Busongora County by-elections will test NRM support in Kasese

Author: Asuman Bisiika. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

The best candidate to earn it for NRM should be someone holding a high chance for winning the election

Kasese District has always been a problem district for NRM. However, there was a change in electoral fortunes in the 2021 General Elections when the district returned three NRM Members of Parliament. With FDC’s three seats, it was a draw.

It is the capture of the district chair and a 70 percent majority in the district council that tipped the balance of power in favour of the NRM. Add to that the fact that NRM retains majority councillors in most of the lower local government councils in the district, and one would be tempted to pass Kasese off as an NRM district.

With such statistics, NRM is supposed to feel confident in any by-elections. But no; because, as the cliché goes, a day in politics a life time. It is now clear that the dynamics that played out during the 2021 General Elections more than a year ago may not be holding any more.

That is why the by-elections in Busongora County South will test the depth of NRM support in Kasese (notwithstanding the returns of the 2021 General Elections).

The Court of Appeal of Uganda recently nullified the election of Busongora County South MP over Electoral Commission’s poor management of the process.

As a consequence, Mr Gideon Mujungu Thembo (NRM) was thrown out of Parliament and a by-election ordered in his constituency.

The petition challenging the election was filed by Jackson Mbaju Katika (Independent – formerly FDC), who lost the seat with a less than 79 votes margin. He later joined National Unity Platform (NUP).

Some of the people who have expressed interest to contest in the by-election are Mr Gideon Mujungu Thembo (NRM); Mr Alosio Kighema (FDC) who came third in the general elections;  Mr Jackson Mbaju Katika (NUP) and David Bwambale Kongolo (NRM). Also to run is Mr David Isimbwa Mulindwa who was second in the NRM primaries for the 2021 elections.

Some NRM cadres in Kasese favour Thembo’s sole candidature. They fear holding primaries for the by-elections could negatively impact on party cohesion. However, others insist on holding primaries to choose an NRM candidate. Of all NRM aspirants, the two strong ones are David Bwambale Kongolo and  Thembo.

David Bwambale is a Kampala-based lawyer and founder and founding chairperson of the Rwefra (Rwenzori Fraternity); an organisation that brings together all elite from Kasese.

 His father, the late Christopher Bwambale served as secretary manager of Nyakatonzi Co-operative Union in 1980s and later sub-county chairperson for Lake Katwe.

Whereas David Bwambale Kongolo’s candidature would be curious and exciting, this writer has learnt that senior political leaders in the district may have prevailed on him to withdraw his interests in the by elections. They advised him to wait until 2026.

The Busongora County South by-election is coming at a very ‘wrong’ time for the NRM. The party lacks cohesion. Stories of unending squabbles between the district chairperson and CAO are rife and negatively impacting on service delivery.

But the NRM cannot afford to lose ‘their’ seat because it will reflect badly on the depth of their 2021 victory. However, if NRM wants it, they will have to earn it. The best candidate to earn it for NRM should be someone holding a high chance for winning the election.

To get such a candidate, NRM will choose one of the following aspiring candidates Gideon Mujungu Thembo, David Bwambale Kongolo and David Isimbwa Mulindwa.

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flagpost. [email protected]

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