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Inside the 2011 presidential race

By the independent team

Fear of the army loyalty worries voters  

Growing cracks in IPC  

So far all the eight presidential candidates have restricted themselves on telling Ugandans what their governments would do when voted into power. But the factor of managing the military is coming into play.

In Lira Museveni said Uganda now boasts a disciplined army which takes orders from civilians. Besigye is not convinced the army is really professionalised pointing out that they live in deplorable housing conditions. People’s Progressive Party (PPP) presidential candidate, Jaberi Bidandi Ssali, says the army trusts him so Ugandan voters should least worry about how he will manage the armed forces when they entrusted him with the mantle of leading the country.

Looking at the assurances the opposition candidates have had to give to the masses at nearly every rally that they will manage the army upon winning the elections, it is a clear statement that the UPDF’s impartiality in the country’s politics is highly questionable. Museveni has assured the country on many occasions that the army is now professional and non-partisan. Even several army and other security chiefs including the Chief of Defence Forces Gen. Aronda Nyakairima have given similar assurances. But their verbal assurances have not been enough to rest the public fears about the partisan character of the armed forces. The armed forces’ public behaviour has continued to portray them as loyal to one man, Museveni, thus the reason the voters are asking each candidate to assure them whether the army will not deny him/her victory even when the masses have voted him/her. For example at the launch of candidate Museveni’s manifesto on November 1, the head of the Uganda Police Maj. Gene. Kale Kayihura and his Uganda Prisons counterpart Dr Johnson Byabashaija were seen on television attending the NRM party function in their full official uniforms. Yet the Uganda constitution bars members of the armed forces from partisan politics.

What does this mean? Many voters who are not convinced that the army will support any winning candidate other than Museveni, may decide either not to vote at all or vote ‘wisely’ for fear of their vote being reversed by the military if a contrary candidate won.

Bidandi has promised unity, reconciliation and harmony saying these are fundamental to developing Uganda.

Museveni (NRM) is campaigning on the achievements of his government and says Ugandans should vote him to increase electricity supply from the current 600 megawatts to 3000 megawatts by 2016 so as to spark development. Campaigning in Obote’s home area of Akokoro in Apac, Museveni said NRM is the only party capable of managing Uganda in difficult times.

‘You cannot use one stone to cook  but three. NRM has developed the three stones needed,’ he said, adding: ‘If you put your saucepan on those three stones it will stand properly  but Olara Otunnu will not manage. Mao was telling me to beg Kony (for peace talks) when Kony killed many people; he was one of the people calling Kony Ladit (Luo word for person of honour), how can you call a killer ladit? Besigye was in the army but when we were still fighting he left the army; why did he leave; was the war finished?’ Daily Monitor quoted Museveni as saying.

However this is quite intriguing. Besigye retired from the army in 2000 and Museveni condemns him for leaving the military too early therefore abandoning the soldiers on the frontline. But Museveni’s own brother Gen. Salim Saleh, retired from the army at the rank of Major General in 1990, ten years before Besigye’s retirement. In fact by 2000 when Besigye retired the LRA had been greatly weakened militarily than in 1990 when Saleh left the army. So Besigye and Saleh, who abandoned the army too early? Would Museveni also condemn Saleh for leaving early when the UPDF was still fighting?

Besigye (FDC/IPC) is campaigning on platform of what he calls restoring hope in Ugandans by promising employment creation and better welfare for Ugandan workers especially teachers, medics, reviving government business in airline and reduction of taxes. ‘My government will re-open the Uganda Airlines to ensure that our national flag, which is a symbol of our pride, flies high up,’ Besigye said while campaigning in Wakiso. This will be one of Besigye’s strategies of revamping the transport sector

PDP manifesto highlights

By Joyce Mirembe

Development of the people’s human resource forms the pillar of the People’s Development Party’s campaign brand.

‘The greatest asset of any nation is her people and the success of a country depends on how its human resource is developed and mobilised,’ says the PDP manifesto.

