The January 14 elections came with harsh realities from Luweero for the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party which has for long called the area its political Mecca.
The party’s presidential candidate, Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Museveni as well as its parliamentary candidates suffered a humiliating defeat to the National Unity Platform (NUP) – a party that was introduced to Uganda about four months to the general elections.
At some polling stations, Museveni collected as low as 14 votes, to the shock of the NRM leadership in the area.
This in the eyes of political pundits is embarrassing for a man who traces his ascendance to power to the Luweero triangle because it is here that he camped with the National Resistance Army (NRA) rebels to fight a five-year guerrilla war that thrust him into power 35 years ago.
According to results released by the Electoral Commission (EC), Luweero gave Museveni 41,166 votes (27.94 percent) against Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu’s103,782 votes (70.45 percent) out of 151,964 votes cast in the district.
This sharply contrasts with results from the previous elections where Museveni enjoyed massive support. For instance in the 2006 elections, the NRM leader got 79.2 percent of the vote while his closest challenger, Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) got 17.2 percent.
In 2011, Museveni’s percentage fell slightly to 67.83 percent while Besigye’s score improved a bit to 27.54 percent.
In 2016, opposition to Museveni in Luweero grew by 12.05 percent, winning the district by 55.78 percent as the scores for FDC’s Besigye improved to 41.1 percent.
NRM strategists seemed to have ignored these trends and got a rude awakening on January 14 when Kyagulanyi, the National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate, humbled Museveni to a 70.45 percent dominance.
An analysis of the Luweero tally sheets shows that Museveni scored less than 20 percent in 113 out of 471 polling stations in the district.
Museveni scored least votes from Nakasero O-Z polling station in Wobulenzi town council where only 14 people voted for him while Kyagulanyi got 185 votes out of the 201 valid votes cast.
At Gulama Primary School, Museveni polled 22 votes against Kyagulanyi’s 246 votes and at Kasoma zone-Norah polling station, Museveni got 46 votes against Kyagulanyi’s 360 votes.
This was to punish Museveni for his unkept promises, voters in the area told a Uganda Radio Network (URN) reporter.
They further accused Museveni’s government of poor service delivery and failing to tackle rampant land grabbing that has left many without a place to call home.
Noordeen Kiwanuka, the Nakasero zone LC 1 chairman said, “There is not a single government school, no health facility and no tarmacked roads in our area, the residents found no reason to continue voting for Museveni.”
Regina Nantambi, a resident of the same village attributed Museveni’s poor performance to the unfulfilled pledge of tarmacking the Zirobwe – Bamunanika road that passes through the area and the mismanagement of the wealth creation programmes.
In October 2016 – five months into this outgoing term, Museveni addressed a gathering at Kangave village in Makulubita sub-county and pledged to walk from one home to another in order to mobilize the people to embrace projects intended to improve household income.
His promise was to walk through the Luweero triangle with a focus of promoting coffee and fruits growing and turn Luweero into a place where people would travel from various parts of Uganda to witness the progress.
The walk did not materialise until January 2020 but with a different intent; for the young generation to appreciate the sacrifices of the NRA fighters.
This annoyed some Luweero residents who still cry about deprivation of basic social services such as access to clean water, poor health and education services.
Locals at Gembe village wondered how Museveni planned to improve their household incomes when the government is facilitating land grabs in the area.
Joyce Nankabirwa claims to have lost 11 out of her 14 acres of land to grabbers, and the Museveni administration did nothing to save them.
Annet Mwesige the vice-chairperson of Buyuki village, and an ardent Museveni supporter blamed youth unemployment for Museveni’s dismal performance in the area.
“Unlike in the previous elections, the youths turned up in big numbers to vote and they all voted for their fellow youth hoping for a change in their status,” Mwesige said.
Namugera Nkokonyole, the Kakokoolo NRM village chairperson says that even the local leaders who would have campaigned and explained Museveni’s achievements were demoralized after the district party officials embezzled their transport allowances.
During campaigns, the NRM disbursed Shs 300,000 for its village chairpersons in addition to a bicycle as facilitation for them to canvass support for Museveni.
Hassan Kirumira, the Katikamu South MP-elect says that the residents sent a clear message to Museveni that they were tired of his empty promises.
Kirumira accused Museveni of neglecting the area that supported and contributed to his guerrilla war of 1981-1986.
Additional reporting by Sadab Kitatta