NRM presidential candidate Yoweri Museveni spent the whole of last week holding rallies in greater Masaka.
The districts in this region are Masaka, Lwengo, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi, Rakai, Sembabule, Kalangala and Lyantonde.
He told the press at Rwakitura that so far, so good and actually thanked NRM mobilisers in the sub-region for the job well done!
All these districts were formerly part of Masaka but as time went by, the district was chopped into numerous clusters making a total of eight districts.
In the last elections, the ruling NRM managed to scoop all seats in Kalangala, Lyantonde and Sembabule.
In the remaining districts, the opposition particularly Democratic Party swept several seats including those for members of parliament.
For example in Bukomansimbi, the NRM didn’t get any legislator.
The voters here decided to paint the entire district green by voting for Deo Kiyingi [county MP] and Susan Namaganda [RIP] as the woman MP.
However, by the end of this term, the NRM-dominated parliament chopped Bukomansimbi into two constituencies creating Bukomansimbi south and north.
This has therefore created an extra seat but the question which remains on the ground is whether the ruling party will scoop either of the two county seats or that of woman MP.
On Tuesday last week, Museveni was in Bukomansimbi particularly at Butenga church of Uganda grounds where he held his rally.
Kagimu Kiwankuka is the NRM candidate for Bukomansimbi south.
He is son to DP founder Ben Kiwanuka who is also a born of this area.
Kagimu had until 2006 been a member of DP but defected to NRM and was appointed state minister for economic monitoring and later Uganda’s ambassador to Geneva and Nigeria.
He has now given it a second chance standing on NRM ticket again in Bukomansimbi north.
He faces Kiyingi again.
Those backing Kagimu suggest that Kiyingi deserves no second term because the area has not benefited from his leadership.
“When he went to parliament, he signed the impeachment motion against Museveni. This affected us a lot. We were completely seen as fighting the president directly. The constituency cannot get services when the area MP is fighting government. We need an MP who works well with government and the president,” Kagimu told us.
He recalled that during his days in opposition, even ministers used to avoid him every time he approached any of them for any service about this area.
Besides, signing the impeachment motion, Kiyingi is accused of failure to lobby for water which is badly needed in Butenga, Misanvu, Kawuko and Buyoga.
Another issue affecting this district is joblessness among youths.
NRM’s Kagimu wants to respond to this by setting up a person technical institute where youths can go for skills development in practical work like welding, building, carpentry among others.
The other issue which will be found almost in the entire Masaka region is that of low prices for agricultural produces.
The area is famous for growing matooke and coffee.
However, these are being bought at giveaway prices.
This therefore explains why the late Susan Namaganda was able to inflict political misery to NRM because her campaign slogan was ‘Bbeeyi Ya Bilime’ [Prices for Agricultural Produce’.
The same slogan is being used by her sister Namaganda junior who is holding the DP flag for woman MP after the death of her sister in December.
When Museveni raided Bukomansimbi, it was evident that the NRM needs to make extra efforts to capture the district.
Indeed, Museveni during his rally, he told the people not to hang themselves again.
He said that when they elect an opposition MP, he or she will not attend the NRM caucus meetings where planning takes place.
This will therefore disadvantage the area again especially on small matters affecting them apart from major projects such as roads, electricity and hospitals.
He took the locals through all NRM achievements in the area including taking electricity there.
The government is now working on major roads in the area linking Bukomansimbi to other neighbouring districts.
But Museveni says that all these he has been working on them because they are strategic in nature but the minor issues have never been brought to him by Kiyingi.
"I only thank you people for helping your person Kiyingi to get out of poverty. I have never seen him coming to the NRM caucus. A person who doesn’t belong to a particular clan cannot attend meetings of that clan. If you send someone who doesn’t attend clan meetings, how will I know the small things affecting you? The person who should know these is your MP,” he warned them, adding that if they hang themselves again by voting for opposition, it is them to suffer.
Museveni was even more concerned because according to him, he fought hard to have this district created but he was shocked when they forgot too fast and rejected all his candidates.
And yet, in Lwengo and Kalungu, the same problem occurred.
In Lwengo, NRM lost its seat in a hotly contested by-election after its MP Haji Muyanja Mbabaali was thrown out of parliament on allegations of possessing stinking academic papers.
He didn’t stand again but they brought John Alintuma Nsambu who also failed miserably to defeat DP secretary general Matia Nsubuga.
Mbabaali has once again given it a second shot after going through unopposed in NRM primaries.
He has consolidated himself on the ground by making a micro finance bank targeting women.
The bank is called Rural Women Microfinance and is located in Kyazanga.
It is operating in Kingo and Kisekka sub-counties and so far, it has 206 groups with each having 85 members.
The women are trained in business management, savings and credit services.
Museveni launched it on Wednesday last week. All these are efforts by NRM to reclaim the seat from DP! On top of that, Museveni also promised to work on water, roads, schools and health services in Lwengo in addition to setting up a technical school in all the constituencies here.
However, like in Bukomansimbi, where Hajji Idi Lubyaayi is feuding with Kagimu [both NRM] the infighting in Lwengo especially between incumbent NRM legislators and new entrants is giving NRM a bad day unless this is resolved.
On the post of LC5 chairman, Francis Bbaale has been biffing with flag bearer Mutabazi but the two reconciled at Museveni’s rally at Kiwangala where Bbaale stood down for Mutabazi.
The row now remains on Bukoto mid-west seat where incumbent MP Isaac Ssejjoba is standing against Kasozi Muyanja after losing NRM flag.
Even on woman MP seat, Sarah Nkonge Muwonge is standing as an independent after losing the flag to her former ‘house gal’ Cissy Namujju.
And yet, even Mbabaali isn’t safe either. He is facing stiff competition from fellow NRM die-hard Gertrude Nakabira who is standing as an independent for Bukoth south.
Nakabira has been the woman MP for Lwengo and now heads a camp which includes Namujju, Ssejjoba, Nakabira against that of Mbabaali which includes Kasozi, Mutabaazi and Nkonge.
Bukoto west MP Abdu Kitatta is reported to be playing a neutral role with no side.
“Unless the NRM organizes its house earlier, we are likely to lose Lwengo to the opposition. We are so disorganized and it is ego at play here” Christopher Kiwanuka a local mobiliser in Kyazanga noted.
In Kalungu, DP is also active there. Of all the constituencies, NRM has none in parliament except the woman MP Florence Kintu who unfortunately is reported to be very thin on the ground.
DP has Joseph Sewungu for Kalungu west while Vincent Ssempijja [i[independent]epresents Kalungu east.
He is however, holding the NRM flag. Museveni in his rally at Bukulula in Kalungu asked the people not to hang themselves again by bringing Sewungu.
He also pledged to work on major roads linking the district to neighbours in addition to setting up a district hospital.
Such freebies excited the people but what remains is whether they translate the excitement into votes.
In Masaka district itself, the municipality MP Mathius Mpuuga belongs to DP while that of Bukoto west Florence Namayanja is also DP.
It is only VP Edward Ssekandi and the woman MP Kase Mubanda who are NRM.
Museveni during his rally at Ssaza grounds announced major pledges to Masaka before warning voters here against hanging themselves again by voting opposition MPs.