The flag-bearer of the party, Dr. Abed Bwanika, promises to improve the quality of the human resource through a better education system that pays teachers well and monitors the performance of students. PDP Spokesperson Clever Peter Birimuye says, if it wins the 2011 presidential election, PDP will enact a Minimum Wage Act to protect employees from capitalists’ exploitative tendencies and pay teachers a minimum salary of Shs 500,000 from the current Shs 200,000. Teachers who excel will get a bonus.

The party, however, promises to increased budget allocation to the sector by only 3 percent to 20 percent. It will award government bursaries by region and sponsor tertiary students for studies abroad.

Employment

PDP promises to periodically assess employment needs and provide training where necessary. This aimed at reducing poverty.  Up to 38 percent of Ugandans live in absolute poverty. The current government introduced the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture, Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies, and the National Agricultural Advisory Services in a bid to fight poverty but it has reduced only marginally.

Agriculture

PDP promises to advocate for commercial production and expand markets for the agro-produce. Most Ugandans are involved in smallholder subsistence farming. PDP promises to farmers with subsidies in form of grants and loans to transform the sector to a commercial level.

The party also promises to revise the land law to eliminate duo ownership of land, a tradition it cites as an impingement on agricultural production. It will gazette agricultural zones to increase food production. It will facilitate research-based in aquaculture policies to transform research into tangible results and to also increase consumption per capita from the current 10Kgs to 15Kgs.

Health

PDP will give pregnant women, children below five years, and the elderly free medical care, raise health workers’ salaries, and increase funding for the health sector.  Health funding has stagnated at 9.6 percent which is far below the 15 percent Abuja Declaration of 2001. The sector lacks hospital facilities and medical personnel. The ratio of patient to health worker is at 1: 1,298 which is much lower than the WHO recommended standards of 1:439.

Energy

PDP says it will erect more hydro-power plants and to tap non-utilised power sources such as thermo and gas. It will ensure that Ugandans get maximum benefits from the newly discovered oil.

Tourism

PDP promises to improve tourism through modernising cultural sites, building more tourist attractions and uplifting Uganda’s tourism advertising to an international level.

FDC manifesto highlights

By Mubatsi Asinja Habati

FDC’s spokesman Wafula Oguttu says the FDC Manifesto 2011 is more about the issues because the party had time to reflect on what bothers Ugandans and were armed with lessons from the promises in 2006. In 2006, Besigye campaigned on five priority areas: Rebuilding trust in government, providing security for all, delivering economic opportunities for all, investing in people (human resources development); and restoring Uganda’s international credibility.

In 2011 he focuses on the following:

Federal

FDC promises federal governments, reconstitute the EC and reinstate presidential term limits,  and promote national unity and reconciliation.

Corruption

Zero tolerance to corruption. Cut down government wastage. Trim executive expenditure.

Employment

To create employment for all by revamping cooperatives, Uganda Development Bank to enable farmers access credit and create jobs. Create jobs for youths and give incentives to investors who create jobs for them.

Agriculture

FDC will increased agriculture ministry budget allocation to 12 percent from the current 8 percent. It will establish farm institutes in each sub-region to offer the needed agricultural extension services, and guarantee land ownership.

Infrastructure

FDC promises to develop public infrastructure like roads and railway, develop the ICT for all. Give war ravaged areas better infrastructure, war reparation and compensation. Construct new construct flyover and a ring road in city. Make electricity affordable. Renovate towns. Provide safe water

Oil

The IPC is promising more transparency in managing the newly discovered oil resource. It will increase transparency in resource management with main focus on energy and oil. Set up an oil fund separate from the Consolidated Fund to manage well oil proceeds.

Environment

Protect the environment and natural resources. Tap into wind, solar and gas energy for lighting especially in rural areas.

Tax

Reducing taxes and reform income tax where a proposed PAYE tax threshold will move to Shs 500,000 to allow workers in the formal sector adequate disposable income up from the Shs 130,000 threshold.

