Fights in NUP threaten opposition chances
Kampala, Uganda | MUBATSI ASINJA HABATI | Bobi Wine’s party, the National Unity Platform (NUP) umbrella is being heavily shaken by winds of independent candidates who want to stand against the party’s endorsed flag bearers in the 2021 elections. But, according to several veteran opposition leaders, the fights within NUP threaten the chances of the opposition in the 2021 elections even more.
Veteran politician Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere said it is “shameful that the opposition is fielding candidates against each other in the same constituency”.
“When you look at Kampala for instance the position of Lord Mayor has more opposition candidates competing against themselves. Please sit down and come up with one candidate who understands the problems and the rigors of Kampala,” Ssemogrere advised.
Rtd.Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye, another veteran opposition leader, made similar comments.
“We are competing among ourselves. Now NUP is competing with FDC, with DP with PP, how will they unite?” he asked.
Besigye internal bickering within the parties frustrates efforts by the opposition to defeat President Yoweri Museveni and other candidates of the ruling NRM party. He said opposition parties need to front unity candidates.
The leaders were speaking at an invite-only event organised to honour Ssemogerere held on Oct.07 at Hotel African in Kampala.
Bobi Wine (real name Ssentamu Robert Kyagulanyi) attended the event together with some leaders of other opposition parties.
Their comments follows an announcement by the NUP Executive Committee that it had endorsed 380 flag bearers at parliamentary level for the upcoming general elections out of over 430 parliamentary seats.
But the NUP selection process has been perceived as unfair, biased, and incorrect in selecting party flag bearers. It has led to the emergency of many previously NUP leaning aspiring independent candidates.
Unlike the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party which held chaotic primary elections, the NUP leadership appointed an election vetting committee of four people that interviewed competing candidates.
Since the committee released a list of official flag bearers there has been acrimony as the losers cry foul accusing the vetting committee of corruption and favouritism.
But Mercy Walukamba, the party chairperson for the electoral committee, said successful candidates underwent a rigorous process to sieve out the would-be incompetent leaders in their various constituencies.
“We selected these people using various yardsticks. Where we could have missed out someone’s competence, we asked them to appeal and a review was carried out forthwith, to make sure we have the right people,” she said.
The most audible complaints are from seasoned politicians who were dropped in the race for Member of Parliament. Notable among these are candidates from Buganda. Incumbent MP for Rubaga North Moses Kasibante, who was dropped for Abubekar Kawalya who is the current speaker of KCCA, alleges that NUP has been conned since Kawalya’s loyalty to the opposition is in doubt.
Kawalya was formerly a member of the leading opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), but broke ranks with the party when he was denied a party ticket to run as speaker for KCCA. He contested as an independent and brokered a deal with NRM councilors to win the KCCA speakership. Kawalya has since joined NUP and now carries its flag for Rubaga North MP.
Kasibante has since declared he will not waste his time appealing to NUP vetting committee but will instead run as an independent candidate. Hitting at his rival, Kasibante insinuated that Rubaga North is not for sale. During an impromptu press conference that he called soon after Kawalya was given the NUP flag, Kasibante claimed that Kawalya and Beti Kamya who won the NRM flag for the same constituency are the same, a claim that Kawalya refutes.