PRESIDENT Museveniâ€™s recent â€˜declaration of acceptanceâ€™ to recognise the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu was met with jubilation all over the district. This was the first time the President clearly said he recognised Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu an
PRESIDENT Museveniâ€™s recent â€˜declaration of acceptanceâ€™ to recognise the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu was met with jubilation all over the district. This was the first time the President clearly said he recognised Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu and Charles Wesley Mumbere as its leader.
This open recognition is likely to bring the NRM some political dividends from a district that voted against him in 2006. Kasese was the only district in western Uganda to return FDC MPs in the 2006 general elections. It was also the only district in western Uganda where Dr. Kiiza Besigye beat President Museveni.
The rejection of President Museveni in 2006 was attributed to his lukewarm response (sometimes bordering on refusal) to the popular demand for the Government recognition of Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu (Kingdom of Rwenzururu).
Yet Kasese district is known for a history of stubbornly voting against national trends. In the 1980 elections, Dr. Crispus Kiyonga was the only Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM) candidate to win a parliamentary seat.
The significance of this 1980 single parliamentary seat lies in the fact that the UPM leadership of 1980 was later to be the dominant political force in Ugandaâ€™s body politic from 1986 to date.
However, after the Presidentâ€™s declaration that the Government recognises Rwenzururu, circumstances on the ground in Kasese may change, leading to FDC losing its grip on the district. The reasons for this are varied, but they can be aggregated into the following: NRMâ€™s acceptance to recognise the Rwenzururu Kingdom, weak FDC leadership, government programmes like rural electrification and Kiyongaâ€™s change of attitude towards popular interests.
In the 2006 elections, Kasese returned two FDC MPs, two NRM MPs and one independent MP.
The Independent MP (Kithende Kalibogha, who represented Bukonzo East in the 6th and 7th Parliament) immediately signed a memorandum of understanding with the NRM. That meant three NRM MPs against two for the FDC.
However, Fred Businge, the official NRM candidate for Bukonzo East successfully petitioned court to nullify Kaliboghaâ€™s victory.
The court ordered for the repeat of the elections and FDCâ€™s Bihande Bwambale won the by-election to the chagrin of the top NRM leadership in Kampala. An angry President Museveni is said to have reprimanded the Kasese NRM party leadership over the loss of the seat to the FDC. Kiyonga, the Minister for Defence and NRM district chairman, took this reprimand as an assignment to weaken FDCâ€™s grip on Kasese.
Suddenly, Kiyonga publicly offered to support the popular campaign for the Government recognition of the Rwenzururu Kingdom. He perhaps realised that without resolving the Rwenzururu question, the NRM would always lose elections in Kasese.
As a sub plot to help the NRM regain the political initiative in Kasese, the Government agreed to upgrade Kasese Town Council to municipal status.
The municipal comes with â€˜psychologicalâ€™ prestige, more government funding and another parliamentary seat. The municipality will take effect next year.
FDC losing grip?
Kiyongaâ€™s job is said to have been made easier by weaknesses in the districtâ€™s FDC leadership.
These weaknesses can be traced to the wrangling that developed over Bwambaleâ€™s FDC candidature in the Bukonzo East by-election.
The district party leadership did not want to sponsor Bwambaleâ€™s candidature in the by-election because he was an NRM card holder.
But FDC party headquarters, perhaps influenced by Winnie Kiiza (Bwambaleâ€™s wife who was already a senior FDC party member) insisted on the Bwambaleâ€™scandidature. Their bet paid off; Bwambaleâ€™s won the seat.
The writer is a journalist
NRM may have sorted out FDC in Kasese