With less than a month to the January 14 General Election, the Kinkizi East constituency likely winner is still unpredictable.
Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the State Minister for Housing and also incumbent MP, is facing competition from two youthful contenders.
They are Mr Deus Nkwasibwe, who opted to run as an Independent after losing to Dr Baryomunsi in the September National Resistance Movement (NRM) party primary elections and Mr Arans Tabaruka, a veteran journalist, contesting on the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party ticket.
In the NRM party primaries, Dr Baryomunsi, who is also the NRM vice chairperson for western region, garnered 21,299 votes, defeating Mr Nkwasibwe who polled 19,616 votes. Mr Oscar Kasya trailed with 3, 387 and Francis Nuwagaba got 13 votes.
Mr Nkwasibwe, a former economist in the Office of the President, denounced the election results and chose to run as an independent.
He claimed that the NRM primaries were marred by fraud and lack of transparency.
Kinkizi East constituency in Kanungu District is made up of 215 villages, 54 parishes and seven sub -counties of Rugyeyo, Kambuga, Katete, Rutenga, Kinaaba, Kirima, Kihanda and four town councils at Kanungu, Kambuga, Rutenga and Nyakabungo.
Dr Baryomunsi joined politics in 2005 after turning down an appointment to serve under the United Nations Population Fund as the HIV/Aids adviser for Harare.
He contested for the Kinkizi East parliamentary seat and defeated his only challenger, Mr Callist Mpwabwoba, with 16,281 vote margin.
Since then, he has been serving as the area MP.
On March 1, 2015, he was appointed State Minister of Health for General duties until June 6, 2016 when he became State minister for Housing.
He is the longest serving MP in Kinkizi East since its inception in 1996.
Kinkizi is an NRM stronghold. In 2016 general election, Kinkizi East voted 99 per cent for the NRM with just one district councillor and sub-county chairperson wining on the FDC ticket.
During the 2016 campaigns, Dr Baryomunsi promised to lobby for improved infrastructure and ensuring tea nursery bed operators who are demanding huge sums of money from government are paid.
In 2018, while collaborating with other district leaders, the long awaited Rukungiri-Kihihi-Ishasha – Kanungu tarmac road was commissioned. However, some roads in the constituency are still in a sorry state,
Dr Baryomunsi boasts of a number of achievements including extension of power to Kifunjo in Kanungu Town Council and Nyarurambi in Rugyeyo Sub-county, creation of new administrative units such as Nyakabungo and Rutenga town councils, Kihanda and Bugongi sub-counties.
He adds that government is in advanced stages of paying tea nursery bed operators whose claims were verified.
Dr Baryomunsi adds that another term of office will enable complete projects like the Rukungiri-Kihihi-Ishasha – Kanungu tarmac road and secure a municipality status for Kanungu Town Council.
About the contenders
Mr Tabaruka (FDC) has worked with a number of local and national media houses.
He is the founder and executive director of Integrated Rural Communities Empowerment (IRUCE), a local non-governmental organisation that focuses on empowering families, women groups, youth as well as advocating for children rights.
He says with NRM having enjoyed a long haul within the political realm in Kinkizi, come 2021 FDC should take charge.
Mr Tabaruka adds that the incumbent MP and his NRM party have sabotaged everything in the constituency and are now trading their campaigns with lies and a few incentives.
Referring to the 2016 to 2021 campaign manifesto, Mr Tabaruka says the constituency has lagged behind in terms of development, he cites high levels of youth unemployment, the sick health system and impassable roads, among others.
He has promised drastic changes in Kinkizi East once he is given the mandate.
Mr Nkwasibwe alias Omusisa formerly started his political career as a guild president at Mbarara University of Science and Technology.
He has promised to reclaim his victory that was allegedly stolen by Dr Baryomunsi in the September NRM party primaries.
With a clock as his symbol, Nkwasiibwe says time is now for change in Kinkizi East.
“I will focus on job creation through skilling the youth, empowering organised groups like boda bodas, lobbying value addition equipment, fixing the ailing health sector and pushing for salary increment of teachers, health workers and other professions that have been marginalised,” he stressed.
The political trends
Kanungu is divided along religious lines. The constituency is dominated by both the Catholics and Anglicans.
Both Dr Baryomunsi and Mr Nkwasiibwe are Catholics while Mr Tabaruka is an Anglican, which makes it hard to predict the winner.
Dr Baryomunsi’s contenders say it is time for him to retire from politics and give them a chance.
The minister has been in Parliament for 15 years.
The new comers allegedly have backing from big wigs.
What others say
Mr Ronald Tumubwine, a boda boda rider in Kanungu Town, accused minister Baryomunsi of not doing much on the impassable roads, vowing to vote for change. “Our motorcycles have got damaged because of the bad roads like the Rukungiri- Kanungu road through Enengo escarpment. It even gets worse during the rainy season,” Mr Tumubwine said.
Ms Prima Akampwera, a resident, expressed discontent at the minister for having served for 15 years and still wants to continue in the same position. Although she did not tell exactly who she will vote for, Ms Akampwera asked Dr Baryomunsi to let young blood take over.
Rev Canon Kenneth Kanyankole, the Kinkizi Diocesan secretary and former Kinkizi East MP aspirant, said the quality of education in Kanungu and Kinkizi East in particular is wanting.
“For over two decades now, there is no school in the constituency that can produce 10 First Grades at secondary level. This is a problem the leaders must address,” Mr Kanyankole said.