NUP spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi says some losses were self-inflicted, adding that the lesson they learn as forces of change is to strive and not only unite at the lower levels but also at the presidency
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | After agreeing in principle to fight the 2021 general election together in order to oust the ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM, opposition political parties went ahead to compete amongst themselves to their own detriment and benefit of the ruling party.
The opposition thus lost some 20 parliamentary seats in the just concluded elections for having fielded more than one candidate to compete for the same position.
An analysis by Uganda Radio Network [URN] on the parliamentary results posted on the Electoral Commission website shows that the ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM took advantage of the situation and won such positions. Other factors kept constant, such positions should have been won by the opposition because in most races, the competition is always between the opposition and the government.
In the lead up to the elections, there was talk of parties coming together to field joint candidates to challenge the ruling party. However, these efforts amounted to nothing, ending in each party fielding its own candidates.
In places like Kampala and other urban centers where the opposition is decisively strong, fielding multiple candidates didn’t stop the opposition from defeating NRM candidates. However in areas where both the NRM and the opposition have even support, where there were multiple candidates, the NRM candidates exploited the disunity and triumphed.
Forum for Democratic Change [FDC] candidates were the biggest victims. The party missed scooping at least nine parliamentary seats because the anti-NRM votes were shared with another opposition political party.
The National Unity Platform [NUP] follows in the second position missing out narrowly from winning four parliamentary seats due to the failure to unite while the Alliance for National Transformation [ANT] and the Democratic Party likewise each missed to win three positions and UPC missed winning one parliamentary seat.
When you compare the votes of the NRM candidate who won in any of these 20 places, their votes are by far fewer than the votes of the opposition candidate who came second added to those of any other opposition candidate in the race.
For example in Ajuri county, Alebtong district, the incumbent Member of Parliament who is also the Minister of State for Sports Obua Denis Hamson got 11,796 votes against Ongom Emmanuel Okwel of FDC who got 10,612 votes. In that election, there was also UPC’s Onyok Howard who got 3,933 votes. If Onyok had not contested, probably Ongom would have defeated Obua with 14,545 votes.
In Arua Central division, NRM’s Atima Jackson Lee Buti got 6,570 votes against Wadri Kassiano Ezati of ANT who got 6,038 while NUP’s Hadad Salim got 571. If NUP had supported Wadri, he would have narrowly defeated Atima.
In Busia Municipality, the incumbent MP Macho Godfrey who stood as an independent got 3,507 while NUP’s Barasa Living Ouma got 2,344 votes. In that race, there was also FDC’s Achoka Egesa Freddy who got 1,106 votes and Jeema’s Mukasa Abdalla Tiff Bbale who had 700 votes.
In Aswa County, Gulu district, NRM’s Wokorachi Simon Peter won with 6,392 against Okello Patrick Onguti of DP who got 5,855 votes. On the other hand, the incumbent MP, FDC’s Okumu Ronald Reagan had 2,345 votes. Combined, the votes obtained by the two opposition candidates are above those of the eventual winner.
Probably the most narrowly won election was in Iganga municipality where the incumbent Mugema Peter, an independent won with 6,621 votes against Mudiobole Abed Nasser of FDC who got 6,512 votes. Mugema defeated Mudibole with only 109 votes yet NUP’s Muganga Francis got 2,935 votes.
It was the same case for Butembe County in Jinja district and Jinja South Division East where the FDC and the ANT candidates were equally defeated very narrowly. In Butembe, Zijjan David Livingstone an independent candidate defeated Kiirya Grace Wanzala of FDC with 5,818 votes against 5,719 respectively. This means that the difference between the two candidates was only 99 votes while NUP’s Nnatabi Maria Ledochowska got 2,502 votes.
On the other hand, NRM’s Igeme Nathan Nabeta Samson in Jinja South division east defeated his perennial challenger Paul Mwiru of ANT with only 237 votes. Nabeta got 5,817 votes against Mwiru got 5,580. The difference of 237 votes is by far lower than the 769 votes that NUP’s Mugaya Paul Geraldson who was in the third position got.
In Busongora County south of Kasese district, NRM’s Thembo Gideon Mujungu got 7,601 votes to emerge the winner defeating the incumbent Jackson Mbaju who was formally of FDC but stood as an independent. Mbaju got 7,522 while the FDC candidate Kighema Alozious Baguma got 6,956 votes and DP’s Businge Benadet got 1,318 votes. When you add all the votes scored by the three opposition candidates, they are two times more than those scored by the eventual winner.
In Kasese municipality, NRM’s Kambale Ferigo defeated opponents with 14,213 votes against the incumbent Centenary Franco Robert an independent who got 11,460 votes. Previously, Centenary belonged to the FDC but stood as an independent having lost the party card. The votes scored by NUP’s Baluku Sam and FDC’s Gidio, were more than enough to see one opposition candidate to the finishing line.
In Lira West Division, independent candidate Obong Vincent Shedrick defeated opponents with 9,185 votes. On the other hand, UPC’s Ekwang Henry Cilobyang got 7,259 votes while FDC’s Okao Joel got 2,619 votes, when you add the scores of the two opposition candidates, they were enough to see Ekwang win the race.
In Mbale city Northern division, Wambede Seth Kizangi Massa of NRM got 9,854 votes against NUP’s Masaba Ivan who scored 9,413 votes. The difference between the winner and the loser was just 441 votes far less than the 4,135 votes scored by the FDC candidate Wanyoto Paul Mugoya.
