With barely two weeks to FDC presidential elections, Leader of Opposition Nathan Nandala Mafabi made a big statement on Saturday, drawing a mammoth crowd in Mbale as he vowed to take over the party and the country.
For about three hours business came to a standstill, as people filled the streets of Mbale dancing the Bagisu cultural dance, Kadodi, while others watched from the verandas of their shops and others stood on the roadsides. The FDC presidential elections are slated for November 27, when some 800 party delegates will have to choose between Mafabi, Shadow Finance Minister Geoffrey Ekanya, and the front runner, Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu.
In Mbale, there was no doubt about the local favourite. It took Mafabi, also the MP for Budadiri West in neighbouring Sironko district, more than an hour to reach the venue of the rally at the Mbale Secondary School play grounds; everyone wanted to catch glimpse of him. Mbale was coloured blue, Mafabi smiling down from posters hanging on walls and electric poles.
With no police guidance or interference, Mafabi's convoy snaked through the town to the venue, along Pallisa road, where he addressed a large crowd that had waited for hours. He said that given the mandate to lead the party, he would deliver because he knows the hardships they are going through.
"The person who knows the pain you are going through is the person who knows how to save you from it [pain] If you give me your votes, I will deliver, because I share the pain with you," he said.
Mafabi said corruption was the one cancer killing the country, and that it was the reason poverty was biting and the state of the roads worsening
"I can assure you we are determined [more] than ever to remove this corrupt system from power and I know that together we shall do it if you entrust me with the leadership of this party,' Mafabi said.
Citing Karamoja, Mafabi said money was being wasted on the expensive travels of the First Lady and Minister for Karamoja affairs, Ms Janet Museveni, in the name of helping the region.
"I have been to Karamoja but the roads there are impassable yet Ms Museveni uses 500 million shillings to travel in and out of there," he said.