In the 2011 elections, the NRM Party swept all the local leadership positions and parliamentary seats in Karamoja sub-region.
As a sub-region, President Yoweri Museveni garnered 78% of the total vote with Nakapiripirit and Napak emerging a soft ground with 93.3% and 93.2% respectively. The two districts only fall behind Kisoro and Kiruhura as Museveni’s 2011 best districts with 94.4% and 94% respectively.
However, the 2016 general election has proved much easier for President Museveni than the 2011 election. In the recently concluded election, the ‘old man with a hat’ garnered a whopping 91% of the total vote in Karamoja sub-region. He scored 97.3% in Amudat district, 80% in Abim district, 90% in Kaabong, 95% in Nakapiripirit, 93.7% in Napak, 91% in Kotido and 89.7% in Moroto district.
Five years ago, Karamoja has been one of the least developed sub-regions in the country, thus becoming the government’s major focus. In an attempt to develop Karamoja, Museveni appointed his wife Janet Museveni as the minister for Karamoja Affairs in 2011.
We must appreciate the fact that Janet has initiated a number of programmes aimed at boosting the economic prospects of the sub-region. She pioneered a special programme of feeding all primary school children at school, one way of curbing the habit of school drop outs. This has worked wonders and as I speak, there is a huge number of children completing primary seven classes in Karamoja sub-region.
It is also in her plan to turn Karamoja into the food basket of Uganda, but this has not materialised considering the semi-arid climatic conditions of the region, which usually lead to crop failure and ultimately famine. This initiative if well-handled would help avert the famine that has constantly disturbed Karamoja and would also provide high yields for export to both Kenya and South Sudan. These initiatives have motivated the people of Karamoja to have continued belief that it is only President Museveni who can provide a solution to their challenges.
MBABAZI VS MUSEVENI
It is important to note that the NRM primaries left many contestants especially at Parliamentary level wounded considering that the elections were marred by many irregularities.
Since the NRM Electoral Commission failed to handle these petitions challenging the sham election, most influential candidates from Karamoja sought refuge in Hon John Patrick Amama Mbabazi and his Go Forward team to enable them compete in the different political positions ranging from Parliamentary to Local Councils.
As it turned out, these were very vocal and influential figures in the politics of Karamoja sub-region, they managed to have candidates in almost all elective positions in the sub-region of the Go Forward leaning.
Having been candidates in the NRM primaries, majority of the members in this team had a following in their constituencies and this explains why in the start of the campaign Go Forward was a hot cake overtaking Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) in terms of popularity which can be proved by the number of candidates at all levels that each team presented for the just concluded general elections.
This is not surprising that Mbabazi pulled huge organic crowds during his rallies in Karamoja.
However, when the First Lady realised the strength of this team, she sought an audience with them, thus culminating into the Morulinga meeting where a number of issues were discussed pertaining how to win support for President Museveni and the NRM in general.
She managed to win back the lost souls back to the NRM party. This team created a counter structure that technically was in charge of diffusing all that had been built in the name of Go Forward and Presidential candidate Hon Amama Mbabazi.
It is not a surprise that he (Mbabazi) did not even polling agents in many of these polling stations in Karamoja as a whole.
At the end of the poll, NRM undoubtedly swept Karamoja sub-region including Amudat which used to be FDC Dr. Kizza Besigye’s stronghold leaving him with only 2%.
Julius Lodou Didas
Former Dodoth West MP Candidate