October 10, 2020

EXCLUSIVE: NUP Flag Bearer Crisis Deepens


NUP Party President Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine (FILE PHOTO)

The row in the nascent National Unity Platform (NUP) over who will carry the party flag in various constituencies has taken a new twist. Whereas in some areas, those rejected by the vetting committee have openly vowed to stand as independents but keeping their allegiance to the party and its principle-Bobi Wine, in Kawempe North and Kasese district it has become dramatic.

Bizarrely, more than 40 NUP flag bearers for the Kawempe North councilor slots have unanimously rejected Mohammed Segirinya aka Mr.Updates as the flag bearer for Kawempe North MP Seat.

They say that the comical Segirinya is merely a Facebook personality with many expensive campaign posters in the constituency but in actual sense, he isn’t on the ground. They have written to the NUP Secretariat filing their petition in which they articulate reasons why Segirinya is fatally unfit for the MP Job. The councilors have made it clear that their choice is Suleiman Kidandala Serwadda.

On Tuesday 6th October, the disgruntled councilors addressed a press conference in Kanyanya and denounced Segirinya while showing solidarity for Kidandala. It’s not very surprising that they are showing solidarity for Kidandala because many of them previously subscribed to UYD, DP and more recently DP block where Kidandala served as their mentor.

“We have the flag for NUP for the councilor positions yes but we remain very aggrieved that our mentor Kidandala hasn’t been treated fairly yet he is more polished for the seat and has more support on the ground than Mr. Facebook [implying Segirinya]. Being parish councilors, we are close to the community and we know how voters think about these different aspirants. It’s our view that Segirinya isn’t the best to represent NUP interest. We shall naturally back Kyagulanyi for Presidency and someone else who will be easy to sell to the voters for the MP Seat,” one of the councilors said.

“That means more planning and prudent decision making by us as NUP grass root leaders. We shall make sure we publicly rally behind Kidandala so that Kamwokya doesn’t lose out completely because their Mohammed Segirinya is simply not electable,” says another NUP flag bearer for the councilor position in Kawempe North.

The same councilors explained that fielding Segirinya as official NUP candidate will actually propel Latif Sebaggala to secure 4th term or at worst deliver the constituency to John Fischer Kasenge of the NRM.

Despite persistent espionage claims by critics dismissing him as a 5th columnist, Lord Councilor Segirinya perceives himself as being synonymous with PP which he has been promoting everywhere including risking arrest by police. He has built a vast online following in the name of PP where he is perceived to be one of the key Movement ideologues.

We have also learnt that the return of Latif Sebaggala for the Kawempe North MP Seat has prompted his key ally Shifrah Lukwago to consider bowing out to enable Latif to grow his chances at reelection.

Latif was at first reportedly requested by NUP to bow out of Kawempe north politics and stand for Lord Mayor. He however, made his mind and bowed down “for the sake of unity in the opposition.”

National Unity Platform flag bearer for the Kampala Lord Mayoral seat Latif Ssebagala steps aside from race

Days later he has now announced his return to Kawempe north claiming the electorate begged him to stand, to the dismay of NUP bosses who are trying to build the nascent party.

Whereas critics feared Kidandala could use his position to leverage himself, his supporters considered their man senior enough in the PPM to the extent he didn’t deserve to compete with anyone for the flag. As Deputy Lord Mayor, Kidandala in 2016 stood and trailed miserably after being thumped by the inconsistent Latif Sebaggala who opportunistically jumped onto Lukwago’s TJ after bitterly falling out with Mao’s City House.

The other contenders for Kawempe North MP slot include FDC’s Mohammed Mutazindwa, DP’s Mathias Mulumba (also chairman for Corner Zone), Pearl FM’s Faruk Kalule and a one Maffu-Maffu (who professes PP/NUP just like Segirinya, Kidandala and Kalule).

KASESE DISTRICT

A section of NUP party supporters in Kasese district have also rejected the nominated flag bearer for the Kasese municipality parliamentary seat. They have vowed to return their membership cards unless the NUP vetting committee reverses the selection of the little known Amina Kahindo and hand the party flag to Sam Baluku.

The disgruntled party supporters stormed NUP offices at Nyakasanga division in Kasese municipality on Sunday to express their dissatisfaction. The group of over 50 party supporters, mostly youths, said it was unfair for the committee to leave out people who have fought tooth and nail to establish NUP in Kasese.

Allan Biira, one of the disgruntled NUP members said Baluku has been resilient, enduring and suffered various arrests for promoting the party in the district. He wants all party members to participate in the selection of flag bearers just like the case was with NRM.