Education

Raise the standards of education by focusing on quality, access and skills, support sports. Minimum teacher’s salaries will be raised from the current Shs 250,000 to Shs 400,000 in the first 100 days. Children in UPE will be fed with lunch and breakfast, and given free school uniform. Establish a student loan scheme at no interest to help students unable to afford university tuition. Introduce regional scholarships competed for at regional levels, to allow children from poor families to access quality higher education. Abolish State House scholarships.

Health

Deliver quality health care for all. IPC will give free medical care to expectant mothers, children and other vulnerable groups. FDC promises a minimum of Shs 1 million salary to doctors and Shs 500,000 to other health workers. Build 10 new hospitals to decongest referral hospitals.  Recruit more health workers. Renovate and equip all the health centers and district and regional hospitals.

Vulnerable groups

Create an emergency relief program and pay 30,000 per months to persons over 65 years

PPP manifesto highlights

By Haggai Matsiko

People’s Progressive Party presidential candidate Jabel Bidandi Ssali intends to replace the unitary government with a federal system if elected president. Bidandi launched his 20- pages party manifesto on Sept.08.

Federal

Bidandi who accuses President Museveni for promoting a policy of divide and rule, worsening ethnic tension and clashes, says he would rectify the situation by letting each region manage its own affairs. Bidandi says Ugandans should not accept the regional tier form of government.

Rule of law

Bidandi says PPP will act in accordance with the constitution and respect the rule of law. He accuses the current government of vesting all the powers in the president. He says the current govement suffers the ‘I’ syndrome. However, PPP’s manifesto does not reflect the collective approach of leadership that Bidandi preaches. For instance the manifesto begins by profiling Bidandi and not the party itself.

Public Administration

PPP intends to cut down the cost of public administration. Bidandi says that before he left government they had agreed that each MP represents 130,000 Ugandans in a constituency which justified the many MPs. Today technological and transport development has made it possible to govern without necessarily reaching the people and therefore made it easy for an MP to represent many more people. He says that PPP will reduce the number of MPs to 120. Uganda’s parliament currently houses 327 MPs.

Presidential term limits

Bidandi has also been preaching at his rallies that he will only rule for one term. ‘I am already 73 years old and will rule for one term,’ Bidandi told the delegates, ‘We are going to restore presidential term limits.’ The presidential term limits were removed in 2006.

Corruption

The party’s plan according to Bidandi is to refocus Uganda back on to the road to development by solving the most fundamental crisis which is governance. ‘To solve evils like corruption, you only need leadership that does not tolerate them,’ Bidandi said. But Bidandi only justifies his intention to fight corruption by what he calls a clean political record. ‘I think I am the best qualified person to deal with corruption because of my impeccable leadership record,’ says Bidandi.

Oil

The party intends to focus oil and gas and other national resource revenues to the key social service sectors like infrastructure, education, health and agriculture.

Youth

Bidandi says that PPP has a big vision for the youth who are currently the majority but are the most frustrated because of unemployment.  Bidandi says that PPP will create more jobs for the youth, improve education and training facilities for them. PPP also intends to establish children’s homes so that the destitute children like those in urban streets are accorded meaningful life.

Health

‘When I was in still in government, at least one would find tablets at health centres,’ he says ‘we will revive health and all these sectors.’ Bidandi says that PPP will fund the sector massively so that people can get health facilities easily.

Like his speech, which are relaxed and calm, Bidandi and his party manifesto lacks the aggressiveness associated with achieving results. Critics say that the manifesto fails to reveal the implementation plan and what the party plans to spend on these reform

DP manifesto highlights

By Dicta Asiimwe

Democratic Party (DP) Secretary General Mathias Nsubuga  their presidential candidate,  Norbert Mao’s priority is fighting corruption because the current government has failed to fight corruption.

‘We shall be transparent and if faced with instances where our senior members have been named in corruption scandals, we shall punish them accordingly,’ he says.

Corruption

He explained that lack willingness to fight corruption came out clearly when government failed to implement the recommendations by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee on those who stole money during the organization of the 2007 CHOGM in Kampala.

