Lands State minister Persis Namuganza and Members of Parliament (MPs) Mariam Naigaga and Paul Akamba have reportedly been embroiled in a five-year conflict that residents say will have a bearing on the 2021 general election in Namutumba District.
Ms Namuganza is also the Bukono Constituency MP while Ms Naigaga and Mr Akamba represent Women and Busiki Constituency respectively.
Mr Abraham Waiswa, a resident of Kigalama Village, Namutumba Sub-county, said the bickering between the three legislators is not only affecting service delivery, but steering the district politically.
“In the 2016 general election, people of Kibaale Sub-county in Bukono Constituency, embraced Mr Michael Saire (the then outgoing district LC5 chairperson), but he lost the constituency MP seat to Ms Namuganza because he sided with the Naigaga and Akamba camp,” he said.
Mr Bernard Kaigo, a resident of Ivukula Village, Ivukula Sub-county, reckons such a feud “will most likely” determine the outcome of the MPs for Bukono, Busiki North, Busiki, Woman MP and the district chairperson.
“In Ms Namuganza’s constituency (Bukono), for instance, the conflict already seems to be benefitting Ms Betty Nakisita, the Woman MP aspirant to gain ground over Ms Namuganza’s political nemesis, Ms Naigaga.
“Much as Ms Nakisita lost to Ms Naigaga in the recently concluded NRM parliamentary primaries, she scored more votes than Ms Naigaga in Ms Namuganza’s Bukono Constituency,” he said.
On the district chairperson front, Mr Fahad Ngobi, a resident of Npande Town Council, Bukono Constituency, said such conflicts have given Mr Saire, the district LC5 aspirant ‘hard time’ gaining support from Busiki Constituency because he belongs to Ms Namuganza’s camp.
According to Mr Ngobi, Ms Naigaga and Mr Akamba camps do not support Mr Saire, yet “both camps have nurtured the incoming district chairperson”.
“There is a strong political alliance in the district and any decision made by politicians can be taken by locals,” Mr Ngobi added.
Mr Michael Waiswa from Namutumba Town Council, said in Busiki Constituency, the feud gives Mr Akamba’s rivals leverage ahead of the 2021 elections.
“Unknown to Mr Akamba, such bickering favours his opponents; Dr Fred Kasisa and Mr Yusuf Dabadha. While Ms Namuganza’s efforts are to see that Ms Naigaga and Mr Akamba fail, the two also hope Ms Namuganza loses,” he said.
According to Mr Martin Mukisa from Magada Trading Centre in Busiki North Constituency, since both camps are kingmakers in Namutumba politics, they have each fronted candidates.
Mr Richard Mwanja, a resident of Bulafa Village, said unless the three politicians put their differences behind, people will instead vote for their rivals.
According to him, “the best way to reconcile the three politicians is by not voting them come 2021.”
“We shall not argue with them but resolve to vote for their rivals hoping that by 2026, they will have stopped their bickering.
“Personally, I will not be surprised to see Ms Naigaga losing to Ms Nakisita, Mr Akamba losing to Dr Kasisa or Mr Dabadha; while Ms Namuganza loses to Mr Emma Maganda in 2021,” Mr Mwanja said.
The bickering between the politicians is said to have started during the 2015 NRM party primaries where Ms Namuganza supported former Namutumba Woman MP, Ms Florence Mutyabule, who eventually lost to Ms Naigaga in the 2016 election.
This prompted President Museveni in 2016, as a chief guest during the thanksgiving ceremony of Ms Naigaga at Kisiki College in Namutumba Town Council, to ask Ms Namuganza and Ms Naigaga to reconcile.
“I do not know what is wrong between Ms Namuganza and Ms Naigaga?” Mr Museveni asked the crowd, before pledging two tractors, each for Bukono and Busiki constituencies. The President urged the two legislators to work together for development of the district.
However, since then, the legislators’ bickering has intensified and took a downward spiral in 2018 when Ms Naigaga and Mr Akamba escorted Speaker Kadaga to Bukono (Ms Namuganza’s constituency) for the enthronement of the Chief of Nkono, Mr George Mutyaba.
The three legislators’ animosity was again openly brought to the fore last month during the NRM national vice chairperson (Female) elections in which Ms Naigaga and Mr Akamba campaigned for Ms Kadaga.
Earlier, the Namutumba Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Amos Ssempala, conceded that he had failed to reconcile both camps.
“There is a need for the President to give guidance and look into this matter because the two camps have failed to reconcile. I personally tried to reconcile them but they wanted to fight in that meeting,” Mr Ssempala said.
In his early 60s, Mr Kasisa was born in Namalemba Village, Kiwanyi Sub-county but he owns houses in Namutumba Town Council.
He is a primary school teacher by profession with a PhD from Makerere University and has been head teacher of Iganga Boys’ Primary School for the past 20 years before retiring. He is now the head of laity of Iganga Central Diocese.
He is also the director of Jinja Central School in Mpumudde Division, Jinja City North and owns a farm in Namutumba Town Council. This is his first time he is contesting for the Busiki parliamentary seat.
He is a lawyer born in Bubutia Village, Bulange Sub-county where he has a home and another in Bukonte Village, Nawaikona Sub-county.
His political career started at quite a youthful age as a member of the Opposition (FDC) before he defected to the ruling NRM party and contested for Busiki Constituency MP seat in 2016.
Mariam Naigaga, 41
Born in Nsongwe Village, present day Bugobi Town Council, Ms Naigaga was formerly a manager at Centenary Bank in Iganga Branch, before joining politics in 2016.
She serves on the special Presidential Advisory Committee on Budget and is a member of the Budget Committee and the Committee on Finance, Planning and Economic Development in Parliament.
Ms Naigaga is also a member of the Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change, the Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Children, the Uganda Women’s Parliamentary Association and the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Social Protection. Additionally, she is the treasurer of the NRM Parliamentary Caucus and the secretary of the Busoga Parliamentary Caucus.
Persis Namuganza, 35
Born in Bugwe Village in Ivukula Sub-county, Ms Namuganza first gained experience as the Luweero RDC.
Her political career started at a youthful age when she participated in youth Electoral College in greater Iganga before it was split to create Namutumba District. She is the State minister for Lands and also the incumbent MP for Bukono Constituency, a seat she assumed in 2016 after defeating the Namutumba District LC5 chairperson, Mr Michael Saire.