KAMULI – Bugabula South county is in the heat of battle as incumbent MP and former Makerere University guild president Henry Maurice Kibalya battles erstwhile friend and incumbent Kamuli district chairperson Thomas Franz Kategere for the Bugabula county MP seat.
The duo is throwing daggers at each other as the race for the MP seat heats up. Kibalya trounced former minister for regional co-operation Asuman Kiyingi in the 2016 general election, battering him in the race for the NRM party card and completing the feat in the general election in perhaps one of the most spectacular upsets in the country’s politics.
The towering Kiyingi during the campaign trail used to refer to himself as a hybrid cow and urged voters not to vote for Kibalya whom he compared to a local breed cow because of his diminutive stature. Kiyingi’s description of Kibalya later turned out to be the Trojan Horse that enticed the later to voters who easily considered him one of their own. Kibalya has since adopted the moniker ‘Akate akasoga’ and uses it whenever he introduces himself.
“My voters call me akate akasoga because I am like them. I am cut from the same material with them and that is why I do my best to serve them,” Kibalya said.
He accused his critics of failure to deliver in their jurisdictions and trying to export their failures elsewhere.
“Corruption and nepotism have dominated Kamuli district local government during the tenure of my brother Kategere. It is such incompetence that he intends to bring to Bugabula South constituency,” Kibalya said.
Kategere is accused of selling civil service jobs in the district and giving jobs to his relatives.
“He gave one of his girlfriends an administrative job in the hospital without following the due process,” said a nurse at Kamuli district hospital who preferred anonymity.
But Kategere on the other hand accuses Kibalya of failing the NRM government by hobnobbing with the Opposition.
“He does not know where he belongs and he has not done anything to help the people of Bugabula South,” Kategere said.
Kibalya is one of the few NRM MPs who opposed the lifting of the presidential age limit. The act endeared him to multitudes of people in Bugabula and beyond.
In a reversal of events, however, Kibalya and other NRM MPs opposed to the lifting of the Presidential age limit recently met President Yoweri Museveni and reportedly apologized for their action.
“He had done the right thing but later turned around and apologized. Apologize for what? This means that he was just hoodwinking the voters,” said Pastor Paul Muwanguzi, who is contesting for the same seat on the National Unity Platform (NUP) ticket.
Muwanguzi said a brave voter stands by his decision and that by swallowing his own vomit, Kibalya has portrayed himself as a callous politician who cannot be relied upon.
But Steven Kalire, a resident of Bulopa, said Kibalya should be given more time to accomplish his mission.
“We cannot judge a person in only five years, let’s give him more time since he has not disappointed on the floor of Parliament,” Kalire said.
He wondered why Kategere is quitting the district chairperson seat to go for the MP seat.
“It must be guilty conscience that is disturbing him. He spent so much time-fighting family wars instead of tending to the needs of the voters,” Kalire said.
Kategere’s marriage to former Butambala Woman MP Mariam Nalubega developed irreconcilable differences and the two separated early last year. Before marrying Nalubega, Kategere was married to a one Susan Kwagala with whom they have three children. When Nalubega came into the picture, Kategere dumped the mother of his children for the new catch.
Others fighting for the NRM party card include Mohammad Kiyingi, brother to former minister Asuman Kiyingi and Sannon Dhizaala.
Whoever will get the right to fly the NRM party card will have to fight off Forum for Democratic Change (FDC)’s Jude Waluubo and NUP’s Pastor Muwanguzi for the Bugabula South MP seat in the general election slated for January next year.