10 February 2013

Uganda: Butaleja Campaign Enters Final Lap

From the start, contestants for the Butaleja Woman Member of Parliament seat urged the electorate not to vote for Florence Nebanda, the NRM flag-bearer, saying she is not a Munyole. Surprisingly, that seems to be working in her favour.

Most of her supporters are wondering why her political opponents should even bring that up, yet her predecessor, the late Cerinah Nebanda, received overwhelming support.

Joseph Omuhirwa, a resident of Lellesi village, Busolwe rural, says Nebanda's opponents have stopped presenting their manifesto to the electorate and have instead resorted to politics of sectarianism.

"We are all Ugandans and can contest for any seat anywhere within this country. Their family has proved that they are developmental, even before they declared their intentions to contest for the race."

While Omuhirwa's views might make a lot of sense, others are behind Nebanda because of her looks. One such person is Juma Higenyi, a farmer in Kachonga subcounty, whose admiration for Nebanda has landed him in trouble with his wife. Higenyi says he moves around with small posters of Nebanda in his pocket and stops to admire her from time to time.

However, his wife, Jalia Higenyi, decided to support her opponent, Betty Hamba, after realising her husband's 'obsession' with Nebanda. Henry Were, a student at Butaleja Institute of Mechanics and Engineering, also says he has admired Nebanda since the start of the campaign.

So far, it looks like Nebanda's strongest rival is independent candidate, Betty Hamba, who rides on her father Alfred Higenyi's support. Higenyi is a prominent businessman in the area.

Hamba's supporters say they are rallying behind her since she is in the race to serve them, not to attain wealth.

Godfrey Wasanya, a teacher at Bukedi College, Kachonga, says: "These people have almost everything and they would not be interested in amassing wealth in Parliament."

The other contestants in the race, however, should not be underestimated. Forum for Democratic Change flag-bearer Felista Namwihiri, has also attracted large numbers, especially in the urban centres.

However, she managed to attract a sizeable number in Mazimansa, Kachonga, Naweyo and Busolwe sub-counties.

Her supporters comprise mainly the youth and some elderly women who claim they are tired of voting for a person from the ruling NRM party.

Her supporters have helped raise money to fuel the vehicle she travels in, besides providing food for those who turn up at the rallies.

Sarah Logose, also an independent candidate, has tried to prove that she is a well-behaved girl at all rallies by politely kneeling down to ask for votes. It is on this premise that her supporters are rallying behind her. They say she is humble enough to stop and greet people, regardless of their social standing.

Farouk Jomba, an LC1 chairman for Buhabeba Village B, says Logose is approachable and is the right choice to represent them in Parliament since she will always return to the electorate to seek their views.

Perusi Munaba, another independent candidate, is riding on the fact that she is politically more mature than all the others, having served as deputy mayor for Makindye Division in Kampala.

Meanwhile, two candidates in the Butaleja by-election have complained about heavy deployment of Police in their area ahead of tomorrow's election.

FDC flag-bearer Felistus Namwihiriri and Sarah Annet Logose, an independent said despite reporting cases of their supporters being beaten by their rivals to the Police, nothing has been done.

The Butaleja district Criminal Investigations boss, Vincent Otyeng, however, said deployment in the area was not unusual.

"Over time, Butaleja has been one of the election hot spots and that is why we deployed heavily because we had reports that there were threats of violence," he said.

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