The Observer | How dancing Mbabazi is getting his crowds

Posted November 14, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Opinion ~ 2,175 views



Opinion — Before former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi hit the campaign trail, critics said he would not be able to marshal huge numbers of supporters because he was deemed unpopular and out of touch with ordinary Ugandans.

Even when he drew good attendance during his September consultative meetings in eastern Uganda, doubters either claimed these were mere crowds of curiosity, or attributed them to FDC, whose structures Mbabazi used.

With the battle lines drawn after the nomination of both Mbabazi and FDC flag bearer Kizza Besigye, the Go Forward candidate was left to show his own team’s mobilisation capabilities. And so far they have performed well, energising his presidential bid with impressive gatherings.

“There is a lot of curiosity from both NRM and the opposition as to whether [Mbabazi] has the capacity to offer a formidable challenge to Museveni’s hold onto power,” said a member of the Go Forward campaign team.


Being in an alliance with several opposition political parties, Mbabazi is understood to have relied on the Democratic Party (DP) structures in Masaka, Mukono and Mityana to pull off successful rallies in those central region districts.

Masaka municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga played the leading role in organising the Masaka rally. The greater Masaka area is one of the traditional DP strongholds, with the party having six of the 15 MPs.

Mukono municipality MP Betty Nambooze also lent her structures to Mbabazi on the second day of his campaign, despite the fact that she says she has taken a neutral stand for the two opposition presidential candidates.

Nambooze, also DP president for Buganda, missed the rally because she was reported to be out of the country. However, hours after the rally, she posted on her Facebook thanking the people of Mukono for “disproving critics” by turning up in big numbers.

The mobilisation is not entirely a DP affair, according to Mpuuga, because they also rely on former NRM mobilisers whose links with Mbabazi go back to the days when he was the ruling party’s secretary general.

“There are NRM people who are closely working with us. Although some of them have not been as open as others, they attend our meetings and also share with us information on NRM’s plans,” Mpuuga told The Observer on Wednesday.


At the Masaka rally, some 20 NRM leaders announced their defection to Mbabazi’s Go Forward, including Masaka’s longest-serving chief administrative officer (CAO), Joseph Mukwaya.

Another defector, Michael Lubambula Kalumba, a Masaka businessman, said there was “nothing more” to expect from the NRM.

“I no longer look at my party [NRM] as democratic enough to guarantee democracy in the country,” said Kalumba, who claimed to be a former NRM mobiliser.
Kalumba told The Observer that he wants to see a peaceful transfer of power in his lifetime.

Dickson Kizza, who has hitherto been working closely with foreign affairs minister Sam Kuteesa, similarly feels betrayed by Museveni and NRM.

“Museveni betrayed my expectations [because] he has failed on most of his promises,” said Kizza, the former Sembabule NRM youth league vice chairman. “For instance, his Bonna Bagaggawale (prosperity for all) failed, poverty is instead on the increase.”

In Mukono, Mbabazi has the former LC-V vice chairman, Donald Muguluma (NRM), as the lead coordinator. Wherever he has gone in Buganda so far, Mbabazi enjoys the company of the DP leadership, notably Norbert Mao (President), secretary general Mathias Nsubuga (Bukoto South MP), and vice president Dennis Mukasa Mbidde (EALA MP). FDC’s Beatrice Anywar joined the team in Mityana.

Others include MPs Medard Lubega Sseggona (Busiro East), Brenda Nabukenya (Luweero Woman), Florence Namayanja (Bukoto East) and Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu West), Susan Namaganda (Bukomansimbi Woman) and Deogratius Kiyingi (Bukomansimbi county).

Justice Forum (Jeema) president Asuman Basalirwa has also attended Mbabazi’s rallies.


Mbabazi is also understood to have been advised to find means of dispelling the perception that he is a stiff man – to increase his appeal to voters. As a result, he has ditched suits for smart-casual shirt-and-trousers, and now goes out of his usual genteel way to dance for his crowds.

Sources said Mbabazi personally asked that local artistes such as Mathias Walukagga, Gerald Kiweewa, Mary Bata and Big Eye must be at each of his rallies.

However, as Mbabazi takes his campaign beyond the Buganda region, it remains to be seen what tactics his usually tight-lipped team has up their sleeve in order to sustain the momentum they have gained in week one.

Source — The 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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