When Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, the Government Chief whip was elected delegate from Kiboga District to the Constituent Assembly, (CA), which mid-wifed the 1995 Uganda Constitution, one of her competitors, Ms Aisha Nakimuli, was four years old.
Today, Nakimuli, 30, (Independent), and Christine Kaaya Nakimweero, (41) the National Unity Platform (NUP) flag bearer, are determined to unseat Ms Nankabirwa as Kiboga District Woman MP.
A graduate of Information Technology from Makerere University, Ms Nakimuli lost to Nankabirwa in the recent National Resistance Movement (NRM ) party primaries where she garnered 11,022 votes against the latter’s 20,274 votes.
Mr Samuel Ssali, an opinion leader in Lwamata Town Council, claims Kiboga District is dominated by NRM supporters and that the race might work in favour of Nankabirwa and Nakimuli.
But given Ms Nakimweero’s determination and the agitation for change, spearheaded by the NUP leader, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, some might vote in her favour.
“It is true people here, especially the youth, are agitating for change, but Ms Nankabirwa is still politically strong and is likely to retain her seat,” Mr Ssali weighs in.
But Nakimuli says Nankabirwa has outlived her usefulness after serving in the same position for more than two decades.
“Ms Nankabirwa has done her part and believe me there is nothing new she can add. Let her leave the political stage for me to take over,” Nakimuli says.
Ms Nakimweero, on the other hand, having worked with the Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change, insists she is well conversant with the parliamentary processes and that she has the required qualifications which are in line with the district aspirations such as environmental management, climate change management, agricultural livelihood, land law and rights, gender mainstreaming as well as strong religious background.
“Our people in Kiboga are looking for a legislator who will represent them on such issues and also deliver on them,” Ms Nakimweero, a born of Bukomero Town Council, says.
One major issue shaping the campaigns is the unfulfilled pledges to the civilian bush war veterans in the area. The war veterans claim they sacrificed a lot during the war that ushered President Museveni power in 1986, but have never been compensated.
This group, comprising both men and women, has been camping at Kitagenda Primary School in Lwamata Town Council, Kiboga District since May 28, 2017, and were asked to return to their homes recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Nakimuli says despite Nankabirwa serving as both State minister for Luweero Triangle and State minister for Defence, she has not helped the veterans in the area.
“Most of those people [civilian war veterans] are ageing and it is disappointing that they are still demanding compensation 35 years later,” she says.
Mr Ponsiano Ssekindi, an elder and resident of Kiboga Town, says although people in the area contributed a lot to the liberation war there is little to show on the ground.
“We are still stuck with a myriad of challenges, including poor roads, health services and education,” he says.
Ms Nakimweero says as a daughter of a retired teacher, she feels touched by the low education standards in the district.
“When given a chance to serve as a District Woman MP, I will partner with other stakeholders to uplift the education standards of our schools so that our children can get good grades like in other districts,” she says.
Ms Nakimweero claims there is less concentration on the issues affecting the people of Kiboga.
“We are going to start introducing our candidature to the people of Kiboga District and ensure that we harmonise our strategies as Opposition. We are beginning to strengthen the available structures within the district and local groups to polish their development plans so that we include them in our manifesto,” she adds.
Ms Nakimweero say they have been participating in a number of programmes such as contributing towards supporting the district taskforce on Covid-19 as a commitment to help people during the lockdown.
Mr Simon Ssentaza Kajubi, the chairperson Kibiga Sub-county, says Nankabirwa performed excellently during her first two terms but lost track when she started positioning herself as a kingmaker in the district.
“I can honestly say that she [Nankabirwa] is the current problem of Kiboga .She has alienated the people in the district from government and it is very difficult for locals to meet those in government unless you use her office. Indeed, she is there [in Parliament] to fulfill her interests not those of people of Kiboga,” he says.
Mr Daniel Ssemyalo, a long-time supporter of Nankabirwa, says the latter has made her mark on Kiboga politics only that she doesn’t blow her own trumpet like other politicians.
“Ms Nankabirwa has made a remarkable contribution to Kiboga, only that some of her critics think she has served for a long time as an MP, forgetting that experience matters a lot in politics,” he says.
Mr Abdul Mutumba, the NRM candidate for Kiboga West Constituency and former district councillor for Kibiga Sub-county, says despite campaigning for Nankabirwa in previous elections, he won’t do the same in the coming polls.
“I will not campaign for her [Nankabirwa] because of my own reasons. I will only look for my votes,” he says.
Aware of the task ahead and having stepped on the toes of many local NRM politicians in the district , some months ago when public meetings were still more restricted, Ms Nankabirwa started making trips to Kiboga to endear herself to the electorate.
At every function, Ms Nankabirwa always reminds the electorates of the good projects she has extended to them.
