The rush of aspiring candidates flocking the headquarters of Bobi Wine’s party base in Kamwokya, Kampala, in the hope of securing the NUP ticket, shows that Museveni’s fear of a new emerging opposition is not unfounded. And he is moving swiftly to scuttle it by casting the future of the new party in a cloud of uncertainty through the slew of court cases. Many politicians are speaking openly about their doubts that Bobi Wine will be allowed on the presidential ballot in 2021.
“Anybody who did not expect the Government to fight this new idea is just lazy,” says Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze, who is seeking re-election on NUP ticket, “Sometimes they may go after Kyagulanyi as an individual, like they did with Mabirizi and then come for us as a group.”
“For all intent and purpose, NUP is a political party, led by Kyagulanyi, which government may choose to register or not register,” Nambooze adds, “We must face this and we do not have a shortcut, but we will push on.”
Mathias Mpuuga, Masaka Municipality MP and the NUP vice-president for Buganda region, reportedly told journalists that he has been called by NUP supporters “who are worried about the future”.
“This claim by Kibalama has a temporary diffusion effect on our mobilisation,” he reportedly said, “But the claim has no basis in law and logic.”
Based on such statements from NUP stalwarts, the strategy of confuse and scatter by President Museveni’s team appears to be working against Bobi Wine’s team.
Confusion in NUP
Internal confusion within the new party appears to be adding to the pain. While the slew of aspiring candidates flocking Bobi Wine’s party is a welcome show of its popularity, especially in the central region, the party’s vetting process has been vexing for some.
Some complain that the NUP Electoral Management Committee which is vetting candidates is a pack of political novices vetting veterans.
The NUP vetting committee is headed by Mercy Walukamba, a businesswoman with an accounting background who spent time in America and is known to President Museveni. In 2018 she attempted to contest for the Woman MP seat of the newly created Bugweri District on the NRM ticket. Before that she had twice vied for the Iganga District Woman MP seat on the NRM ticket.
And it also has people like Tonny Houls Bikumbi; a long time music producer at Bobi Wine’s Firebase Crew), Eddy Kayabula who is Bobi Wine’s confidante without any political credentials, and Jeremiah Keeya; a former Coordinator – Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs.
In one prominent case, it is alleged the former presidential candidate, Lubega Mukaaku was kicked off the NUP ticket for Lubaga South Constituency in favour of one Aloysius Mukasa, a rich patron associated with Bobi Wine’s elder sister, Catherine Namuleme. Another Bobi Wine sister, Betty Ssentamu is contesting to be Woman MP Gomba District on the NUP ticket.
Some members of Bobi Wine’s inner circle have been accused of selling the NUP ticket to the highest bidder. The NUP leadership has denied the allegations but confusion over vetting has seen prominent NUP members pull out. In a prominent case, Kampala Capital City Authority Lord Mayor aspirant and local music superstar Joseph Mayanja aka Jose Chameleone was denied the NUP ticket in favour of Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebagala. Soon after, however, Ssebagala dropped the flag for unclear reasons.