Within four months of its unveiling to the public, the National Unity Platform (NUP) has shaken the political landscape, emerging as the most dominant opposition political party having won at least 61 parliamentary seats.
This effectively means that the new party is provide the opposition leadership in the 11th Parliament.
The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) which has enjoyed the benefits of being the main opposition party for the last 15 years, pushed through 32 MPs thus being relegated to the second position.
Other than the Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LOP), a position provided for under Article 81 of the 1995 Constitution as amended in 2005, there are nine other positions in parliament that NUP is set to take up.
These include the chief opposition whip, and leadership of the four accountability committees; the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), Local Government Accounts Committee and Committee on Government Assurances.
All these positions come with budgets that make them attractive and powerful.
NUP is understood to have kicked off the process of identifying who among its members will be chosen as the LOP and those that will take up the other positions.
According to sources familiar with the inner discussions in the nascent party, there are a lot of calculations currently taking place before the final choices are announced.
Although there was a slight chance of defeating Museveni in the general election based on the enthusiasm among the population, one MP told us, NUP’s shot at getting closer to power was first becoming the leaders of the opposition.
According to the Administration of Parliament Act, as amended in 2006, the office of the LOP is equivalent to that of a cabinet minister and enjoys such privileges as those that accrue to the cabinet minister.
“There is a lot of money under the Leader of Opposition’s office, which we want to use for our political work. Our first assignment is to get that money and use it to fight Museveni,” the MP said.
This perhaps explains why NUP had a candidate for every constituency especially in the Central region where the incumbent was from another opposition political party.
Asked whether they will take up the leadership roles in parliament despite insisting that their presidential candidate, Kyagulanyi won the election, Joel Ssenyonyi, the MP-elect for Nakawa West in Kampala answered in the affirmative.
“Having positions in Parliament gives us another platform for us to agitate for a better country. It actually helps the struggle we are involved in to change leadership in Uganda,” Ssenyoyi said.
He, however, added that they are now putting a lot of emphasis on trying to build a case about the fraudulent nature of the 2021 general elections.
“MPs take their oath of office in May, we still have to sort out issues relating to the presidential elections because we have irrefutable evidence that the results the Electoral Commission was declaring are different from those we have on our declaration forms,” Ssenyonyi said.
While meeting part of the 61 MP elects yesterday, Kyagulanyi rallied them to use their newly-acquired status to continue fighting for a new Uganda. He told them, that their election to parliament shouldn’t be seen as their turn to get rich.
“The people of your constituencies have accredited you and this is when you begin to give that leadership. While they want you to represent them in parliament, they want you to assert the voice of freedom and an end to the dictatorship. You don’t forget the mission,” Kyagulanyi said.
Candidates being considered for LOP
Insider sources have indicated that there are three people being considered for the position of LOP. These include; Mathias Mpuuga [Nyendo-Mukungwe], Patrick Nsamba Oshabe [Kassanda North] and Medard Lubega Sseggona. However, another person we spoke to included John Baptist Nambeshe.
Of the four MPs under consideration, two; Mpuuga and Sseggona have served in parliament so far for 10-years while the other two; Oshabe and Nambeshe have been in Parliament for only five years. Mpuuga and Nambeshe are Kyagulanyi’s deputies for Buganda and Eastern region respectively hence making them the most senior party members in Parliament which gives them an edge over the other two.
Three other senior leaders in the party namely; Flavia Kalule Nabagabe (Women League chairperson), Joel Ssenyonyi (Spokesperson) and Aisha Kabanda (deputy secretarysecretary-general) also got elected to Parliament as MPs for Kassanda Woman, Nakawa West and Butambala Woman respectively.
It’s most likely that they will zero down to Mpuuga who seems to be having more advantages than the other three contenders.
The source also said that Nambeshe is being considered more to chair PAC than either taking over the Leader of Opposition or the chief whip positions.
His candidature would also be hard sell especially considering the fact that all but three of the 61 MP elects come from Buganda.
“But he would be a good choice especially with accusations from Museveni that NUP is sectarian” said another NUP, MP-elect.
Of the four candidates currently under consideration who will not be chosen as the LOP, the source told us, they will automatically scoop one of the four positions of the committee chairperson. When asked about these calculations, Ssenyonyi said this discussion is premature.
“We have not had that discussion yet but this doesn’t mean that people are not trying to strategize. Those interested in particular positions have started calling colleagues to try and lobby them to look at them favourably,” Ssenyonyi said.