Analysts say a large number of aspirants might reduce Kahima’s chances of retaining the seat he clinched on January 11, 2018, following the death of William Beijukye Zinkuratiire on November 4, 2017.
As the 2021 presidential and parliamentary elections draw closer, incumbent MPs in many constituencies are worried about those who have declared their intentions to replace them.
In our ongoing weekly series of analyses, examining the aspirants and the issues that are likely to influence voter choices, Rwambuka Mugisha and Umaru Kashaka look at a crowded race of 15 for Ruhaama County
Before the President ordered a total lockdown in a bid to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, consultations for the Ruhaama County MP seat in Ntungamo district had started taking shape.
Fourteen people were rolling up their sleeves to dislodge the incumbent, Moses Kahima Mugabe of the National Resistance Movement (NRM).
Analysts say a large number of aspirants might reduce Kahima's chances of retaining the seat he clinched on January 11, 2018, following the death of William Beijukye Zinkuratiire on November 4, 2017.
Because NRM is the most popular party in the constituency, almost all the aspirants, including newcomers and previous contestants, are seeking its ticket.
And whoever gets it during the primaries scheduled for August will almost be assured to sail through at the general election.
Those from NRM include Kahima, Eng. Jackson Mubangizi, the former Uganda National Bureau of Standards surveillance manager, Henry Zinkuratiire, a brother of the late Beijukye, Benjamin Katangura, a forestry officer at Uganda Forestry Authority, Dr. Stephen Bwekingo, a former medical superintendent at Ruharo Mission Hospital and Michael Buriiku, a lawyer and the former president of East African Youth Federation.
Others from NRM are; Fred Kanyangoga, the deputy managing director of Uganda Civil Authority, Adens Ntare, a lawyer, Tom Rwomushana, a former LC3 chairperson for Ruhaama sub-county and Advan Mbabazi, a prominent farmer in the area.
Those from Forum for the Democratic Change (FDC) are Kenneth Kagundu, the former contestant, and Isaac Nuwagaba, a Vision Group journalist based in Mbarara.
Gerald Mucurezi of the new Alliance for National Transformation party is also eyeing the seat, and so does Dr Peninah Bainomugisha and Vastine Byaruhanga.
Bainomugisha, a former contestant, is the chief executive officer of Abendagano Development Foundation, while Byaruhanga is a fresh graduate from Mbarara University of Science and Technology. They all want to contest as independents.
However, basing on the history of Ruhaama politics, Mubangizi again stands out as the main challenger to Kahima.
Kahima came second in the 2015 NRM primaries after suffering defeat to the late Beijukye who went on to win in the 2016 election, replacing First Lady and education minister, Janet Museveni as area MP, after the latter resigned from elective politics.
Janet Museveni had held the seat in the 8th and 9th parliaments and she is credited with transforming the area. She helped build power lines, which became a major contribution towards the development of the area.
Kahima told Sunday Vision that he is confident that he will retain his seat due to his record of service to the people.
He argued that in the two years he has been in the House he has maintained a good relationship with his NRM Government, which he convinced to construct a number of community access roads linking rural farmers to market places.
These murram roads include Kitojo-Kirera -Rworo road named after him, Rwengwe bridge, Kitwe-Rukoni road, Kahunga-Nyakyera road and Kitembe-Ngoma road.
Kahima said the roads will enable farmers access better markets for their agricultural produce.
He also claimed to have financially supported a number of schools, churches and mosques as well as Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations.
Prior to joining politics, Kahima, who owns The Mandela Bread Bakery, was working with Sheema District Local Government as the district commercial officer.
He said he has also managed to fight unemployment among the youth by employing some of them in his bakery located at Omukatogo-Nyakyera Town Council.
He said he deserves another chance to consolidate his achievements and aim for more.
Rivals digging in
However, his likely opponents have not been sleeping either. They have been preparing the ground to sway voters to their sides.
Mubangizi, who is making a second attempt after losing in 2018, said he had recovered from his loss and is determined to beat Kahima this time. He said he made a decision to remain with the people and that unlike in 2018, he now has enough time to campaign for the next polls.
Mubangizi was Kahima's closest challenger in the last elections, polling 16,345 votes against the latter's 31,102.
Beinomugisha was third, with 2,103 votes while Vastine Orishaba trailed with a paltry 523 votes.
The FDC, which is the main Opposition party, pulled out of that race over failure by prospective candidates to raise nomination fees.
Kagundu was expected to hold the FDC's flag in the 2018 byelection since he had contested in the 2016 elections and emerged third, after Beijukye and Kakyene Santurina.
"The challenge is money. We have people willing to contest but they have failed to raise the nomination fees. I have not stamped anyone's papers and I know there is no one coming for the same and, therefore, we shall not be having a candidate for Ruhaama seat," George Karamira, the FDC chairperson for Ntungamo district, said.
Mubangizi has been helping the people in the poverty eradication programmme and also supporting different groups, like the youths and women.
Katangura, who is joining the race for the first time, has also hit the ground running. He has been injecting money in several projects in the area to help youth and women increase household income.
Zinkuratire's sympathy vote
Meanwhile, businessman Zinkuratire still hopes to gain a sympathy vote arising from the death of his brother Beijukye.
Beijukye had represented the county for at about 18 months after replacing the First Lady.
In the last NRM primaries, Kahima, aged 41, polled 20,463 votes, defeating other six contenders who were vying for the ruling party flag. Mubangizi came second with 14,431 votes, while Zinkuratiire, collected 9,579.
Other candidates were; Arthur Mpeirwe who got 8,581 votes, Adens Ntare 8,581, Rwomushana 1,897 and Owembabazi Pamela 1,720.