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Can NRM take back Kasese?

By Monday Akol Amazima

The relationship between Kasese and the ruling NRM has been that of love and hate. It is a tale of on and off lovers. From 1989 to 1996 any candidate that was seen or perceived not to subscribe to the Movement which later mutated to the NRM party would face an uphill task winning elections however much they could be popular or credible. Those days being branded a multiparttst ( as the opposition was called then), was one way of malicing you before the voters. In the elections of 2001, when Dr. Kizza Besigye first presented himself for elections, he was introduced and made popular in the district through his Reform Agenda that later mutated into FDC  by Hon Christopher Kibanzanga and Hon Winnie Kizza who were then MP Busongora South and District Secretary of Finance respectively. Dr Besigye got accepted easier than Aggrey Awori that had announced his candidature earlier among others because Aggrey Awori was associated with multipartists and Dr Besigye was seen as the voice of reform within the Movement.

The opposition kept growing as NRM lost ground till 2016 when all the elective seats fell to FDC with the NRM only managing to win the Mayor Kasese Municipality through Godfrey Kabyanga (now ICT State Minister). In that election many could not believe when Hon Katusabe Atkins a first timer and light weight defeated Dr Crispus Kiyonga. No one had ever imagined that Dr Kiyonga could ever loose elections when NRM is still in power. He enjoyed names like Kambere ka Museveni (first born of Museveni) that made him invisible. In the last elections, it was mixed fortune for both NRM and the opposition mainly FDC. That said, there is a possibility that in the forth coming elections NRM could perform better than they have performed mainly due to the following

FDC’s woes

France’s Napoleon Bonaparte once said, never interrupt your enemy when they are making mistakes. This is a saying NRM has mastered and using in the ongoing conflict and divisions in the once main opposition party of Uganda. The Katonga and Najjanankumbi factions of FDC have not made life better for those that wish to contest the forth coming elections on the FDC ticket. Kasese is one of the districts where since the reinvention of the multiparty dispensation in 2005 in Uganda, the contest has always been between NRM and FDC that even when in 2021 where FDC ‘s Patrick Oboi Amuriat  was not an appealing presidential candidate, the opposition voters in Kasese voted NUP’s Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) for president and then voted FDC candidates at parliamentary and other levels. Now that FDC is a shadow of its former past, candidates that shall contest on the FDC ticket will be voted basing on their strength and not because of the party. It means there is a likelihood of FDC presenting two candidates in each elective position something that cost Centenary Robert his Kasese Municipality parliamentary seat in 2021. He was an FDC leaning Independent candidate whole FDC had an official candidate that was not as popular as Centenary Robert. And this is how Kambale Ferigo managed to sail through.

Opposition fatigue

There is a section of the population that have supported the opposition and have not seen the change they have craved for. This particular group is most likely to either abstain from voting or try to vote candidates from the ruling NRM with the hope that they might lobby services and projects in their home areas. Opposition fatigue in areas like northern Uganda has seen seasoned politicians like Odongo Otto loose to the ruling NRM. If the opposition strategists in Kasese don’t work on this, it is most likely going to cost them some seats observes Masereka Moses a political commentator and teacher at Bwera SS. Opposition fatigue has seen founding members of FDC in Kasese like Zephar Mubingwa cross to the ruling NRM and rewarded with RDC positions.

Presentation of stronger candidates

Having lost almost all the elective positions in Kasese in 2016, NRM in Kasese went on the drawing board to identify, interest suitable and credible candidates. This is how Hon Mujungu Gideon, Hon Ferigo Kambale and Hon  Sowedi Kutany were identified and went ahead to win parliamentary seats against strong FDC candidates. The search for candidates is on with every constituency having about four or so potential NRM parliamentary hopefuls. For example in Bukonzo West where Hon Katusabe Atkins is serving his second term, Minister Godfrey Kabyanga, Sausi Capson formerly with civil society, Baluku Syakengwa a don with Kyambogo university and veteran politician Dr Crispus Kiyonga are among the names eyeing the NRM card so as to compete with FDC’s Katusabe. In Bukonzo East much as Dr Monday Julius Rude has an upper hand to carry the NRM flag, Eng Edwin Bayiringa Bagonza is equally another credible candidate and either of the two if given the NRM flag will easily take over Bukonzo East. A single NRM candidate is likely to recapture this seat given that over 5 strong opposition candidates from different parties are lining up for the same seat. Jennipher Kyakimwa is already combing the constituency to seek support to run on the NUP ticket.

Reconciliation with OBR

Baraam Barugahare the youth and children affairs state minister is not only known for his good mobilisation skills among the young people, but also is known for playing shuttle diplomatic roles on behalf of the CDF and leader of the Patriotic League of Uganda General Muhoozi Kainerugaba. His recent visit to the palace of Omusinga Charles Wisely Mumbere affirms the ongoing reconciliation efforts between government and the cultural institution. The fact that Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu is among the cultural institutions that government is planning to construct palaces for points to the fact that the two parties are ready to bury the ugly scenarios of 2016 when government forces attacked the palace in which scores were injured and lives lost.


Much as NUP is the main opposition party in the country, it does not have elected leaders in Kasese and chances are that if Robert Kyagulanyi is to remain the main opposition leader, then NUP will field candidates and wish to win some seats in Kasese. If the Busongora South by election is anything to go by, Hon Mujungu Gideon reclaimed the seat easily just because he was competing against many opposition candidates. In the past the opposition parties in Kasese have always united around one candidate and have easily defeated the NRM candidates. For example in 2006 Winnie Kizza as the sole opposition candidate managed to defeat NRM’s strong woman Loice Bwambale to become the second district woman member of parliament of Kasese. With now every party craving to have their representatives and leaders on the ballot, this most likely is going to affect the opposition to the advantage of NRM

MK movement

It is an open secret that first son and now CDF General Muhoozi Kainerugaba has a political following across all districts of Uganda and has identified potential candidates that his Patriotic League will support says veteran journalist Andrew Mwenda. With seasoned mobilisers like Col Adula Mawa and Minister Godfrey Kabyanga this group is most likely going to give the opposition hard time in the district especially at parliamentary and other local government levels. This group has seasoned NRM mobilisers and social commentator like Masereka Moses and many others. It is a group that is keen on supporting younger and dynamic candidates to take over from the old guards in the district

 The writer is a journalist, teacher, author and Pan African.

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