MBALE – Even with a big financial muscle that has seen many people sway to her campaign side for the ruling NRM party’s flag in Mbale City elections, a sharp split in the NRM could rob Ms Lydia Wanyoto of victory.
A powerful faction loyal to the NRM party is in open defiance, and boasting the numbers to shoot down the incumbent MP and yet another faction loyal to the incumbent is also bent on sending Ms Wanyoto to the political moribund.
The fresh battle lines have been drawn in Mbale City pitting NRM party supporters loyal to the incumbent Ms Connie Nakayenze Galiwango against those supporting her political rival Ms Lydia Wanyoto.
Trouble began to brew in the region following the suspension of the incumbent MP Mrs Galiwango Nakayenze from the NRM party for voting ‘No’ to the scrapping of presidential age limit against the party’s decision of ‘Yes’ that gave president Museveni an opportunity to stand as a president again in 2021.
Although Ms Wanyoto in 2016 lost the race to the incumbent MP Mrs Galiwango Nakayenze, she is today riding on the idea that the incumbent MP has fallen out of favour with the ruling party president Mr Museveni.
The campaigns have spawned an angry and disillusioned populace that is turning the finger of blame on Ms Wanyoto, costing her support even in her home area Nabweya. Locals now fear that the Wanyoto-Galiwango wrangles could turn chaotic in the run-up to the 2021general elections, especially if the ruling NRM government does not intervene to settle the differences.
Ms Faith Namombera, a voter from Mbale City’s Northern division says an MP has the most important responsibility for respecting national values and principles of governance, including – critically – good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability.
“An MP must demonstrate respect for the people, bring honour to the constituency and dignity to the constituency. And most importantly, he or she has “the responsibility to serve the people, rather than the power to rule them”, this is what Ms Wanyoto is lacking,” said Ms Namombera.
This is the fresh petition among the voters challenging the integrity of some of the MPs in Mbale City today as NRM campaigns take stage.
Today across the political divide in Mbale city, many voters are looking on helplessly as the political fight and well-oiled campaign machines move adroitly to capture the NRM majority in the new City.
Although there is no reliable poll yet, chances are that Ms Wanyoto has largely lost most of the adoring Mbale City masses that came out in 2016 to propel her to electoral victory, but are now disillusioned and campaigning for the incumbent MP Mrs Galiwango Nakayenze.
Mrs Galiwango has already indicated that she is coming to accomplish the tasks she started in 2016 but many think that she did very little once in Parliament to stem the rise of other people against her including Ms Wanyoto.
Mrs Galiwango, now referred to as “Mayi we Mbale” loosely meaning the mother of Mbale across the political divide in Mbale City, who is also the incumbent MP, will be looking to maintain her dominance in the race.
The tough-speaking secondary school teacher of Music and History, previously unknown, Mrs Galiwango came into political limelight in 2011 and she took the race with a promise of salvaging the rural woman in Mbale from poverty.
But this year besides Mrs Galiwango and Ms Wanyoto, the NRM primaries have also attracted Ms Shadia Luwungule, a former student of Procurement at Islamic University in Uganda born in a family of ardent NRM supporters and Ms Jalia Namasaba Soikya.
All these have spoken to the voters and pledged many things including transforming Mbale City into a regional City for business.
But words, like strings to a basket, are the stuff that weaves together great messages and their choice is important, their arrangement significant, just as the choice of strings is central to the determination of the quality of a basket.
Over the weekend, many voters declared in a media interview that Mrs Galiwango was going nowhere, offering the possibility that she could retain the seat because she delivered to parliament what the people of Mbale; her constituency sent her to deliver during the Presidential age limit debate.
Mr Sam Nambale is often given flights of fancy, but his words cannot be taken lightly given his central role on the Mbale NRM party political machine.
He could have been floating trial balloons to gauge the public reaction, but any possibility that Mrs Galiwango premiership is on the table will today raise many political antennas.
When the little known Mrs Galiwango arrived in Mbale politics in 2011, she spoke passionately about improving the social welfare of the woman in rural areas and fighting for the welfare of the teacher.
Mrs Galiwango’s motivation to stand for the District woman seat was driven by poor service delivery, high maternal mortality rates, poor remuneration for the teachers and poor living conditions in rural areas.