Jobs

Job creation is another DP priority, especially for the youth. Nsubuga says DP will create an employment policy and reduce the huge Public service numbers by sacking Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) and presidential advisers. The savings would be invested to create jobs for the youth.  This proposal is less radical than the 2006 DP position.

In 2006, DP praomised to reform the public service by reviewing the terms of service, set a maximum number of political appointees at 25%-30% of the top management of the civil service and close the offices of the president and vice president and merge them with the office of the prime minister to create the central government office.

Health

Nsubuga explained that DP plans to improve social service delivery in health and education by paying workers better and improving management. ‘This government understands health services to mean monumental buildings but this is not the case’ Nsubuga said.  He added that DP would provide medicine and health workers.

Education

He said Universal Primary Education (UPE) is a good concept but it has been mismanaged by the current government.  He said apart from mean having buildings in place, DP would pay teachers at least Shs 400,000 per month which is double the Shs 200,000 they currently receive.

UPE was first proposed in the 1996 election by the then DP candidate, Paul Kawanga Semwogerere.

Federal

The DP, like most of the other parties, is promising a federal type of government. Under the DP model, Nsubuga said, traditional leaders would exercise the power accorded them in the constitution and move cultural leaders from being salaried employees of the state to people who help and deliver services to their people.

Agriculture

Agriculture is another DP priority because it employs the biggest number of Ugandans. Nsubuga says DP will reintroduce the cooperative bank to deal with the cooperative societies and an agricultural bank to deal with the farmers directly.

DP got only 1.58 percent of the vote in the 2006 election. Can they do better this time?

NRM manifesto highlights

By Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi

The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party manifesto, launched on Oct. 29 at the Serena International Conference Center, places youth at the centre.

NRM candidate President Yoweri Museveni has been making attempts to popularise himself with the youth and was featured in a youth-oriented rap song, You Want Another Rap?

In his 1996 election manifesto, the youth were peripheral, featuring in point ten on Tackling youth and women issues.

Youth

The youth are the most amenable constituency to promises of change and hope floated by the opposition.

Unemployment, especially amid increasing numbers of graduates, renders youth a disenchanted constituency.

In the manifesto, the NRM promises to establish a Youth Enterprise Capital Fund to give young entrepreneurs start-up capital on concessional terms. Large companies will get incentives if they give business to youth-owned enterprises.

Another initiative, the Youth Work Places and Sites Support Program, will provide youth with sheltered and serviced work places for artisanal works like carpentry, metal fabrication and motor vehicle mechanics.

Enterprise Uganda, an organization partly funded by the government, will set up five Regional Skills Development Centres to equip youths with entrepreneurship and business development skills.

In tertiary institutions, Youth Internship Program will give hands-on experience and make them more relevant to potential employers.

Serviced Industrial and Business Parks in Arua, Lira, Gulu, Moroto, Tororo, Iganga, Jinja, Luwero, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Bushenyi, Kabale, Fort Portal, Hoima, Rakai and Mubende will be set up to create an estimated 850,950 jobs, most of which will go to the youth.

Corruption

The NRM promises to establish a presidential committee to investigate ‘political leaders and senior public officers once they have been mentioned in corruption-related scandals and report back to the president.’

This means that  the IGG, Auditor General, Criminal Investigations Department of Police, Public Accounts Committee of Parliament aside, the tax payer shall have to support another statutory organ to fight graft.

One concern may be that some of the key officers of NRM have been implicated in corruption. NRM Secretary General Amama Mbabazi was defended by his Museveni over sell of land to National Social Security Fund.

Rural

For the rural constituency, which has traditionally been the bedrock of Museveni’s and NRM’s support through the years, it promises one zero grazing dairy cow per household.

Agriculture

In agriculture, NRM promises to support three million food security farmers, 180,000 model farmers, 90,000 commercial farmers and 550 nucleus farmers through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) over the next five years.

