The executive board of the National Unity Platform (NUP) on Friday afternoon released the residual list of its parliamentary flag bearers for 19 central Uganda constituencies. The list was mainly circulated through social media without any formal communication to the candidates that were waiting for the final verdict of the party’s decision making body.
The unpleasant news was to MPs, Moses Kasibante (Lubaga North) and Emmanuel Ssempala Kigozi Ssajjalyabeene (Makindye Ssaabagabo Municipality) who were rejected in preference of the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) speaker, Abubakar Kawalya and David Sserukenya to hold the party’s flag in the two constituencies respectively.
The two MPs were part of a group of 11, mainly Democratic Party (DP) MPs that joined presidential aspirant Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu’s NUP political party on August 11.
Kasibante has been elected to Parliament twice as an independent candidate following disagreements with his former party – DP.
Rejected by his new home, Kasibante is now contemplating contesting again as an independent candidate.
“I will address a press conference tomorrow [Saturday], but what I can briefly tell you is that there is now I can leave the constituency to a state agent. The people of Lubaga North who trusted for all this time will not forgive me if I leave dealers to come and take over the constituency,” Kasibante told The Witness.
Ssempala Kigozi is also likely to seek re-election as an independent because he sees himself to be more grounded than Sserukenya who was handed the party flag.
“Most of the NUP candidates at the local government level in Makindye-Ssaabagabo were mobilized by him as he did assemble the party’s structures in the constituency. The alternative for him is to run as an independent,” the MP’s associate said.
The third MP, Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West), went past the second phase of vetting, beating off a stiff challenge David Musiri Bwogi and Yasin Ntege.
Kawempe North councilor at KCCA, Muhammad Ssegirinya was picked for the Kawempe North parliamentary seat beating former Kampala deputy Lord Mayor, Sulaiman Sserwadda Kidandala.
Journalist Kazibwe Bashir Mbaziira will represent the party in Kawempe South. He has been in a tight competition for the race with People Power early recruit Dr. Roy Ssembogga, a Makerere University former guild president.
The party first announced its flag bearers on Tuesday, September 29, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of the majority of the rejected.
For example, little known Jimmy Lwanga over Arthur Mugabi to hold the party flag in Njeru Municipality for which Mugabi is demanding an explanation.
“They must tell me how they arrived at Lwanga as the candidate. I think on all the measures, I was a better candidate than him,” Mugabi said. He added that if he is not given an explanation, he will have no option but to run as an independent candidate.
Another surprise was in Nakifuma county in Mukono district, where a one Fred Ssimbwa was selected against well-known radio presenter Patrick Mujuuka. Although we could not reach Mujuuka for a comment, a source close to him said that he was in the constituency canvassing for votes oblivious of the outcome of the NUP vetting process.
“He will come as an independent because that process was very unfair. There is no way he can bow out of the race after months if not years of hard work in the constituency,” the associate told us.
Tony Ssempebwa could also not accept that lawyer, Muwada Nkunyingi had better credentials than him to be the party candidate for Kyadondo East. Ssempebwa as LC-III chairman for Kansangati Town Council worked closely with Kyagulanyi in the 2017 Kyadondo East by-elections that thrust the musician-turned-politicians into the political limelight.
Another contender for the Kyadondo East flag is Khalid Ssimbwa who believes that the only reason Nkunyungi was selected against him was that he was able to buy himself through.
“I knew from the onset that they were going to give him the ticket because he paid them a lot of money. But that’s a wrong approach to politics. I’m not going to accept to be eliminated on those grounds. Therefore, I’m coming as an independent,” Ssimbwa said.
He added that they had a gentleman’s agreement with Kyagulanyi not to stand in 2017 and instead support him in 2021. “Let the people of Kyadondo East decide who should be their MP because there was no transparency in the selection process,” Ssimbwa said.
Kenneth Paul Kakande who lost Nakawa West flag to NUP spokesman Joel Ssenyonyi is not happy either and expects the party leaders to give him an explanation why he was never selected. He said when he went for vetting, they said they were looking for somebody who has experience in the struggle, who has been there for Kyagulanyi, and with impeccable education credentials.
“I have been in politics longer than anybody I was competing with, I’m more educated than everybody I was competing with and I have been with Kyagulanyi since 2017 when everybody was shunning him. Based on those qualifications, I was better than anybody. So I’m petitioning the party to know why I was not selected and if I’m not convinced I will stand as an independent because I don’t want to cause problems for the party,” Kakande said.
Ssenyonyi however said political experience and education alone were not the determinants of who got the card. “Our presidential flag bearer has been in politics for only three years, there are people who are older and more educated than him but he’s their leader. Therefore, we believe those who have been selected stand a better chance to be elected,” Ssenyonyi said.
Additional reporting by URN.