Medius Mughuda, another NUP member says she got to know People power and later joined NUP through one of the contenders who has been denied the party flag. She blames the NUP top leadership for picking candidates without making background checks.

“We were mobilized by Sam to join people power, so if he is left out, then we have no leadership and the choice is to bring back the NUP cards,” Mughuda said. Julius Matovu, another party supporter is worried that the NUP vetting committee has given most of the party flags to women, which is likely to discourage men from participating in the entire electoral process. Brian Basisa, Kasese NUP party chairperson says he has forwarded the concerns of the party members to party headquarters. He also says that it would have been more beneficial if the party had allowed district party leaders to vet the candidates.

OTHER BATTLEGROUNDS

In Kawempe south, Roy Ssemboga has also vowed to stand against NUP’s choice Bashir Kazibwe. The incumbent Mubarak Munyagwa must be preparing to have the last laugh.

Nakawa West’s Kenneth Paul Kakande is another major paradox or irony on the list. It was always not going to be easy for him to get the required endorsement not because he is the least popular on the ground but simply because he was facing off with Joel Senyonyi (the PAT Gang member) who was always not going to be easy to overcome. It’s something that could detrimentally complicate things for Kyagulanyi and gradually fracture his nascent PP/NUP movement.

Being relatively more popular and perceived as more deserving than Senyonyi, Kakande, whose posters are already everywhere will be running as an independent in a constituency NRM’s Margaret Zziwa could ironically win riding on the divided opposition camp. Kakande is very eloquent and politically much more experienced than Senyonyi, who despite being famous for media appearances, is actually harder brand to sell to the grass-root electors than his social media supporters are willing to accept. Kakande will tactfully be avoiding attacking Kyagulanyi or NUP because the truth is the PP wave remains too strong (at least in his Nakawa West) for anyone to recklessly just antagonize at this point in time. He will present himself as a PP-leaning independent while professing Kyagulanyi as his choice for Presidency. Gratefully his posters are already up, actually more visible than Senyonyi. This erecting of posters to deepen the aspirant’s visibility is something PP/NUP is going to detrimentally contend with in many places where candidates have been putting up conspicuous appearances in order to create an impression they are strong on the ground. And it’s something the Mercy Walukamba-led EMC encouraged all to do after picking expressions of interest forms. People would be told, “don’t mind about the rumours you hear that we [EMC] favour so & so; just go and put your posters up ahead of our visit.”

After failing to secure the flag, the Lubaga North Member of Parliament, Moses Kasibante, says he will run as an independent candidate.

Kasibante, who has been serving as an Independent legislator recently joined NUP that is led by the Busiro East Member of parliament, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alongside 10 other MP from the Democratic Party with the hope of securing the party flag.

However, the NUP candidate’s vetting committee handed the Lubaga North MP flag to the incumbent, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Speaker, Abubaker Kawalya.

Kasibante told journalists at a media briefing at Georgina hotel in Lubya, Masanafu in Lubaga that he will run as an Independent candidate despite the fact that he remains a committed member of the people power movement.

He said the criteria used to hand the NUP flag to Kawalya is contestable, which has prompted him to run as an independent.

Kasibante revealed that he will continue using the NUP logo and colours since he is still a party member and supports the candidature of the NUP principal, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu for the presidency.

Emmanuel Ssempala Kigozi Ssajjalyabeene (Makindye Ssaabagabo Municipality) who was rejected in favour of David Sserukenya has also vowed to stand as independent. Former Makindye West Member of Parliament Michael Mabike has also insisted he will not seek further endorsement from NUP but will take the test to the people to make their choice in the forthcoming general elections as an independent candidate.

Rubaga South’s Lubega Mukaku is equally disappointed. Mukaku wanted Rubaga South where NUP has to his own detriment fronted money bags Aloysius Mukasa Thembo.

MASAKA NUP MEMBERS VOW TO QUIT

Relatedly, NUP members from Masaka region have given the Party leader Kyagulanyi Robert a two day ultimatum to settle their grievances on the concluded nomination exercise or they quit the party.

This follows what they called discrimination and corruption that characterized the vetting and nomination of NUP candidates to contest for several elective positions in Masaka district. Speaking today at the NUP offices in Masaka where they had camped demonstrating, the aggrieved candidates and supporters decried the vetting and nomination process alleging that only the corrupt were given the party flag while the popular were left out. The cry full members said that they joined NUP hoping it was different and transparent enough to lead them to the desirable change however the nomination exercise is proving that the party is more corrupt than the ones they’re fighting casting a doubt in the kind of change it will bring.

Many NUP members across the country have been left aggrieved by the candidate nomination exercise which has brought much friction in the young party.

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