Thursday,August 13,2020 22:15 PM

Candidates fight for Buganda vote

By Vision Reporter

Added 29th October 2010 03:00 AM

THE Buganda vote is hotter than ever before. All political parties have decided to launch and end their presidential election campaigns in the central region.

THE Buganda vote is hotter than ever before. All political parties have decided to launch and end their presidential election campaigns in the central region.

By John Semakula

THE Buganda vote is hotter than ever before. All political parties have decided to launch and end their presidential election campaigns in the central region.

It is the region with the biggest number of voters, and home to half the presidential candidates; Beti Olive Kamya of the Uganda Federal Alliance (UFA), Jaberi Bidandi Ssali of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Dr Abed Bwanika of the People’s Development Party (PDP) and independent candidate Samuel Lubega. In addition, the region is home to Norbert Mao’s Democratic Party (DP).

The ruling NRM, on the other hand, has traditionally got majority votes in all districts in Buganda.

With virtually all parties having a claim, Buganda will be the most divided vote in the coming elections. It is not surprising, therefore, that all parties are fighting to have a share.

During the last presidential elections, though Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye had promised federo (federalism), President Yoweri Museveni won 59.73% of the votes in the central region. He won in all the region’s districts, except Kampala city where he lost to Besigye. Museveni’s best performance in central region was in Nakasongola district, where he got 89.7% of the votes. Other districts where he got more than 80% of the votes were Nakaseke, Mubende and Kiboga while in Rakai and Sembabule he scored between 70 and 80%.

Since the last elections, many new developments have happened in Buganda that could reduce Museveni’s margin. The relationship between the central Government and Mengo is not as rosy as it was. The disagreement over federo, which indirectly led to the Buganda riots on September 11, last year and the subsequent closure of the kingdom’s mouthpiece, CBS FM radio, could have won the opposition some votes. The President then disclosed that the Kabaka had persistently refused to take his calls for months. He particularly emphasised that he, who restored the Buganda kingdom in the early 1990s after it was abolished ruthlessly in the 1960s, deserved appreciation and better treatment from Mengo.

Later, Museveni and the Kabaka met and shared a warm handshake. The reopening of CBS may have won back some support for the Government, but there are those who might have drifted permanently.

Despite this, the NRM has support structures that it established in the region for decades, which cannot crumble in a year. The party wants to consolidate its support in the region by meticulously canvassing for votes. After launching the campaign in Kampala on Monday, Museveni plans to go to his long-time support base in Luweero, Nakaseke and Nakasongola.

Opposition parties believe a good number of votes in Buganda are up for grabs and they are all promising federo to attract voters. They will, however, have limited benefit from any grip should Museveni lose in Buganda. The opposition votes in the region will be shared among several candidates, especially Besigye, Kamya, Bidandi Ssali, Bwanika and Mao.

The FDC campaigns are to be launched in Masaka (Budu County) on November 1. The Mengo-leaning pressure group Suubi 2011, headed by former Katikkiro Joseph Mulwanyamuli Ssemogerere, is openly canvassing votes for FDC in the region. Since the party is likely to lose some of the northern votes to DP and UPC, they need extra efforts to gain some votes in Buganda to make up. In the last elections, FDC secured 36.58 percent of the votes in the central and they are looking for ways to raise this percentage. The party’s flag-bearer, who is endorsed by the Inter-party Cooperation, will spend nearly two weeks campaigning in Buganda before moving to other regions.

The DP, on the other hand, is launching its campaigns in Luwero district this weekend before returning to Kampala. The party has traditionally had most of its support in central region and it would be a mistake for Mao to launch his campaigns anywhere else.

By electing Mao as the party leader, DP won more support in other parts of Uganda than before. Mao is the first DP leader from a region other than central Uganda. This, however, has not gone well with many who have considered it a central Uganda party. Many party members have had difficulties accepting Mao as their leader. Many DP elders have identified with Suubi 2011 rather than DP.

More to that, some DP members, such as Betty Nambooze and Erias Lukwago have openly identified with the Inter-party Cooperation headed Besigye, which has angered the DP leadership under Mao. To-date, Nambooze and Lukwago have not made a commitment to campaign for Mao though they have not quit DP.

In the last presidential elections, DP, under the leadership of Sebaana Kizito, won 2.84% of the Buganda votes.

The Uganda People’s Congress, which won 0.2% of the Buganda votes in 2006 presidential elections, has traditionally been weak in the region. Never-the-less, UPC has decided to launch its campaign in Buganda, hoping to change history. Their presidential candidate, Olara Otunnu will campaign in Nakaseke, Luweero, Kiboga, Mityana, Mubende, Kayunga and Mukono the whole of next week, before heading to western Uganda.

At the same time, the leaders of UPC might have chosen to start their campaigns in Buganda where the party is not very popular and end with a bang in the areas where they command a lot of support.

For Beti Kamya, Buganda is her home ground. Since her party strongly stands for federo, there is no better ground than Buganda, where federo sells. She will campaign in Kampala and Kayunga before heading to northern Uganda.

Bidandi Ssali, Bwanika and Lubega also kicked of their campaigns in Buganda, further highlighting the importance of the region in the presidential elections. All the three are expected to have more support in Buganda than in any other regions.

Candidates fight for Buganda vote

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