“Those who claim that I have not helped my people are liars, the electorate I represent in Parliament are appreciative. I am sure they will not listen to such lies,” she says.
Ms Nankabirwa also says she has scored highly in resolving land disputes, opening up sub-county savings and credit cooperative societies (Saccos) and renovating government schools, among other projects .
“In addition, I have supported churches and mosques, these are institutions that bring together people,” she adds.
If re-elected, Ms Nankabirwa says she will continue lobbying government to support healthcare, education, agriculture and energy for infrastructural development in the district.
Kiboga District Kadhi Sheik Musa Luwaga says the local Muslim community has benefited a lot during Nankabirwa’s tenure.
“As clerics, we are barred from engaging in partisan politics, but we appreciate the good things some politicians do for us,” he says.
He says of the 70 mosques in the district, four have been constructed by Ms Nankabirwa, while the local community has erected 10 mosques.
Since 1996, Ms Nankabirwa has been winning the District Woman MP. In 2016, she garnered 23,043 votes against her closest rival Rose Zimulinda (Ind) 21,973 votes.
FDC’s Ms Rosette Winfred Ssenkumba garnered 791 votes.
Ms Nankabirwa allegedly belongs to the a group of NRM politicians plotting to unseat Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.
During the recent party elections for second national vice chairperson (female) seat , Ms Nankabirwa backed Ms Kadaga’s rival, Ms PersisNamuganza (State Minister for Lands).
When the latter lost to Kadaga, Nankabirwa accused Ms Kadaga of betrayal, saying she hobnobs with the Opposition and disregards some of the NRM proposals.
During the same period, a voice clip in which Ms Nankabirwa was reportedly captured calling on delegates to vote out Ms Kadaga went viral.
The clip repeated, albeit subtly, accusations of betrayal. But when Ms Namuganza lost to Ms Kadaga, Nankabirwa congratulated the latter for re-election to the NRM party’s Central Executive Committee .
Kiboga District has a population of 148,218 people of which 65,562 are of voting age .These are spread in the sub counties of Kibiga, Kapeke, Muwanga, Lwamata ,Bukomero, Kyomya ,Ddwaniro, Kyekumbya ,Kayera, Nkandwa and Nakasengere.
The town councils are Kiboga,Lwamata and Bukomero. The district borders Nakaseke District to the northeast and east, Mityana District to the south, Mubende District to the southeast and Kyankwanzi District to the northwest .
According to the 2014 National Population and Housing Census survey, many households in the district have insufficient access to social services such as health, good roads, clean water and electricity.
Available records show that out of the 34,010 households in the district, only 4,348(12.8 per cent) have piped water, 10,063(29.6 per cent) draw water from boreholes while the rest share water with animals. Another 1,130 (3.3per cent) households lack toilets and only 5,441(16.0 per cent) have access to electricity. A total of 18,552(54.5per cent) households use either Tadooba (tin lamps) or solar power for lighting.
ABOUT THE CANDIDATES
Ruth Nankabirwa, 55
She was born on November 28,1965. She attended Bamusuuta Primary School before joining Nabisunsa Girls’ Secondary School for both Ordinary and Advanced Level education.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art from Makerere University and a Master of Arts degree in Conflict Studies.
From 1994 through 1995, Ms Nankabirwa served as a delegate to the Constituent Assembly.
In 1996, she was elected Kiboga District Woman MP, a position she holds to date .
From 1998 through 2001, she served as Minister of State for Luweero Triangle in the Office of the Prime Minister. Between 2001 and 2008, she served as State Minister for Defence a post she held until she was appointed State Minister for Microfinance from February 16, 2009.
In the Cabinet reshuffle of May 27, 2011, Nankabirwa was moved to the Agriculture Ministry as State Minister for Fisheries, replacing Mr Fred Mukisa, who was dropped from the Cabinet. She held this position until she was named Government Chief Whip on March 1, 2015, replacing Justine Kasule Lumumba who became NRM secretary general on December 23, 2014.
Ms Aisha Nakimuli, 30
Attended Bukomero Junior Primary School before joining Nalinya Lwantale Girls School Luweero District for Ordinary and Advanced Level studies.
Ms Nakimuli later joined Makerere University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Information Technology in 2012. Currently, she represents female youth at Kiboga District and also runs a private business in Bukomero Town Council.
Christine Kaaya Nakimweero, 41
Nakimweero, who is participating in politics for the first time, went to St Joseph’s Primary School -Mubende, St Kizito Besanye High School -Mityana and later joined Makerere University where she graduated with a degree in Environmental Management.
She also holds a Master of Arts degree in Land use and Regional Development Planning.
She is a gender and climate change activist.
Reporting by Edison Ndyasiima,Al- Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, & Jalira Namyalo