Most of the voters who Rejected Muhwezi in 2016 were determined not to have Masiko. That is why Masiko lost in many parts where Muhwezi lost, especially in the sub-counties of Nyakagyeme, Bwambara and Ruhinda.
There are several factors as to why the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change's (FDC) Betty Bamukwatsa Muzanira won the hotly contested Rukungiri Woman Member of Parliament seat.
The Electoral Commission (EC) Rukungiri district returning officer, Umar Kiyimba, declared Muzanira as winner yesterday at 5:29am at Rukungiri council hall.
She garnered 50,611 votes, while Winfred Komuhangi Masiko of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) who got 46,379. Others in the race, Fabith Kukundakwe of the People's Progressive Party (PPP) got 183 votes while Prisca Seezi Mbaguta, an Independent candidate, got 993. The waiting supporters remained in streets of Rukungiri town until Muzanira was declared a winner and they started jubilating until daybreak.
The counting exercise started at 7:32pm on Thursday, but was interrupted when at one polling station of Burora parish headquarters in Nyarushanje, the NRM candidate polled 695 votes against Bamukwatsa's 30 votes.
The Opposition, led by MP Paul Mwiru of Jinja East, contested the results, saying the results were different from the declaration form on which Muzanira had 117 votes against 276 for Masiko.
They said the form had been dully signed by the both party agents and the polling officials. Kiyimba, after consultations and comparing the declaration forms, cancelled the results of that polling station.
MASIKO WALKS OUT
After the decision at 3:48am, Masiko and her husband, Augustine, walked out in protest. She said she was not satisfied with the EC decision and so, could not be part of the remaining exercise. However, she did not mention her next step.
OPPOSITION SPEAKS OUT
The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Winfred Kiiza, thanked the EC for respecting the will of the people, but demanded that the presiding officer who altered with the declaration form of Burora parish be punished.
The former FDC presidential flagbearer, Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye, said although they won the election, it was a struggle amidst heavy Police and army deployment, bribery, intimidation and arrests.
"We have never won without such hardships. Wherever we win, whether in Jinja, Kasese, Kampala and in northern part of the country, it is a struggle as people resist until they get what they want," he said.
He advised Muzanira not to sit down, but to go to court for injustices that were exhibited in the election process.
"There is no way we can sit back on such mess where they change the declaration forms signed by agents and polling officials and bring here what they want. This is what has been happening in all elections. It must stop with the one who did it and the one who aided him to do it," he said.
WHY FDC WON
There are several factors that led to the Opposition win, the first being sympathy. People were sympathising with Muzanira for losing the election petition case in the High Court. She won at the end of the process in the Court of Appeal.
After losing case in the High Court, Masiko allegedly told voters that she was going to squeeze a lot of money out of Muzanira to the extent that she would sell her (Muzanira') school, land and underpants and still fail to fully compensate her (Masiko).
Before the Court of Appeal's ruling, people were already sympathetic to Muzanira and feared what would follow. Masiko did not to have the support of all the NRM big wigs in Rukungiri apart from former Rujumbura MP Jim Muhwezi, and Dr. Elias Rutahigwa of Rukungiri Municipality, no other NRM party leader who stood in the 2016 general elections was supporting Masiko.
And most of the voters who ejected Muhwezi from Rujumbura County in 2016 were determined not to have Masiko. That is why Masiko lost in many parts where Muhwezi lost like in the sub-counties of Nyakagyeme, Bwambara and Ruhinda.
Bikurungu and Rwerere town councils, where Muhwezi got the least votes in the 2016 elections, were won by Muzanira. Masiko lost wherever the NRM swept LC3 seats in the previous election.
This shows that voters were protesting the earlier election by voting FDC. There was also religious influence in the Rukungiri elections. Although in some of the places where Muzanira, a Catholic, won were Protestants, most of her wins were in places dominated by Catholics, while Masiko took Protestant areas.
The Catholic community earlier decided not to make any pilgrimage to Namugongo because they feared it would affect the votes of Muzanira. Nyakibale deanery did not send any foot pilgrim to Namugongo.
They instead travelled by bus on Friday and Saturday. Muzanira is a member of diocesan synod for the Catholic Church in Kabale Diocese. The role of FDC and other Opposition leaders was also a factor.
Since the nullification of the Rukungiri Woman MP elections on March 22, all FDC stalwarts have been flocking Rukungiri to show their solidarity with party members. This added morale and momentum to FDC supporters.
The NRM put housing state minister Chris Baryomunsi, in charge of Rukungiri elections, however, people still saw him as a foreigner from Kanungu district and were not comfortable with him. Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde, the former security minister, came in late.
But still, his supporters have never forgiven the NRM government for dropping him as security minister. They say it was done in a humiliating way and they openly vowed to revenge by supporting Muzanira.
Tumukunde attempted to woo them back, but it was all in vain. The 2017 constitutional amendment on age limit also played a role. Masiko supported the amendment which removed the age limit in the presidential candidacy and extended the MPs term in office from five to seven years.
This annoyed many people who did not support the amendment. When the byeelection was declared, people, including some NRM members, were saying they had been given an opportunity to punish her for not respecting their will.
The presidential donations of April did some harm too. Most people complained that the donations were not distributed equally. It was also reported that in Nyakishenyi, one person who is the district councillor, took many things alone because he was part of the team that were selecting the beneficiary organisations.
Since he was supporting Masiko, the disgruntled decided to punish the whole camp. Therefore, the FDC win can be attributed to the internal divisions within NRM and Masiko's support of the 2017 constitutional amendment Bill.