Parliament Speaker, Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga recorded an emphatic win over her nemesis, the state minister for Lands, Persis Namuganza, to retain her position as second national vice-chairperson of the National Resistance Movement (NRM).
Kadaga garnered 6,776 votes against Namuganza’s 3,882 votes – a difference of 2,894 votes. While on the surface, it was a Kadaga – Namuganza contest, NRM insiders say, it was a proxy war that Namuganza was fighting, and it is the reason why senior government officials such as Foreign Affairs minister, Sam Kahamba Kutesa, Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa plus several NRM district chairpersons were all out against Kadaga.
According to Maj. Gen. Matayo Kyaligonza, the NRM chairman, President Yoweri Museveni had wanted Kadaga out of the race. In one of the NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC) meetings last week, Kyaligonza told The Witness, Museveni told Kadaga that since she is serving the country as Speaker of Parliament, she should concentrate on that and leave Namuganza to join CEC.
Kadaga roundly rejected Museveni’s proposal, telling him to let NRM delegates determine her fate through an election.
In days that followed, Nankabirwa recorded an audio message that she circulated through WhatsApp, accusing Kadaga of working with the opposition to undermine NRM.
“I have gone through a lot in Parliament; we want people who are committed to fighting for the party, not those that betray us, working with the opposition to undermine our party. You have been following on TV how Rebecca Kadaga conducts herself in Parliament. Let us support Persis Namuganza [state minister for Lands] to help President Museveni by working for the party,” Nankabirwa said in the audio.
It is the same message that Namuganza had been selling to the members of NRM’s National Executive Committee (NEC) who form the electoral college that elects the CEC members.
Nankabirwa’s tirade against Kadaga started on Saturday night when she posted in a WhatsApp group named “NRM Senior Cadres’ a message at 8:58 pm telling the NRM delegates to write a “statement in black and white by voting Princess Namuganza.”
This was followed by several other text messages in which she called Kadaga a chameleon. “She is a chameleon, fighting every soul, God will handle her,” Nankabirwa posted.
Shocked, some group members got suspicious that Nankabirwa’s phone was in the wrong hands. At 10:24 pm, she posted, “My name is Rt Hon. Dr. Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu at 0772455885. We want people who are straight, sincere and loyal to the party and HE Yoweri. I know a lot about my sister Kadaga. [Please] vote Namuganza, a true patriot. Yes, she is younger and true to the revolution with no [ill] motives. I love you all and may God bless you.”
Unconvinced, the group members demanded more solid evidence that she was the one using her phone.
“Give us an audio reflecting the above so we can really know [that] you are the one. We all know your voice as compared [a written message],” a group member demanded.
Nankabirwa complied at 10:32 pm posting a one minute and seven seconds –long audio clip re-stating what she had previously communicated through text messages. She followed it with another text message two minutes later saying, “This time round, we are exposing people who have been undermining the party, Namuganza everywhere.”
Ahead of the polling day, Kadaga deployed MPs to their respective districts to marshal support in her favour. The NEC members voted from 142 polling stations spread around the country as a precautionary measure against the Covid-19 pandemic. At each of those polling stations, Kadaga had at least an MP to deliver a final message to the voters.
Namuganza cried foul, accusing the MPs of bribing voters. “They are calling people; one by one, to enter that vehicle [a black Rav 4 which was parked outside the Namutumba district polling station], giving them money. I think this level of corruption is unacceptable because if people are being diverted because of the money the Speaker has sent through MPs, it is unfortunate,” Namuganza said.
Paul Akamba, the Busiki MP, called Namuganza’s claims baseless. In Sembabule, the Woman MP Anifa Kawooya trolled Kutesa for supporting Namuganza. Kutesa convinced only 13 members out of the 67 people forming his district’s electoral college to vote for Namuganza.
Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oalanyah has also flipped the seat that has been held by Col. Sam Engola. Oulanyah scored 7,473 votes against Engola’s 1,665 votes to become the NRM vice chairman northern region. Timothy Okee Jokene got 895 votes while Dr Odongo Oledo managed only 277 votes.
For the Western region, this time Chris Baryomunsi, the State Minister for Housing will be the vice-chairman after defeating the incumbent Maj. Gen. Matayo Kyaligonza with 5,947 votes against 2,550. In the same race, Florence Kintu Tumwine came third with 1,875, followed by Muhangi Wilberforce with 1,255 votes, Boaz Kafuda fifth with 602 votes and Dr. Diini Kisembo with 224 votes.
For the Kampala region, Katongole Singh Marwaha defeated the incumbent Amooti Godfrey Nyakana after scoring 4,503 votes against 2,665 votes. Salim Uhuru came third with 2,466 votes. In Karamoja, the incumbent Simon Peter Aleper retained his seat after defeating his only challenger Lokor Jimmy with 8,143 against 2,220.
For the vice-chairman Buganda region, Godfrey Kiwanda Ssuubi, the State Minister for Tourism, took the day after defeating his closest challenge Moses Karangwa Kalisa. Kiwanda got 4,749 votes against Karangwa’s 3,701. Other contestants in the race were Kiganda Twaha Ssonko who got 1,048 votes, Mayengo Moses who got 127 votes and Magaro John 675.
Meanwhile, the position of vice-chairperson eastern is still contested until all the results are tallied. With results from 16 districts yet to be tallied, the incumbent, Capt. Mike Mukula had got 5,818 votes against his closest rival Sanjay Tana who had 4,162 votes. Akello Christine, the other candidate in the race, had 162 votes.