 Oil

An oil refinery, ‘to be established in Hoima’, will be supplemented by energy and other oil-based industries like iron and steel, plastics, pharmaceuticals and fertilizers.

The NRM manifesto is silent on adjustments in the tax structure, which is largely seen as a middle class demand. Opposition parties, especially the Inter Party Cooperation, are selling the agenda for lower tax rates

ao’s DP government will eradicate corruption and ensure equitable development. Speaking to supporters in one of his rallies in Bugisu, Mao described Museveni’s government to a lorry with failed engine. ‘The man now is stuck asking people to push him ahead to 2016,’ said Mao. ‘And this is what Ugandans must refuse, Museveni should remain where he is and retire to Rwakitura because he has no moral authority and internal preparation to €¦ evenly distribute development.’

Olara Otunnu (UPC) is stilling calling for free and fair elections. He moves around with a blue book soliciting 5 million signatures that he will use to petition parliament to denounce the current EC. Otunnu says his government will be based on equality, truth telling, accountability and reconciliation.

On the other hand, Kamya (UFA) is campaigning on a federal governance platform, arguing this is the only way to reduce poverty in so that regional federal governments can distribute their resources with some support from central government to develop themselves.

Samuel Lubega, the only independent ticket candidate says his government will increase health workers’ pay and reduce poverty. However, Lubega is struggling to come up with the campaign heat as he crying of being broke.

Abed Bwanika, who is contesting for president a second time, says his government will overhaul the education system to churn out skillful graduates. Nevertheless most of the promises of these candidates could be all but campaign dogma. A scan of their manifestos does reveal that manifestos do not explain how the pledges will be delivered to the voters.

However, there are candidates who slipped off the issues and went heaping blame on others for the mess in government and claimed such candidates are unable to lead Uganda.

Flouting electoral rules

The opposition had accused the ministry of public service of delaying to issue a list of state facilities that the incumbent president should use as he campaigns. But when she finally released the list, Musveni will enjoy all privileges that accrue to the presidency since he will continue to use the State House and state lodges is entitled to all benefits. According to a statement issued by Seezi Mbaguta, the minister of state for public service, the president will also have a presidential convoy. The opposition MPs protested this. MP Geoffrey Ekanya said this manifests rigging the election and that his FDC party will seek redress in court if the ministry does not act faster.

The electoral commission cautioned Besigye on observing time for campaigns yesterday (November 8). The police stopped him from addressing rally at Mpigi after 6 p.m. The EC campaign guidelines stipulate that campaign time ends by 6 p.m. for all presidential candidates. Besigye was only allowed to wave to his supporters who had lined up to hear from him. Last week, Eng. Badru Kiggundu, EC chairman cautioned candidates to abide by the 6pm end of campaign time so as to avoid scuffles with the police and protect the image of the EC.

Independent candidate Samuel Lubega was cautioned on campaigning on grounds that he is the president of the Democratic Party lest he be disqualified from the race.

Supporters of different parties have also been engaged in their own wars of tearing campaign materials like billboard and posters of opponent candidates. This is more pronounced between the FDC and the ruling NRM party. In Sembabule, supporters of Besigye nearly fought with those of Museveni after the latter’s campaign agents attempted to erect Besigye’s banner alongside that of Museveni and his foreign affairs minister Samuel Kutesa. It is the sanity that the FDC supporters exhibited by choosing another spot to hang the banner that prevented a skirmish.

Defections

The UPC could not get any better expression to describe the defection of three party stalwarts Henry Mayega, Badru Wengulo, and Osinde’s defection to the NRM than the Nigerian saying that a foolish fly follows a corpse to the grave. The trio publicly announced their defection on Nov. 1 when candidate Museveni launched his fourth elective term manifesto.

But UPC Secretary General, Joseph Bbosa, was even more hilarious when he said trio had crossed to get pension and milk for their children. As the campaigns go on we are yet to hear of more defections, real or staged.

Those presidential candidates tying their hopes on the Shs 20 million the Kiggundu-led EC is supposed to give to bankroll their campaigns will wait longer. But the UPC seems to be running out of patience. Bbosa wondered why if the money is meant to help the candidates in their campaign, it has not been sent to them yet two weeks into the campaigns.

