How NUP drove other parties out of Kampala

Then Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga (left) shares a moment with Mukono Municipality Mp Betty Nambooze (in white) as they officially joined NUP in Kamwokya, Kampala on August 13, 2020 . PHOTO | MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

What you need to know:

  • Started as the People Power movement during the controversial debate for amendment of the Constitution to remove the presidential age limit, it morphed into NUP after Mr Kyagulanyi, who is also the incumbent Kyadondo East MP, acquired the National Unity and Reconciliation Party of Mr Moses Kibalama Nkonge last year.

The National Unity Platform (NUP), the youngest political party in the country, has virtually driven all the other political parties out of Kampala City, establishing itself as the party of the capital.

The party has won majority of parliamentary and local council seats in Kampala and its divisions.
The party’s presidential candidate and leader, Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine also did very well in the city in the race for the top seat.

Started as the People Power movement during the controversial debate for amendment of the Constitution to remove the presidential age limit, it morphed into NUP after Mr Kyagulanyi, who is also the incumbent Kyadondo East MP, acquired the National Unity and Reconciliation Party of Mr Moses Kibalama Nkonge last year.
Many Opposition politicians in Kampala then joined the party with many incumbents, who had won the previous elections in different parties, all crossing to the new party.

For example, all the division mayors, except Joyce Sebugwawo Nabosa of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, joined NUP, at City Hall, 41 out of 44 councillor seats were taken by NUP in the recent elections and at the division level, NUP won the mayoral seats of Rubaga, Kawempe, Nakawa, and Makindye, while NRM won Kampala Central Division.

An unholy alliance
When Parliament amended the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Act, it created the position of speaker and deputy speaker.
The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) had majority councillors, but when the People Power movement started rearing its head, many of these joined the movement.

With FDC in the driving seat, the KCCA council was assured of a speaker who would closely work with the Lord Mayor, Mr Erias Lukwago, who had forged a close alliance with the party at the time.
The party held primaries to select a candidate for the position of speaker. Ms Doreen Nyanjura, the Makerere University councillor to KCCA and Mr Abubaker Kawalya, the councillor for Rubaga North expressed interest in taking up the position. Both belonged to the FDC party.

Ms Nyanjura ended up becoming the party’s flag bearer after FDC held primaries but Mr Kawalya, who had been identifying with the People Power movement, opted to stand as an Independent candidate.
Sensing weaknesses, the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party struck a deal with Mr Kawalya and the councillors allied to the People Power movement.

The combined force of NRM and People Power enthusiasts defeated FDC in the race for speaker with Mr Kawalya winning the seat.
Mr Lukwago later appointed Ms Nyanjura as the deputy Lord Mayor.
This set ground for NUP in later elections, with the wave sweeping across the city and the surrounding areas of Mukono and Wakiso districts.

What different actors say?
Members of NUP say while the other parties rode on their perceived strength, the new party went to the trenches to win support from the downtrodden people.

“People underrated us. No one gave us a chance forgetting that no one goes in a race to lose and the result is that we are in the driving seat,” Mr Dickson Gimei Kasolo, a resident of Kamwokya in Kampala and NUP mobiliser, said.
He also said the NUP president prepared ground for his candidates to win in the slums because he identified with everybody.

He said Mr Kyagulanyi created a wave of enthusiasm that swayed the voters to elect NUP candidates with ease.  
“You could even hear from his music that he was a man of the people. So whoever identified with him would easily win the hearts of the oppressed people,” Mr Kasolo said.

Mr Fred Munene, another NUP mobiliser, said they did not only win in Kampala, but the entire country.
“Kampala was just prominent because here they failed to steal our victory. Across the country, we won, but we were robbed. This is a message to Museveni and others that they are not safe anymore,” he said.

For the ruling NRM party, it is another lost opportunity in the city and the party officials say they are going back to the drawing board.
Mr Emmanuel Dombo, the NRM director of information and publicity, said while they have learnt their lessons, they will use Salim Uhuru’s win as Central Division mayor as a launch pad for future elections.
 Mr Dombo blamed the NRM defeat in Kampala on high awareness and literacy levels among voters.

“First of all, Kampala is one area with the highest level of literacy, the highest concentration of media, and the highest lies being told,” he said.
FDC is yet to meet to chart a way forward. Harold Kaija, the FDC deputy secretary general in charge of administration, yesterday told Daily Monitor that the party had not yet discussed the next course of action.

“Right now I cannot give you a comment because we have not sat as party to decide a way forward,” Kaija said.
Mr Gerald Siranda, the DP secretary general, said while NUP is a new party, more than 90 per cent of those who won were either incumbents on DP ticket or other parties.
He said many of them went with the current NUP wave but DP will go back to the drawing board to plan afresh.

“Look at Ssegona, he is the incumbent MP on DP ticket. Look at Sserunjoji, Kasirye, and others, many of them are incumbents. So they are not new in politics. We would have said NUP performed excellently if they had groomed their own, but they simply picked from other parties,” he argued.
“This gives us a good opportunity to go back and start the rebuilding process with true believers in the party. We shall sit down and assess ourselves and ask where we are heading and what we need to do to reverse this,” Mr Siranda added.

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