A literary and socio-political analyst
Umar Lule Mawiya was the MP for the Kalungu East Constituency in the 7th Parliament. He lost the seat in 2006 to James Mukiibi Serunjogi, a DP-leaning independent candidate who was publicly supported by known NRM leaders in Masaka.
Mawiya thereafter dragged Mukiibi to court for lack of the requisite academic qualifications and the elections were nullified. A by-election brought in five candidates; Mawiya (NRM), Mukasa Mbidde (DP), Joweria Kiberu (Independent), Godfrey Kayemba (FDC) and Joseph Musoke (Independent).
Last Thursday, NRMâ€™s flag- bearer Mawiya trounced the four candidates in the hotly contested by-election. He emerged winner with 9953 votes, DPâ€™s Mbidde (9,051), Joweria Kiberu (207), Godfrey Kayemba (172), Joseph Musoke trailed (79). The results and FDCâ€™ s dismal score puts to rest their usual claims of being cheated. So far out of nine MPs from Kasaka only two, Matthias Nsubuga (Bukoto North) and John Kawanga (Masaka Municipality) both DP are from the opposition.
NRM now sets its eyes on possible by-elections in Mukono North and Buikwe South to round off Buganda having taken all parliamentary and LC seats except Kampala and Wakiso which were shared. Mawiya, a soft-spoken man of peace with a very firm resolve thus bounced back to Parliament. The NRM victory in this by-election further quashes the misrepresentation that the NRM can hardly win an election in urban areas.
Anti-NRM elements are wont to argue that the NRM has basically pulled the wool over the peasantâ€™s eyes and exploit their ignorance to vote for the party. This group goes on to wrongly claim that the NRM support among the elite and urbanities is almost non-existent! It is true that the NRM enjoys massive support in the rural areas where 90% of the population lives and the support is not because the rural populace is ignorant.
On the contrary, it is because they know what they want and who can best deliver or maintain it. But whoever has been towing the line of NRM having no support in the urban areas had their illusion further quashed by the results of the Kalungu East by-election. For Kalungu East is a fairly urbanised area. In it lies the Lukaya town, situated 108 km from Kampala on Masaka Road.
The town is a hub of activity being a stop-over for trans-regional transporters and inland commuters. Kalungu East is home to the renowned Kitovu and Katigondo seminaries, both minor and major.
There is the St. Catherine convent and the Vocational girlsâ€™ secondary school, and Kalungu township. The people of the area can be said to be abalabufu â€“ enlightened and well above the poverty line. They made money from coffee during the coffee boom of the sixties and during Aminâ€™s time. They built beautiful homes and are self-sustaining.
This is the community whose voice rang out on August 15 to give their mandate to the ruling party. The by-election vividly brought out the fact that more education on party policies is still needed.
There were some NRM members who, for some reason or other, said they would not cast their vote for Mawiya. It took the Chairman of the party, also President of the country, Yoweri Museveni, to tell the party faithfuls that it would be taboo for any NRM member to support and vote a candidate from another party.
In a country which has been under the movement system for 20 years and has just switched to multiparty policies, the individual merit hangover still lingers in the minds of both the leaders and supporters, and it will take patient sensitisation for it to evaporate from all our people. The Kalungu East by-election also presents an opportunity for NRM. Like in any other party, there were contradictions within the NRM. In the 2006 elections, Mawiya lost the race partly due to differences with NRM district officials and especially so with the LC 5 Chairman, Vincent Ssempijja.
Briefly, Mawiya allegedly supported squatters not only to remain on Ssempijjaâ€™s land at Lukaya but also take legal actions against him. Ssempijja was planning to evict the squatters and Mawiya pledged to get lawyers for the squatters to file a suit against Ssempijja. Come the 2006 elections, Ssempijja threw his weight behind the well-known DP leaning James Mukiibi Sserunjogi.
Mawiya had also advocated Kalungu and Bukomansimbi to be made a separate district from Masaka. Mawiya, who had supported the crusade for the new district with two other colleagues in parliament, Anthony Yiga and Kagimu Kiwanuka, remained a lone voice when the two abandoned the cause along the way for fear of losing their constituencies.
A week to the polls, President Museveni convened a meeting of top NRM Masaka leaders and once again told them about the supremacy of the party. He brought reconciliation where there were differences that seemed irreconcilable. In addition he hit the campaign trail holding a series of pubic rallies and meetings with Mawiya bolstering the NRMâ€™s election chances.
The challenge for the NRM is to always identify and resolve internal contradictions in time before they get entrenched. Like the President rightly stated, Mawiya is â€œan additional pillar that will strengthen our houseâ€.
Mawiya is an additional pillar to the NRM house