Foul language 

In Lira Museveni went on the defensive from allegations that government had grabbed land in that Lango district to construct an army barracks. He said those were lies spread by the opposition who he says are not ready to rule this country.

Bwanika promises better pay for teachers as Bidandi launches manifesto last saying Ugandans should vote for him as he will rule Uganda for only five years and leave. He also promised to establish federal governments in the country yet he vehemently opposed a federal status for Buganda while still serving in Museveni’s government.

DP’s Mao urged the EC to extend the campaign period to enable him cover the whole country. The candidates have 112 days to campaign in 111 districts of Uganda, spending each day in a district. But well facilitated candidates like Museveni have sometimes combined two districts in one day. He can fly in a presidential helicopter to several places in a short time, which his rivals cannot do. When in a district candidates address at least two rallies. It has been the first time for some candidates to come to reality with Uganda’s bad rural roads and alarming levels of poverty. While campaigning in Sebei, Mao was overwhelmed by the level of poverty which he described as being ‘worse than the deplorable conditions internally displaced people in Gulu experienced during the LRA insurgency. This is a vote of no confidence in this government,’ Mao exclaimed after touring grass thatched huts in the mountainous district of Kapchorwa.

All candidates began their campaign trail in Buganda and will end their campaigning in Buganda.

Uganda Federal Alliance’s presidential candidate and only woman who wants to become Uganda’s president, Beti Kamya, was the first candidate to take campaigns in the war-ravaged northern Uganda. She told people at her rallies that Uganda does not need two State Houses and promised to close one and fight corruption.

Museveni versus the opposition

The presidential campaigns continue to be marked by pomp and fun. Wild cheering and chanting of the names of candidates and party slogans can be heard as ecstatic crowds throng every rally.

As in the first multiparty election of 2006, we are going into the 2011 election with a raft of opposition candidates that failed to unite against the man they want to unseat.

As a result, their different messages appear to sound like a hubbub to the electorate while the incumbent Yoweri Museveni’s message and achievements cut like a solo tenor above the noise.

Still, pundits claim, the political breeze has a whiff of opposition gains. In the 2006, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president, Col. Kizza Besigye managed 37% against Museveni’s 58% of the total votes cast. Can he do better this time?

Museveni and Besigye, who are slugging at each other for the third time, continue to draw the biggest crowds. But fresh entrant Norbert Mao of the Democratic Party has introduced a new rhetoric and ensured a desperate fight for the battle-ground northern Uganda votes. Uganda has not had a third strong candidate in the last three presidential elections. If that holds this time, the opposition is sunk – again. Can Mao muster enough support to ensure 2011 is not another two-cart race and ensure a re-run?

Besigye’s Ssuubi headache

Besigye, who is carrying the Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC) flag has come under pressure to keep his camp together amid tense intra-party tussle over constituencies. As a result, rather than follow the NRM example and hold nationwide constituency primaries, the IPC appears determined to handpick its flag-bearers. It is getting ugly ‘ especially in Buganda.

Besigye has had to calm discontent over the conduct of Ssuubi, a Buganda-leaning pressure group that promised to deliver a Buganda block vote.

In a MoU, Besigye signed away the final say on who stands for any elective post within Buganda on the IPC ticket to Ssuubi.

In a glaring snub to Besigye, Ssuubi linchpin, Kampala Central MP Erias Lukwago has proceeded to contest for the Kampala mayoral seat without formal IPC endorsement. It was not necessary, he said. He had Ssuubi’s blessing. Never mind that Michael Mabikke, who at the time held rotating IPC chairmanship, had already signaled he wanted to be mayor.

Lukwago’s interpretation of the clause meant that Mabikke, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) President and MP for Makindye East who is running for Kampala mayor, is not a member of Ssuubi.

As if determined to increase Besigye’s woes, the Democratic Party of Mao, which refused to join the IPC, has unexpectedly thrown its weight behind Mabikke.