In Bukooli South, Adidwa Abdu an independent candidate got 4,496 votes against Ouma James Peter of ANT who got 3,087 votes. Therefore, the difference between the winner and the loser was just 1,409 votes way below the score of Mwase Salim of FDC who had 2,719 votes.
In Rukungiri municipality which for the last 10 years has been represented by the FDC, NRM’s Rutahigwa Elisa won the race with 5,588 votes against FDC’s Nuwagaba Wallen Tumwine who got 3,584 votes. Probably if Kamateneti Ingrid Turinawe who scored 2,266 votes had not contested, Tumwine would have narrowly defeated the NRM candidate.
In Soroti county, Aeke Patrick of NRM won with 6,481 votes against FDC’s Eigu Danile 5,937 while the UPC candidate Edimu Francis got 699 votes and NUP’s Elupe Meshullam got 147 votes.
In Bugiri district, Taaka Agnes of NRM won with 40,638 votes against FDC’s Namatende Eunice of FDC who got 25,989, NUP’s Namumbya Rebecca who got 15,353 votes and DP’s Naigaga Mary who got 1223 votes. When you add the score of the opposition candidates, they outstrip those of the eventual winner.
The situation was the same in Bugweri district where NRM’ Magoola Rachel Miriel got 15,739 votes against Mercy Walukamba of NUP who 14,198 and ANT’s Aminah Mutesi Nalugoda who got 13,084 votes.
In Buikwe, Mutasingwa Diana Nankunda Kagyenyi of NRM emerged the winner with 43,215 votes against FDC’s Nateza Resty who had 41,561 votes and NUP’s Nabatanzi Faridah’s 30,275 votes. The score of the FDC and NUP candidate is way above, almost doubling that of the NRM candidate who emerged the winner.
In Gulu district, Laker Sharon Bamoyi of NRM got 6,145 votes to emerge the winner against DP’s Okello Gorreti Odoki who scored 4,331 votes while the FDC’s Amono Rose Alice Abili got 2,421 votes and NUP’s Lalam Irene got 708 votes.
In Kalungu district, Sekindi Aisha of NRM won the Woman MP seat with 25,451 votes against Kiggundu Fiona Mirembe of NUP who got 21,668 votes while DP’s Waliggo Aisha Nuluyati got 8,754 votes. This means if there was one opposition party candidate, she would have defeated Sekindi with almost 5,000 votes.
Speaking to URN, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the spokesperson of the FDC said such results vindicate some of them who have advocated for working together.
“We shall have 109 members of parliament on the opposition side in the 11th parliament, if we had worked together, probably we would be 150,” said Ssemujju, who is running for speaker and still hopes to win with such a House composition. “But in politics we never learn lessons because that has been the case for all the previous elections.”
Asked whether moving forward they would be seeking to come together to put up a united force against the NRM, Ssemujju said although it is the most ideal thing to do, it might not happen. “In mathematics one plus one equals to two but in politics one plus one might equal to five,” Ssemujju said. “Things are never as straight forward as they should be.”
Like Ssemujju, Joel Ssenyonyi, the spokesperson of NUP says such losses were self-inflicted. Ssenyonyi adds that the lesson they learn as forces of change is to strive and not only unite at the lower levels but also at the presidency.
“It becomes very hard to tell people at parliamentary level that come together yet you failed to come together at the presidency, and I think we must have a real reflection on these results,” Ssenyonyi said.
Actually, there are many people who were not going to vote at all, or who were not going to vote for any NRM candidates, but were left with limited options because of fear of very apparent and increasing hooliganism, intolerance, and sectarianism. The characteristic vitriol of “Banyarwanda this! Banyarwanda that! Go back to Rwanda! We are going to chase these cattle keepers…” could and would likely be extended easily to any of the other groups in our country, as we all know… “Burn the stick that beat your co-wife”. This, in my humble opinion, probably explains the maps showing results of yellow everywhere except one region showing red… not yellow in west, green in north, blue in east, red in central… but yellow everywhere except one region showing red. These are some of the uncomfortable things we need to be honest with ourselves about if we are to learn the difficult lessons that must be learned in order for our country to move forward.
So, many people decided to go and vote… and they didn’t vote “for NRM” but they voted “against hooliganism, intolerance, and sectarianism” (meaning they reluctantly gave their vote to NRM as they saw it as the “best” option for blocking hooliganism, intolerance, and sectarianism).
Basically, opposition managed to score enough own goals and miss enough penalty shots to cause disillusionment among the discerning electorate that wanted change, but not just any change. Mere change is a bogus goal because change is inevitable. The kind of change is what matters. For example, it’s a bit silly to imagine corruption in government will automatically end after whatever kind of change comes, especially since corruption is embedded in every part of our society… schools, churches, the corporate sector, traditional institutions, everywhere. As in, corruption in government can become even worse with a new government, especially if that new government has no clear mechanisms, no clear roadmap and no clear accountability measures publicly presented on how they plan to effectively address corruption (the same for other burning issues such as economic growth, development, unemployment, inclusion, and unity).
If the trends in recent months (especially on social media) are anything to go by, then the comments that follow will likely prove my point. The stream of intolerant, sectarian, abusive bots and trolls should appear in 3… 2… 1…