Nambooze, Bakaluba bury hatchet, unite under NUP

Nambooze quit Democratic Party (DP) while Bakaluba left the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

ELECTIONS   POLITICS

Indeed, there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics. That is true for Betty Nambooze and the Rev. Peter Bakaluba Mukasa, who had bitter political and court battles in the mid-2000s but have now come together to support presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, the National Unity Platform (NUP) flag-bearer.

Nambooze quit Democratic Party (DP) while Bakaluba left the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

The two want to change the political landscape of Mukono district. The district is one of the few that attained model status in the early 1990s.

However, with time, things have changed. Many district leaders and their technocrats would visit Mukono for benchmarking on a number of things, including leadership, administration, infrastructure development and education, but this is now history.

It is against this background that candidates for the district chairperson seat in the 2021 elections are basing to promise the revival of the lost glory.

They are Bakaluba-Mukasa (NUP), Al-Haji Haruna Ssemakula (NRM), the incumbent, Andrew Ssenyonga (independent), Godfrey Kiregga Musisi (DP), Nicholas Munyagwa (independent) and Peter Nsubuga (independent). Ssemakula, who has been the district NRM vice-chairperson, says he decided to contest because leaders were performing below expectations.

“I have been combing the district for President in the past elections. I, therefore, know what our people want,” he says. Ssemakula is a businessman and promises to create more jobs by attracting investors to start factories in the district.

He is worried that despite the fact that the Government has given Mukono and other local governments over three road units, the roads in the district are still in a bad state.

“It’s unfortunate because we have leaders who do things without minding about what the electorates want. The district also bought a drilling ridge in the last term of former chairperson Francis Lukooya Mukoome with intentions of drilling boreholes in all the places where water is a challenge, but to date, we have villages where water remains a challenge,” he says.

Ssemakula defeated the incumbent, Andrew Ssenyonga, in the NRM primaries with 42,878 votes against 9,678. That landslide victory has given him a lot of momentum.

However, Ssenyonga disputed the results from the NRM primaries, saying the election was not free and fair. 

“I will not go to courts of law, but the voters’ public court. The voters will decide,” he says.

Ssenyonga says he is both a self-made politician and a businessman who pioneered airtime vending in Mukono. He, however, says he is from a humble background. Ssenyonga says he used to dig for people to raise money for school requirements and tuition at Bishop Senior Schools.

Ssenyonga, who holds a bachelor’s degree in local governance studies, has always faulted his rival, Ssemakula, for not being ‘highly’ educated. However, Ssemakula says he enrolled for mature entry studies and he is, therefore, eligible to stand.

“Mukono district needs my hard work, care for the vulnerable people and the lobbying skills, but not education. The fact that I managed to meet the Electoral Commission education requirements means that is no longer an issue. I am determined to tell people what I have done for them and what I am yet to do,” he says.

Ssenyonga says for the time he has been the district chairperson, he has managed to achieve a number of things, including completing the first floor of the district administration block, which had stalled for over 20 years, fighting corruption in contracts awarding process and recruitment of staff.

“I have built schools, worked on some roads, drilled boreholes and ended the wrangles between politicians in the district,” he says.

He, however, acknowledges that there are some things which are still lacking, including bad roads.

Ssenyonga says on the issue of roads, the demands are many.

Bakaluba Mukasa

Bakaluba is another candidate to watch. He is a veteran politician, who has grown in the leadership positions from being a councillor at Mukono town council, rising to the MP level, where he served for two terms in two different constituencies of Mukono North and Mukono South.

He says he has enough experience and exposure to make Mukono flourish again.

Bakaluba is a man of all seasons — ranging from being a good businessman, a politician, priest, journalist/ broadcaster. He owns over 10 schools in the districts of Mukono and Buikwe.

He took people by surprise when he denounced NRM and many took time to believe him.

However, he is standing by his word. Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze, an opposition giant in Mukono, says she had welcomed him with a pinch of salt. 

While addressing a rally at Nassuuti cell in Mukono Municipality last week, Nambooze said she had to test him during Kyagulanyi’s visit to Mukono to see whether he would persist and move with him despite the teargas and other challenges.

“But he proved to me that he is indeed determined. I am, therefore, backing him without any doubt,” she says.

Bakaluba says NRM had tainted his image in different ways. After losing to Nambooze in Mukono North, Bakaluba ran to Mukono South, where he settled after getting signals that the area MP, Janat Balunzi Mukwaya, was not running again. He did enough groundwork which gave him momentum and managed to win the seat in the 2011 general election.

However, he did not manage to win a second term after losing to NRM’s Johnson Muyanja Ssenyonga in the party primaries. He ran as an independent candidate in 2016 but still lost.

That loss did not kill his political career but made him go back to the drawing board. After about two years, Bakaluba declared his intentions to run for the district chairperson seat.

These days, Bakaluba addresses rallies with Nambooze and they canvass support for each other.

Bakaluba has promised to revive education in the district and ensure that schools in villages shine.

“I have helped in the construction of roads before. Therefore, it will not be my challenge when I get to office. I have helped some rural sub-counties to get electricity, I will boost the health services,” he promises.

Bakaluba is believed to have made the right calculation when he decided to join the Opposition as it has won him new allies.

Kiregga Musisi, the DP candidate, is running for the second time after losing to Ssenyonga in the previous elections. He says given the fact that he is not new in the race, he knows each and every direction of the district, something which gives him an upper hand.

Voters not happy

The voters in Mukono district are complaining of the poor roads. 

Ruth Najjemba of Bugoba village in Goma division, Mukono municipality, says many leaders who have been entrusted with power and forget about their electorate are the cause of the poor service delivery.

Najjemba says if leaders are elected and they get time to consult the people about their challenges, they would be in position to know what to do at the right time.

Samson Jungo, another voter, says they stop seeing the leaders during campaign time.

Jungo says thieves are taking advantage of the bad roads to steal their animals and break into their houses.

For the people in Mukono municipality, traffic jam is their main challenge which is reported to have affected a number of businesses including hotels and schools.

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