And during her door to door campaigns in her constituency, she has promised to improve the welfare of the rural woman, fight for her rights, fight for teachers’ rights, better health services and to become a voice for the voiceless suffering City woman.
She has also pledged to set up income-generating projects and create employment for the urban poor girl-child by enrolling them into technical schools.
Mrs Galiwango’s consistency in preaching development, good health services for the urban poor woman, has become a magic bullet that has enabled her according to analysts to win many people on her side.
Political pundits, teachers and women in Mbale City today see her as a messiah who has come to end the suffering even when some teachers are already started preaching the gospel of another candidate; Mrs Lydia Wanyoto.
For Mrs Nakayenze, who won over Mbale locals in 2011 by pushing her campaigns door to door, she will have to employ a more ingenious campaign formula to oust defeat Ms Wanyoto who has become a darling of many women.
Ms Lydia Wanyoto [Big Sister]
The Mbale City race has also attracted Ms Lydia Wanyoto, a Ugandan Lawyer, politician and diplomat and in 2014, she served temporarily as head of the African Union to Somalia.
The tough speaking former East African Former Legislative Assembly MP Ms Wanyoto, however, told PML Daily that her decision to vie for the Mbale women seat is solely down to her resolution to serve her people in Mbale, where she hails from.
“I just want my people to know that I have been driven by the passion to serve them and develop them. I respect the incumbent, she has played her role but I have to come against her this time.” Ms Wanyoto said.
Lydia Wanyoto is a member of the board of directors of Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), a Kampala based think tank and also a member of the committee that was created to establish the national Defence College, Uganda.
But while Mrs Wanyoto is preaching politics of selflessness, the behind-the-scenes bickering between her and Mrs Galiwango seems to send an entirely different message that is dividing NRM voters in Mbale City.
And this internal strife in the NRM could cost the party the constituency seat again if nothing is done to bring order in the new Mbale City constituency.
While this growing sentiment may give Ms Shadia Luwungule Hussein an edge over these two in the race but there is another person in the race for NRM primaries Ms Jalia Namasaba Soikya, another local child.
“Ms Galiwango has not delivered; she has been a good player who does not score. I am the only one who can score under NRM party and I am here to help the people of the new Mbale City score,” says Ms Wanyoto.
She revealed that Mbale City requires a leader who has an exposure like her a technical negotiator on core facets in EALA, a consultant EAC, COMESA, IGAD and a resource mobiliser for government Projects and international/un agencies like UNFPA, UNDP, EU, AWEPA, Parliaments of Uganda and Kenya, South Sudan, Rockefeller Foundation, south-south cooperation.
She revealed that as a mother she is a goodwill ambassador on commodity securities for maternal and child health New York-USA (global campaign).
“And I am the best-suited person to help develop this new City to jump-start economic strength and steer head its tourism potential and turn it into a skills centre for skilling our youth,” said Ms Wanyoto.
She explained that her manifesto for Mbale captures Infrastructural development-roads, schools, health centres, Electricity and that she has already built good relationships with the government to enable her lobby from the government for the people of Mbale.
“I have been in NRM, I have served NRM, I have built friendship with NRM, I have local and international contacts besides central government contacts that are for the good of Mbale City’s socio-economic development,” said Ms Wanyoto.
The former EALA member, who is also moving door to door, traversing suburbs for support, says she will invest in poverty eradication; an area she says has had no progress for the past ten years.
But Ms Luwungule, a youth who is also in the race for Mbale City says that the active participation of youths in politics must be seen as a beacon of hope for attaining purposeful and sustainable political leadership and stability.
“Gone is the time when they used to tell us that youth are the leaders of tomorrow, today is the tomorrow of yesterday and I come to give you hope, to change the formula of relying only on old people and to tell you that I am the solution to today’s problems,” said Ms Luwungule.
Abu Magombe, a local leader and voter in Lwaso, a division in Mbale City says they will vote Ms Luwungule because she is young with brilliant ideas, the best for the constituency even when she belongs.
“We are all looking at Ms Luwungule to salvage our constituency because she is young and a development-oriented person with a good track record,” he said.
Huddles along the political path
A section of supporters leaning to Ms Wanyoto says that those who were not for President Museveni’s agenda of scrapping the presidential age limit and faced disciplinary action should not be given votes.
