OPINION: Lessons From Bugiri Municipality Elections


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By Hussein Kyanjo

Let me start by congratulating my leader and the JEEMA President, Asuman Basalirwa for winning the Bugiri municipality parliamentary seat.

I also thank the voters of Bugiri for giving JEEMA the second ever MP since the return to multi party in 2006 when the great people of Makindye offered us the first chance and elected me for two consecutive terms. This part of history will never be forgotten by all egents of change. We shall always remain indebted to these pioneer constituencies.

In a special way I want to extend my appreciation and gratitude to the Democratic Party which assigned to us senior leaders and election consultants led by former presidential candidate Lubega Mukaaku and Mr. Sebuufu besides a host of other youths who camped in Bugiri through out the whole campaign period. We were indeed humbled by the repeated appearance of DP MPs during AB’s rallies.

I must also thank the leadership of UPC, CP, PDP and PPP and The Independent Coalition, TIC -led by former presidential candidate Elton Joseph Mabiriizi.

I want to seperately hail the endorsement and physical participation of President Mao, President Ken, President Abed and Sec. Saddam.

Am thankful to the EC staff led by Chairman Byabakama for the constant consultations with our team.

On this list still let me thank Mayors from different divisions not forgeting the several independent MPs, senior lawyers A. Kiwanuka Shifrah Lukwago and many others as well as those brave supporters from the giant parties NRM and FDC. I call these brave because they had their party’s candidates on the same ballot.

Here now allow me to thank the Hon. Kyagulanyi Sentamu BOBI WINE with his entire team who was frankly the ‘Headmaster’ of the entire exercise from nomination to declaration. You are just an amazing young man.

At this juncture let me send my condolences to the family and friends of the late Asuman Walyendo who was murdered by the police. May the Almighty Allah grant him paradise.

There were many suprises as well as lessons in Bugiri election.

Let me try to put down those which were more cuptivating.

The failure by JEEMA and FDC as sister parties to agree on a common candidate.

The failure by FDC to rationally assess Basalirwas long service record to the “struggle”

The failure by myself, Hussein Kyanjo, to convince my FDC friends especially my respected elder brother Rtd. Col. Dr. Kiiza Besigye on the need for them to give JEEMA chance to have the only MP in the house as opposed to the more than 30 MPs of the FDC. This was just a matter of KIND CONSIDERATION not popularity or suitability of both our candidates.

Remember there are many unknown benefits especially to the public which acrue to parties represented in Parliament based on numerical strength.

The argument that Asuman was irrecoverably weak on the ground compared to Hon Namatende which ended up with each occupying the position of the other (Asuman was supporsed to be 3rd and Eunice 1st).

A statement by a senior party official that you either vote FDC or NRM. Which clearly defined our role in what we always thought was a struggle for all the oppressed indeed we were wrong.

A statement that there were many good lawyers in Parliament and that sending Asuman to the House would not add any extra value.

The allegation that Dr Besigye was executing Museveni’s agenda and that FDC and NRM are just the same.

The rumour that the opposition was riding their campaign on sectarian grounds. On this, I hear (not verified) the President went public and condemned Basalirwa for what he called TRIBALISTIC and ISLAMISIST campaign.

Let me spend some minutes to look at this allegation.

Mr President, how do you want the public to behave when your words contradict your actions? Take two examples. You are the Head of State, your wife is senior Cabinet Minister, your son is a Senior army officer, your brother is a very Senior and the most influential government official with your clans men scattered all around in strategic senior public positions.

Secondly and more relevant to your concerns in Bugiri, there is a formal police structure over there with DPCs/ RPCs and other officers but during the election you deployed officers from Kampala who took over command of security operations rendering local officers impotent.

I was able to identify three commanders. Richard Mugwisagye, Afande Nuwagira both police officers then Major Night, a lady from the army who seemed to be the overall.

The unique feature of these officers was that they were interestingly all Westerners and all Christians. Mr President why dont you allow other people to order for a meal similar to what you enjoy most? Kindly give (us) your students a break.

The talk that some camps were using hooligans from Kampala.

The arrogance, open redicule and bullish nature by some of our own colleagues in the opposition. This list goes on and on.

The lessons we should learn are several.

We must fight to the end to work together with full honesty and due humility. This doesn’t mean we must agree on all issues. No. It is possible to disagree but remain respectiful to each other and conduct a clean campaign.

We must walk an extra mile to ensure that we sacrifice for the good of our relations and this will involve extreme endurance. It is not helpful for example state the obvious to your partners “we are the main opposition party” these are undisputed facts why parrade them again? Am worried with this aparently uncalculated expression of superiority when we are all still captives.

We must avoid being inconsistent and labour to explain ourselves in case of change in our original position. It was for example shameful for us to disagree after assuring the public that we would work together.

The action by Bugiri voters to elect Asuman Basalirwa was a clear indication that they had taken our first word and that they were unwilling to make an abrupt change.

We must continue to educate our voters and supporters to avoid acts of unnecessary provocation especially to security personnel.

We should seriously think of calling upon senior citizens to form an organisation which will be responsible for guiding us during campaigns and help us reconcile after elections. This does not need to be passed by law.

There are live examples of former adversaries working together.

What comes to your mind when you see Gen Tito Okello’s son, when you see Field Marshal Idi Amin’s grand children or Dr Obotes daughter in law working with Museveni?

On the other hand, what did you conclude when you saw Haj Lyavala and Hajat Aisha Kabanda, both big names in NRM, openly campaigning for Basalirwa? So don’t throw injurous comments to your aparent opponents they may be your allies in future.

Here now I want to apologise most honestly to all those who competed with our candidate for whatever act deliberate or inadvertent which might have hurt you. We are sorry this was not necessary and I promise that we shall continue to improve.

I want to appeal to all our activist supporters and well wishers that the election is now over with our candidate victorious.

There is no need whatsoever to continue with hostilities against our friends in all the opposite camps. There are no more points to score or scores to settle with this particular election otherwise we are providing our major opponent the chance to destroy the opposition using our own energy.

In this regard I took a humble decision last Tuesday and called Mr Okecho and Ms Namatende. I thanked them for providing our candidate the opportunity to measure his strength.

I went ahead to apologise most honestly to them for whatever we did or said that might have hurt them. It was such a satisfying moment on my side.

Very soon, Hon Asuman will visit them and add on that initiative.

The writer is a former Member of Parliament for Makindye West.

 

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