By Joshua Kato
Everybody,...JE-EMA... Everywhere ...JEEMA,â€ Mohammed Kibirige Mayanja shouted almost to himself during one of his first political rallies in 1996.
His â€œlightâ€ or high pitched voice rang out like a bicycle bell among hooting cars. His other two opponents Yoweri Museveni and Paul Ssemogerere both had deep voices.
â€œOmusajja alina akaloobozi akali sexy,â€ (That man has a sexy voice) some of the people at the rallies said.
Kibirige went on to campaign and finished third, with almost 130,000 votes. He came back in 2001, campaigned and garnered over 200,000 votes. This indicated an improvement by 70,000 votes.
His standing in the 1996 elections was a culmination of so many years of planning and dreaming.
Kibirige says he was first interested in politics in 1966 when he was only 16 years old.
â€œWhen the Kabaka was attacked and our kingdom destroyed, I vowed to become President of Uganda when I grow up,â€ Kibirige says.
Indeed, when he grew up, he decided to take a shot at politics. He first thought about standing for the Kawempe North parliamentary seat, but settled for the highest seat in the land.
Kibirige has hinted at making another shot at the presidency, and this time he hopes it is third time lucky.
According to his aides, Kibirige targeted his fellow Muslim community, to give him a spring board.
â€œHe mobilised in Mosques and actually many Muslims identified with him,â€ says Sulaiman Mayambala, who campaigned for him.
In 2001, when Alhajji Nasser Sebaggala failed to meet the required documents to stand for the Presidency, Mayanja expected him to turn over his votes to him.
This was, however, not the case. Sebaggala instead decided to back Col. Kizza Besigye in 2001, instead of backing a fellow Muslim.
â€œSebaggala betrayed us. He is a traitor,â€ says one of Mayanjaâ€™s key aide.
He says that this time, however, Kibirige is a known national figure who no longer needs any introduction.
â€œHe has stood twice and everybody knows him,â€ he says.
In both the 1996 and 2001 campaigns, Kibirige had one of the best explained manifestos. He believes that if Ugandans were following important issues, then he was the right candidate for the Presidency.
His campaign was docked by poor financing, though. In both campaigns, he had one of the smallest convoys on the campaign trail.
While his opponents had the money to transport supporters from one rally to another, he could not afford to. However, he always assured his few supporters that huge crowds did not win elections. It is the issues that did.
â€œDonâ€™t mind about their huge crowds. When voting time comes, we shall have more votes than them,â€ he used to tell his small rallies.
It is not difficult to judge that he was of course wrong, given the out come of the voting.
Kibirige does not have any known political leadership experience, other than as president of his party, JEEMA.
A director of planning at Makerere University, Kibirige has been in education management for most of his working life. He joined the Ministry of Education in 1974 and has been in education since then.
As a professional manager, he hopes to transfer this experience to the nation.
â€œWhen I was still working in the ministry of education planning department, I influenced the construction of many secondary schools in the country,â€ he boasts.
Kibirige was also one of the creators of the Education Policy Review that was commissioned by Prof. Senteza Kajubi.
His supporters claim that he is one of the few untainted Ugandans, who should be handed the presidency.
â€œAll the other people have engaged in corruption and wars. Kibirige has never stolen any money or killed anyone. He believes in politics of peace and justice for all,â€ says Mayambala.
Kibirigeâ€™s other problem is that after every election, he goes away from politics and waits for another election. Although he has been an executive member of the Group of Six (G-6) political parties, he has not been actively political.
Some of his supporters argue that Kibirige should have stood for at least a Parliamentary seat both after the 1996 and 2001 elections to keep his political light burning. Instead, he simply disappeared back to Makerere University for his civil service job.
Kibirige married Mariam Kibirige, the proprietor of Mariam High School, Kisaasi in 1979.
He married his second wife, Hadijja in 1983. He has several children with both wives.
According to his manifesto, he intends to introduce justice for all Ugandans, improve the education sector using his educational experience and modernise the agriculture sector.