The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party has again emerged as the dominant party in south western Uganda, according to results from last Thursday’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
Ankole and Kigezi sub-regions, which make up south western Uganda, have 65 parliamentary seats.
Of these, NRM has won 53 seats, Forum for democratic Change (FDC) three seats, while nine have gone to Independents, eight of whom are NRM leaning.
In Mbarara, President Museveni scored 87.94 per cent after obtaining 49,807 votes against his closest challenger Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, who obtained 4,586 votes, translating into 8.1 per cent.
Maj Gen (Rtd) Mugisha Muntu came in third position with 792 votes.
Except in Buhweju, Rubabo (Rukungiri) and Kabale Municipality, the rest of the constituencies were taken by NRM candidates or ruling party-leading Independents.
FDC candidates; Francis Mwijukye took Buhweju constituency in Buhweju District, Mr Naboth Namanya won in Rubabo constituency while Dr Nicholas Kamara took the Kabale Municipality. In Ndorwa East, Opposition-leaning Independent candidate Winfred Niwagaba also retained the seat.
However, in Rukungiri District, a former FDC stronghold, was dominated by NRM, which got three seats.
Initially, three of the four MP seats belonged to FDC.
FDC lost the Rukungiri Municipality seat to NRM’s Elisa Rukahigwa. The seat was initially held by FDC’s Roland Mugume Kaginda, who lost in the party primaries and opted not to contest on Independent ticket.
FDC has also lost Rukungiri Woman MP seat to NRM’s Medius Kaharata. Previously, it was occupied by FDC’s Betty Muzanira.
The Opposition party also lost the Rujumbura seat, which has been reclaimed by Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi, who served between 1996 up to 2016.
Rujumbura has been held by Mr Fred Turyamuhweza.
NRM has taken Ntungamo Municipality with Mr Yona Musinguzi (NRM), who represented the area from 2011 to 2016, reclaiming the seat from Mr Gerald Karuhanga of the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT). Mr Karuhanga has been the incumbent MP on Independent ticket.
In Ruhinda County, the East African Affairs minister, Gen Kahinda Otafiire (NRM) defeated other six candidates to assert NRM dominance in the area. Also in the race was Mr Oduly Akampa of FDC.
In Ruhinda South, Capt Donozio Kahonda defeated four other candidates, including FDC’s Victor Atwiine while in Isingiro North, the incumbent, Maj (Rtd) Bright Rwamirama, of NRM trounced six others, including Mr Nicholas Atuhaire, who emerged second.
Mr Deus Tumusiime, an opinion leader, says the reason NRM won in western region is that other parties are not yet well-entrenched there.
“They even don’t have structures there; It becomes difficult for them to identify candidates for various seats, including parliamentary. They are not at the grassroots. Where you find NRM party with 30 members of the structure at the village level, they have less. That’s why parties such as FDC and NUP pick a few votes in urban centres in this region simply because these people are well-informed,” he observes.
He says Mr Kyagulanyi capitalised on regional politics, concentrating in Buganda.
“This is because he realised NUP is around Lake Victoria basin and the rest of the other parts of the country are all yellow (NRM). According to the results,” he adds.
In Kigezi, the NRM vice chairperson for Kisoro, Mr Ramathan Ndikuyeze, attributes victory to the trust that people have for the party leadership.
“People have undoubted love and trust in the party leadership. There are also several infrastructural developments such as roads delivered by NRM that strengthened support in the region,” he says.
Ms Mary Karooro, the Minister for General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister, says last time in 2016, NRM overwhelmingly won in greater Bushenyi except for Sheema District Woman MP, who was Independent and Buhweju County, where FDC won.
“This time round, the overwhelming NRM win was dependent on effort put in by mobilisers who explained to the local people what President Museveni and NRM have done for them. This was also as a result of NRM leaders in the area. We sat and agreed that the party should win overwhelmingly,” she said.
Losers reject results
Meanwhile, some of the candidates who lost in the election, have contested the results, alleging fraud.
FDC’s Turyamuhweza, who lost to Maj Gen Muhwezi in Rujumbura County, has said he is going to court because the voting process was marred by voter bribery and intimidation.
“Soldiers were all over polling stations. I also refused the outcome because civil servants were used to campaigning for my opponent using public resources like vehicles, and some of these public servants are at national level,” he said.
Mr Turyamuhweza claimed his competitor donated tents, chairs and saucepans, which influenced the outcome of the election.
He claimed some of his agents were kidnapped and taken by security agents.
Mr Abbas Namara, the returning officer for Rukungiri District, acknowledged that some of Turyamuhweza’s agents were arrested but said they were later released and voting went on smoothly.
Mr Namara said he would constitute a committee to investigate the voter bribery claims.
In Bushenyi-Ishaka Municipality, FDC’s Odo Tayebwa also rejected the poll results, saying there was voter bribery, adding that he would take the matter to courts of law for redress.
Mr Tayebwa lost to NRM’s Derrick Kabura.
In Ndorwa East, Mr Polotazia Begumisa, the NRM candidate, stormed out of the tally centre on polling day, after seeing Mr Nuwagaba take an early lead.
Mr Begumisa said the results being relayed were false. He also vowed to contest the results in court.
In Mbarara City South, the NUP candidate, Mr Bright Muhumuza, who emerged third in the race said the election was rigged in favour of Mwine Mpaka.
Mr Muhumuza said his rival’s agents were giving cash to voters near polling stations and the Opposition agents were bribed to abandon polling stations.
“I’m joining other disgruntled candidates in Mbarara City to reclaim our victory by going to courts of law,” he said.
The FDC candidate, Mr Nickson Kashaija, said there were hotels where pre-ticking ballots was taking place.
“The army and police blocked us and we could not enter. One of the UPDF officer at the rank of a major, who is known to me, directed his men to push me away, threatening that ‘don’t sacrifise your lives for votes’,” Mr Kashaija said.
The Mbarara City Woman MP candidate on FDC ticket, Ms Agatha Atusasire, also rejected the results after Ms Ritah Atukwasa of NRM was declared winner.
“I have rejected the results given to me. I’m going to court. Besides intimidation and voter bribery and arresting my agents at polling centres, some of my results were altered, for instance, on some polling stations I would get 152 votes and they enter 52 on the declaration forms,” Ms Atusasire said.
Mr Anthony Agaba, the FDC candidate in Mbarara City North, also said they have overwhelming evidence to support their challenging of the election results in the courts of law.
“This was not a real election. It was just for formality because the process was rigged,” Mr Agaba said.
The seat was won by Mr Robert Rukaari of NRM.
What those who lost say...
Fred Turyamuhweza, FDC, “Soldiers were all over polling stations. I also refused the outcome because civil servants were used to campaigning for my opponent using public resources like vehicles, and some of these public servants are at national level.”
Ms Agatha Atusasire, FDC, “I have rejected the results given to me. I’m going to court. Besides intimidation, voter bribery and arresting my agents at polling centres, some of my results were altered for instance on some polling stations, I would get 152 votes and they enter 52 on the declaration forms.”
Nickson Kashaija, FDC, “The army and police blocked us and we could not enter. One of the UPDF officer at the rank of a major, who is known to me, directed his men to push me away, threatening that ‘don’t sacrifise your lives for votes’.
By Alfred Tumushabe, Robert Muhereza, Rajab Mukombozi & Milton Bandiho