The 2011 mayoral elections saw most incumbents retain their seats and the opposition maintaining a strong grip on urban centres. But will next month’s election be different? asks Umaru Kashaka
In Arua municipality, the incumbent National Resistance Movement (NRM) mayor, Charles Asiki, decided to vie for the Arua MP seat as an independent candidate after losing in the primaries.
This has left the seat in the hands of several contenders, including NRM’s Hajji Issa Kato, FDC’s Hajji Musa Anguyo and independents Swadik Angupale, Romano Matua and Jabir Andiga. Local observers say the battle for this seat is likely to be the toughest ever.
The competition, however, will be particularly stiff for Kato and Anguyo. Kato is the proprietor of Rupa Cottage Soap Industry in River Oli division and a Sheikh at Arua Mosque, while Anguyo is the former councillor of River Oli division. Anguyo is campaigning door-to-door so he can reach each and every voter, according to a source.
But both NRM and FDC camps are sharply divided and this is likely to play right into the hands of independents Matua and Angupale. Matua unsuccessfully participated in the 2011 elections on an FDC ticket, while Angupale was defeated in the NRM primaries by Kato, but has not given up, even though he is the area NRM chairman.Angupale is also a local councillor.
Matua shunned the FDC primaries, leaving Anguyo to go through unopposed, but his close associates say it was a tactic aimed at drawing supporters from both the opposition and the NRM.
The Democratic Party, which took the Entebbe municipality mayoral seat from NRM and took most of the local council seats in the 2011 elections, failed to resolve political wrangles between mayor Vincent Kayanja and MP Mohamed Kawuma (both FDC).
As a result, the party is entering the election next month divided and weakened. This renders the election of NRM’s Joseph Ssesanga an increasingly likely outcome.Kayanja and Kawuma have been at loggerheads right from the time Kayanja assumed office as mayor, after bringing down the mighty NRM’s Stephen Kabuye, who had been mayor for close to 18 years.
Their squabbles ended up creating rival camps in the municipality, with each fighting for supremacy. One camp is led by Kawuma and includes Entebbe Municipality LC5 councillor Sadik Mukasa and aspiring area MP Abubaker Walusimbi.
They have since formed the Real Democrats (RD) pressure group to fight what they term as Kayanja’s bad leadership. They are hell-bent on ensuring Kayanja does not return as mayor and have, therefore, decided to throw their weight behind Ssesanga’s candidature, even when he belongs to NRM.
A source within DP said Kawuma and Kayanja have political grudges. “Kawuma wanted to exercise control over Kayanja, but the latter refused, something which angered Kawuma,” the source said. “Kawuma also wanted to be municipality mayor in this election and had hoped that Kabuye would be his rival, but he (Kabuye) had lost to Kayanja,” the source added.
However, some observers say Kayanja might retain his seat because he has performed above average and he is a development-oriented man.
Although Ssesanga’s critics agree that a sharp split in the DP could rob it of victory, they say he may face a torrid time against Kayanja because of what they say is his poor performance as LC3 chairman of division B. They say garbage was often littered on the streets during Ssesanga’s tenure.
With just over a million voters registered out of a population of 1,516,210; the city is promising fireworks in next month’s elections. The city is divided into have political divisions, which have exhibited unique voting patterns basing on their social, religious and economic factors.
Kampala Central is highly commercial and cosmopolitan, while Rubaga is more of a residential area, mainly inhabited by old Buganda and conservative Catholic families that have generally thrown their weight behind politicians from DP. Kawempe, on the other hand, is Muslim-dominated and densely populated, while Nakawa is cosmopolitan and dominated by Ugandans from the north and east.
Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, will face off with NRM’s contemporary dancehall artiste Ragga Dee, alias Daniel Kazibwe and DP’s Kyadondo South MP Issa Kikungwe. But political commentators say Lukwago seems poised to win another term, especially due to lack of a strong challenger and, perhaps, out of voters’ sympathy for his plight.
Lukwago has served only three of his five-year term after being controversially impeached in 2013 on grounds of misconduct, abuse of office and incompetence. He has continued to advocate for the people of Kampala, especially the down-trodden, despite staying out of office for two years.
But they hasten to add that Kikungwe may play the role of a spoiler in this election by taking votes from Lukwago, who leads a DP faction called Platform for Truth and Justice that opposed Norbert Mao’s presidency.
In the last election, Lukwago positioned himself as a defender of the common man against the ‘thieving’ political class, a stance that endeared him to the low income earners, who are the majority in the city.
But the NRM, which got 46% against the Opposition’s 54% in the 2011 presidential and parliamentary elections, has been making inroads in the city that spell rough times for the Opposition in the looming elections. Dismissing Lukwago’s assertion that he did not just defeat NRM’s Peter Sematimba in 2011 mayoral elections, but Museveni too, the latter assured Ugandans that the time for Kampala’s recovery had arrived, with or without Lukwago.
