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Why three Tooro bigwigs were defeated in NRM primaries

FILE PHOTO: Kabarole District Woman MP Sylvia Rwabwogo has lost her seat in the NRM party primaries.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Three incumbent members of parliament in Tooro region suffered defeat in the just conclude ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM primaries. Sylvia Rwabwogo, the Kabarole Woman Member of Parliament, Adolf Mwesige, the Bunyangu County Member of Parliament and Aston Kajara the Mwenge South legislator were all defeated by newcomers in politics.

Rwabwogo was defeated in the Fort Portal city Woman Member of Parliament race by Linda Irene Mugisa with a difference of over 3,000 votes. The same happened to Kajara, a former State Minister of Finance for Privatization and longtime politician who has represented the same constituency in parliament for close to 20 years.

Kajara was beaten hands down by Don Katalihwa, the Director of Kind Uganda, a non-governmental organization that is fighting HIV/Aids in Kyenjojo.

But what could have happened?

A number of issues unraveled by URN explain why the three suffered defeat.

For example, several voters in Fort Portal City say that Rwabwogo erred when she caused the imprisonment of Brian Isiko for allegedly stalking her. The 25-year-old student of YMCA College of Business Studies in Jinja was charged with cyber harassment and offensive communication following a complaint by the 44-year-old MP.

Even though Buganda Road Court freed Isiko in March this year, Annet Katusiime, a resident of Fort Portal argues that the first-time legislator would have found other means of turning down Isiko’s advances without engaging court.

“I’m not saying that Isiko was right to text love messages to Rwabwogo but as an old woman fit to be his mother, she would have sat him down and maybe counselled him to stop the vice. It would have been much better,” Katusiime argues.

During one of her campaign rallies, Rwabwogo, who politically scored when she voted against the lifting of the presidential age limit explained that Isiko was not even a Mutooro or one of their children which  enraged the voters. She argued that she has done many good things for Kabarole and Isiko should have never been an issue in her political career.

Also, most of Rwabwogo’s constituents accused her of pride and failure to interact with them every time she returned to Kabarole.

In Kyenjojo, residents say that Kajara who owns Kyenjojo FM couldn’t win because he has failed to use his long stay in parliament to lobby for his constituency.

They say that most of the roads in Mwenge South are in a terrible condition characterized by potholes, deep galleys and take long without being repaired. “If we had got good roads, electricity, water and a few income-generating projects started by the MP or lobbied from Parliament, that would be enough for us. But look at our area, we don’t see much difference between the Mwenge South of now and the Mwenge South of 10 years back,” says Phillip Asiimwe, a resident.

For Bunyangabu, the Defense and Veterans Affairs minister who lost to Davis Kamukama had engaged in a number of issues that were politically harmful. For instance, Mwesige had for a long time clashed with the LC V chairperson, James Ategeka Mugarama because he defeated his favourite candidate Peter Musinguzi in the 2017 NRM primaries when Bunyagabu had been carved out of Kabarole.

Since then, Mwesige who has held different ministerial positions since 1996 has been clashing with Mugarama on different occasions. In October 2018, he invited Muyingo, the State Minister for Higher Education to commission Katugunda Polytechnic College in Kabonero sub county without Mugarama’s knowledge.

This stirred anger among residents and leaders who wondered why the minister would undermine the political head of the district to that extent.  Mugarama wrote another letter to Muyingo advising him not to commission the college arguing that the district leadership had invited President Yoweri Museveni for the same event. To date, the college has never been commissioned.

During the Women’s Day celebrations in 2019 that were held at Rwimi Primary school playground in Bunyangabu, Mwesige was embarrassed before Museveni when he claimed that all the areas in the district had electricity which the residents said was a total lie.

The president then warned the area leaders against telling lies before him and the residents. The incident greatly tainted Mwesige’s image.

Edward Kyaligonza, a resident of Bunyangabu says that Mwesige also never campaigned during the primaries and would always send his agents in the field to look for his votes.

“In addition, we have very bad roads, we lack clean water sources, most villages don’t have electricity yet he has been our MP for over 20 years. There was no reason to keep him in parliament,” Kyaligonza says.



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