDC in Makindye.
Ms Nkonge says though that she will decide whether to give it a shot upon approval from the President and the Civil Service. “I thought about it about a year ago. People have approached me but it is too early to tell. I have not given my word. I have to first retire as a public servant,” Ms Nkonge said with a hearty laugh during a telephone interview.
For Lt Kayondo, his stint in Makindye was controversy-ridden. He was embroiled in disputes, ranging from land wrangles to scuffles between his bodyguards and a local musician.
Lt Kayondo argues that resurrecting the issues of land wrangles is a “smear campaign” orchestrated by the Opposition, arguing that the 2016 election will be a “weighing scale” on his performance.
“Makindye West has problems of uncollected garbage, pot-holed feeder roads and few schools and health centres serving a big population. But you ask the people whether the leaders they elected have ever come back to consult. The MPs are just debating in the corridors of Parliament but not consulting the people to know their problems,” Lt Kayondo said.
Competition is, however, not restricted to the NRM as Opposition politicians have also been quietly manoeuvring. Who will carry the crucial Democratic Party ticket between city councillor Allan Ssewanyana and Mr Richard Kalibbala, who run in the 2011 polls and polled 9,235 votes, coming third in the contest?
Mr Ssewanyana made his name as a panelist on a local television sports show. Under the trademark of Allan Omusajja wa Bwino (the man with the facts), the 33-year-old often held controversial views about football matters – a trait that endeared him to football crazy youth in the urban Makindye areas.
Thus, when he made a shot at representing Kibuye in KCCA, it was plain sailing for him. In 2011, Mr Ssewanyana tried to seek election on the DP ticket but pulled out of the MP primaries, saying the process was fraught with “confusion”.
At KCCA, he shot to fame when images of him being roughed up appeared in the news headlines as he attempted to serve a court order that would stop the controversial impeachment of city Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago.
Keen to ride on the controversy surrounding the Lord Mayor’s contested impeachment, Mr Ssewanyana now hangs around Mr Lukwago as he battles to keep his seat in the Mayor’s parlour at White Hall.
He is alive to the fact that Makindye West has twice sent Muslims to Parliament, which he says partly explains his loose alliance with Muslim hierarchy in the Lord Mayor and his deputy, Suleiman Kidandala. “I have not succumbed to pressure from the government to abandon them. I have even been receiving calls of support from khadis,” says Ssewanyana.
Mr Ssewanyana says Makindye West hosts communities with varying social, political and economic aspirations. He projects that a voter in the well-heeled suburbs of Buziga, Bunga and Munyonyo cannot have similar expectations from an MP as a voter in the poorer parts of Katwe and Kibuye. In Katwe, for example, curbing crime is an essential issue.
“In areas like Buziga, people are looking out for someone who is articulate and can ably represent their issues in Parliament. In Katwe, people are looking for someone who can come up with solutions to the problems they face with education and health,” Mr Ssewanyana says.
But Mr Ssewanyana has to first fend off competition from Mr Kalibbala. “In 2011, I lost because I had similar messages with Mr Kyanjo who had not done badly in his first term and people said he should be given one last term,” Mr Kalibbala says.
From the Forum for Democratic Change, the party’s vice president for Buganda, Mr Yusuf Nsibambi, could take the plunge.
Known for coming to the rescue of FDC supporters in court, Mr Nsibambi, however, prefers to keep a low profile. He was also part of the FDC legal team that unsuccessfully challenged Mr Museveni’s 2006 election. He has, however, set two conditions for his participation in this contest: implementation of electoral reforms that are being demanded by the Opposition and amendments to the Public Order Management Act (POMA) that was passed last year, ostensibly to moderate political activities.
“Parliament must consult and monitor the government programmes that are in place. Unless there are consultations, Parliament is reduced to a debating club. I cannot be part of a Parliament that is like that. With the POMA and the Kayihuras, Kaweesi’s and Omala, an MP goes to consult, he is arrested and taken to Naggalama (Police station in Mukono). I cannot join a Parliament that debates without consulting,” Mr Nsibambi says.
Mr Ali Kasirye Mulyama, the DP national chief mobiliser and chairperson in Katwe, says the Opposition’s chances of retaining the seat will be increased if they rally around the Democratic Party - traditionally a strong brand in Buganda.
“FDC is strong in eastern, northern and some parts of western Uganda. But the DP has shown that it can win a constituency in most of the Buganda areas. If we in the Opposition can all agree on fielding a single candidate, we will have more chances,” says Mr Mulyayama.
And Mr Deo Kijjambu, the former Makindye Division chairperson says: “People in Makindye West have been let down by the government but they usually send people who are good at articulating issues and those inclined towards the Opposition.”