True to its word, the ruling party has poured markedly more money in Kampala over the past five years than ever before.
Jennifer Musisi, the executive director of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), used this money to implement several projects, from road construction to building markets and implementing livelihood programmes.
Lukwago told Saturday Vision that the Opposition just needs to get its act together in next month’s elections. “We need to get our act together to fight vote rigging because the support is there. My colleagues were rigged out because they did not put up a spirited fight, like I did to score highly,” Lukwago said.
It is currently held by NRM’s Godfrey Nyakana who announced he would not seek re-election. NRM’s Mohamed Kibedi is battling it out with Muhammad Kyambadde of DP, Herman Mawanda of FDC and Charles Musoke Sserunjogi of Lukwago’s DP faction. City businessman Kibedi is using his deep pockets to bankroll his campaigns. He invested in real estate and owns three homes in Kabojja, Kisenyi and a country home in Mityana.
He also owns rentals and Nsegumire Plaza on Bombo Road. Many thought NRM would go to the polls as a divided party when NRM chairperson for Kampala Central, Salim Uhuru, refused to concede defeat in the NRM primaries that Kibedi controversially won. But Uhuru later grudgingly conceded. He went ahead to ask his supporters to back Kibedi and deliver victory for NRM. Kibedi stands a chance of winning elections because there is a sharp split in DP.
In Kawempe, the current mayor, Mubarak Munyagwa, left the race open for anyone to take after he announced that he would vie for the Kawempe South MP seat on an FDC ticket. His deputy, Ibrahim Kamihanda, is holding the NRM flag, while FDC has Umar Bakasambe.
The former mayor Nasser Takuba is the DP flag-bearer, but Lukwago’s pressure group also put up Emmanuel Sserunjogi against him, which might give an NRM candidate a chance to capture the seat for the first time in over 20 years.
But Takuba said: “I have done the best in Kawempe local government. I have learnt a lot in leadership and can now offer effective representation to the people of Kawempe.”
This division was once a bastion of DP, but FDC’s Joyce Ssebugwawo snatched the seat in 2011 and chances are high that she will retain it, although she faces stiff competition from former FDC spokesperson, John Kikonyogo.
FDC nominated Ssebugwawo as its flag-bearer for Rubaga, but Kikonyogo unsuccessfully challenged the decision in court. He had argued that the conduct of FDC to skip party primaries on the position of Rubaga mayoral seat was undemocratic and dictatorial. He boasts of having massive support from the youth and says he will win.
Paul Sselubiri is holding the DP flag in the elections, but Lukwago’s pressure group also fielded Peter Zake, which complicates the race further for DP.NRM has Sulaiman Sendi, but local observers say Ssebugwawo stands out as the most powerful candidate, despite facing stiff competition. She enjoys support from Buganda loyalists that dominate the area. She is the aunt of Sylvia Nagginda, the Nabagereka (queen) of Buganda kingdom.
This has also been an Opposition stronghold for many years, but at the moment it is in the hands of Dr. Ian Clarke, who is an independent and contesting for the Makindye East MP seat.NRM has Rashid Biruma, who went through unopposed in the primaries and unsuccessfully contested in the 2011 elections.
DP and Lukwago’s faction decided to put their political differences aside to back one DP candidate, Kasirivu Mulyanyama. FDC has Robert Sebalu. In 2011, Sebalu contested for the Nakifuma parliamentary seat on the FDC ticket, but lost to MP Robert Kafeero.
Observers say there is no favourite in this race because all candidates are well-known politicians in the area and there are no divisions among parties that would split the vote.
The incumbent, Ben Kalumba, was defeated by Jude Mudoma in the recent NRM primaries and decided to throw in the towel. He had cried foul and said he would stand as an independent against seasoned NRM lawmaker Fredrick Ruhindi for the Nakawa MP. Kalumba blamed Ruhindi and the area resident city commissioner Jackie Kemigisha for his woes.
These conἀicts are likely to play right into the hands of NRM opponents and cost the party victory at the ballot because Kalumba’s aggrieved supporters are likely not to back Mudoma.However, DP is also divided.
The party brought Paul Mugambe and Lukwago’s group put forward Ronald Nsubuga. “Although Nsubuga belongs to the Social Democratic Party, he shares our interests and so we decided to back him,” DP factions Samuel Lubega, said.
Although the NRM flag-bearer Robert Mugabe, aka Kakyebezi, is no political lightweight having trounced the incumbent, Wilson Tumwine, who has been mayor since 2001, he faces stiff competition from Mbarara FDC chairman and businessman Stanley Katembeya.
Kakyebezi used Radio West, where he worked as a comedian and presenter for over 10 years to market himself. As a result he beat Tumwine. But Kakyebezi’s critics say the lack of leadership or management experience to his name might prove to be his undoing.