DP refused to take part in the search for a joint presidential candidate arguing that there needed to be more opposition candidates to provide multiple fronts to challenge Museveni.

Sources at DP headquarters told The Independent that Mabikke struck a deal with his colleagues in DP involving him backing DP’s Sarah Kanyike for the Makindye East MP seat as DP backs him to become Kampala mayor. Kanyike has been Mabikke’s regular challenger.

Mao might not be a serious presidential contender, but DP has traditionally called the shots in Buganda.

Mabikke and Lukwago were once members of DP but they are not known to have ever been political friends.

Sources within DP say that the founders of the Uganda Youth Democrats (UYD), including Mabikke and DP deputy publicity secretary Kenneth Kakande, despise Lukwago for what they call lack of political grooming since he was never a member of UYD, the DP youth wing. However, Lukwago rose faster than them within the DP ranks to even become party legal advisor.

Lukwago told a press conference at Parliament on Nov. 12 that Mabikke belongs to the same group that includes other DP members like current legal advisor Mukasa Mbidde, National Chairman Baswali Kezaala and Kampala Mayor Nasser Sebaggala.

Besigye, therefore, had to act cautiously, especially since Mabikke claims he should be the rightful IPC flag bearer as one of the conditions when he stood down for Besigye for the IPC presidential flag bearer status was that he would not be subjected to another round of competition if he sought to stand for any other position on the IPC ticket.

When Besigye developed ice on his tongue, it was left to Ssuubi patron and former Buganda Kingdom Katikkiro Mulwanyammuli Ssemwogerere to explain. Sounding like he was darting from one meeting to another over the issue, he said ‘the Lukwago-Mabikke affair still has to be resolved’. He did not say how.

Ssuubi National Coordinator and former Buganda Kingdom minister Medard Sseggona explained that the mayoral tussle was not between Ssuubi and IPC. All politicians who are for change, he said, are members of Ssuubi.

IPC is a loose coalition of five political organisations ‘ Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Justice Forum Party (Jeema), Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Conservative Party (CP). Ssuubi is the only non-political party member.

Ssuubi, a Luganda word for hope, was born as a pressure group out of Mulwanyammuli’s continued reference to the need to restore hope among Ugandans in the speech he made at Pope Paul Memorial Centre where he announced his decision to join IPC last June.

The five groups within IPC are each represented on a ten-strong committee to determine IPC flag-bearers. It is chaired by Mulwanyamuli and is supposed to decide by consensus between contestants. Should that fail, the candidate is handpicked.

IPC is powerful because it has offered its war chest to its favoured candidates and will pay for their campaign material and fees In the Mabikke-Lukwago case, Besigye tacitly conceded defeat; IPC handpicked one candidate and Ssuubi another. It was a tough call. The choice of parliamentary and local government office flag-bearer could determine the fate of Besigye’s success or failure as presidential candidate, at least in Buganda.

He has to deal with members within the group who others view as regarding themselves as more pro-Ssuubi and pro-Buganda than the rest. If he handles it in a way that fails to satisfy some members, Besigye’s Buganda campaign could suffer.

Mulwanyammuli who would occupy a very high office if Besigye wins in 2011 (either as Vice President or Prime Minister), therefore, shifted his energy to ensuring there was no repeat of Lukwago-like scenarios.

But at a policy dialogue held at Hotel Brovad in the ultra-conservative Buganda town of Masaka between Nov. 2 and 4, Jeema threatened to quit the coalition.

The issue was not raised publicly, but former Jeema President and National Chairman Muhammad Kibirige Mayanja’s bid to be the IPC’s Busiro East flag bearer was scuttled when Ssuubi’s Sseggona threw his hat in the ring. Mayanja graciously stood aside but it has not stopped Sseggona from haughtily asserting that he is ready for any face-off and would step down ‘if the (Ssuubi) committee decides that Mayanja is the most suitable candidate.’

