The Observer | How Mbabazi, Besigye race has divided Buganda

Posted November 9, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in The Roadmap to 2016 ~ 2,984 views



Summary – Ssuubi group and other opposition politicians stand to lose as NRM candidates look set to benefit.  Parliamentary contestants in Buganda could pay dearly for taking sides in the mini-contest between FDC presidential candidate Kizza Besigye and former prime minister Amama Mbabazi, an Observer analysis shows.

Four-time contestant Besigye‘s and Mbabazi’s decision to go separate ways after failed coalition talks appears to have rubbed off badly against their supporters, notably some MP hopefuls in Buganda, who have now turned guns against each other.

In some constituencies in Kampala and Wakiso, opposition candidates are openly identifying themselves as either Mbabazi or Besigye supporters. Some National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidates, exploiting these differences, could end up smiling their way to Parliament, dealing the opposition a heavy blow in a region where the latter traditionally win a considerable number of seats.

Interestingly, some of the politicians throwing barbs at each other are close friends and former political allies in pressure groups like Ssuubi 2011, who have now drifted apart because of their choice of the presidential candidate.

Political observers warn that this bickering could gift NRM candidates unlikely victory in some areas, like it happened in previous elections where two strong opposition candidates failed to reach compromise.

Dr Sabiti Makara, a senior lecturer in the department of political science at Makerere University, said on Saturday that even at parliamentary level, the opposition had to exhibit a high degree of unity in these unprecedented political times.

“They do not have any option [other than uniting] unless they want to lose. In Luweero, when they all backed Brenda Nabukenya [during the May 2014 by-elections], they won,” Makara said.


Indeed, from some of the results of the 2011 parliamentary elections, there is enough evidence to prove that opposition disunity in many cases handed the NRM candidate victory in some constituencies in Kampala and Wakiso.

In Makindye East, the winner, John Ssimbwa of NRM, got a total of 16,714 votes yet the combined tally from Ibrahim Kasozi of FDC, Sarah Kanyike Sarah, a DP-leaning independent, and Susan Nampijja of CP was 21,212 votes.

In Wakiso district’s Kyaddondo North constituency, the failure by two opposition candidates to unite handed victory to NRM’s Robert Kasule. In that election, DP’s James Kibanga got 13,222 votes while FDC’s Kagulire Ssebowa scored 9,540 votes. This gave them a joint total of 22,726 votes against Kasule’s 22,649 votes, a difference of 77 votes.

It was the same story in Nakawa, where FDC’s Michael Kabaziguruka with 23,009 votes, DP’s Kenneth Kakande with 20,919 votes and UPC’s Geoffrey Odongo (1,559) ensured that NRM’s Fred Ruhindi, who got 44,929 votes, took the seat.

In total, Kabaziguruka, Kakande and Odongo had 45,487 votes. A candidate selection committee for parliamentary candidates, under The Democratic Alliance (TDA), was supposed to sort out any differences between the opposition candidates to avoid a repeat of the above scenarios.

But now, with parliamentary nominations set for December 2 and 3, it is looking increasingly unlikely that this committee will be set up — or get the time to perform those duties.


From our analysis, Kampala and Wakiso, two districts controlled by opposition MPs, are the major hotspots of the Besigye-Mbabazi political rivalry. For many, the decision to support either Mbabazi or Besigye is based on political calculations or personal reasons.

The race for the Kampala woman MP, which has attracted three fairly strong opposition candidates, stands out in this regard. Two of the candidates (the incumbent Nabilah Sempala and Shifrah Lukwago, hitherto a councillor at KCCA) have chosen to rally behind Dr Besigye’s presidential bid while Florence Nakiwala of DP supports Mbabazi.

The three treated the public to a political spectacle during the two days of presidential nominations last week. At Namboole and Nakivubo, Nakiwala, a former Buganda kingdom minister, positioned herself close to Mbabazi, ensuring that she featured in many of the photographs and video clips of the former premier.

For Nabilah, the spectacle descended into comedy. On Tuesday morning, Nabilah first placed advertisements on a local FM station calling upon her supporters to flock to Mbabazi’s public rally at Nakivubo. But after realising that Nakiwala had beaten her to the game and gotten close to Mbabazi first, she planted herself beside Besigye at Namboole.