But Kakyebezi laughs it off in an interview with Saturday Vision: “No. I have a degree in social works and social administration and a diploma in education. ”He says he wants to install street lights along the roads and work on impassable roads in town.
But Katembeya, who has been a Ḁxture on Mbarara’s political scene for over 10 years, with his efforts producing diminishing returns, hopes this time round; Lady Luck will smile on him since Kakyebezi is a political novice.
Mbarara municipality had become an FDC stronghold during Winnie Byanyima’s days as the area MP, but the ruling party regained its base in a by-election to replace her after she left for an international job.
The contest for the Gulu Municipality mayoral seat is hot because five contestants are battling it out, including the incumbent, George Labeja. Labeja contested on the NRM ticket in the 2011 elections, but has now opted to go independent, claiming NRM big shots in the district were against his re-election.
Other contenders for the seat include new political entrant Martin Aliker from FDC, Alfred Okwonga from NRM, Denis Okello Oweka, an Independent and DP’s Robert Adongakulu. But sources say the competition is mainly intense between Labeja and Okwonga, who are felt on the ground among the electorate.
In the first multi-party election, Gulu and the larger Acholi area, constituted a key opposition stronghold. In part, this was due to the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency and widespread perception of atrocities committed by military personnel and historic marginalisation.
With the area pacified and programmes tailored to kick-start their rehabilitation, analysts say it was not surprising that President Yoweri Museveni scored highly. In Acholi, Museveni polled 103,609 votes (40.4%) against his main challenger Besigye’s 39,727 (15.5%).
That said, however, the opposition candidates Aliker and Adongakulu are optimistic. The former said his vision was to transform Gulu into a leading agri-business hub and the latter, who is the executive secretary of Gulu Municipal Development Forum, said he would seek to make Gulu Municipality get a city status.
The Hoima mayoral race has four candidates, including the incumbent Grace Mugasa of NRM. But local observers say the main battle is between Mugasa and independent Francis Atugonza.
The latter was beaten by the former in last elections, but has never given up perhaps because Mugasa won by a narrow margin. Atugonza, who was holding the FDC flag, then got 7,446 votes, while Mugasa had 9,549.
Well knowing that Hoima is an NRM stronghold, Atugonza stood as an independent in order to draw supporters from both the opposition and the NRM. But his decision to go independent rufed a few feathers among party officials who had banked on him to give the NRM a run for its money.
The surprise move also fuelled speculation that he had crossed to NRM. But Atugonza said shortly after his nomination in November that he wanted to work with all people, regardless of political affiliation. In his five-year leadership as a mayor, Atugonza was arrested four times and allegedly tortured in safe houses on trumped up charges.
In his five-year leadership as a mayor, Atugonza was arrested four times and allegedly tortured in safe houses on trumped up charges. He was particularly charged with fraudulent sale of a plot of land in Hoima town.
The charges, were, however, dropped by court. FDC now has Joseph Kajabago, the manager of Hoima Boma Young Football Club. Another candidate is Brian Kaboyo. All of them recently faced off in a live radio debate and discussed issues regarding service delivery in the education, health and the general development of the municipality.
It is a hot race in Mbale because FDC’s Mutwalibi Zandya (incumbent), NRM’s Moses Kisolo and independent, but NRM-leaning Abbey Makwasi are fairly strong candidates. But observers say since the district is an FDC stronghold and the NRM camp is divided, Zandya might retain the seat.
Kisolo garnered 5,510 votes, beating his closest rival Makwasi, the incumbent speaker of Mbale municipal council who got 4, 517 votes in the fresh NRM primaries held on November 16. But Makwasi did not concede defeat and still, believe his victory was snatched.
He won in the first round, but the NRM electoral body nullified the results over malpractices. Makwasi had been declared winner, with 5,671 votes, followed by Kisolo with 4,652 votes. The public recently had a feel of what is expected in the municipality when Kisolo was ambushed by five men at Mugisu hill in Mbale town as he left his home to board a taxi to Kampala.
He was left nursing injuries. His brother, Saul Gibuyama, told journalists that Zandya had been receiving threats since he was elected as the NRM flag-bearer and “we cannot rule out that his opponents planned the attack.”
The incumbent, Mohammed Kezaala, of DP is seeking a third term in office, but local observers say the DP national chairman faces a crisis of credibility. They note that Kezaala came with a lot of promises, but has disappointed a lot of residents who voted for him in 2011.
For instance, he said in 2011 that he was seeking re-election so that he accomplishes a dream of making Jinja a city and voters re-elected him, but Jinja is yet to become a city. Well-knowing that the matter is likely to come up during elections, Kezaala, in March last year, cited politics as being behind the delay in granting his town a city status since he belongs to the Opposition.
Kezaala has been winning, but observers say this time, he will be fighting for his political life against NRM’s Majid Batambuze. Batambuze, who owns a string of businesses in Jinja, was the NRM flag-bearer and first runner up for the mayorship in 2011.