But some IPC members say that some members consider themselves more pro-Ssuubi than others. This is the reason, one FDC source told The Independent, Lukwago had to ‘disregard advice from Ssuubi elders including Mulwanyammuli to postpone his nomination until the situation between him and Mabikke was resolved.’

At the Hotel Brovad meeting, JEEMA publicist Yahya Sseremba, issued a press release saying his party had noted that ‘the entry of DP disguised as Ssuubi’ is the principal issue that could herald Jeema’s exit.

The statement referred to Lukwago and Mukono North MP Betty Nambooze as ‘belligerent, arrogant and disrespectful of IPC decisions.’

Although Jeema President Asuman Basalirwa moved to downplay talk of a possible Jeema exit and insisted that Sseremba misrepresented the party position, Sseremba retorted that Basalirwa did not attend the NEC meeting that made the said resolutions. He added that as party President, Basalirwa is subordinate to the decisions of NEC.

Failure by the IPC and Ssuubi to agree on flag-bearers could cost the opposition seats. It left three opposition candidates vying for the Rubaga North constituency that was vacated by another presidential candidate, Betty Kamya.

SDP secretary general Henry Lubowa printed campaign posters early indicating that he is the IPC/Ssuubi candidate. Then FDC’s John Kikonyogo also printed posters but only put his party’s symbols. Radio CBS presenter Moses Kasibante also jumped into the fray, backed by Lukwago and Nambooze.

The trio could be easily mauled in a face-off with the ruling party’s deputy treasurer Katongole Singh.

A top FDC official told The Independent on condition of anonymity for fear of upsetting his colleagues, that the ruling party could capitalise on the situation within IPC to lure some members out of the alliance.

‘Since IPC presents Museveni with the toughest challenge (in the next election), government and security agencies would seize this opportunity to break up the coalition,’ he said.

DP wounded

The acrimony between Mabikke and Lukwago could also hand Norbert Mao’s DP an opportunity to destabilise IPC a little bit. When DP Chairman Kezaala declared that they will support Mabikke in the Kampala mayoral race, he implicitly put into question Mabikke’s loyalty to the IPC project, given the poor relations between DP and IPC.

But Kezaala’s announcement could a face-saving move.

DP originally had no intentions of backing Mabikke. Information available to The Independent is that the candidate DP intended to front for Kampala Mayor, lawyer John Baptist Kakooza, withdrew on the last minute.

A radical critic of Mao since the disputed Mbale delegates’ conference last February, Kakooza had been courted by Mao’s group and lured with the Kampala mayoral DP ticket. He was one of the party’s legal advisors before Mao took over and he played an instrumental role in registering the party in 2005. In the run-up to the Mbale delegates’ conference, he accused Mao in newspaper articles of dishonesty and only running to DP when he wants something from it.

By fielding him as the DP candidate for Kampala mayor, Mao would have pulled off a big achievement in the direction of reconciliation. Reconciliation, sources say, has been fronted as the primary condition for Mao to win former party president Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere’s support.

Media reports recently indicated that Ssemogerere had thrown his weight behind Mao. But our sources say Ssemogerere was furious at these reports since he had not made any such promise to Mao. The source said Mao visited Ssemogerere at his home in Rubaga, a Kampala suburb and had a picture of him taken, which was used as evidence that Ssemogerere had backed him.

The source said Kakooza would not continue working with Mao’s camp after learning of Ssemogerere’s fury. He had already come under intense pressure to withdraw his candidature from old DP politicians close to Ssemogerere.

On Nov. 9, DP Deputy Publicity Secretary Kenneth Kakande issued a statement that DP had withdrawn its candidate for Kampala mayor because of ‘the new Kampala City metropolitan law that fundamentally reduces the power of the people to elect an executive mayor.’

It’s clear from the campaign trail that the fear about keeping the army under control is a big election issue although there are several other pressing concerns like poverty, corruption and healthcare. Will the people vote on the basis of a candidate’s capacity to manage the army or his/her ability to deliver better social services and economy? It’s the puzzling question in the 2011 race.

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