17 candidates crowd new Jinja North race
What you need to know:
- Mr Nelson Lufafa, the Butembe County MP, is widely considered the incumbent because the constituency has the voters who sent him to Parliament in 2016.
When Jinja attained city status on July 1 last year, new constituencies were created, including Jinja North, which has attracted17 parliamentary candidates.
They include Mr Nelson Lufafa (Ind), Mr Mohammed Bidondole (NRM), Mr Moses Hannington Kyemba (Democratic Party), Mr David Isabirye (Forum for Democratic Change), Mr Ramadhan Nanga (National Unity Platform), Mr Yahaya Dashi (Alliance for National Tranformation) and Mr Eric Philip Bakalikwira (Ind).
Others are Mr Robert Bamuloze Kanigure (Ind), Mr Nasser Guluddene Tibenkana (Ind), Mr Moses E Kawanguzi (Ind), Ms Rebecca Kawuma (Ind), Mr Peter Kiwagama (Ind), Mr Caesar Lukalu (Ind), Mr Wilfred Miyingo (Ind), Mr Ronnie Mulyambuzi (Ind), Mr Robert Muyinda (Ind) and Mr Abdulhafidh Nagaya (Ind).
Jinja North might be a new constituency, but Mr Lufafa, the Butembe County MP, is widely considered the incumbent because it has the same voters who sent him to Parliament in 2016.
Mr Lufafa decided to run as an independent after losing the NRM flag to Mr Mohammed Bidondole.
After initially being declared the winner in the September 4 NRM primaries, Mr Lufafa’s victory was overturned by the party’s electoral commission over alleged irregularities.
There was more drama during nominations. Mr Mulyambuzi accused Mr Lufafa of hijacking his clock symbol, claiming his ( Mulyambuzi) supporters had become familiar with it.
In 2017, Mr Lufafa came under criticism from voters for moving to scrap the presidential age limit from the Constitution.
“The people of Butembe have made it very clear to me not to tamper with the Constitution by amending Article 102(b). I will respect the people’s will,” he said then after consulting the voters.
However, days later, he took to the floor of Parliament and approved the scrapping of the presidential age limit.
Mr Lufafa was among several MPs across the country that were chased away by constituents after the controversial vote and Jinja North constituency, carved out of Butembe, could not have come so opportunely.
However, the legislator denied that his change of constituency has anything to do with the voter anger, saying his home is in Mafubira that has ceased being in Butembe.
“Did you want me to contest in Butembe which is made up of Kakira and Busedde yet my home is in Mafubira?” he asked.
Butembe is now made up of two smaller sub-counties of Kakira and Busedde. The expansive Mafubira and Budondo, as well as Bugembe Town Council now make up Jinja North.
In an election year where voters will not be allowed to hang around polling stations and most agents barred, Mr Lufafa faces an uphill task despite his door-to-door vote hunting.
Mr Nanga, Mr Isabirye and Mr Kyemba are worried of the implication of the Covid-19 restrictions.
“With a curfew in place, they will [likely] close the tallying centres and return the following day to doctored results,” Mr Isabirye said.
Seven candidates have thrown their hats in the race for the Butembe seat where much has changed, especially with many candidates now recruiting youth as campaign agents.
In 2016, Mr Lufafa polled 26,167 votes to defeat FDC’s Wanzala who garnered 23,202 votes.
The hotly contested election ended up in court, with Mr Wanzala challenging the victory, citing Mr Lufafa’s lack of requisite academic qualifications, voter bribery and electoral malpractices.
The High Court in Jinja, however, trashed the petition.
With Mr Lufafa now in Jinja North, Mr Wanzala would be the frontrunner, but the dynamics have changed over the recent years.
The National Unity Platform has made gains in Kakira, the FDC voter minefield. Budondo, Mafubira and Bugembe, which used to feed the FDC support, are not there either.
Yet in Kakira, NUP have fielded 25-year-old Maria Nnatabi Ledochowska, a daughter of a sugarcane farmer from Kakira Parish.
Also from Kakira is Mr George William Oroma (Ind), who might also affect Mr Wanzala’s chances.Mr Jacob Kabondo might have defeated Mr David Livingstone Zijjan in the NRM primaries, but the return of the latter as an independent has unsettled the ruling party’s flagbearer.
During the NRM primaries, Mr Zijjan protested his loss, citing irregularities and rigging by Mr Kabondo.
Other candidates are Ms Mary Kagoya (ANT) and Mr James Kyomya (Ind).
Nelson Lufafa: He is making a second attempt into Parliament, having been defeated in 2016. He is the founder of Save the Aids orphanage and is the proprietor of Almeca hospital in Mafubira, a suburb of Jinja City.
David Isabirye: Mr Isabirye was a councillor and is the deputy minister of information in Busoga Kingdom. He is also a radio presenter.
Muhammed Bidondole: The teacher by profession is making his second attempt at Parliament, having earlier stood in Kagoma constituency and lost.
Philip Bakalikwira: He has been a presenter at UBC radio, and is contesting for the first time.