JINJA – The race for the Jinja East MP seat will be an interesting one as the two traditional rivals; Paul Mwiru and former minister Nathan Igeme Nabeta battle for Jinja Southern division East constituency.
Mwiru recently crossed from the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) to Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu’s Alliance for National Transformation (ANT). In a constituency that is predominantly an FDC bastion, many people questioned Mwiru’s decision to cross to ANT, with majority saying the fiery legislator is digging own political grave.
Mwiru returned to Parliament after a hotly contested by-election that saw Opposition kingpins; FDC’s Dr Kizza Besigye and People Power’s Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu canvass votes for him against President Yoweri Museveni’s blue-eyed boy Igeme Nabeta who Jinja East voters accused of ‘sleeping’ in Parliament, compelling President Museveni to assure voters that he prefers a sleepy MP who will wake up and vote in favour of government programmes that an active MP who will not even get chance to access him.
With Mwiru donning new colours, it remains to be seen whether he will be re-elected to the August House.
“We danced kadodi for Mwiru, we gave in everything and he should not have paid us by deserting us and going to ANT,” says Justine Nabirye, a voter from Kirinya.
Even Charles Kakembo, a voter from Walukuba, says Mwiru has been winning elections because of his FDC inclination.
“This is a bastion of FDC and Mwiru knows it. He has not been paying us to support him and we are going to show him that the party is bigger than him,” Kakembo says.
Mwiru won the March 2018 by-election with 6,654 votes against Nabeta’s 5,043 votes. The by-election characterized by arrests and violence came after the Court of Appeal in Kampala nullified Nabeta’s February 2016 victory on grounds that he connived with the Electoral Commission (EC) to alter results at Danida A-D polling station which put him at an advantage.
In an interview with this website, Mwiru said that with or without anyone’s support, he would have won the by-election.
“I won the 2016 general election and my victory was proved by court and therefore winning the by-election was a foregone conclusion,” Mwiru said.
The ruling NRM is also fighting hard to reclaim Jinja’s heartland with Nabeta battling incumbent mayor Majid Batambuze for the NRM party flag.
Nabeta who is the proprietor of NBS and Smart FM in Jinja says his focus will be economic empowerment of Jinja residents when he is voted as MP.
“I want to economically empower Jinja residents, especially the youth and the women. It is what a leader is supposed to do,” Nabeta said.
Batambuze who also doubles as the chairperson of Urban Authorities Association of Uganda (UAAU) said he intends to use the position of MP to lobby for the Jinja residents.
He says Nabeta was given a chance but failed to deliver and advised him to step aside to let residents get a more virulent leader.
Geoffrey Katono, a voter, says Nabeta is just a spoiler who has come to reduce Batambuze’s votes.
“He has been ejected from Parliament on two separate occasions for lack of academic papers. We are tired of voting only for him to be ejected. In Batambuze we have got a person whose academic papers cannot be questioned,” he said.