Efforts by the party officials to evict her creating a fuss failed. Nabilah told whoever wanted to kick her off the seat to “leave me alone” – until Besigye told them to leave her alone.

For all her troubles and political inconsistencies, Nabilah remains a strong candidate. In the 2011 elections, she scored 222,724 votes, beating Margaret Zziwa by 58,346 votes.

Nabilah’s biggest challenger this time is Nakiwala, wife of Bukomansimbi MP Deo Kiyingi and former Buganda minister for Tourism. Nakiwala reportedly has deep pockets and a vast network of mobilisers in Kampala.

Lawyer Shifrah Lukwago has built political capital out of being close to Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, during his troubles with government. Her striking, light complexion also makes her instantly recognisable even in a crowd.

Shifrah told The Observer on Friday that the people, not armchair politicians, will take the final decision.

“People will elect the person they see is strong. It does not matter whether we are ten opposition candidates; the people will decide,” She said.
Still, there remains fear within opposition camps that NRM’s flag bearer Asia Nabisere could exploit the differences between the three candidates and nick the victory.


Other interesting duels include Lubaga North, where former MP Beti Kamya, who is allied to Mbabazi, is seeking to reclaim her seat from the incumbent Moses Kasibante of Besigye’s group.

Both are strong candidates and the race is likely to be close. Singh Katongole of the NRM will be hoping that a split of the opposition vote gifts him victory. In Kawempe South, MP Richard Sebuliba Mutumba, a supporter of Mbabazi, will face off with Mubarak Munyagwa, the Kawempe division mayor and strong ally of Besigye.

Sebuliba-Mutumba told The Observer on Saturday that his campaign will focus on fending off a challenge from the NRM and Museveni, not Munyagwa.

“Even if I was not for Mbabazi, FDC would still have fielded a candidate in my constituency,” he said.

As the two opposition candidates tussle it out, NRM’s Madinah Nsereko will be lurking in the shadows.  In Kawempe North, Latif Ssebaggala, the incumbent, has identified himself with Mbabazi.

Interestingly, Ssebaggala belongs to the platform for Truth and Justice pressure group, a DP faction led by Lukwago, who is sticking with Besigye. His major competitor is Sulaiman Kidandala, a DP member who is also allied with Mbabazi. FDC’s Muhammed Ssegirinya is also in the race.

In Makindye East, Michael Mabikke of Team Mbabazi will face off with Ibrahim Kasozi of FDC. Their duel could gift NRM’s Ssimbwa victory.


Along with the Besigye-Mbabazi rivalry, the future of Ssuubi 2011, a political platform established to canvass support for opposition-leaning Baganda politicians, appears threatened.

The Observer understands that on Friday, some members of the group met with its patron, Mulwanyammuli Ssemwogerere, the former Buganda katikkiro, to find a way forward. Details of the meeting were scanty by press time.

Its avid promoters like MPs Medard Sseggona (Busiro East), Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda (Kyadondo East) and Matthias Mpuuga (Masaka municipality) have taken different political directions.

Sseggona and Mpuuga support Mbabazi while Ssemujju is with Besigye. Other prominent Ssuubi MPs like Betty Nambooze (Mukono municipality) and Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala) have taken a neutral stand, at least publicly. Sseggona told The Observer on Saturday that irrespective of the presidential candidate a member supports, they know that Ssuubi still has other uniting factors.

“We shall not break up because there are so many areas where we work together. Our relationship is supposed to outlast short-term political differences,” he said. Nambooze said part of the reason she had decided to remain neutral is to keep Ssuubi and its core principles intact.

“I want to go to Busiro and campaign for Sseggona then go to Kira municipality and mobilise for my friend Ssemujju,” she said. Still, Nambooze acknowledged that by allowing the political differences between Besigye and Mbabazi to divide them, some MPs in Buganda are risking defeat.

“We all want change, isn’t it?” she asked, adding: “Whether it is Besigye or Mbabazi who delivers it, we need it.”

Written by Edris Kiggundu – Source — Weekly Observer.

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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