Why ex-minister Nantaba shunned NRM primaries

Wednesday September 16 2020
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Kayunga District Woman Member of Parliament Idah Nantaba (right) and State Minister for Tourism Godfrey Kiwanda kneel down to thank residents during a thanksgiving ceremony on April 14, 2017 in Kayunga District PHOTO / FRED MUZAALE

By Fred Muzaale

Former State minister for Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), Ms Idah Nantaba,  is among the National Resistance Movement (NRM) bigwigs, who shunned the recent NRM party parliamentary elections.
Ms Nantaba, who is also the Kayunga District Woman Member of Parliament (MP), has instead declared to her constituents that she will contest for the same seat as an independent candidate.
On September 4, NRM conducted primaries to pick   parliamentary flag bears, but the exercise was marred by massive vote rigging and violence that left scores of supporters injured.

President Museveni, who is the national party chairperson, has since condemned the acts and vowed to have all the culprits punished.
Ms Nantaba, who in 2015 declared that she had quit the NRM party over what she termed as “massive vote rigging entrenched in the party” told her supporters recently that she has stuck to her guns and refused to yet again participate in the NRM party primary elections. 
Ms Nantaba has had an icy relationship with ruling NRM leaders in Kayunga District since 2010.
She has previously clashed with the Kayunga District NRM chairperson, Mr Moses Karangwa, who she accuses of presiding over illegal land evictions in the district, which have left thousands of residents homeless.

Although Karangwa denies the allegations, Ms Nantaba insists she has evidence to prove her claims
Mr Karangwa has since reconciled with Mr Tom Sserwanga, the Kayunga District chairperson and other political rivals in the area.
President Museveni previously tried to reconcile Ms Nantaba and Mr Karangwa in vain.
On Monday, Ms Nantaba refused to explain why she shunned the party primaries, but instead attacked the media, accusing them of always casting her in bad light.

“My decision not to take part in party primaries is none of your business. What did the media lose anyway? Please focus on what will help your company  grow and forget about Nantaba,” she said.
 Ms Nantaba’s aide, Mr Benon Sserunjogi, who is a former administrator in the Kayunga District NRM office, said the legislator’s troubles with NRM arose from her 2015 contest with Mr Karangwa for the Kayunga District NRM party chairman seat.

Mr Karangwa, who is also a businessman and a close ally of  Gen Salim Saleh, beat Ms Nantaba for the seat during an election that was marred by violence.
During the election, Ms Nantaba was teargassed by police and was allegedly taken to Kenya for treatment.
“Ms Nantaba got frustrated and lost confidence in the NRM party elections, when Mr Karangwa bribed voters and beat her,” Mr Sserunjogi said.

“Owing to the fact that Mr Karangwa is a longtime political enemy, Ms Nantaba decided to shun the primaries because there is no way she could participate in an election which is supervised by her political rival,” he added.
Mr Karangwa and Ms Nantaba, who were once close friends, fell out in 2011 when Ms Nantaba branded the former a land grabber.
There were attempts by President Museveni to reconcile Ms Nantaba and Mr Karangwa in vain.
Another campaign agent for Ms Nantaba, Ms Jane Nakato, said they were in support of Ms Nantaba’s decision because NRM elections are always marred by violence and vote rigging, which could result in death of their candidate.


“She will participate in the national parliamentary elections next year and we are sure she will retain the seat. There is no doubt that Ms Nantaba is still an NRM supporter,” Ms Nakato said.
In what seems to be an escalating icy relationship, Mr Karangwa has since fielded his daughter, Ms Jacqueline Birungi, to contest against Ms Nantaba.
However, Ms Birungi lost to Ms Agatha Nalubwama, who won the NRM party primaries for the district Woman MP seat.
Others eying the district Woman MP seat include Ms Margaret Nabirye, Ms Moreen Nabukeera, both from National Unity Platform (NUP), Ms Lydia Wabuza (Democratic Party) and Ms Harriet Nakwedde (Forum for Democratic Party).

Mr Karangwa said he had no problem reconciling with his political rival whom he accused of tarnishing his name and that of all leaders in the district.
“I defeated her in the elections for the district NRM chairperson, but she has since refused to concede defeat. We should cherish unity if our area is to have peace and development,” Mr Karangwa said yesterday.
Late last month, Ms Nantaba and Bbaale County MP, Mr George Kumama, almost exchanged blows at a public gathering after the former branded the latter a ‘land thief’, who has led his constituents to become destitute in their own country.

However, while addressing supporters at Kayunga market recently, Ms Nantaba urged her constituents to remain firm despite the alleged threats on her life.
Ms Nantaba, who was a businesswoman in Kampala, hit the political scene in 2011 after successfully winning the Kayunga District Woman parliamentary seat.  She won her ticket to Parliament on pledges of fighting unemployment and poverty and still enjoys support among the locals (peasants) who are at loggerheads with the leaders in the district.

After her appointment as State minister for Lands in August 2012, Ms Nantaba’s troubles began.
She was rejected by the parliamentary vetting committee on grounds that there were inconsistencies in her academic papers. But after a spirited fight that saw the legislator petition the examinations body, Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb), her papers were cleared.
The committee stood their ground, this time saying her rejection was based on her alleged lack of integrity and morals. They claimed that Ms Nantaba had attacked the committee members claiming land grabbers in Kayunga District, among them army generals, had infiltrated and bribed them.
However, Ms Nantaba’s parents, teachers, and constituents say they know her as a disciplined and God-fearing person.