5 January 2014

Uganda: VP Ssekandi's Campaigner Gives Him Sleepless Nights

If you are having trouble finding vice president Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi in Kampala these days, the man to blame may well be Kyannamukaaka LC 3 chairperson Paul Migadde, writes Ali Mambule.

When the political tide was surging against Vice-President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi before the 2011 elections, he had to bank on some trusted pillars to campaign door to door for him to be re-elected MP for Bukoto Central in Masaka district.

Among these pillars were Kyannamukaaka LC 3 Chairperson Paul Migadde and the then Kyotera town clerk, Sylvester Njawuzi. Njawuzi died shortly after elections, and now, not only has Ssekandi lost Migadde's support, the former friend has turned political foe.

Migadde now accuses Ssekandi of failure to meet his obligations to the constituency and refusing to respect some gentleman's agreements on which they campaigned for him. In fact, Migadde has embarked on what some see as a potentially credible campaign to capture Ssekandi's parliamentary seat.

Since he had learnt all the tricks and approaches that Ssekandi used to win the subsequent elections, Migadde believes he has a good a chance as anyone to beat the vice-president in the 2016 elections. Although they are both members of the NRM, Migadde is determined to take him on as an independent candidate in the elections.

"We are tired of politicians who don't respect their promises to the electorate. They stay for so long but they end up doing nothing for the people who elect them," Migadde told The Observer last week.

For some time now, Migadde has been rumoured to harbour own political ambitions in regard to Parliament, but it was not until New Year's day that he publically threw his hat in the ring, when he spoke during a burial at Minyinya village in Kyannamukaaka sub-county.

He added that he felt pity for the people dying now, as they would not be alive to see him representing them in Parliament. However, Ssekandi may not be easy to beat as he appears to have intensified his activities in the constituency.

Despite his busy schedule as vice-president, Ssekandi is always among the people who attend burial ceremonies, last funeral rights and wedding parties. When he can't attend a function, he endeavours to delegate, so that at least his name is mentioned when his representative is mentioned.

Contacted at the weekend, Ssekandi appeared to suggest that the weight of his impending opponent should not worry a big man like him.

He said he was an old man, before adding: "No comment".

The impending showdown between friends-turned-foes is now the talk of Masaka, with many tipping Ssekandi to win simply because of the power of incumbency and the money and other resources he dishes out before and during the campaign period.

"Migadde also had an opportunity to work for the people of Kyannamukaaka sub-county as LC 3 chairperson and indeed he did but when it was divided into two to create another sub-county of Kyesiiga, he lost a big part of it," said one elder.

Others point out that Migadde actually rode on Ssekandi's back, using his proximity to power to extend many services to the people. Without him, they say, Migadde may end up being exposed as light weight.

"But still we have to know that the constituency is not made up of Kyannamukaaka sub-county alone. There are others like Kabonera and Kyesiiga with the former having more opposition supporters," the elder said.

So far, the number of people eying Ssekandi's seat stands at six, including Migadde, Lukyamuzi Batemyetto, Moses Matovu who is currently working with Mengo establishment; Lawyer Kazibwe Majera, one of the proprietors of Masaka town college; and Ssekandi's old rival Jude Mbabaali.

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