“Wisdom dictates that you don’t contradict the party leader, even when your people send you to the contrary. You have to portray responsibility in your position as an MP. Mrs Galiwango went against the NRM party position, so we can’t vote for her,” said Mr Gilbert Wambedde.
But Mrs Galiwango [the incumbent] who is a wife to Dr Hassan Galiwango, the former NRM director for mobilization and recruitment says she was in parliament to represent the people of Mbale and that the people of Mbale sent her with ‘No’.
“And it would have been betrayal of the highest class to go against my people whom I represent in Parliament, people who voted for me, you can brand me anything but I will never go against the people I represent,” said Mrs Galiwango.
Another huddle going round the corridors accuses Ms Wanyoto for patronizing over the dismissal of Mr Galiwango, the husband to Ms Connie Nakayenze] from the position of director in charge of mobilisation and administration at the NRM secretariat.
Although many supporters leaning to Mrs Galiwango have bought this and are using it as a tool against her opponent, Ms Wanyoto has denied this and said she has no powers whatsoever to influence the sacking of Mr Galiwango from the NRM secretariat.
Another huddle in the corridors indicates that both Ms Connie Nakayenze Galiwango and Ms Lydia Wanyoto are from Sironko district although they have grown up in Mbale municipality.
Many voters from Bungokho North, central and South who are residents of Mbale City PML Daily talked to think that both of these ladies from Sironko should not fight in Mbale City that belongs to Mbale district in Bungokho County.
“All these ladies are imported from Sironko and are fighting in Mbale as though we don’t have ladies who have gone to school to contest here. I think let us take time to rethink and vote for our own child even if she is young,” said Mr Aaron Mukweli of Mbale City industrial division.
Although this gives Ms Luwungule an age over these two candidates in the race, she is also facing resistance from another local child Ms Jalia Namasaba Soikya from the same Mbale City and Mbale district.
And the coming on board of Ms Namasaba also NRM has complicated matters as both of them come from Mbale district making the incumbent to wield a lot of support from the NRM ardent supporters.
Many political pundits leaning on the side of Mrs Galiwango say that Ms Wanyoto is the chairperson NRM Women’s League in the country; a position president Museveni can use to appoint her as a minister.
“So we need another person in parliament, we love her but she is best placed as the NRM women league chairperson than as an MP of Mbale City, we shall vote Mrs Galiwango but ask president Museveni to appoint her as a minister since she is in good books with NRM and the president,” said Mr Sulaina Nanyonga, a voter in Mbale City Northern division.
The rivalry between Mrs Galiwango and Mrs Wanyoto has gone so deep that it is threatening to tear the party apart ahead of the 2016 elections.
Mrs Galiwango, who says she is currently lobbying the Ministry of health to expand maternal mortality programmes to Mbale district says that she is mobilizing women to be grouped into savings and credit organisations to access loans aimed at ending household poverty.
“Those who haven’t benefited from my projects are the ones who keep loitering in the constituency and expect to meet me along the roads to give them something but I am in touch with my people, I have projects for people,” Mrs Galiwango says.
And Ms Wanyoto also says she will establish low-income generating activities, like poultry keeping, brick laying to fight household poverty among women and youth.
The NRM Chairperson for Mbale District, Mr Muhamood Masaba, is however optimistic that President Museveni will intervene to quell the animosity between Mrs Galiwango and Mrs Wanyoto.
According to Mr Masaba, once that is done, then the NRM will be able to sweep all the electoral positions in Mbale City. “We have already forwarded this matter to the President to sort out and we know that the president will reign over the matter,” he said.
For Mrs Galiwango Nakayenze, who won over Mbale locals in 2016 by pushing her campaigns door to door, she will have to employ a more ingenious campaign formula to defeat Mrs Wanyoto who has become a darling of many Mbale City Women.
President Museveni comfortably won in Mbale district, with over 70 per cent of the total votes cast in 2006 and 73.2 per cent in 2011. However, the internal strife in the NRM alone could cost the party and president Museveni these votes. Ends
For now, Mrs Galiwango Nakayenze Connie will face Lydia Wanyoto, former East African Legislative Assembly delegate, Ms Shadia Luwungule and Ms Namasaba Jalia Soikya for NRM primaries scheduled for 4 September.