The position for vice-chairperson western for the ruling NRM party was won by Kikinzi East Member of Parliament Chris Baryomunsi who comes from Kigezi sub-region. Besides Kigezi, the victory means Baryomunsi will be now in charge of mobilising support for the NRM in areas such as Ankole, Bunyoro, Tooro and the restive Rwenzori sub-region.
As Baryomunsi is still basking in glory, Florence Kintu Tumwine, the former Kalungu District Woman Member of Parliament who was one of the seven contestants, is asking the NRM leadership to trim off her sub-region, the Rwenzori- sub-region, off the western bloc.
In an interview with Sunday Monitor, Kintu said since in the NRM structure, Kampala was trimmed off Buganda and Karamojong was carved out of the eastern bloc, that the same should be done about the Rwenzori area.
Just like Karamoja sub-region which has seven districts in Kaabong, Abim, Kotido, Moroto, Amudat, Napak and Nakapiripirit, she said Rwenzori has also seven districts including Kabalore, Kasese, Bundibugyo, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa, Kamwenge and Ntoroko and thus warrants to be treated as a region of its own within the NRM structures.
“Rwenzori sub-region has peculiar problems,” Kintu explained. “It’s distinct from other areas in the western region. We have different languages, different culture, it’s about time they look into this seriously.”
Politically, Kintu announced herself on the national scene via the greater Masaka area where she was a district councillor and the moment Kalungu was carved out of Masaka she became the interim chairperson of the district, but she is a native of Bundibugyo District in western Uganda.
Bundibugyo, which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo, saw the renewal of hostilities between the Bakonzo and Bamba communities following the 2016 Local Council elections and Kintu believes that Baryomunsi, who comes from Kanungu District, doesn’t have what it takes to solve such issues.
“What happened was really bad,” Kintu said. “I was going in there to get a solution since I wasn’t part of the people who were fighting. They saw me as a neutral person. Those people looked at me as their daughter so they opened up. We had meetings and that’s how we managed to solve those issues.”
In a bid to bring back peace in the sub-region, Kintu talks about forming a forum she calls Rwenzori Women for Peace – which covers all districts in the Rwenzori belt with the exception of Kyegegwa, Kyenjonjo, Kamwenge and Kitagwendwa.
“The woman is vital in convincing the husband, the father or the son against engaging in rebellious activities,” she said.
Though Bundibugyo has kept on voting for the NRM and by extension President Museveni, Kintu, a former chairperson of the parliamentary Committee on Local Government and Public Service, insists they have been forgotten when it comes to sharing the national cake and this manifests itself via few of their people holding positions of government.
“Where are the people from Bundibugyo?” she asked.
“We have educated people, look at the Umeme ED [Selestino Babungi] but the only minister we have Christopher Kibazanga [State minister of Agriculture] was given the position because he crossed over from the FDC [Forum for Democratic Change].”
“My people are now wondering: Are they taking us for granted because we keep on voting for the NRM?”
Kasese District, that neighbours Bundibugyo, is now famous for housing regime malcontents and in the 2016 General Election the FDC, Uganda’s biggest Opposition party, swept the district and Kintu wonders if the NRM honchos never picked lessons from that.
“Kasese did go to the Opposition and that was painful and we have been doing a lot of work to ensure that we win back the district, but in Bundibugyo people are wondering if they have to go the Kasese way if they are ever to be recognised.”
Besides she also feels Rwenzori sub-region’s contribution to the NRA guerrilla war that brought President Museveni to power has been overlooked.
What Kintu is referring to is the 1985 trek of hundreds of NRA fighters, who were under fire from UNLA forces, from Luweero jungles to the Rwenzori mountains.
“The war wasn’t going on well in Luweero in the early days,” Kintu says. “That’s why they moved to Rwenzori, where people welcomed them. If it wasn’t for the people of Rwenzori the war wouldn’t have been successful. Luweero triangle was given a ministry to settle their claims but Rwenzori has never got a thing.”
“It’s our people who won the battle at Katonga, but all of that has been forgotten.”
People who lose elections are known for turning around to discredit the process, but Kintu disagrees that she is saying what she saying now because she is bitter. Reason? She says she has previously lost within the NRM and she never turned against the party.
“In 2016, I never wanted to contest in my party primary because I was sick and I was going to India for surgery, but our secretary general Justine Kasule Lumumba convinced me to stand. I eventually lost to honourable Aisha Ssekindi, the now Kalungu Woman Member of Parliament. I didn’t stand as an Independent and I campaigned for her,” Kintu explained.
Still, people wanted her to stand as an Independent.
“You see… Kintu Florence Tumwine is a very disciplined carder. I’m loyal and disciplined. I know if you are a disciplined carder and you lose an election if there no issues that you were cheated… you were mistreated then there is no reason to stand as an Independent.”
“In politics it is about taking it as a party,” Kintu says.
Kintu, who describes herself as a peace ambassador, traces her routes with the NRM with Museveni’s 1980 party, the UPM.
She says she first met Museveni in 1979 when he was Defence minister in Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa’s regime. Museveni helped to release Brig John Odongo, a Kenyan friend of Kintu who had been incarcerated at Makindye Military Barracks.
Odongo had fought together with Museveni in Tanzania to uproot Idi Amin’s regime in Kampala.
“That’s when I realised Yoweri Museveni is a very joyful person and is so accommodative. Now we were like at home,” Kintu recalls about her first interface with Museveni.
Thereafter, Kintu says she was recruited by Museveni into the UPM structures and she campaigned for the only UPM candidate who won a parliamentary race in 1980 – Crispus Kiyonga, now Ugandan ambassador to Beijing, China.
“We have remained royal and humble because nobody took us there. We took ourselves there. And I’m now happy of what UPM has become today,” she said.
Official results by the NRM’s electoral commission indicated how Kintu was third in the race, with Maj Gen Matayo Kyaligonza coming second and Baryomunsi taking the day.
But Kintu, who garnered 2,026 votes, insists that she came second on grounds that Kyaligonza, who is Uganda’s ambassador to Burundi, never resigned his position as the law dictates.
“Public servants are supposed to resign their positions before they go into politics, but Kyaligonza didn’t do that. So to me legally I came second because legally he wasn’t supposed to be in the race. Laws must be followed,” she said.
The idea of Kintu standing again has been fronted to her, but she says she turned down all of those proposals.
“Some have been saying I stand again in Kalungu; others have been saying I stand as Bundibugyo LC5 chairperson, others Bundibugyo Woman Member of Parliament and others saying I should stand in Bwamba County. But I think in order to stand you should be into it. Some wanted to use me to fight their own personal battles and I can’t do that. I’m not a person who can be used as a mercenary,” she says.
While she isn’t standing on any election position in next year’s elections, Kintu thinks she is going to play a major role.
“We are having primaries very soon and there will be lots of fallouts. There will be lots of divisions. There is going to be a cocktail of confusion. There are going to be a lot of complainants within our party and that’s where I’m going to come in. I’m going to be there to help settle disputes that emanate from primaries,” Kintu who says she has a passion for farming, explained.